It is the season for adventures here in the Northern hemisphere, as the heat and sun make it a great time to explore and spend time outdoors.
Many of us enjoy sunbathing by the sea, but a great deal of people prefer the woods and mountains. In this heat, who can blame them?
If you are part of the latter group, the importance of quality clothing and gear is well known to you.
However, before purchasing anything, many turn to online forums and reviews to determine which brand they should go for.
Deciding on the brand can be as important as the actual product you are looking for, because variables such as quality, price and design vary considerably from brand to brand, making the search tedious at times.
That is what we are here for, to introduce you to some of the best brands for outdoor adventures. We have looked at it a bit differently, as a matter of fact.
Instead of just going through one brand (we have done that as well), we prefer comparing the big names to each other in order to determine which of the two would make the better choice.
Today we will do that very same thing, by looking at Eddie Bauer, a brand that has been previously featured in our comparisons, and L.L. Bean, a newcomer.
Let’s get right down to it!
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1. Eddie Bauer
A short history of the brand
Eddie Bauer is an American brand that was established in 1920, in Seattle, Washington by Eddie Bauer, from whom the brand got the name.
This is a brand that has gone through ups and downs like few brands out there, but managed to make it out and continues to be one of the top brands for outdoor clothing.
Its history is rich and interesting, including events such as the Eddie Bauer becoming the first independent company to design uniforms for the U.S. Army.
We have seen many quality brands throughout our comparisons, but not many of them have as large a collection of patented designs as Eddie Bauer does, which also includes the quilted jacket.
The brand was purchased by Golden Gate Capital in 2009, which helped the brand get back to its former glory and restoring its reputation. Thanks to that, we are able to feature such an interesting brand in our comparisons and selections.
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You might also like: Eddie Bauer vs Patagonia: Which Brand is Better?
Materials and Manufacture
We have looked at both in several of our fabric-focused articles, which are definitely worth a read if you would like to learn more about both of these fabrics and the reasons why they are so widely used.
We mentioned the quilted jacket, which brings to mind heavy winter jackets and naturally down follows. Eddie Bauer use both natural down and StormDown, which is water-repellent down as it has been treated with DWR products that make it resistant to moisture.
Aside from natural, RDS-certified down, they also use Thermafill® synthetic insulator, which remedies the issues of down, and Thindown, a specialized down fabric that is unique and was developed in Italy as an alternative to using down padding in jackets.
When it comes to waterproof and breathable technologies, Eddie Bauer rely on eVent, a technology that performs impressively and which we have previously compared to Gore-Tex.
Lastly, they use their own technology too, WeatherEdge®, as part of their waterproof and highly breathable designs, which include mainly jackets and their renowned and comfortable pants.
Eddie Bauer Men’s Rainfoil Packable Jacket
The first design we have chosen is Rainfoil, a packable jacket made of 2L WeatherEdge® technology, with fully sealed seams to ensure that your remain dry despite the weather.
This is a very lightweight jacket, meant to protect against the elements regardless of where you are going. It takes barely any space in your backpack or luggage and comes with features that make it highly breathable and very comfortable to wear.
It has an adjustable hood, a high collar that prevents rain and cold winds from getting through, adjustable sleeve cuffs and a mesh lining on the inside to help it allow for greater air permeability.
Eddie Bauer Women’s Cloud Cap Lightweight Rain Jacket
The second jacket is Cloud Clap, an extra lightweight, 100% nylon design. It comes with a hooded collar and coated with StormRepel Super DWR that helps it repel water and remain dry for longer.
To help it cool you down easily, there are pit vents with zipper closures. Its zips are waterproof and both the hem and the sleeve cuffs are adjustable to provide a better fit.
On average, Eddie Bauer makes products that are affordable by mostly anyone. On top of offering considerable discounts, their designs retail for around $100-$300 depending on the features, with heavy winter jackets and those made to withstand the worst weather conditions being slightly pricier.
Are these jackets worth the price?
The online consensus is that they are worth the price, but you will have to do your research to find the jacket that best suits your needs and requirements.
2. L.L. Bean
A short history of the brand
L.L. Bean‘s history begins more than 100 years ago, in 1912. It was established in Freeport, Maine, where its headquarters currently reside.
Its founder, Leon Leonwood Bean, a fisherman and hunter who originally made and sold the Maine Hunting Shoe, a waterproof and lightweight rubber boot that was perfect for hunters and practically anyone who had to spend a considerable time out in the woods or fishing.
Their product range expanded throughout the years as the requirements for their high quality grew.
Currently, L.L. Bean operates more than 50 retail stores located in both the U.S and Japan, alongside their online stores that retail worldwide. They also plan on opening a retail store this August in Ontario, Canada.
The brand has been mentioned and featured in a number of TV shows and productions and they have also founded the Outdoor Discovery Schools, which intend to teach new skills out in nature and take customers in excursions where they learn and enjoy themselves.
This is a brand of innovation and high quality that designs and manufactures a number of products, some of which you will not come across in other brands of its kind.
Materials and Manufacture
As we mentioned previously, L.L. Bean is a brand that focuses on innovation and this is evident in the numerous fabrics and technologies that they rely on for their products.
“Smart fabrics” by Loomia are part of the brand’s materials of choice for some of their designs, alongside PrimaLoft® Bio, a 100% recycled and biodegradable performance fabric.
Another technology that is part of their waterproof and breathable products is Gore-Tex, a staple in many brands’ production line.
Regarding other materials used in their products, Cotton is also part of some of the water-resistant waxed jackets.
Aside from these technologies, L.L. Bean also use high quality insulation for their jackets, which, aside from natural down, includes PrimaLoft®, too, that we have previously reviewed and compared to natural down and other synthetic insulations (like this and this).
L.L. Bean manufacture most of their products in the U.S, primarily in Maine. This includes the technical clothing and some of the brand’s classic and original designs, such as their boots.
However, a great deal of their other products are made from facilities all across the globe, mainly in Asia.
L.L.Bean North Col Gore-Tex Pro Jacket
North Col is the first design we chose by L.L. Bean. This is a Gore-Tex Pro jacket, which comes with a hooded and adjustable collar and waterproof zippers.
It has Velcro tabs on the cuffs for adjustability and its hem is in a drop tail design that provides better cover to the back. There are four pockets on the outside and two additional pockets on the inside.
It comes with a two-way central zipper and also has a chin guard on the collar to protect the chin and neck from chafing.
L.L.Bean ProStretch Fleece Jacket
The design for women is the ProStretch Fleece jacket, which comes with a medium-height collar and elasticized cuffs.
It is made of 98% Polyester and 2% Lycra that helps to add some stretch to the jacket and makes it more comfortable to wear and move around in.
The interior is made of brushed fleece, which, on aside from being very comfortable, helps wick moisture away. There are two pockets on this design and it also comes with Flatlock stitching that makes layering easier.
Regarding price, L.L. Bean is quite interesting as a brand because it provides one of the widest price ranges we have come across.
There are designs that retail for around $70 and others that go upwards of $300, making it a brand that caters to a wide variety of customers.
Are these jackets worth the price?
Overall we would say that they are worth the price. Their jackets wear comfortably, perform commendably and are easy on the eyes, too.
3. Which One is Better?
We will have a tough time deciding between the two because aside from their products, these brands offer great Warranty and Eddie Bauer also offers free shipping, which gives it the upper hand considering that some of their products are pricier than L.L. Bean’s.
The customer experience is quite mixed, too.
Many vouch for Eddie Bauer, while others prefer L.L. Bean’s designs. When it comes to jackets, it’s not a clear cut distinction so we will have to give you the dreaded answer of “It depends”.
It definitely depends which one of the brands is better for you because both of them make good quality clothing.
For the average person, as we also stated in the Eddie Bauer vs. The North Face comparison, we would go with Eddie Bauer. The prices are affordable overall and there are numerous designs to choose from.
If you are looking for more technical gear, then we would look at L.L. Bean as the better option.