Patagonia vs LL Bean: Which Outdoor Gear is Best?

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When it comes to outdoor clothing, there are so many brands to choose from that it can be difficult to know which one will be able to give you exactly what you need from your outdoor gear.

Two outdoor brands that share some similarities (but also a few differences) are Patagonia and LL Bean.

Both have proven to be popular among outdoor enthusiasts and they have a wide range of products available that fit into pretty much all outdoor activities.

In this article, we take a close look at both Patagonia and LL Bean to give you a better understanding of these two heavily featured brands so you can decide which one is right for you.

Patagonia and LL Bean Reviewed

Patagonia 

Patagonia began in 1973 and have proven to be one of the best outdoor brands out there.

They are known for manufacturing some of the highest quality outdoor gear you can find, but they do so in a sustainable way.

From Patagonia’s beginning when climbing gear was the main product range, they have grown into a hugely popular worldwide brand that fits in the high-end area of the market.

Patagonia are one of the most environmentally conscious brands out there. They have built a strong reputation for being an outdoor brand that actually cares about our Planet.

There are certainly other brands who claim to do their bit for the environment but Patagonia continue to prove that they really do try their best to keep the earth as healthy as possible.

With its roots in California, Patagonia is an American brand that creates some of the most impressive and best performing outdoor clothing you’ll find anywhere.

Patagonia Manufacturing Details

As already mentioned (and it will likely be mentioned a few more times), Patagonia is an extremely environmentally conscious brand.

Many of the materials used in the manufacturing process are recycled and they are actually one of a very small number of brands that turn recycled plastic bottles into clothing.

Considering the negative impact single-use bottles seem to be having on the environment, using them like this is an awesome and very positive thing to do.

Obviously, some materials needed to make Patagonia’s products aren’t recycled. However, when recycled materials can’t be used, Patagonia make sure anything being used is sourced ethically and sustainably.

For example, hemp has been used by Patagonia since 1997. Hemp is one of the most sustainable materials in the world so does not have the negative impact on the planet as other commonly used materials have.

Organic cotton is another material considered to be more environmentally friendly than others and it is used in a lot of Patagonia gear.

One issue in the manufacturing process that Patagonia are very honest about is the DWR coating.

Any water-resistant product usually has a durable water repellent sprayed onto it and this doesn’t tend to be as environmentally friendly as Patagonia would like.

Patagonia currently use a DWR that requires less application than others but they are still trying to find a suitable, more sustainable solution. They talk about this on their website so it is something the brand is very open and transparent about.

One thing that makes Patagonia stand out compared to other brands is the thorough testing they put their products through.

All products are put through their paces and it’s only the best ones that actually make it onto the market.

Types of Jackets

Patagonia have built a strong reputation for making long-lasting, high-performing, and extremely well-made gear for your outdoor adventures.

Patagonia have a wide range of jackets in their product line.

Some of the most popular include the Patagonia Nano Puff (click here to buy), the Houdini, and the Nano air.

The Nano Puff, for example, is windproof, water-resistant, and is extremely lightweight. It is a highly insulated jacket but (as to be expected with Patagonia) it is made using recycled materials.

Patagonia have made the shell and lining of the Nano Puff jacket from recycled polyester and the insulation consists of 100% postconsumer recycled polyester. On top of that, it is made using Patagonia’s PURE technology.

PURE stands for produced using reduced emissions. Not only does Patagonia care about using sustainable materials, but they also do their best to keep the impact of production on the environment as low as possible too.

That is clear to see in the Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket (click here to buy).

While there are lighter and more affordable jackets out there, Patagonia have built a strong reputation for making long-lasting, high-performing, and extremely well-made gear for your outdoor adventures.

Other Gear

As well as manufacturing some of the best jackets out there, Patagonia offer a wide range of outdoor wear.

From t-shirts to shorts, pants to hats, Patagonia have something useful for pretty much any outdoor activity.

They also offer some activity-specific products such as wetsuits and climbing gear.

Patagonia are a hugely popular brand and have built a strong reputation for making products that not only perform well in the wild, but are also incredibly long-lasting and durable.

Whether you go for one of the down jackets, the waterproof shorts, or any other Patagonia product – avid outdoor enthusiasts will be pleased that they chose to buy from this brand.

Patagonia Philosophy

Patagonia are a brand that truly cares about the environment as well as making high-quality outdoor products.

The brand has clear values that they work under and this has helped them become one of the most well-known and popular brands within the outdoor community.

Patagonia want to build the best product possible while causing no unnecessary harm. They also want to use business to protect nature and to not be bound by convention.

Working with these values in mind does have quite a big impact on how Patagonia makes their products. As they source the materials used carefully and use as environmentally-friendly methods of manufacture as possible, Patagonia are definitely a high-end and pretty pricey brand.

That being said, Patagonia products are extremely well-made, long-lasting, durable, and perform to a high level.

Patagonia is one of the most heavily featured brands in the outdoor world and it is their commitment to the planet and to making the best products possible that have got them into their current position.

LL Bean

LL Bean boots are made from premium full-grain leather that sheds rain and snow and became popular for hunters and fishermen. 

Leon Leonwood Bean created LL Bean more than 100 years ago in Maine and launched his Maine Hunting Shoe.

After the boots LL Bean made for hunters and fishermen became popular with a much larger audience, the brand began to manufacture outdoor products such as chunky sweaters, canvas field coats, and other outdoor gear that continued to be popular with outdoor lovers.

As an American company, they stepped up during world war two and adapted their hunting boots so the American Navy and Army could use them while fighting.

Leon Leonwood Bean took his creation to the next level in the 1950s when he introduced the 24 hours 365 days service. As hunters and fishermen were already trying to buy from his store in the middle of the night, he decided to make it available at all times. This helped truly launch LL Bean to the high level it is at today.

LL Bean is now a billion-dollar company and has over 50 stores in the US, Canada, and Japan.

LL Bean Manufacturing Details

LL Bean are one of the outdoor companies that don’t just rely on current materials to make their products – they actually develop their own too.

The brand uses Loomia fabrics and Gore-Tex a lot throughout their product range. Gore-Tex, in particular, is one of the most well-known materials for water resistance, durability, and breathability.

Like Patagonia, LL Bean also use PrimaLoft synthetic insulation and natural down in their jackets.

They also make some of their products using cotton which is not a particularly common material to use for outdoor products as it is not known for being very good at withstanding wet weather very well.

LL Bean get around this issue by applying wax to the cotton. This obviously isn’t as environmentally friendly as the processes used by Patagonia but it does still make some high-performing outdoor attire.

While most of the brand’s products are still made in Maine, some are made in Asia and shipped to the States and beyond.

As somewhat less-sustainable materials and processes are used in manufacturing LL Bean products, they offer a wide range of pricing compared to Patagonia.

Some LL Bean products cost as little as $70 although they do still offer more high-end gear too. This is one of the biggest differences between Patagonia and LL Bean as all of Patagonia’s products are at high price points.

If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly brand – LL Bean could be a good choice.

Types of LL Bean Jackets

LL Bean jackets is a standalone jacket on milder days but it can also be worn as a mid-layer to increase your comfort and warmth in colder conditions.

LL Bean make a wide range of jackets that perform well in the great outdoors.

Their testing might not be as extreme or as thorough as Patagonia’s, but they still continually prove that they make high-performance jackets that can comfortably withstand the rigors of outdoor life.

One of the jackets at the lower end of the price range is the Men’s Mountain Classic Puffer Jacket (click here to buy).

This comes in a range of color options and is a very lightweight jacket.

It works as a standalone jacket on milder days but it can also be worn as a mid-layer to increase your comfort and warmth in colder conditions.

The body and lining are made from 100% polyester while the insulation consists of 55% recycled polyester and 45% polyester. Obviously, this doesn’t compare to the levels of sustainable materials used by Patagonia but, if you have a budget to stick to, this can make a difference for you.

At the other end of the price range, the Men’s Ultralight 850 Down Hooded Jacket (click here to buy) is made from Premium 850-fill-power goose down which is extremely high quality and does a fantastic job of keeping you warm and dry while out in the wild.

LL Bean have put in 15% more down than some of their other jackets making it highly insulated without much weight being added to it.

There is a large range of jackets available from LL Bean so you are almost guaranteed to find one that meets your budget and performance requirements.

Other Gear

LL Bean may manufacture some awesome outdoor kit but their product range goes far beyond this.

They offer all of the clothing you could ever want for your outdoor needs but they also offer outdoor equipment too such as kayaks, snowshoes, archery sets, and fire pits.

In addition to this, you can also get products for your home from LL Bean such as rugs, towels, backyard furniture, and supplies for your dog.

No matter what sort of product you are looking for with LL Bean, the range of price points helps you find the ones that best suit your budget and needs.

If you look at LL Bean vs Patagonia in terms of product range, LL Bean covers a lot more ground.

LL Bean Philosophy

LL Bean work with the motto of “the more time you spend outside, the better” in mind.

They use this ethos to create products that make being outside for longer easier, more practical, and more convenient too.

Leon Leonwood Bean himself once said that being outside brings out the best in us and this is something the brand continues to believe.

Patagonia vs LL Bean: The Best Outdoor Brands Compared

Both Patagonia and LL Bean are awesome brands that make some of the best outdoor kit you can find.

If price is the biggest deciding factor for you then LL Bean has a range of price points that can make your decision easier.

However, if you just look at the performance and quality of products – Patagonia does stand out as the winner.

All of Patagonia’s products are thoroughly tested to ensure they can do the job you need them to, they are made from sustainable materials, and they come with a lifetime warranty.

When you put all of that together – Patagonia offer long-lasting, durable, and environmentally friendly gear and that is something most outdoor lovers will see as a very good thing.

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AUTHOR
Rob Harvey is an experienced outdoor writer with a passion for using and writing about all the gear that makes camping, hiking and fishing fun.