LL Bean Pathfinder Waterproof Shell ReviewJuly 18, 2013
- Excellent value
- Solid performance
- Great hand pockets
- Below average breathability
- Pit zips hard to zip back up
All the features we expect to see on top of the line jackets—waterproof zips, generous hood, durable three-layer construction, etc.—at the price of a base model. Breathability is weak and there are a couple other small issues, but otherwise good value.
No, LL Bean’s TEK3 membrane doesn’t perform as well as any of the top brands, but it also costs about half as much. We can take a lot of interior condensation and a few extra ounces for that price, especially when on a rainy and snowy weekend trip it did what every hard shell has to do, keep us dry.
As we mentioned above, the no name membrane performed like a brand name in howling winds and driving sleet, never letting a hint of water or breeze into our inner sanctum. A three way adjustable hood with a stiff brim and long, asymmetric sleeves provided extra coverage on the back of the hands and added to the overall protection.
Even with the pit-zips and mesh lined pockets wide open it didn’t take long to work up a steam at a casual hiking pace in 40-degree weather. It’s definitely on the disappointing side and anyone looking for a jacket for high output hiking will want to look elsewhere.
LL Bean did their homework when working on the fit. Testers varying from round to thin liked the fit. A little bit of stretch throughout helped. Lots of adjustment room in the Velcro cuffs kept the sleeves snug on even the skinniest wrists and open when we wanted a little more airflow. The waterproof zips worked consistently and smoothly. But the pit zips were an issue. Holding onto the sleeve they opened okay, but no one ever managed to be able to get them to zip back up without a third hand or taking the jacket off.
The ripstop nylon stood up to an abusive trudge through untrailed woods and feels stout and sturdy. The seams don’t look quite as tough. We don’t think it would take too much sustained use to pull one of these inexpensive looking threads loose.
The robust fabric may add durability, but it also adds weight (1.1 lbs, or 18 ounces) and bulk. Crushed in our hands we could pack it down to the size of a small watermelon, but no further. Leave room in your pack.