L. L. Bean Wind Challenger Hooded Fleece Jacket - Owner Review
Review date: January 15, 2009
Tester Biographical Information
| 6' 4" (193 cm)
| 220 lbs (100 kg)
| kwpapke at gmail dot com
|City, State, Country
|| Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
Backpacking Background: mostly in Minnesota and Oregon - all of the
Hiking Trail and Border Route, Isle Royale, dayhiking and backpacking
in the Columbia River gorge.
Extensive dayhiking in Utah,
Colorado and Oregon. Mostly Spring/Fall season hiker, but easing
into more cold-weather/Winter backpacking. I do a lot of dayhikes
and snowshoeing in the Winter, and am always looking for gear to
properly regulate my temperature in cold and windy conditions. I
am quite tall and long-waisted, and finding jackets I want in tall
sizes is a constant challenge.
The L. L. Bean Wind Challenger hooded fleece jacket is made from
windproof, water-resistant Polartec Windbloc fabric.
The fabric stretches nicely for freedom of movement. Windbloc
fabric is not very breathable. If I hold the jacket up to my
mouth and try to blow through it, I cannot get even a puff of air
My jacket has two external zippered hand-warmer
pockets. The model currently being sold adds one zippered chest
pocket. All external zippers have draw cords. There are two
chest pockets. All pockets in the jacket are mesh.
The cuffs are elastic, and fit moderately loosely. My jacket,
purchased in 2007, has an elastic hem. The model now being sold
has a draw cord hem with two pulls.
The hood has an elastic hem with no cord.
Front, side and back views of the jacket as worn by me are shown below:
|L. L. Bean
Available in regular sizes S,M,L,XL, XXL
Available in tall sizes L,XL,XXL
Stone Blue/Dark Indigo
Women's model available in different colors
|Tall sizes: $89 USD
Regular sizes: $79 USD
|26.1 oz (741 g)
This jacket has been used in two principal locales over the last two
|Chanhassen, MN - near my home
|Superior Hiking Trail in Northern Minnesota
|725 to 925 ft (220 to 280 m)
|625 to 1150 ft (190 to 350 m)
|-5 to 25 F (-21 to -4 C)
|-10 to 15 F (-23 to -9 C)
|Wind velocity (estimated)
|Maximum of 40 mph (64 km/hr)
|Maximum of 20 mph (32 km/hr)
|Wooded hills and valleys, open roads
|Wooded forest with some open areas
|Day hiking, snowshoeing
This jacket is my standard for Winter day hikes and
snowshoeing near my home and has been used many dozens of times in
extremely varied conditions. It has been on the Superior Hiking
Trail three times, twice for single-day snowshoeing trips, once for
The photo at left is from one of the Superior Hiking Trail snowshoe
trips where I wore the jacket and illustrative of the terrain, in this
case along the Split Rock River.
The photo at right shows the typical conditions I've worn the jacket in
for snowshoeing near my home. This hike was in the
Minnesota Valley Wildlife Refuge, near a very large glacial erratic
popular with local rock climbers. The wind was blowing pretty
good and the falling snow is somewhat visible in the photo. The
jacket did a great job of shedding snow on this hike.
- I have been amazed at the extremely cold, windy conditions in
which I can venture out for hours wearing only a long-sleeve T-shirt
underneath this jacket and still be warm.
- The Windbloc fabric construction is very effective - I have never
felt wind through the jacket.
- The hood is one of my favorite aspects of the garment. Even
in cold, windy conditions I can venture out with only a headband to
keep my ears warm. I put the hood up when I hit a windy spot, and
push it off when I reach a more protected area. The old saying
that "if your fingers are cold put a hat on" is germane here:
the wind-blocking hood keeps my extremities warm.
- I sweat a lot. I do have to be careful wearing this
jacket to ventilate by doffing the hood and/or unzipping the front when
I get warm. Failure to do so results in an interior drenched with
sweat. The sweat is not problematic on a dayhike, but when
backpacking in freezing conditions the sweat does not evaporate, it
simply freezes into ice.
- I don't use the external pockets to warm my hands, but they are
very convenient for bandannas, spare gloves, lip balm, and other items
I access on a regular basis. The interior pockets most often
carry my iPod and sunglasses.
- The elastic cuffs mate nicely with my gloves to keep my wrists
warm. I like the elastic as I take a glove off frequently, and a
quick pull snaps the cuff back over the glove.
- I have never worn the jacket in temperatures warm enough for
rain, so I cannot comment on the water-shedding capability. I
have worn it many times in snowstorms, and it was quite impervious to
even very wet snow.
- I appreciate that L. L. Bean makes Tall sizes. This jacket
covers my lower back and butt nicely, visible in the pictures above.
- The fleece fabric really picks up lint. I have to be
careful what other clothing I launder it with, and I have to be careful
not to drag it on a dusty floor as it is a dust magnet.
The manufacturer's instructions call for the jacket to be washed in
cold water with like colors, but they omit any mention of not mixing it
in with garments which give off lint.
- The 200-weight fleece does not have enough insulation power to
keep me warm on hiking breaks. When I sit down to rest I have to
cover it with a down garment. The Windbloc fleece is not bulky,
and layers nicely beneath a down vest or parka.
- It has worn well, and washes up nicely. I can't say it
looks brand-new after two years, but I'm not ashamed to wear it in
I am a big fan of this jacket. I've worn it a lot, and I'll
continue to wear it into the foreseeable future.
Areas for improvement
- It is available in a Tall size for my long torso
- Windbloc fabric keeps me warm in cold windy conditions.
- Good value: I feel this is a lot of jacket for the money
- The hood and front zipper allow me to quickly regulate my
temperature under varying conditions
- Not bulky
- Useful pockets
- All the zippers work easily with gloves or mittens
- Resists snow well
- Some kind of fabric treatment to make the jacket less likely to
pick up dust or lint would be nice
- Not the lightest-weight jacket I own
Read more gear reviews by Kurt Papke