L.L. Bean Mountain Guide Parka
Fill: seperate fleece and down liners
I love this jacket. It is absolutely waterproof, the g-tex is really durable. I own the fleece liner and the down liner, the fleece is great for general use. It's usually all I need for skiing or winter hiking. The down liner is really really warm. It's great when that's what you need, but usually when I'm out in low temps, I'm moving around enough and layered enough that the fleece does fine. Point is, it's really versatile. In the summer I use it as a raincoat. The stuff around the top of the collar is soft and comfy.
The drawbacks are that the pockets are not insulated, a design flaw that they fixed with this year's model. You can now access your liner pockets from outside the shell. And the hood is not insulated. I would prefer some type of zip-in hood liner or something.
This may seem trite, but one of my personal favourite features is the little bungee loops in the pockets for tightening the waistband. They are just nice to slip your fingers into while walking. feel very secure.
The only thing that this jacket is truly bad for is stalking. It sounds like several bags of potato chips and some very dry leaves being run through a dryer whenever you are in the brush. :shrugs: for all the pros of the jacket, I don't mind using a wool one when I am stalking.
Price Paid: $179
I bought this jacket for my summertime (i.e. tropical rain season) trip to China. It worked fine for most of the trip except when I went to Lijiang. The city is at the foothills of the Himalayas and it was cold (40F) and raining out of a bucket. The wrist cuffs got wet really fast and after spending about an hour in a torrential downpour the inside of the jacket got wet. Which means that I was freezing by the time I got back to the hotel. But, it is also possible that aside from the cuffs the inside of the jacket was wet from perspiration.
Otherwise the jacket was great for everything else, though the cuffs did have a tendency to get wet if I did not hold my arms down, which I suppose is expected.
Fabric: Ripstop Nylon/3-ply GoreTex
Price Paid: $210 U.S.
This jacket appears to be a direct ripoff of the Marmot Thunderlight. At 23 oz., it's 3 oz. heavier than the Marmot, but is only about half the price.
Pretty basic features: long pit-zips, stowable adjustable hood, 2 cinches, velcro-closing cuffs. The pockets are simple free-hanging mesh, which means that carrying anything heavy in them can be a pain.
Because of the ripstop, it's a "boardy" jacket, even for a 3-ply. I've heard that it's a little less durable than the Thunderlight, but that shouldn't matter too much, since Bean will generously replace anything, no questions asked.
All in all, it's a terrific jacket for the price. Bean also sells a matching pair of pants ($179), with full side-zips, external storm flaps, articulated knees, and eyelets on the cuffs to use for makeshift gaiters.
Fabric: 3-ply Gore-tex
Price Paid: $360
When I started my search for an all weather coat I was told that you just can't get a good Gore-tex parka for less than $400. Days later as I sat in a waiting room I ran across an L.L. Bean catalog. I thumbed through it and there it was, not one but several Gore-tex jackets all much less then $400. I went for the Mountain Guide shell and fleece, still under $400. I can honestly say that I cound't be happier. I have put the combo into some pretty hairy conditions and they have shined above my wildest expectations. If anybody can tell me why I should have spent more for The North Face or Marmot please e-mail me.
Fabric: 3 Ply Gortex
Price Paid: $239
An incredible buy for the price. If you're looking for affordable Gtex, no one, no where comes close to Bean in quality, service and satifaction. Granted the design is lacking in some features for skiers (ie; no powder skirt, no flash pocket, no handwarmer pockets), but in terms of functionality this piece is a steal. On a side note, Bean uses oddball colors in their designs. Their Reds are awkward, their Green is closer to teal, but hey, do you want to look good or feel good? Pair this piece with their All-Conditions Fleece Jacket and you're golden - dry and warm, while your buddies fret over the wearing laminates on their overpriced pieces.
Fabric: Three Ply Gore tex
Price Paid: $190
I think this jacket is a great deal. It has all of the features of a much more expensive jacket. I use it for sking, hiking and camping, plus normal around and about use.
The fabric does tend to make a lot of noise, like a potato chip bag. On the other hand it is one billion percent waterproof. One warning do not wash with any pre wash stain removers. I did this, it ruined the gore tex and made a spot. L.L. Bean gladly replaced it.
Fabric: Gore-tex 3Ply 3.09 oz, 40 dernier
Price Paid: $199
If you are a BEGINNER BACKPACKER ONLY this jacket is for you. It is relatively inexpensive and works ok for easy, light stuff. For those of us who need more, this is not a good jacket. The pockets ripped while putting gloves in during the winter, it is very loud, louder than my kichatna (199 @ Gear.com) and Mountain Guide (199 @ gear.com) and all together uncomforable. The pit zips never truly get easier. I would recommend the Marmot Preclip over this. DO NOT BUY if you are doing anything more than lite summer backpacking
Fabric: 40 denier ripstop 2-Ply Gortex
Price Paid: $200
Was looking for an lightweight, breathable and totally waterproof shell that didn't set me back too much $$$. I've been pounded with rain and sleet in the Mountain Guide and narry a drop has gotten through. Toss in a fleece midlayer and it's the perfect layering system. It's got big pit zips (the zippers needs some breaking in) and a very functional hood. It has also survived a few careless times when I got the fabric stuck in a pack or dufflebag zipper. No rips. I couldn't be happier.
Price Paid: $200
This is a *great* shell for the price, even if the fabric is a bit 'boardy' and noisy. The waterproof pit zips are nice, you don't have to worry about getting a zipper snagged in a flap. And if you sweat easily or a lot, the mesh pockets in front help ventilate you easily along with the pit zips. Quality of worksmanship is high, and of course Bean's service is fast and efficient. I saved about $200 buying this jacket instead of a 'name' jacket, with no regrets.
Price Paid: $230
A very nice, well made and warm jacket for all you yuppies who will do nothing but ski in it. There is a major flaw in the hood design, as the little thingies that are supposed to tighten the hood don't work at all, and as a result my hood blew off, sending my ski goggles tumbling down Tuckerman's Ravine. I wrote to Bean with the complaint and am awaiting a response.
Where to Buy
The L.L. Bean Mountain Guide Parka is not available from the stores we monitor.
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