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Reviews > Rain Gear > Jackets and Pants > L. L. Bean Stowaway Rainwear Jacket > Owner Review by Kellie Carlisle

L. L. Bean Stowaway Rainwear Jacket with Gore-Tex
BY KELLIE CARLISLE
OWNER REVIEW
January 18, 2009

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Kellie Carlisle
EMAIL: kelliecar@aol.com
AGE: 39
LOCATION: Ellicott City, Maryland
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 11" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT: 165 lb (74.80 kg)

Backpacking Background: I have been hiking for over 12 years. I hike with a service animal that must have gear too. I prefer hiking 10-15 mi (16-24 km) each day, and take 3-4 day backpack trips once a month. The hiking group I lead has hikes ranging from easy flat 4 mi (6 km) treks to steep 16 mi (16 km) rocky summit hikes. I use a tent and am a lightweight backpacker although I don't drill holes in toothbrushes. Terrain I encounter is very rocky, hilly, and in the Mid-Atlantic region. I love to hike on sections of the Appalachian Trail.

PRODUCT INFORMATION

Manufacturer: L. L. Bean
Year of manufacture: 2008
Web site: http://www.llbean.com/
Manufacturer's Weight: none given
Actual Weight: 1.2 Pounds (0.54 kg)
Size: Women's X-Large
Jacket Length: 28" (0.71 m)
MSRP: $159.00

Features Listed on Manufacturer's Website
* Rugged Gore-Tex Performance Shell
* A drawcord hood with an extended visor keeps rain off your face.
* Two-way zipper.
* Stows in its own pocket for easy packing.
* Taped seams

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

I purchased an X-Large blue jacket in March of 2008. I found the jacket to be very roomy and I am able to wear a 300 fleece under it. Occasionally, I have even worn expedition weight long underwear in addition to the fleece and was very comfortable. The cut in this year's model is a little longer than older models and this one is long enough in the back to overlap the matching pair of pants I purchased the same day.

There are elastic draw cords in the hood and at the bottom of the jacket so I can customize the fit. The wrist cuffs have elastic which helps to keep them in place and are comfortable and not as scratchy as some Gortex products are. The cuffs also have a Velcro fastener strip to allow for a tighter fit if necessary.

It took only a few seconds to stuff into its own pocket, specifically made for that purpose. When the jacket is stored in its pocket, it is fully enclosed in mesh, with only the zipper being exposed, allowing for easy storage which protects the outer shell of the jacket. The jacket can even be used as a pillow while camping.

There are two large angled zip up pockets on both the left and right bottom front of the jacket. The pulls on the zippers are large enough to easily be zipped with a gloved hand. I found these to be just the right size for a pair of gloves and my phone. I especially appreciate the inside breast pocket which is perfect for passport, ID card, or slim wallet and doubles as the aforementioned stowaway pocket for the jacket.

The front zipper is very rugged and made out of a type of non-metallic material which feels like a type of rubber. There are two sliders on the front zipper that allow for flexibility in airflow, but do not fit well along the bottom of the zipper. The perfect alignment of the two can make it unnecessarily troublesome to zip up the jacket. This is especially true if the wearer's vision and/or range of motion is hampered. The front of the jacket has storm flaps on either side of the zipper which close with both Velcro and snaps to ensure water does not leak in. And it works as well as promised because after over 50 hikes it has kept me dry!

There are elastic draw cords at the bottom and hood with cord locks to keep things snug. The drawcord on the hood can be operated with one hand, and I found this easy to operate even with large gloves on. There is a Velcro strap on top of the hood for added customization. The hood has an extended visor that keeps rain off my face. The inside of the collar has a microfleece layer to go against my chin, and was very comfortable when I used it in cold temperatures or in very windy and rainy conditions.

The women's jacket is available in the following colors at the time of this review: Carbon (dark grey), Colonial Red, Plum Grape, Sea Blue, Sprig (a medium shade of green), and Ultramarine (similar to Navy Blue). The jacket comes in Misses' Petite and Misses Regular sizes Small thru X-Large for the same price.

In the spring I keep the jacket in my daypack and if on overnight trips in my backpack. Its compact size makes it very easy to fit in my pack. Its light weight allows me to take it any where I go without having to worry about much extra weight in my pack. The fact that it stores in a mesh pocket keeps me from worrying about damaging the Gortex component of the jacket. In the field I have found the pockets to be large enough to facilitate even my two way Garmin radio/GPS/NOAA weather radio, which had been too large to fit in my other jacket pockets.

FIELD CONDITIONS

I have had the opportunity to wear this jacket tons since I lead hikes each Saturday and Sunday and I average 25-30 mi (40-48 km) of day hiking over each weekend.

I wear this jacket three seasons - fall, winter, and spring as I do not wear rain gear when it is hot outside. I enjoy the refreshing rain when it is over 90 F (32 C)! In the fall, when temperatures ranged from 40-55 F (6 -13 C), I wore this jacket when I needed protection from wind and rain. It definitely lived up to its name. I was bouldering on top of a mountain peak in the Appalachian Mountains on a three day backpack trip on a nice fall day when suddenly a nasty rain storm crept up. It was blowing so hard it seemed as if the rain was coming at us sideways and I was the only one out of our group of 18 hikers to keep not only dry but also comfortable and not overheated. I believe this was due to the mesh liner of the jacket which allows for some ventilation and keeps the jacket from sticking to my sweaty body after hiking 15 mi (24 km). When the temperature dropped I added a 300 fleece underneath and found the jacket to still be roomy!

Over the winter I used this as mandatory gear for every hike. When the temperature was below 20 F (-7 C) my base layer was a mid weight Polartec long underwear top followed by a non cotton short sleeve hiking shirt and then a 300 fleece and my jacket as the outer most layer. When I needed to shed after I heated up after a few miles on the trail I would remove the fleece and be very comfortable in just the long underwear and light hiking shirt under the jacket. This is the ultimate outer layer for my winter hiking clothes. No matter what Mother Nature threw my way my jacket kept me comfortable. The jacket is extremely rugged as I wore it while bouldering on a mountain peak which required sliding along several large boulders. It held up to conditions which have torn other jackets in the past.

SUMMARY

Rain beads off of this jacket better than any other I have seen and it is not as hot to wear as similar products I have tried. The mesh liner inside this jacket keeps it from sticking when I work up a sweat and provides some circulation to keep me from overheating. All pockets are well lined and roomy. The jacket has a good skin feel and breathability, and has been exceptional at keeping the rain off. The hood is roomy and provides good flexibility for form fitting. This is a very lightweight jacket and the most rugged and comfortable Gortex jacket I have worn to date.

All in all I have worn this jacket for hundreds if not close to a thousand miles and I have yet to be disappointed by it. I am a difficult hiker to please as I expect equipment to live up to its promises. I have tried several other jackets over the past couple of years and so far this is as good as it gets.

Simply put, the L. L. Bean Stowaway Rainwear Jacket with Gore-Tex has become a staple in my hiking wardrobe. It's lightweight yet very rugged design is perfect for three season backpacking and the convenience of the jacket stowing in its own pocket keeps me from having to keep up with a separate stuff sack or trying to fold or roll it up and find a place for it in my daypack or backpack. It folds up small enough I even carry it in my purse for sporting events.

THINGS I LIKE ABOUT THIS JACKET

Completely water and windproof as guaranteed by the manufacturer
Stows in its own pocket in just seconds
Rugged enough for rock climbing and bouldering, even if slipping on leaves on the trail and falling on my tushy!
Adjustable hood

THINGS I DON'T LIKE ABOUT THIS JACKET

The two-way zipper can sometimes be tricky to line up but after using the jacket a few times I got this down.

SIGNATURE

Kellie Carlisle

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

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