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Reviews > Clothing > Hats > LL Bean Pathfinder Lighted Beanie > Owner Review by Richard Lyon

L.L.BEAN PATHFINDER LIGHTED BEANIE
Owner Review by Richard Lyon
March 14, 2017
Bean Beanie


PERSONAL DETAILS and BACKPACKING BACKGROUND

Male, 70 years old
Height: 6' 4" (1.93 m)
Weight: 205 lb (91 kg)
Hat size: US 7 5/8
Email address: Montana DOT angler AT gmail DOT com
Home: Outside Bozeman, Montana USA, in the Bridger Mountains

I've been backpacking for nearly half a century, most often in the Rockies. I do at least one weeklong trip every summer, and often take three-day trips.  I'm usually camping in alpine terrain, at altitudes 5000 to 10000 ft (1500 - 3000 m).  I prefer base camp backpacking, a long hike in with day trips from camp.  Though always looking for ways to reduce my pack weight, I still tend to include my favorite camp conveniences. I always sleep in a floored tent and like hot meals. Summer adventures are often on centered on fly fishing opportunities; winter on ski or ski touring.

THE PRODUCT AND ITS MAKER

L.L.Bean of Freeport, Maine has supplied outdoor gear and casual clothing for more than a century. Some of its products, particularly hunting boots, have gained almost mythical status. The Pathfinder Lighted Beanie hasn't reached that plateau yet, but I've found it to be an extraordinarily useful headpiece in the field and around home. Read on for details.

Manufacturer: L.L. Bean Inc., llbean.com
Product: Pathfinder Lighted Beanie
Size: Unisex, one size
Color: Hunter Orange. Available in four other colors.
Materials: 93% polyester, 7% Spandex
Weight: listed, 2 oz [57 g]; measured 2.5 oz [71 g]
Dimensions: measured, 10.5 x 6.5 in [27 x 17 cm]
Lighting specs, listed: output, 48 lumens; beam distance, 42 feet [ m];  4 CR2032 coin-cell batteries (included);  LED run time, 68 hours
MSRP: $29.95 US

The Bean Beanie has two LED lights in front, angled down at 55 degrees. The batteries and a push-type switch are located inside the headband just behind my left ear. With a moderate push with a finger (or thumb if I'm wearing mittens) I can easily turn the lights on or off. There is no intermediate setting. I like that - keep it simple.

My Beanie has the company's name and logo printed on the back. I received my Beanie at a Bean-sponsored promotional, so I don't know if all Beanies have this.

FIELD USE

Bean Beanie Though I've worn my Beanie far more frequently around my home than in the backcountry, I have taken it on a number of overnight and weekend or long weekend trips. Most of these have occurred in the fall or winter, involving traveling on skis, snowshoes, or just hiking boots from a trailhead to a Forest Service cabin in the Bridger or Gallatin Mountains not far from my home in Montana. While I've met a few snow flurries, the usual weather conditions were fair or overcast skies, at temperatures from 0 to 35 F (-17 to 2 C), on varied terrain at altitudes from 5000-8000 feet (1500-2400 m). I usually reserve the Beanie for use around camp or cabin, where it's a substitute for a headlamp as well as a means of keeping my head warm. But I did wear it on the trail, headlamp on, several times in the evening when dusk came early.
 
Far more use has come around my home, for outdoor chores and dog walks when it's dark outside. At about 45 degrees north latitude, in late fall and in winter the days are short here; in December it's fully nighttime by 5 pm and dawn doesn't come until 8 am or later. The former is long before my bedtime, the latter long after I'm up and at 'em. It's cold at night in Montana in wintertime, particularly at 5800 feet (1700 m) where my house sits. And I have a puppy that needs attention and access to outdoors before dawn and after dark, for several obvious reasons. That is why my Beanie resides on a peg next to the door, the same peg that holds a leash.  From late November through February the Beanie is my headgear of choice at least twice a day. I've worn it when the temperature has been as low as -30 F (-36 C), though when it's that cold it's usually shrouded in the hood of an insulated jacket.

PERFORMANCE

Fit. One-size-fits-all headgear has its limits, and my certifiably fat head is at the upper limit of the Bean Beanie. The Lycra allows me to pull it easily over my ears, but the fit is tight and, more importantly, the Beanie can work its way up with head movement. When undertaking aerobic activity like ski touring I find myself pulling it back down far more often than I'd like. This is my only real complaint with the Beanie, and the principal reason I don't use it more in the backcountry, where often my camp cap is an essential part of my quilt-based sleep system. In that service I want it to stay on.

Comfort. In this category the Beanie shines [pun intended]. The polyester fleece has a smooth hand that is very soft against my head, much of which is exposed skin due to thinning hair. I'm normally a natural fibers guy, for comfort more than principle, but don't have any problem with whatever polyester Bean uses.

Weatherworthiness. A second reason for liking the fleece is that it is an effective wind blocker. Very effective. That's been most apparent in the backcountry, when I've worn the Beanie in the mornings and evenings on exposed ridges. The comparison of gusts on my exposed cheek and covered crown is a great compliment to the Beanie. It's warm too, certainly warm enough for use on its own down to 0 F (-17 C). Any colder than that and I'll reinforce it with a hood.

The Light. It's great! Easy to operate without removing my mittens. Unfailing performance; the beam has never misfired or even flickered. The 55-degree angle is just right for nighttime use, illuminating the path about three steps (7-8 feet/2 meters) ahead. The beam is bright enough to allow me to distinguish hazards (black ice in particular) from safe footing.

Durability. Also great. No fading (but then it rarely sees the sun), nary a loose thread. And the idiot-proof switch still works as well as it did when I first used it. I have no idea how close I am to the lights' 68-hour limit but the beam remains as bright as when I first used it.

Care. This is a second reason I'm hesitant to expand my backcountry use of the Beanie - there's no way for a thorough washing. Obviously I can't toss it into the washer or wash tub without demolishing the batteries and LEDs. I'm limited to spot cleaning. I will say that after frequent use there is no pronounced aroma (often one of my objections to synthetic baselayers), but then I've avoid prolonged use in warm weather. Spot cleaning with diluted detergent-free soap has sufficed for now.

WHAT I LIKE

Ease of use. Much easier than grabbing, donning, and lighting a headlamp.

Design. It lights - brightly - the way ahead without any adjustment.

Comfort and wind- and weather-blocking.

WHAT I DON'T

It's a bit too small. I'd like to see a larger size.



          



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Reviews > Clothing > Hats > LL Bean Pathfinder Lighted Beanie > Owner Review by Richard Lyon



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