L.L. Bean Ultralight 850 Down Fuse Jacket Review
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The L.L. Bean Ultralight 850 Down Fuse Jacket Introduction
This is like a ninja jacket. Rated ‘Warm to -10 degrees’. That’s right, minus 10! The L.L. Bean Ultralight 850 Down Fuse Jacket can be used for a multitude of activities, and able to handle many different weather conditions. It’s a sweater, skiing mid-layer, rain coat, casual outerwear, and running jacket all wrapped into one. This jacket is fleece lined, warm, water repellent, and breathable. You name it, and there’s probably a good use for it.
Technical Features of the 850 Fuse
The moisture wicking stretch fleece covers the back and arms. Soft and comfortable on the inside, while the outside has a more coated feel to aid in protection from the elements. And to top it off, great breathability.
The down filled front is where your bang for the buck comes from with one inch rows of insulated 850-fill goose DownTek comfort. Down, being one of nature’s lightest and most efficient insulators has always had one limiting factor. The issue is when wet, it loses that insulating quality. To combat that L.L. Bean added a micro thin polymer which absorbs 33% less moisture, and dries 66% faster.
Two hand warmer pockets on the front are comfortable and warm (as advertised). They are rather large, and will hold anything from your gloves, hat, and a mid-run snack. A chest pocket for your phone or music is a great add. A built-in media port seems like a no-brainer these days. You’d be surprised though. A simple little opening allowed me to feed my headphones through, and I was able enjoy my music.
Water –resistant and water-repellent goose down is a double bonus. The 850 refers to the fill power which is a measure of the loft or “fluffiness” of a down product. This is also loosely related to the insulating value of the down. The higher the fill power the more air an ounce of the down can trap, and thus the more insulating ability an ounce of the down will have. Fill power ranges from about 175 for feathers to around 900 for the highest quality down. Higher fill powers are associated with a larger percentage of down clusters and a larger average down cluster size. At 850, I think we are in rarified company.
I have been contemplating if this jacket needs a waist pull cord. There’s a slight gap, and a stronger gust of wind can filter up a bit. It hasn’t been a negative by any means, but it’s crossed my mind to see if that feature would be useful. A few donuts on my part would do the trick as well, I suppose.
L.L. Bean Ultralight 850 Down Fuse Jacket Performance
I first used this jacket as a casual night out with my wife. The rare opportunity presented itself for a night without the little ones. She planned a movie night, and my L.L. Bean Ultralight 850 Down Fuse worked like a charm. The black color worked well with my casual ensemble to go to a nice restaurant. During the walk to the cinema I was warm even though the temps were in the 20’s. And wouldn’t you know it? The movie theatre was being cheap with quite a chilly experience. I kept my jacket on, and stayed nice and toasty.
This is an absolutely perfect mid layer. I wore it with my ski shell, and was able to enjoy a great day on the slopes. A few climbs for virgin powder caused me to work quite a bit at high elevation. Blood flowing, heavy breathing, and sweating in no time at all. The fleece on the jacket breathed wonderfully in conjunction with the zipped opening of my shell sleeve arm vents.
I’m an endurance athlete who likes to mix it up. Wanted to take this guy out for a run, but decided that a snowshoe run would be even better. Our first real cold and snow front moved through leaving just enough on the local trails to get out there for a good workout. If you’ve never been snowshoeing before, you may not be aware of the tremendous amount of work that actually goes into it. It’s a serious heart thumping, sweat inducing workout. It took me no time at all to find my rhythm and warm up despite temperatures in the teens. The fleece arms and backside allowed for breathability and sweat wicking while the front shielded me from a rather nasty wind. The longer sleeves with thumb loop ensured that no skin was exposed nor that the wind was able to creep up. The zipper stop or neck protecter gadget is a nice touch, because that can cause for some uncomfortable rubbing when out for longer periods of time.
This is hands down the best running jacket in a variety of temperatures. I usually run early mornings and appreciate the wind protection and warmth. The lunch time runs have had warmer temperatures but variable. The wide range of temperatures that the L.L. Bean Ultralight 850 Down Fuse jacket has been able to handle is outstanding. If I did reach my boiling point, I would simply unzip for optimal airflow.
I honestly can’t find anything wrong with this jacket. I will make one comment that’s not really a negative. The thumb loops are a very nice feature providing a consistent fit. I do think the actual opening can be slightly larger. I have an average size hand, and I’d say it fits a bit snug. That’s all really.
Final Thoughts on the L.L. Bean Ultralight 850 Down Fuse Jacket
The best of down and fleece combined to create a very versatile, warm, and breathable jacket. The L.L. Bean Ultralight 850 Down Fuse Jacket is a great companion; be it running, skiing, snowshoeing, or simply a night out on the town. You will not be disappointed. At an MSRP of $129, you’d be hard pressed to find a better deal especially since you’d have to buy 4 coats just to compete. Two color options: Black/Grey, and Red/Black.
If interested in this guy’s closely related jacket sibling, please check out the full down version also reviewed by Active Gear Review at: www.activegearreview.com/ultralight/down/jacket
For more information on the Ultralight 850 Down Fuse Jacket and other L.L. Bean products please visit: www.llbean.com