Photo by Salt Water New England

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Thoughts on L.L. Bean's New (Old) Trail Model Vest

 

Hi Muffy,

I noticed that LL Bean is re-releasing a few staples that were retired. This includes the green down vest from the Official Preppy Handbook. I’d love your thoughts on this as a wardrobe staple. I’ve recently stuck to Barbour or Schoffel, but a bit of nostalgia is nagging me to grab one of these. 

Cheers!

 


30 comments:

  1. Unless I’m missing something, they don’t tell you where this vest is made. Why not?

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    1. The description's last line simply notes it as "Imported" which usually means PRC. However, these days, it could mean any of several SE Asian countries, plus Bangladesh and points westward.

      I seem to remember having a tan "puffy vest" back then, but it may have been from Land's End, Bauer, or even REI. None of the colors shown appeal to me: it would be either the green or blue, but both are too light in tone for me these days.

      But they are warm.

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  2. I had a green Gerry vest, nearly identical to these. Bought it during my freshman year in college, 1974. Am strongly considering this one…

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  3. They can be found in EBAY for 1/3 the list price...

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    1. You can purchase down vest from Lands' End for $37.47 (with current 50 percent off promotion) that is very similar to the LL Bean vest, except it has a zipper instead of snaps. I can't see that the Bean vest is worth more than three times as much as the LE model, even though there seems to be a bias against LE on this site.

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  4. I have never understood these sleeveless torso-warming vests, or gilets ... don't your arms get cold??

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    1. The vest works for me on a fifty degree day, for example. When it’s worn over a sweater, my arms don’t get cold.

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  5. I agree with Anonymous 8:26 p.m.'s comment. If it's cold enough for a down vest, it's cold enough for a down jacket.

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    1. Agreed! One of the coldest evenings I ever spent was only in the mid-40s. I was at a night football game with that very vest and a sweater. I am sure keeping one's torso warm is important, but cold extremities seem to bleed off a lot of warmth awfully fast. OTOH my ancient LLB down jacket has kept me quite warm with a watch caps and gloves even below 0, especially layered with an unlined rain parka.

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    2. You guys must not fish, shoot, rake your own leaves or sail. It's much easier and more comfortable to move your arms without sleeves. Since you're usually engaged in an activity, you don't get cold except under the coldest conditions.

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    3. OK, Action Man. I rake leaves, trim hedges with hand shears, and shovel snow while wearing a traditional roomy barn coat - cotton canvas with effective warm lining and corduroy collar, turned up.

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    4. I do all of those things. I am fine doing active things in very cool conditions with only a sweater. However, for sedentary activities like sitting in a duck blind or holding the tiller on a cold and windy sail, a vest is simply not optimal. In my experience this is simply a matter of versatility. If I am working up a sweat shoveling snow in a down jacket, I take it off and finish in just my flannel shirt, but if I am not expending energy to generate heat and I am wearing a down vest and sweater, if it is cold I'll soon regret my choice. On a cool day doing light work like fly casting, a vest is dandy.

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    5. Dress in layers. You can always take it off. If you don’t bring it, you can’t put it on.

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    6. The idea of vests is freedom of movement while keeping the torso warm. I've had numerous vests from LL Bean, Brooks Brothers, Patagonia, Barbour liner, and Vineyard Vines, still have and wear them all the time. From fishing to coaching lacrosse (I am a HS women's lacrosse in eastern MA), they allow for movement. Why do you think our women and men in service to our country wear vests? Also, perfect layering attire for New England.

      BTW, Muffy, any update on selling your XC70? My parents had your exact model, and in their Will, parents now deceased, they gave it to my brother. :( I did get their Exxon stocks however:)

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  6. I will not be purchasing for the same reason as I didn't in 1982: puffer vests add bulk where I need it least. At 5'1 with a shorter torso this is not my vibe.

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  7. Terrific! I think this rerelease is both a fun bit of nostalgia and a great chance to pick up a functional staple. I much prefer these to the Metro North finance guy fleece vest. Orwell never dreamed of such dreary, cliche conformity. I have a green one from roughly 1992 and it still does everything it promised but these days it does it with some duct tape in one spot. I tried to replace it recently with the blue one (the one with the billboard label on the chest that I can’t stand) they’ve been selling in the last five years or so but it’s not the same packably soft product. So I still wear the green one. Thanks for bringing this to my attention - I just ordered one.. Worth noting, I love Lands End’s prices in theory but there is often something off - like the zipper, or a an appreciable step down in quality.

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  8. Count me in as someone who has appreciated a down vest instead of a jacket when active outdoors. The full-up jacket is great for a stroll or standing around in cold weather (below freezing). But it's way too warm when you're working outside — chopping wood or snow shoveling, for example, or as noted above. My wife thinks I'm nuts when head out to clear the walks of snow wearing an ordinary cotton shirt, boots, gloves, and maybe a watch cap. (And the watch cap gets discarded soon once you get your head of steam going.)

    Now for being sedentary or low-activity outside in the cold, you'll want a jacket with sleeves.

    I too had a down vest, perhaps from Bean, back in the early 80s, and when you crawled into the sleeping bag it made a decent pillow.

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  9. A proven winner, all the way around! Thanks so very much!

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  10. I generally take a walk through the woods every day, usually in the morning. It's easy to start out overdressed, and then become overheated. So recently, I dressed to go out a little on the cool side, then when I get to the lake and sit and have coffee, I put on my down vest and wear it when I'm doing nothing. That's just about right for temperatures above freezing.

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  11. I still wear mine from the 1980s. I love all my vests: Carhart, fleece, wool - great for layering without the bulk or when working outside and a coat is too warm.

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  12. There are other legacy items which would be better to be re-released than this vest, in my opinion. A good start would be their original Shetland sweaters.

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    1. I have been searching for a Bean Norwegian sweater on Ebay to replace one I had years ago. Then, I learned that Beans has just 'reissued' the sweater. I drove up to Freeport to see how the new version compared. Like so much of their sweaters and shirts today, I found the reissued version to be cut tight, less substantial. It's all wool, while the 1960s version had some rayon. But it just wasn't quite right.

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  13. Cringy brand embroidery on the front - need more cowbell.

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    1. And that logo-patterned lining is too, too much. I'd be embarrassed to take the vest off in front of people and reveal that.

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    2. So glad to read the comment about the "cringy brand embroidery" & to know I'm not the only one feeling this way. One thing dissuading me from buying recent LLBean items is that very logo plastered on so many of their products. Just another example of Bean falling so very out of touch with their original target audience. There is most definitely a slice of the public that does not want to be used as a walking (glaringly obvious) billboard... especially for a brand that continues to struggle to cease slipping in their quality/offerings

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  14. not quite the same as the original which I think was made of nylon and it didn't have that nasty logo

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  15. Vests are helpful for adding warmth while minimizing weight and bulk. I find it annoying that Bean refuses to provide the loft of the down it uses in the vest - the 'fill power.' There is a wide variety, and it directly affects how warm the garment is. I wear a Feathered Friends Helios down vest, purchased from a sale rack (they're quite expensive), premium quality 900+ fill power down, weighs less than 5 ounces yet adds a lot of warmth. Size up, they run small.

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  16. This thread needs to be acknowledged as an endorsement for REI.

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  17. I still have my red one from the 1980s.

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  18. I've ordered the yellow (one of my alma mater's colors!) to try. Many of the newer vests (such as the Lands End ones) have the zipper and are cut smaller-- I am hoping this one is roomier and I like the snaps!

    I wouldn't wear a vest outside in -40 temps, but fall and winter is often warmer than it once was, not every climate is that of New England, the upper Midwest, etc., and there are times when one wants a bit more warmth but a full coat is too much (for example, in the car).

    --EM

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