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L.L. Bean PrimaLoft Packaway Hooded Review

An affordable active layer that's worth checking out
L.L. Bean PrimaLoft Packaway Hooded
Photo: L.L. Bean
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Price:  $190 List
Pros:  Very affordable, wind and water resistant, thin and light, made with recycled materials
Cons:  Thin and not super warm, fit is not very athletic
Manufacturer:   L.L. Bean
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 27, 2020
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62
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#12 of 13
  • Warmth - 25% 7
  • Weight and Compressibility - 20% 5
  • Comfort - 20% 5
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 7
  • Breathability - 15% 7

Our Verdict

The LL Bean PrimaLoft Packaway Hooded Jacket is a lightweight insulated layer that matches recycled polyester face fabrics with PrimaLoft Gold insulation on the inside. What we love most about this jacket is its very low price, making it a solid option for budget buyers. It's also well made, with a comfortable hood, functional pockets, and the option to stuff it into its own interior chest pocket for an easier fit inside the pack. Combined with these features is an impressive amount of water and wind resistance for such a thin and seemingly light-duty jacket. We think it makes an excellent choice as a summer in the mountains kind of hoody, but recommend that you only consider it as an active layer for winter use, or in conjunction with other insulating layers if the temperatures are going to be very cold.

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Pros Very affordable, wind and water resistant, thin and light, made with recycled materialsLightweight, warm, great wind protection, sheds water well, affordableVery warm, great features set, packs away easilyVery comfortable, great fit, breathable, impressively warm, great mobilitySlick fabrics layer well, stuffs into pocket with clip loop
Cons Thin and not super warm, fit is not very athleticDoesn’t breathe well, fit isn’t very athleticNot the lightestPricey, not as warm as thicker layers, doesn’t stuff into itselfExpensive, heavier than similar lightweights, lots of stiching to abrade
Bottom Line An affordable active layer that's worth checking outThe best lightweight insulated outer layer is highly wind resistant and impressively warmWith hi loft, water-resistant insulation, this jacket is a great option for staying warm on cold, damp days, and doesn't break the bankThe ideal active insulated layer combines lightweight mobility and great breathability, yet still wards off the chill during cold weatherProbably the most popular insulated jacket of all time, but not the highest performing, it's durable and stylish
Rating Categories PrimaLoft Packaway... Rab Xenon Hoodie Rab Nebula Pro Arc'teryx Atom LT H... Patagonia Nano Puff...
Warmth (25%)
7.0
7.0
9.0
5.0
5.0
Weight And Compressibility (20%)
5.0
8.0
3.0
7.0
7.0
Comfort (20%)
5.0
6.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
Weather Resistance (20%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
5.0
8.0
Breathability (15%)
7.0
5.0
5.0
9.0
5.0
Specs PrimaLoft Packaway... Rab Xenon Hoodie Rab Nebula Pro Arc'teryx Atom LT H... Patagonia Nano Puff...
Measured Weight (size) 13 oz (S) 11.0 oz (S) 20.3 oz (S) 12.2 oz (S) 12.4 oz (S)
Insulation 60 g PrimaLoft Gold w/ Cross Core Technology 60 g Stratus Cirrus HL 60 g/m2 Coreloft Compact w/ Stretch Fleece panels on sides Primaloft Gold Eco (60g)
Outer Fabric 100% recycled polyester Atmos ripstop Pertex Quantum Pro (30D recycled nylon) 20D Nylon Tyono 100% recycled polyester, DWR finish
Stuffs Into Itself? Yes Yes, clip loop Includes stuff sack No No
Hood Option? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Number of Pockets 2 zippered hand, 1 chest, 1 zippered internal 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered internal chest 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered chest 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered internal chest 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered internal

Our Analysis and Test Results

The PrimaLoft Packaway Hooded Jacket is most notable for its great price, lower than any other in our review. Although we had it rated near the bottom of our overall ratings, we don't think this does the jacket justice, as only minor differences separate it from some of our highest rated jackets. If the price intrigues you, don't be afraid to check it out, as there is a lot to like.

We tested the hooded jacket, but you can also buy one without a hood for some decent savings. A nice choice that's offered is between regular and tall. While we can't comment on the fit of the tall, as we tested a regular, this is the only jacket in our review that has such a size selection, so those dudes well over six feet may find a better fit here. If you like the design and the company, but like soft and stretchy face fabrics, it also comes in a "stretch" version, which will tack on a bit of cost. For the super budget-conscious, we noticed closeout colors were discounted over the "current" colors, so shop around for some deals!

Performance Comparison


The PrimaLoft Packaway Hooded Jacket is a thin, lightweight, and...
The PrimaLoft Packaway Hooded Jacket is a thin, lightweight, and very affordable layer that is best used for moderate temps, such as summer evenings in the mountains, or for spring and fall. For winter use, one will need to think of it simply as an active layer for when one is moving, as it doesn't provide enough bulky insulation to keep one warm in the coldest temps.

Warmth


This jacket uses 60 g/m PrimaLoft Gold combined with Cross Core technology to provide its interior insulation. Cross Core technology apparently adds some form of NASA designed aerogel to improve the warmth of the fibers while not adding much in weight. We'll discuss the weight in a moment, but we can't help but notice how incredibly thin the jacket is. With such a thin design, there isn't a whole lot of loft, meaning there isn't a lot of dead air space within the jacket to effectively trap the heat in and keep the cold out. Combine the very thin insulation with sewn-through baffling, which compresses the insulating fibers where the stitching pulls the inside and outside fabrics together, and you simply aren't left with a very bulky jacket.

This is a thin jacket that is not among the warmest we tested...
This is a thin jacket that is not among the warmest we tested, despite the claims. However, we did appreciate both the hem draw cords that allow you to seal in the bottom of the jacket, and the zippered pockets for better wind resistance and heat retention when its really cold.

Some people are not looking for a bulky jacket, though, and we admit that this jacket's low profile endeared it to our testers for chilly spring and summer evenings living in the mountains of Colorado. It was also effective on summer backpacking trips to throw on over our other layers and ward off the chill, without adding much bulk to our pack, but we have to caution potential buyers who think they may be getting a layer warm enough to stand alone in winter — this is not that layer!

We did not find this jacket to be particularly warm compared to the...
We did not find this jacket to be particularly warm compared to the competition. It is packable, however, and we though it worked well as an over the top warmth layer for this windy 13er summit ski in the spring time.

Weight and Compressibility


Our size small weighed in on our independent scale at 13 ounces, which is fairly light compared to many of the competing jackets we've tested. That said, it is nowhere near the lightest, and considering that it is one of the thinnest, we have to dispute LL Bean's claim that with this jacket, you get the most warmth for very little weight. For such a thin jacket, we expected it to weigh a bit less.

Hanging from the scale, this jacket weighs in at 14.0 ounces. For a...
Hanging from the scale, this jacket weighs in at 14.0 ounces. For a large jacket, this is relatively light, although there are lighter jackets to be had. For how thin it is, we thought it might be lighter than this.

You can see that the packed away version of the jacket, on the...
You can see that the packed away version of the jacket, on the right, when stuffed into its own interior zippered pocket, is not especially small, but is also very easy to stuff. The Patagonia jacket on the left packs smaller, but is literally impossible to get to fit into the pocket and get zipped closed.

We like how easy it is to stuff into its own interior zippered chest pocket. Many of the insulated jackets we've tested are not capable of stuffing into a pocket at all, and some others are so difficult to fit into such a tiny pocket that they are impossible to zip, and the feature is sort of worthless. This one easily stuffs in a matter of seconds, and while the end package isn't ridiculously small, it is very easy to zip closed.

Comfort


This jacket is reasonably comfortable to wear around, and the more we wore it, the less complaints we had. However, we have to be nitpicky for this review, and when it comes to the fit, we were unimpressed. The sleeves are far too short, in our opinion, with the cuffs riding a good distance up the forearms no matter how you move your arms, and the elbows feeling constrictive at times. The hem is a bit high, and the fit in the torso is bulky and baggy and not very athletically shaped. The hood fits well although it's not adjustable, and the collar sits a bit low under the chin. To top it off, we have to admit we've grown very fond of the feel of the stretch/active fabrics against our skin, and by comparison, the slippery and clammy feel of polyester face fabrics, especially in an active layer, are just not quite as pleasant. We understand that you may disagree with us entirely, but for active use, most of the other jackets we've tested have a far better fit for moving your body around.

While the jacket itself isn't overly uncomfortable, we took issue...
While the jacket itself isn't overly uncomfortable, we took issue with the fit. As you can see, the sleeves are much to short for active uses, as all we have to do is extend our arms out front and they ride halfway up our forearms. We also found the fit in the torso to be a bit too bulky and baggy, as you can also see here, and the hood is on the small side.

Weather Resistance


While we aren't that impressed with how warm this jacket is, we will admit to being very impressed with how weather resistant it is. To be clear, no synthetic insulated layer is meant to protect you from the elements as well as a shell jacket, especially in the rain, but synthetics do have the main advantage of retaining their loft and heat-trapping abilities even when wet, something that cannot be said about traditional down.

We found this jacket to be quite water-resistant, with the DWR coating effectively causing our hose dousing to bead up and run off, with minimal water absorption into the polyester face fabrics. What was absorbed quickly dried out in the sun and wind.

After spraying it with the hose, you can see that the water...
After spraying it with the hose, you can see that the water effectively beaded up and ran off, with very minimal soaking into the face fabric. What did soak in quickly dried in the sun. We also found this jacket to be quite wind resistant.

It is also highly wind-resistant, with the slippery face fabrics in combination with the thin but dense insulation on the inside effective protecting us from even strong winds. The hood and cuffs have elastic edges that seal off the openings effectively enough, while the hem has double drawstrings for tightening up the opening at the bottom. All of the pockets are zippered, a nice feature both for protecting valuables, as well as preventing wind infiltration.

Breathability


Compared to most polyester insulated jackets, we found this one to be relatively breathable. We think a large part of this is because it's so thin, however, so we didn't immediately work up a considerable sweat when running up steep hills in the sun. It makes a decent choice for hiking in due to this fact, although if that is the type of layer we were looking for, we may choose to go with a stretchy, more highly breathable active insulated layer instead.

Showing the hood and collar, which fits reasonably well, but is not...
Showing the hood and collar, which fits reasonably well, but is not nearly large enough to be helmet compatible. We also though the collar was a bit low, and liked to rest below our chin where it was slightly annoying, with little ability to pull it up and provide protection over the chin.

Value


As we mentioned before, this is one very affordable hooded jacket, and even more so if you manage to find one of the closeout colors, which offer pretty significant savings. You can get it for even less if you skip the hood. While it wasn't our favorite jacket, it's still a compelling choice, if for no other reason than the price tag. With quality construction, quality materials, and a reputable company backing it up, we think it offers a pretty banging value.

This jacket provides excellent value due to its very affordable...
This jacket provides excellent value due to its very affordable price tag. Since it is so thin, we appreciate it for warmer months when we need a little extra insulation to be comfortable, such as when belaying in the shade. It is a bit light for consideration as a stand alone winter jacket.

Conclusion


The LL Bean PrimaLoft Packaway Hooded Jacket is a very affordable active layer that is a good choice as a spring, summer, or fall jacket and makes a pretty decent choice for backpacking in the warmer months. It's most notable attribute is the price and the quality of materials used, including all recycled fabrics, meaning your conscience can rest easy with this purchase.

Solo backpacking selfie taken beneath Pigeon Peak in the Weminuche...
Solo backpacking selfie taken beneath Pigeon Peak in the Weminuche Wilderness of Colorado. This jacket was very packable and easy to bring along, and provided just enough warmth for hanging out on chillier summer mornings and evenings at high altitude.

Andy Wellman