Review: L.L. Bean PrimaLoft Mountain Pro Hoodie

L.L. Bean Primaloft Mountain Pro Hoodie
L.L. Bean Primaloft Mountain Pro Hoodie

Hybrid Insulated Jacket
L.L. Bean PrimaLoft Mountain Pro Hoodie
$129, 1 lb. 6 oz. (medium regular)
Sizes: men’s S-XL

Frigid blasts of wind hit us periodically as we climbed in hot alpine sunshine in a snow-filled couloir on the Mountaineers Route on 14,505-foot Mount Whitney, in California’s High Sierra in mid-April. Those are challenging conditions in which to stay warm without rapidly overheating—a common challenge in a variety of weather circumstances when you’re outside in winter or in the mountains in shoulder seasons. Fortunately for me, Bean’s hybrid-insulation PrimaLoft Mountain Pro Hoodie handles wide-ranging conditions with aplomb, so I never got cold or sweated much.

I wore this piece a lot on that four-day climb of Mount Whitney, including most of our summit day, and on late-fall and winter hikes in the Boise Foothills. A hooded, full-zip fleece jacket, the PrimaLoft Mountain Pro Hoodie’s front, back, and hood consist of stretchable, 60g PrimaLoft Gold Active insulation, which packs a lot of warmth for its weight and bulk. Considered an industry benchmark for warmth-to-weight ratio, PrimaLoft Gold Active traps body heat in thousands of tiny air pockets between its ultra-thin fibers. Even when standing around for several minutes during snack and water breaks in random, cold gusts, I never got chilled. However, PrimaLoft Gold Active is not breathable, so the hoodie’s side panels and sleeves are made of highly breathable fleece. This hybrid design makes sense because those are the areas of your body where you need to release heat when active in cold temperatures, while it’s imperative to still keep your core warm.

Wearing the L.L. Bean Primaloft Mountain Pro Hoodie on Mount Whitney.
The L.L. Bean Primaloft Mountain Pro Hoodie on Mount Whitney.

The very comfortable, semi-relaxed fit has room for a warm base layer underneath, without having bulky folds of fabric that can get in the way when you’re climbing, skiing, or snowshoeing, and I could layer a shell over it. The helmet-compatible, adjustable hood moved with me when I turned my head, with and without a helmet on, and the jacket’s collar stands tall enough to cover my chin. Two spacious, zippered hand pockets warmed my digits quickly, and create deep, open pockets inside the jacket that are big enough to store climbing skins for backcountry skis or a backup pair of gloves (or dry them). The polyester mesh lining helps transfer moisture from damp base layers to the outside of the jacket.

This middle and outer layer is ideal for winter, early-spring, and late-fall activities like hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, and climbing. It’s warm and heavier than other insulation pieces I’ve reviewed—weighing well over a pound and squashing down to about the size of a loaf of bread. The L.L. Bean PrimaLoft Mountain Pro Hoodie is best for a moderate activity level in temperatures near or below freezing, or a high activity level in temps well below freezing.

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See my “Review: Gear For Climbing Mount Whitney,” all of my reviews of insulated jackets, hybrid insulated jackets, and outdoor apparel at The Big Outside.

See also my stories:

12 Pro Tips For Staying Warm Outdoors in Winter
10 Tricks For Making Hiking and Backpacking Easier
7 Pro Tips For Avoiding Blisters
The Simple Equation of Ultralight Backpacking: Less Weight = More Fun

NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See categorized menus of all of my gear reviews at The Big Outside.

—Michael Lanza


Do you like The Big Outside? I’m Michael Lanza, the creator of The Big Outside, recognized as a top outdoors blog by a USA Today Readers Choice poll and others. Subscribe for updates about new stories and free gear giveaways by entering your email address in the box at the bottom of this story, at the top of the left sidebar, or on my About page, and follow my adventures on Facebook and Twitter.

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