L.L. Bean vs The North Face: Which is Better?

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LL Bean vs The North Face outdoor gear comparison

L.L. Bean and The North Face have a strong following and are known for their quality gear that keeps you warm, dry, and comfortable, no matter where your travels take you.

L.L. Bean started way back in 1912 with a simple pair of boots and has grown into a treasure trove of outdoor essentials, while The North Face has been outfitting mountain climbers and trailblazers since 1966 with its premium gear.

But which one is right for you?

In this comparison, we’ll explore both brands’ characteristics to find out which one might be the better fit for your lifestyle.


1. L.L. Bean Outdoor Gear

History of the Brand

LL Bean official website
L.L. Bean’s official website

L.L. Bean has a history that dates back over a century, starting in 1912. The company was founded in Freeport, Maine, where it is currently headquartered.

Its creator, Leon Leonwood Bean, was an outdoorsman who initially created and marketed the Maine Hunting Shoe, a waterproof and lightweight rubber boot suitable for hunters and anyone spending extended periods outdoors.

Over time, the product line expanded to meet increasing demands for top-notch gear. At present, L.L. Bean runs over 50 brick-and-mortar stores in the United States and Japan, in addition to its global online retail outlets.

The brand has been featured in various television programs and has established the Outdoor Discovery Schools, aimed at providing outdoor education and experiences. Known for its innovation and superior craftsmanship, L.L. Bean offers a diverse range of products not commonly found in similar brands.

Don’t miss: 9 Quality Brands like L.L. Bean: Our Top Picks

Materials, Fabrics, and Production Process

Brands like L.L. Bean, which prioritize the development of high-performance products, do not solely depend on conventional materials like polyester or nylon for their performance apparel. Instead, they integrate well-known technologies or create their own.

L.L. Bean, for example, utilizes top-tier fabrics available in the market, such as the outdoor industry standard, Gore-Tex, renowned for its exceptional durability, weather resistance, and breathability, as well as materials from Loomia and PrimaLoft synthetic insulation.

Additionally, they employ waxed cotton to enhance the weather resistance of some of their lightweight jackets, and incorporate natural down and PrimaLoft‘s premium synthetic insulation in their winter coats to ensure reliable insulation in cold weather conditions.

L.L.Bean 100th Anniversary

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Read also: Eddie Bauer vs L.L. Bean Outdoor Gear: A Comparison

Where is L.L. Bean outdoor gear made?

L.L. Bean produces a significant portion of its gear in the USA, particularly in Maine. This includes a range of the company’s timeless and unique designs, such as their footwear. But, numerous other items are manufactured in various facilities worldwide, predominantly in Asia.

Recommended Products

L.L. Bean Men’s Maine Warden’s 3-in-1 GORE-TEX Parka

LL Bean Mens Maine Wardens 3-in-1 GORE-TEX Parka
Image: llbean.com
Check it out at LLBean.com

The L.L. Bean Men’s Maine Warden’s 3-in-1 Parka represents a robust and versatile coat engineered to endure harsh temperatures, drawing from the knowledge of Maine wardens. It showcases a resilient GORE-TEX exterior to provide water-resistant and wind-resistant capabilities and incorporates a detachable, down-insulated inner jacket for added insulation.

The parka is crafted to offer extensive coverage, extending below the waist, and has many pockets for functional storage. Constructed from ripstop nylon, the parka’s outer shell is complemented by nylon and polyester inner components, and the entire garment is machine washable for effortless maintenance.

With a classic fit intended for layering with midweight clothing, it includes a removable hood, side zippers for flexibility, and a cinched waist to preserve warmth. The parka’s adaptable 3-in-1 structure permits the layers to be worn together or independently, catering to diverse weather conditions.

Despite its high protection and coverage, the parka maintains a reasonable weight, rendering it a good option for outdoor pursuits.

Don’t miss: Lands’ End vs L.L. Bean Outdoor Gear: Which is Better?

L.L. Bean Women’s Ridge Runner Backpack, 48L

LL Bean Womens Ridge Runner Backpack 48L
Image: llbean.com
Check it out at LLBean.com

The L.L. Bean Women’s Ridge Runner Backpack is a well-crafted and durable backpack designed specifically for women. It’s available in two sizes to accommodate different torso lengths, ensuring a comfortable fit. With a 48-liter capacity, it is spacious yet lightweight, ideal for a variety of hiking excursions.

Constructed from strong 100D triple ripstop nylon and a 210D nylon lining, it’s built to endure the demands of the trail. The backpack’s back panel is reinforced with pre-bent stays for support, while the mesh-covered foam back panel and shoulder straps promote ventilation for added comfort.

The pack includes a sizable main compartment with an easily accessible zipper, stretch mesh pockets for water bottles, and extra gear loops. It also offers convenient features such as a front shove-it pocket, a fleece-lined pocket for delicate items, and an interior pocket with a key fob.

The hydration sleeve accommodates up to a 2-liter bladder, allowing for easy access to hydration while on the move.

Read also: L.L. Bean vs Patagonia (Outdoor Gear Comparison)


When it comes to pricing, L.L. Bean is a mixed brand due to its wide range of prices. The jackets are priced between $70 and $500, while the backpacks range from $50 to $220. So, L.L. Bean offers a lot of pricing options to cater to a wide range of customers.

Are L.L. Bean products worth the price?

L.L. Bean is a well-regarded brand known for the comfort and quality of its products. Depending on your needs, the price of their designs is worth it in most cases. Their jackets offer comfort, excellent performance, and simple designs for different settings.

Must read: 9 Expensive Hiking Brands for Clothing and Footwear

2. The North Face Outdoor Gear

History of the Brand

The North Face official website
The North Face’s official website

The North Face is a famous American brand enjoying widespread popularity among outdoor enthusiasts for its excellent outdoor gear.

Since its establishment in 1966, the company has maintained a constant focus on creating technical mountain gear and apparel, including hiking packs, tents, sleeping bags, jackets, skiwear, and other outerwear.

The brand’s appeal expanded beyond technical wear in the 1990s, attracting a diverse clientele, including celebrities. For example, the Steep Tech jacket was featured in a music video in 1993 by a rapper.

The brand’s name is derived from the “north face” of a mountain in the northern hemisphere, known for its extreme temperatures and the most difficult climbing conditions.

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11 Brands like The North Face: Our Top Alternatives
12 Best American Jackets and Outdoor Clothing Brands

Materials, Fabrics, and Production Process

The North Face utilizes mostly Nylon and Polyester, like many other outdoor gear brands, and integrates various technologies into its gear, such as the FUTURELIGHT membrane.

FUTURELIGHT uses a highly thin nanomembrane that facilitates airflow while repelling water, demonstrating exceptional waterproofing capabilities even in severe outdoor conditions.

Additionally, the brand incorporates goose down for thermal insulation, ensuring customers experience the comfort and warmth essential for extended journeys on colder days. This lightweight insulation enables you to move freely during challenging outdoor activities.

The North Face also uses the renowned Gore-Tex technology in many products, providing waterproof, windproof, and breathable properties. Gore-Tex allows sweat moisture to escape while preventing water from entering inside the jacket.

Next, the brand has developed many additional technologies like DryVent, WindWall, FlashDry, and the popular ThermoBall synthetic insulation.

ThermoBall™ Eco | The North Face

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Read also: Eddie Bauer vs North Face (Side-by-Side Comparison)

Where is The North Face outdoor gear made?

The majority of The North Face outdoor equipment is manufactured in Asian countries like China, India, Bangladesh, and Vietnam, although the company also offers product lines made in the United States.

Recommended Products

The North Face Men’s McMurdo Parka

The North Face Mens McMurdo Parka
Image: thenorthface.com
Check it out at TheNorthFace.com

The North Face Men’s McMurdo Parka is engineered to deliver outstanding warmth and defense against the cold and wind. This coat offers a relaxed fit and is filled with 600-fill recycled waterfowl down, making it an excellent option for cold conditions.

The parka boasts windproof, waterproof, and breathable properties, courtesy of its seam-sealed DryVent™ 2L shell with a non-PFC DWR finish. It has many practical features such as zip chest pockets, dual-entry front patch pockets, and a secure-zip internal chest pocket.

The parka also features an attached, three-piece hood with an internal drawcord for adjustability and a detachable faux-fur ruff, along with a storm flap that shields the two-way front zipper. In addition, it has an embroidered logo on the left chest and back-right shoulder.

Adjustable hook-and-loop cuff tabs ensure a secure and comfortable fit, making the McMurdo a great choice for extreme weather.

Read also:
The North Face McMurdo vs Fjällräven Nuuk: Which is Better?
The North Face Diablo vs. Nuptse: Which Jacket is Better?

The North Face Borealis Backpack

The North Face Borealis Backpack
Image: thenorthface.com
Check it out at TheNorthFace.com

The North Face Borealis Backpack is a popular pack crafted to offer safety and practicality for your everyday requirements. Its distinctive bungee cord system and spacious interior section enable you to keep your belongings safe.

The backpack’s structure, detachable waist belt, chest strap, and laptop compartment make it suitable for various activities and settings. With the FlexVent suspension system, this backpack focuses on comfort and stability, ensuring a pleasant fit even during prolonged use.

For organization, the Borealis provides an external bungee-compression system, side bungee cords for compression, and bottom compression. It also features a dedicated laptop compartment, a roomy main section, and a front section with internal organization, secure-zip pockets, and a tablet sleeve.

Created with a combination of recycled nylon and recycled polyester, this backpack not only delivers functionality but also supports sustainability. Through its combination of functional features, the Borealis backpack is a versatile option for everyday use.

Read also: How To Wash a North Face Backpack: Step by Step


The North Face’s gear is generally priced higher than numerous other outdoor brands, including L.L. Bean. Despite this, the brand typically falls within the mid-to-high price range. Their jackets cost from around $70 to $800, while their backpacks from $50 to $300.

Are The North Face products worth the price?

If you are an avid mountain enthusiast, skier, or outdoor explorer, The North Face can justify its cost. Their equipment is built for comfort, utility, and performance.

When it comes to everyday clothing and accessories, the answer depends, but even in this case, you can find something that’s not too expensive at The North Face for the quality you get.

Learn more: Why Is The North Face So Expensive and Popular? Are Its Jackets Worth It?

3. Which is Better? L.L. Bean or The North Face?

L.L. Bean is famous for its general outdoor gear with accessible prices, while The North Face is renowned for its innovations in both design and fabric technologies. Here are our considerations to help you make the right choice for your needs:

  • Reputation: Both have a reputation for quality gear. L.L. Bean is known for its good customer service. The North Face is known for performance-oriented gear.
  • Product range: L.L. Bean has a wider selection of casual outdoor products including clothing, footwear, camping and hiking gear, and more. They also have a “Home Goods” category. The North Face focuses more on technical outerwear, footwear, backpacks, and equipment for climbing, hiking, camping, etc. They also have casual wear.
  • Quality: Generally both have good quality. L.L. Bean focuses on durability and classics. The North Face uses more technical fabrics and innovative designs.
  • Prices: The North Face is usually more expensive for comparable items.
  • Technical features: The North Face has more technically advanced features for activities like mountain climbing, long-distance hiking, and more. L.L. Bean offers gear for casual and moderate outdoor use.
  • Fit: L.L. Bean offers a more generous and relaxed fit. The North Face runs more slim and athletic.

In the end, if you need high-performance gear for intensive outdoor activities, The North Face is our suggestion. If you prefer casual, durable, and more affordable outdoor gear, L.L. Bean has good options.

Read next: The North Face vs Columbia: Which is Better?

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