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Review: L.L. Bean PrimaLoft Packaway Fuse Jacket

L.L. Bean PrimaLoft Packaway Fuse Jacket

L.L. Bean PrimaLoft Packaway Fuse Jacket

Breathable Insulated Jacket
L.L. Bean PrimaLoft Packaway Fuse Jacket
$159, 13 oz. (men’s medium regular)
Sizes: men’s regular S-XXL, men’s tall M-XXl, women’s misses XXS-XL, petite XS-XL
llbean.com

Someday, outdoor enthusiasts of a certain age may reflect back on the dark ages of the early 21st century by saying, “Remember when an insulated jacket was something you only wore when you weren’t moving?” Well, given the growing profusion of jackets with breathable insulation, those “ancient” shells that are essentially half a sleeping bag with sleeves are already obsolete. I wore the most affordable piece of active insulation I’ve yet seen, Bean’s PrimaLoft Packaway Fuse Jacket, at times on wet, chilly, windy days trekking the Dusky Track and Kepler Track in New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park in early March, and in camp on cool evenings and mornings (days were quite warm) on a five-day, family-backpacking trip down Paria Canyon on the Utah-Arizona border in late March. It’s as versatile as some pricier competitors and will fit more people than other jackets in this category.

Bean calls the Fuse the first jacket to feature PrimaLoft Silver Insulation Active, a synthetic insulation designed to be exceptionally breathable and not shift around inside the shell (which can create cold spots). The hoodless jacket features body-mapped ProStretch panels under the arms and on the sides to make those areas even more breathable than the shell fabric and PrimaLoft (which naturally have limits to their breathability). Combined with the compressible, wind- and water-resistant Packaway shell fabric, what you have is a jacket that delivers warmth when hiking (or ski touring or snowshoeing) in cool wind, or under a rain jacket when precipitation is falling steadily.

L.L. Bean PrimaLoft Packaway Fuse Jacket

L.L. Bean PrimaLoft Packaway Fuse Jacket

For people who head out in all kinds of weather, the Fuse offers warmth when you’re on the go as well as when taking a break or in camp—you can wear it constantly, making few layering changes because moisture from body heat passes through the insulation, drying a damp base layer. I don’t get cold easily, and the jacket kept me warm, wearing it just over a midweight, long-sleeve base layer, while sitting around in camp in temps in the mid-40s Fahrenheit. I could wear it while hiking at a moderate pace in cold wind with temps in the 30s and colder. The ProStretch side panels, while increasing breathability there, also let the wind cut through to your arms and core.

The fit is loose enough to layer underneath it, while a high collar, drawcord hem, and elasticized cuffs keep the cold out. The zippered chest pocket can stash a hat and map, and the two, zippered hand pockets warmed my digits quickly in temps just above freezing. Stuffing into one hand pocket, the jacket packs down to a bit larger than a liter bottle, is machine washable and you can throw it in the dryer. All for a price that’s hard to beat.

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog by clicking this link to buy a men’s or women’s L.L. Bean PrimaLoft Packaway Fuse Jacket at llbean.com.

See my tips on finding the right gear and apparel in my story, “Buying Gear? Read This First,” and my other reviews of breathable insulated jackets, my reviews of all insulated jackets and all my reviews of outdoor apparel that I like, and all of my reviews of L.L. Bean products. You may also be interested in my story, “The Simple Equation of Ultralight Backpacking: Less Weight = More Fun.”

NOTE: I’ve been testing gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See all of my reviews by clicking on the Gear Reviews category at left or in the main menu.

—Michael Lanza

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About The Author

Michael Lanza

A former field editor and primary gear reviewer for Backpacker Magazine, Michael Lanza created The Big Outside to share stories and images from his many backpacking, hiking, and other outdoor adventures, as well as expert tips and gear reviews to help readers plan and pull off their own great adventures.

8 Comments

  1. Avatar

    How do you like the Fuse jacket compared to Polartetc Alpha garments you’ve used?

    Reply
    • michaellanza

      Interesting question, and a tough call. Both the PrimaLoft Silver insulation (used in this Bean jacket) and the Polartec Alpha used in other jackets I’ve reviewed in this blog, including the Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody and Marmot’s Alpha Pro Jacket and Isotherm Jacket, have good breathability. They differ more in the temp ranges in which they’re comfortable (which varies between individuals, of course), and their features. I’d say that of the four jackets identified here, the Deviator is the lightest and intended for the mildest temp range of them all, and the Alpha Pro Jacket is the warmest (the arm fabric is breathable like a heavyweight base layer, but the insulated core of the jacket is super warm), and the Bean Fuse and Marmot Isotherm fall in between. The choice comes down to how easily you get cold and what activities and temps you intend to use the jacket for.

      Reply
  2. Avatar

    I am so darn new to all of this and everything is so darn confusing … mostly because I have zero relation so I have no way to gauged. I looked at the LL Bean site and it mentioned if you like a looser fit, then go up one size. Well, I like a looser fit in my day-t-day but is that advantageous in backpacking? NO clue? May be completely unfair to ask you ‘your thoughts and suggestions’ ?

    Reply
    • MichaelALanza

      Hi Christine, take a look at the photos above, they’ll give you a sense of the fit. The guy wearing the jacket is stocky but not big. I would suggest buying the size you normally wear in a jacket.

      Reply
  3. Avatar

    I have a nano-puff that I got as a gift and the fit was just always a bit big, but I still loved it. I later bought an LL Bean primaloft packaway jacket. The nano-puff is great but the Bean jacket is better (and way cheaper).

    Reply
    • MichaelALanza

      Good comparison, thanks.

      Reply
  4. Avatar

    I don’t know if L.L.Bean is the first to use Primaloft Silver, but Cabela’s has two jackets on the market, and has for at least a year now, that use Primaloft Silver: the Silver Rezolution and the Outkross Hybrid. The latter is also $30 cheaper than what is listed here for the L.L.Bean jacket. Both also have hoods. And the latter is an additional $40 for off-season pricing, so it’s $70 cheaper than the L.L.Bean.

    Reply
    • MichaelALanza

      Thanks for sharing that, Joshua. I’m not familiar with the Cabela’s jackets you mention, so I can’t comment on their performance.

      Reply

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Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside and former Northwest Editor at Backpacker magazine. Click my photo to learn more about me and my blog. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside now to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. And click here to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.

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