Lands End vs L.L. Bean: Who Makes The Best Gear?

When the debate heats up over the best in outdoor attire, Lands’ End vs L.L. Bean is the showdown on everyone’s lips. These two titans of the Great Outdoors have carved out legendary reputations, with legions of fans swearing by their impeccable style, unmatched craftsmanship, and unwavering reliability.

So, who truly reigns supreme? Dive into this article as we dissect their manufacturing practices and spotlight their iconic products, all in the quest to crown a champion.

Designs & Styles

L.L. Bean: The Classic American Look

A large L.L. Bean boot sculpture
Photo by kmf164 via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Since the company’s foundation in 1912, L.L. Bean has become associated with the traditional “American” style. From the brand’s signature tote bags to legendary Bean Boots, its designs combine an outdoorsy theme with practicality and functionality. 

Focusing on understated prints and muted earth tones make L.L. Bean’s clothes exceptionally versatile, allowing customers to wear the brand’s apparel in a casual office environment and on hiking trails. With its commitment to timeless design, the company’s products will always stay in style.

Lands’ End: Elegance and Versatility

Conversely, Lands’ End, established in 1963, offers a much more comprehensive range of styles, continuing to be known for dependable outdoor equipment while expanding into the world of formal and business-casual wear. In addition to earthy tones, the brand uses more vivid, brighter colours. Simply put, Lands’ End’s designs have an element of elegance that makes them perfect for any occasion.

Lands’ End wins this category because it offers more versatility and variety than its rival, despite both brands’ excellence in their design principles.

Materials & Manufacture

L.L. Bean: Comfort and Durability

Among L.L. Bean’s most important characteristics is the use of sturdy, high-quality materials. For example, the brand’s iconic Bean Boots boast a rubber bottom and a leather upper, providing long-lasting waterproof durability.

Many of L. L. Bean’s bestselling products, including outdoor jackets and flannel shirts, are manufactured from comfortable, thick materials that can withstand harsh weather. The company’s manufacturing process emphasises durability and long-term wear.

Lands’ End: A Sustainable Approach

A man wearing a green and black jacket looking at nature

A strong focus on sustainability is at the heart of Lands’ End’s manufacturing approach. Many of the company’s products are made from organic or recycled materials. Despite the brand’s commitment to sustainability, its clothes also boast exceptional softness and comfort. The company’s commitment to high-quality materials is evident in its use of Supima cotton, one of the finest in the world.

Durability is one of L.L. Bean’s defining characteristics regarding materials and manufacturing. In contrast, Lands’ End is the best choice if sustainable practices are essential to you.

Product Range

L.L. Bean: The Outdoor Experts

The product range of L.L. Bean is heavily geared toward outdoor equipment. The company offers everything from hunting clothes to fishing supplies to camping accessories. It is undeniable that the brand is an expert in this field. 

Still, their selection can be limited if you seek more than casual and outdoor wear.

Lands’ End: A Diverse Offering

A man wearing a blue jacket stares at the horizon

On the other hand, Lands’ End offers a broader selection of products. Besides outdoor gear, the company also offers a wide range of formal wear, business casual clothes, and even school uniforms. This wide range of apparel provides customers with flexibility, whether they’re dressing for a formal event, a day at the office, or a hiking/camping adventure. 

Regarding product variety, Lands’ End’s versatility gives it a clear advantage over its rival. 

Customer Service & Warranty

L.L. Bean: Focus on Customers

The customer service at L.L. Bean is widely regarded as one of the best in the industry. Though the company had to limit its famous lifetime warranty to a one-year return policy, it still stands by its products and is committed to resolving potential issues.

Lands’ End: Ensured Satisfaction

Lands’ End also offers outstanding customer service. Customers can exchange or refund items anytime if unsatisfied with them under the company’s “Guaranteed Period” policy. This customer-centric approach of Lands’ End ensures long-term relationships with buyers. 

Both companies offer generous return policies and take customer service very seriously. Still, as far as this category is concerned, Lands’ End has the edge due to its “Guaranteed Period” policy, which is hard to match.

While the focus has been on the comparison between Lands’ End and L.L. Bean, it’s worth noting that L.L. Bean faces stiff competition from other renowned brands as well. When considering the Eddie Bauer vs North Face comparison, both brands have a rich heritage in outdoor apparel, with Eddie Bauer often being praised for its innovative designs and durability.

Popular Products 

L.L Bean 

PrimaLoft Packaway Hooded Jacket

An orange and black L.L. Bean hooded jacket

Specifications: 

  • Material: Recycled polyester, PrimaLoft Gold insulation 
  • Sizes available: 6 (S – XXXL) 
  • Colours available: 7

View at L.L. Bean

One of L.L. Bean’s bestselling products, this jacket provides warmth with its combination of Core Technology (featuring NASA-designed aerogel) and PrimaLoft Gold insulation. The best thing about this combo is that it doesn’t significantly contribute to the jacket’s weight. It’s very thin clothing and an excellent option for fast-and-light outdoor enthusiasts who can’t stand wearing bulky apparel. 

However, although reasonably comfortable, the PrimaLoft Packaway Hooded Jacket could fit better. This is particularly evident in the torso section – the fit is baggy and bulky. Moreover, the jacket’s hem is a bit high, and the sleeves need to be longer. On the bright side, the model’s hood fits well and easily adjusts. 

Although very thin – as mentioned above – this L.L. Bean jacket is exceptionally weather-resistant. While in no way comparable to shell jackets regarding weather protection, this synthetic insulated layer has the benefit of retaining its ability to trap heat even when wet. The model’s DWR coating does a great job of preventing the water from absorbing into the face fabric. 

The PrimaLoft Packaway is also extraordinarily wind-resistant: all its pockets are zippered, the hem has double drawstrings, and the cuffs and hood feature elastic edges. In other words, tightening or sealing off the openings is as easy as possible. In summary, the model is an excellent 3-season (spring, summer, fall) active layer for those on a budget. However, there are better choices than this if you’re looking for an athletic fit.

Pros:

  • Water & wind-resistant 
  • Lightweight (14oz) 
  • Relatively affordable 
  • Stuffs into its own pocket

Cons:

  • Some may find the pants tight & narrow

Pathfinder Ripstop Hiking Pants 

A pair of grey L.L. Bean pants for hiking

Specifications: 

  • Material: Nylon, spandex 
  • Sizes available: 6 (S – XXXL) 
  • Colours available: 4

View at L.L. Bean

L.L. Bean advertises these pants as their attempt to “take adaptability to the next level with a pair of our most streamlined & stretchiest pants so far”. There’s a lot of truth to this – the Pathfinder Ripstop Hiking Pants are undoubtedly worth checking out if you’re seeking a pair of trousers that work on the trail and look great around town. They provide performance, comfort, and style, a combo many outdoor enthusiasts look for. 

Available in several earthy tones and six sizes, ranging from S to XXXL, the Pathfinder pants are made out of spandex (7%) and nylon (93%). The face fabric is UPF 50+ rated and, as such, capable of blocking almost all of the sun’s U.V. rays. Moreover, it is abrasion-resistant (hence the “Ripstop” in the product’s name), moisture-wicking, and quick-drying. All of these qualities make the pants an excellent option for anyone interested in outdoor activities. 

Regarding additional features, the Pathfinder possesses everything this type of product needs, like zip cargo pockets where one can stash smaller valuables/gear. The model also features front pockets and back pockets, the latter of which are zippered. There is also a fly front with snap closure and an ergonomic, elastic waist with an adjustable belt – getting that perfect, secure fit is as easy as it gets. 

Unfortunately, these L.L. Bean pants also have a few drawbacks. Some people may find the pockets mentioned above tight and shallow. Others may find the trousers not as stretchy as advertised but instead too short and with narrow leg openings. Finally, the quality of the adjustable belt could be better – be careful when using it. Still, these disadvantages pale in comparison with all the great things about this product – it’s a pair of stylish hiking/urban pants at an affordable price. 

Pros:

  • A pair of versatile hiking/urban pants 
  • Moisture-wicking & quick-drying 
  • Lots of additional features 
  • Abrasion & UV-resistant 

Cons:

  • Some may find the pants tight & narrow

Gore-Tex Insulated Bean Boots 

A pair of brown L.L. Bean hiking boots

Specifications: 

  • Material: Leather, rubber, Gore-Tex insulation
  • Sizes available: 8
  • Colours available: 1

View at L.L. Bean

An ideal crossover between durability and style, L. L. Bean’s Bean Boots justify their high price with excellent performance. These boots are super comfortable with thick socks, which most outdoor enthusiasts wear. Another feature that contributes to the overall comfort level is the presence of a microfiber-lined Gore-Tex liner. However, the primary purpose of this feature is insulation – it keeps one’s feet warm on chilly mornings. 

On the other hand, the model’s upper is made out of thick leather. While this undoubtedly adds to durability, it makes the Bean Boots somewhat stiff. You won’t have to worry about waterproofing, though – wading through streams while wearing these boots won’t leave you with wet feet. It’s yet another consequence of L.L. Bean’s decision to equip the boots with the Gore-Tex liner mentioned above, which is still a champion in waterproof membranes. 

The only not-so-good thing about these boots is traction. While the model performs better than most of your standard, low-top hiking shoes, it leaves much to be desired in this department. Its “cable pattern” does a lousy job of grabbing onto slick or loose material. Still, the boots work perfectly fine on most surfaces – just be extra careful when using them on mossy rocks and wet wood.

Pros:

  • Durable leather construction 
  • Excellent waterproofing 
  • Very comfortable
  • Stylish design 

Cons:

  • Disappointing traction 

Lands’ End

School Uniform ThermoPlume Jacket

Grey Land's End ThermoPlume jacket

Specifications:

  • Material: Polyester, nylon, ThermoPlume insulation 
  • Sizes available: 4 (S – XL) 
  • Colours available: 3

View at Lands’ End 

Available in men’s, women’s, and kid’s variants, the ThermoPlume Jacket is among the brand’s top-selling pieces of apparel. Significantly more affordable than the rival’s PrimaLoft Packaway Jacket, it’s an even better choice for shoppers looking to save money. However, the fact that this jacket costs half the price of L.L. Bean’s offering doesn’t mean it’s also half as good. On the contrary, the model offers an excellent value for the price, and here’s why. 

First of all, it features ThermoPlume, an innovative type of insulation developed by PrimaLoft. Made entirely from recycled materials, ThermoPlume is a 100% synthetic insulation that feels like down, looks like down, and delivers comparable thermal conductivity. As such, it offers the best of both worlds, sporting the water-repellent properties of synthetic insulation while mimicking the aesthetics, hand feel, and fluidity of down – it keeps the jacket’s wearer warm even in wet conditions. 

Besides this superb insulation, the Lands’ End ThermoPlume Jacket features a full-zip front, a chin guard, a standing collar to keep the cold out, a fully lined body and sleeves, and inseam pockets. Speaking of pockets, the model can be packed into its own interior pocket for easy transportation. The jacket’s packable pocket has a cord lock that keeps the pouch safe and secure. 

Compared to L.L. Bean’s Packaway model, the most significant drawback of this jacket is that it has no hood. And, as you already know, hoods are handy in keeping rain, snow, and wind from one’s face, ears, and neck, which turns this model into a not-so-good choice for folks seeking a piece of apparel providing complete protection against the elements. Still, it’s an excellent choice for vigorous morning walks around the city.

While the focus has been on the comparison between Lands’ End and L.L. Bean, it’s worth noting that L.L. Bean faces stiff competition from other renowned brands as well. When considering L.L. Bean vs Eddie Bauer, both brands have a rich heritage in outdoor apparel, with Eddie Bauer often being praised for its innovative designs and durability.

On the other hand, the L.L. Bean vs Patagonia debate brings to light Patagonia’s commitment to sustainability and high-quality materials, setting a benchmark in the industry. Each brand, including L.L. Bean, has its unique strengths, making the choice largely dependent on individual preferences and specific needs.

Pros:

  • Superb synthetic/down insulation 
  • It packs into its own pocket 
  • Water-resistant
  • Very affordable 

Cons: 

  • No hood 

PrimaLoft Snow Pants 

A pair of black Lands' End waterproof pants

Specifications: 

  • Material: Polyester, PrimaLoft insulation 
  • Sizes available: 5 (S – XXL)
  • Colours available: 1

View at Lands’ End 

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Although available in only one colour – black – the PrimaLoft Snow Pants sport a significantly more stylish look than the Pathfinder Pants offered by L.L. Bean. This is evidenced by the presence of wide leg openings, clean lines and these trousers’ overall simplistic – yet eye-catching – design. It is also why they cost considerably more than the Pathfinder pants, although they’re frequently on sale and can be obtained at a lower price. 

The most crucial feature of this product is undoubtedly its PrimaLoft insulation. Its job is to provide the warming power typically associated with down while keeping the pants sufficiently resistant to water and moisture. Moreover, the PrimaLoft Snow Pants are exceptionally breathable, providing much-needed comfort when you’re active outdoors. In summary, the model was built to perform while keeping its wearer warm and comfortable.

Thoughtful details include plenty of pockets, a functional fly, snow gaiters, and an adjustable waist. The powder cuff gaiter construction deserves particular praise, as does the vent on the inside of the legs that adds to the model’s already well-established breathability. Speaking of pockets, there are three of them – two on the sides and one on the back, all zippered and allowing wearers to store their gear safely. The pants can be washed in the washing machine. 

Overall, Lands’ End PrimaLoft Snow Pants is a fantastic product worth its price. These trousers are lightweight but rugged and capable of providing much-needed warmth during days when standard sweatpants won’t do. They work best when paired with a thermal puffer vest or a heavy jacket coat – ideal for anyone who likes being active in harsh weather.

Pros: 

  • An exceptionally stylish pair of active pants 
  • PrimaLoft insulation guarantees warmth
  • Waterproof but breathable construction 
  • Snow gaiters & adjustable waist

Cons:

  • Some may find the pants too big 

Flannel-Lined Insulated Chelsea Duck Boots 

A black and brown Land's End three-season boot

Specifications:

  • Material: Leather, rubber, flannel, ThermoLite insulation 
  • Sizes available: 6
  • Colours available: 1

View at Lands’ End 

While they sport a design similar to that of L.L. Bean’s Bean Boots, the Chelsea Duck Boots can be obtained at half the price. The reason behind this is quite apparent – only a simple glance at these boots tells us they’re less durable than their competitors. The part of the boot where the upper connects with the outsole looks like something you’d instead find on a pair of hiking boots made by a cheap, no-name brand. 

Still, that’s the only disadvantage of this product – everything else is on point. It’s a classic, three-season duck-shaped boot with a grippy rubber outsole with significantly better traction than the Bean Boot. The model is also highly waterproof and provides sufficient warmth with its ThermoLite insulation. The insides of the boots are lined with flannel and feel very comfortable on the feet. 

The last detail worth mentioning is the presence of twin elastic gores, which make slipping on these boots quick and easy. These features combined make the Chelsea Duck Boots an excellent choice for anyone seeking a pair of casual high-top boots for occasional hikes. However, if you often hike over rugged terrain, you’ll want to look elsewhere – there are more durable boots for the price. 

Pros:

  • ThermoLite insulation fends off chills 
  • Surprisingly waterproof for the price
  • Grippy rubber outsole
  • Very affordable 

Cons:

  • They are not the most durable high tops out there 

The Final Verdict

Both L. L. Bean and Lands’ End are excellent in various aspects, so choosing one over the other is a challenge. Lands’ End impresses with its exceptional customer service, extensive product offerings, commitment to sustainability, and broader range style. Conversely, L. L. Bean shines with its focus on outdoor equipment, sturdy materials, and the traditional American style of design. 

As is often the case, it all boils down to personal needs and preferences. However, if I have to choose one, Lands’ End earns my vote in this comparative review due to its customer-centric policies, commitment to sustainability, and versatility in design and product range. Despite L.L. Bean’s impressive durability, the sustainability efforts and a broader range of styles and products provide a slight advantage for Lands’ End.

Still, it is crucial to point out that you can’t go wrong with either brand – both are among the top outdoor apparel brands. Whichever you pick, you invest in commitment to customer satisfaction, high-quality materials, and outstanding style. Choose the one that most reflects your tastes and needs.

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