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The L.L.Bean PrimaLoft Packaway Jacket is a lightweight jacket that ‘packs’ down into one of its pockets. It’s designed to hold its own in cool weather but also plays well with other layers.
To get us a closer look, L.L.Bean sent Man Makes Fire a review unit. After testing and wearing the Packaway, this is what we learned:
L.L.Bean PrimaLoft Packaway Jacket Review
First and foremost, the L.L.Bean PrimaLoft Packaway Jacket is surprisingly lightweight and thin. For insulation, L.L.Bean uses 60-gram PrimaLoft Gold Insulation with Cross Core technology, as well as NASA-developed Aerogel. The idea is to deliver insulating loft that also packs down small.
Most importantly, PrimaLoft Gold will retain insulating properties even if it gets wet — and this is a key reason to buy a lightweight jacket with synthetic insulation.
For instance, if you just want a lightweight jacket with great insulation, a down jacket is a great choice. In dry situations, down insulates better than synthetics, is lighter, and is extremely compressible for packability. The key drawback to down is moisture. If down insulation gets wet, it’s insulating properties plummet to nearly zero.
In cool weather, it blocks the wind reasonably well and is pretty warm, but admittedly it’s hard to measure warmth because every person and situation is different. For instance, if I step outside with a jacket and a hat, I’ll feel far warmer than if I step outside with the same jacket without a hat.
For me personally, I can wear the Packaway down to about 40 degrees Fahrenheit with a long-sleeve shirt and feel pretty good as long as I’m not just standing around.
Of course, if you’re hiking, jogging, or snowshoeing, it can be a good layer in even lower temps, particularly if you have a warm base layer plus wear a long-sleeve shirt. In this situation, I can usually dip down below freezing.
Still, in my opinion, L.L.Bean rates the comfort rating for warmth a bit more optimistically than I would — down to a -15° Fahrenheit with moderate activity — but the company does say that its ratings are made with appropriate layers in mind, like thermal underwear, jeans, winter boots, and a fleece shirt underneath the jacket.
Synthetic vs Down Insulation
So why not just buy a packable lightweight down jacket instead? Moisture management. For example, while you can ski or snowboard with a lightweight down jacket underneath a waterproof ski shell, many people will generate body moisture, if not outright sweat, that will eventually saturate a down jacket and get the down wet, which will reduce its effectiveness. For that reason, many skiers prefer Primaloft in their lightweight jacket midlayers.
If you’re an active person — particularly if you’re doing something like skiing or hiking or snowshoeing — the L.L.Bean PrimaLoft Packaway Jacket is a great layer. Plus, it comes in Tall size options and several different jacket configurations.
The 100% recycled polyester shell is wind and water resistant. Many of the insulated baffles are sewn through, so technically these thread holes aren’t completely watertight. The jacket is still, however, water-resistant. Meanwhile, the sewn through baffles make sure that the insulation doesn’t shift when you cram the jacket into its own pocket.
For pockets, you get two hand pockets, a chest pocket, and an interior chest pocket with a media port if you’re using wired headphones. The interior chest pocket is the “packaway” pocket, and it includes a dual-sided zipper pull.
The drawcord hem lets you seal out drafts.
What about the weight? L.L.Bean doesn’t publish the weight, but a men’s Tall Large weighed in at 13 ounces.
Overall, the build quality is very good and delivers a great price-to-value ratio.
The Packaway Jacket is designed with an L.L.Bean “Slightly Fitted” profile. In general, I think it has slightly less torso space than most general purpose jackets, but it’s definitely not a slim fit. The fit for most guys will be their usual size, but if you’re on the big end of the size chart, you might want to size up to retain more room for interior layers.
One of the great things about L.L.Bean is the company’s attention to size options. Men get Regular and Tall options while women get three size choices: Regular, Petite, and Plus. If you want to dial in the fit to your body type, there’s a good chance L.L.Bean will have an option for you.
One more note here: The L.L.Bean PrimaLoft Packaway Jacket fits well and is a good-looking jacket in person. L.L.Bean has done a great job with the stitching and construction, and that’s particularly important for anyone who’s active outside.
Several ‘Packaway’ Versions to Choose
L.L.Bean offers several versions of its Packaway Jacket, including tall sizes as well as hooded versions, vests, a stretch-fabric version, and kid options.
If your primary use for your jacket will be for more active sports like skiing or hiking where the Packaway will often be used as a midlayer, take a look at the L.L.Bean Stretch PrimaLoft Packaway Jacket. The key difference is the stretch. In fact, the shell, lining, and insulation all flex together. And yes, the Stretch version is also offered in a stretch hooded option.
All-in-all, the L.L.Bean PrimaLoft Packaway Jacket delivers lightweight insulation in a portable package at a competitive price point. In addition, L.L.Bean offers many variations of the Packaway Jacket, including lots of color options as well as tall versions with longer sleeves. The overall fit and finish is typical L.L.Bean quality — it’s very good throughout. Highly recommended.