Rated 3 out of 5 by GradStudentOnABudget Effective wind-blocking, but very boxy fit.
I really wanted to love this Wind Challenger hooded fleece: it seemed like the perfect spring/fall intermediary between a regular fleece and a proper winter jacket. Unfortunately, the fit just didn't do it for me. I ordered a number of fleeces and jackets in my last L. L. Bean order, and I found this one to have the least flattering fit for my figure (an hourglassy smallish medium: 5' 5", broad shoulders, and 34C bust - 27" waist - 38.5" hips). The size Small fit my shoulders, bust, and arms, but was rather shapeless around my middle. The XS size fit my hips, but was slightly too bulky around my waist and was too tight around my upper body, and the sleeves were on the verge of being too short. Both looked too shapeless for my tastes, and the cut was very boxy and not at all feminine or flattering. Compared to other Bean jackets I ordered, the fit of this jacket was less feminine/fitted than the others (I am comparing specifically to the Powerstretch Hoodie, the Ascent Power Stretch Jacket, and Pathfinder Softshell Jacket). This jacket also ran about the same size as the Ascent Power Stretch Jacket and the Pathfinder Softshell, but probably a size larger than the Powerstretch Hoodie (I imagine this is because the Powerstretch Hoodie is not meant to allow for substantial layers underneath it). In other words, there seems to me to be room for layers already built into one's normal size in this jacket, without the need to size up. Also, the Powerstretch Hoodie had very soft flexible fleece, and this jacket had stiffer and less plush fleece - the pile, while velvety, was very thin, and the overall feel was stiff and almost slightly cardboardy. While I would not want it against my skin, I could see layering it over something as a windbreaker that adds a bit of warmth. That said, I do think its wind-blocking capabilities are significantly more effective than normal fleece: I stood right in front of a fan, and couldn't feel much if any breeze, so if wind-blocking is your primary concern this fleece is likely a good choice. I didn't like the banded wrists - they felt a bit too tight and restrictive. Also, I really would have wanted a two-way zip, on this jacket and on all Bean outerwear: it renders outerwear much more functional and versatile. I did like the embroidered "L. L. Bean" - much nicer than how it is printed on the Polartec Powerstretch Hoodie. I think this might fit better if my shoulders and bust were proportionally smaller to the rest of my body than they are now; I would recommend this to L. L. Bean shoppers who are apple or pear shapes. Bean, please bring this out in a more fitted silhouette - similar to the Powerstretch Hoodie or Jacket! As is, this is a regretful return.
September 10, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by WILLBShopper Love this jacket! Amazingly warm!
About four years ago I bought this item to replace another fleece jacket I left on a plane. Turned out to be a fortunate lapse of memory as I ended up with an even better product. This coat is amazingly lightweight, windproof and hence, very warm. I live in Wisconsin and people are amazed that is all I wear, especially this past winter which was colder than the past few. Perhaps it would not be a first choice for winter camping, but it was fine for house/car/commute/errands and even for walking a mile or so for exercise. I found it warm enough for beach walking near Boston on some cold and windy days.
I just bought another one on sale as a gift for my grown daughter. :>)
April 15, 2014
Rated 4 out of 5 by MountainTrillian Great Jacket
This is really a great jacket, I live in the Rocky Mountains at 8,500 feet and wind is my worst enemy. We have winds of 50 mph and up pretty much all winter and it's nice to finally be warm walking home!!! I am only 5 feet tall and I REALLY needed a petite version of this which was not available, so that is my only complaint. It is too long and the sleeves are too long for me so I can't give it a full 5 stars, but it's really more than 4 also.
March 11, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by SafSis Wind Challenger Fleece lives up to its name!
I bought this jacket for cold weather hiking. I knew I would wear a few layers underneath, but was not sure how well it would actually 'stop' the wind. It exceeded my expectations! I felt the wind on my face, but not on anything that the jacket covered. It is attractive and launders beautifully! Loved it so much, that I convinced my husband to buy one for himself. He agrees--terrific quality!
March 10, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by 1tjk Delighted with Warmth and Lightness of Garment
I purchased this jacket 2 or 3 years ago in a bright red. Can't praise the warmth and comfort of this wind blocked fleece enough! At 20 degrees F this is still warm even with the wind blowing. The zippered pockets are a great place to stow the car keys. Even with the hood folded down it covers enough of my neck to keep it toasty warm. Sleeves are long enough (I'm 5'2") to be able to scooch my hands up into them when I don't want to bother with mittens. Launders like a dream and is just as bright and beautiful as when I first bought it. This is a must have for women who don't like heavy garments but like to be comfortable and also warm is cold weather. Great for warmer weather too. Moisture beads up and shakes right off. You'll love it!
February 9, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by Wornstones Warm, light-weight jacket; excellent wind-breaker
I bought the vest in this same line and really like it. I decided to get the full jacket, and there was one on sale ($30 difference). The sale item came in only one color, and the photo on the website looked like a dusty purple -- sort of heather colored. It arrived today and it was a bright, vivid purple -- like a dinosaur. I wasn't happy with the color and considered sending it back, but I don't want to pay $30 for a different color. Then I read some of the reviews, and saw that it ran small, so I tried it on. It is tight across the back (something that wasn't a problem with the sleeveless vest). This would make it uncomfortable for driving. The hood is tight around the face, which isn't flattering, but it's a good design feature on a windy day; it will keep the wind out. I wish they had more colors available in this jacket.
February 6, 2014
Rated 3 out of 5 by Iminthegarden Very Snug Hood
I ordered a size small with the hood and returned it as the hood fits very tight around the head and face. It's goofy looking for one thing. The other is it won't fit over my long hair as I usually have it pulled back, in braids, or on top of my head when I'm hiking or going for a walk. I need a hood that is roomy enough to go over my hair and also over a beanie if the wind picks up and I need a little extra protection. I have the same jacket without the hood in XS and it does fit closely so thought I'd try this in a small. I returned it. Wish I'd ordered the Mountain Laurel 3:1 but it's sold out. Will wait till next year and see how these jackets are styled before trying again.
February 2, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by llbeansavestheday Favorite Fleece
The wind challenger fleece's (new?) look is extremely attractive. Some reviewers say it runs small, but its Small is much roomier than Smalls from other competitor companies. Also very good against strong winds. Please never discontinue this highly practical and attractive item!
January 24, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by DawnD Best fleece I own
It's comfortable, truly is more windproof than any other fleece I've owned, and is great in drizzle, too. This jacket is a staple of my wardrobe, even wear it in winter with a down vest over it for all but the bitter cold. Wouldn't change anything about it - except maybe offering it in more colors!
January 5, 2014
Rated 3 out of 5 by AndoverChris Too small for a "regular" sized woman
I don't like a sloppy oversized fit, but I was surprised at the snug - and skimpy - fit of this coat. The bottom of the large barely reached my hips (I'm 5'7"/size 12 and the sleeves ended an inch above my wrist. I've had a wind challenger fleece before, and it was a very warm coat - good to 20 degrees in a strong wind - considering that it is not at all bulky. If you are between petite and regular sizes #perhaps 5'4" then this will fit beautifully. But those over 5'5" should probably make another choice. I returned this coat after one wearing because the amount of exposed skin means that it simply wasn't warm enough.
One other nit - given the price, I'd like a metal zipper pull please, not a cheap plastic tab.
December 12, 2013