I’m guessing there are more than a few of you who recall the creaky floors and the comforting smell of leather and wood in the ol’ L.L. Bean flagship store on Main Street in Freeport. During the 1960’s and 70’s, my family would head to Bean’s for boots, chamois shirts, gear for cold weather and camping. I begged my mother to hand down to me her LL Bean “Lounger” boots to me. They were cool, easy to wear, comfy, and perfect for my 14 year-old self and my twice daily chores at the barn. The company, which celebrated its centennial in 2012, resoled the boots at least twice.
Of course, the Maine company also sells cold weather comforts for the rest of the body, too.
The Baxter State Parka (named after the 210,000 acre park that’s host to Maine’s highest peak, Mount Katahdin) is making winter a cozy affair, and has been for years. The latest version is a worthy model that, like a lot of Bean’s offerings, improves on the original while staying true to form as a no-fuss, functional, highly capable piece.
The parka falls nicely below the hip, covering the backside, and ensuring that no cold breeze will drift up to one’s waistline and torso.
One of its best features is the TEK 2 polyester shell:
— It’s waterproof and easily sheds water, hay, and shavings
— It’s quiet. You can move about the barn and go for walks without the distracting screek-screek-screek that so many coat sleeves make as they brush past the coat body.
— The colors are warmer and more textured than past iterations, making it prettier and easier to hide, um, the consequences of barn work.
— It easily passes the barn-to-town test for outerwear that works well for chores and then looks presentable for trips to town.
It almost goes without saying that this parka is warm. It’s filled with premium, 650-fill down. It zips comfortably past the chin, making a scarf or turtleneck almost unnecessary on the coldest of days. It’s like walking around in a stylish, weather-hardy down comforter.
The medium size easily accommodates a shirt and sweatshirt underneath (I’m 5’7”, about 130 pounds). Being a minimalist, I zipped off the faux fur optional hood element.
My only criticism would be the draw cord for the waist. It’s challenging to pull tight and when it is snug, the silhouette could be more flattering.