Bean has really out done themselves on this one. The…
Fabric: 3-Ply Gortex
Price Paid: $239
Bean has really out done themselves on this one. The '98 model is an incedible improvment over the '97 -- by correcting a few shortcomings.
First off, the '98 features a new shoulder strap design (they add a small swatch of fabric on the back which extends from the waist band to the middle of the shoulder blades and attached the straps here). The '97 model featured Marmot's awkward design where the straps were attached at four points on the front of the waistband?!?!- making it virtually impossible to keep the straps on your shoulders....kudos on the redesign.
They also added powder cuffs which were lacking on the '97 model. Also added is a cozy handwarmer pocket which lies behind a larger kangaroo pouch on the front of the bib. I've skied with this piece in deep Colorado powder and vicious Vermont rain/sleet/ice storms (while skiing)and it kept me bone dry. Just wear over fleece or polypro pants and you'll be toasty!
I looked around at a lot of Gore-Tex bibs to replace…
Fabric: Gore-Tex (3 layer)
Price Paid: $200
I looked around at a lot of Gore-Tex bibs to replace an old pair of Patagonia (non-gore-tex) side zip skiing/climbing shell pants. When I saw the LL Bean All-Conditions Bibs, I figured there was something they weren't telling me. Real gore-tex bibs for $150 less than most other brands?!
I checked them out in person and I was actually quite impressed. They have just about everything the other brands offer, and, they even come in regular and tall sizing. All for $200!
Positives: Full length side zips covered by a storm flap (velcro). Very secure double velcro closure in back. Easy-to-use suspender straps that let you drop the whole back section if you need to. Articulated knees.
Negatives: Not much in the way of pockets -- just one on your chest. The fit is a bit baggy in some places on me, but not too bad. No built-in gaiter - but I always wear crocodiles when I climb, anyway, and other built-in gaiters can sometimes just be in the way. This seems to be a trend with other manufacturers as well.
I've used them for a number of winter climbs in the white mountains of NH and skiing (on-piste) around New England. So far, they have been great and are holding up well to some abuse (nothing really bad yet).
I'd recommend them highly to anyone on a budget and even some who aren't.