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Freeport, ME, March 9, 2021

A Word to the Wise: Outdoor Strategies


David Coggins in Maine; Photo by Chase Winfrey

Known equally for his style advice and love of the outdoors, New York Times best-selling author David Coggins always has the elements in mind. As someone who embraces layering, Coggins is an expert on the clothes you need to keep warm and dry while exploring a new hiking trail, while fly-fishing waist-deep in a Montana stream, or while trekking through a Brooklyn blizzard. Here he shares his top L.L.Bean picks for styling layers and staying warm.

Follow David on Instagram at @davidrcoggins,and reserve his newest book coming out this spring:The Optimist: A Case for the Fly-Fishing Life.

We head outside to embrace the elements, but on occasion we must do battle with them. That means staying warm and dry instead of wondering how we didn’t anticipate sleet, showers or snow. Don’t blame the forecast on your weather app! Venture forth and enjoy yourself with the confidence that comes from being prepared. We know that layering is good, and boots that aren’t broken-in are bad. That’s the easy part. The trick is doing this all in an enlightened way. In the modern world, you can be prepared for what comes at you in a way that’s both stylish and technologically astute.

L.L.Bean Commando Sweater

A sweater sets the tone. I love this military-inspired sweater. It says I want to stay warm and look like I might get on a motorcycle or maybe write a poem (even if I don’t do either of those things). It may not technically be a base layer, but it’s the first thing you need when you’re heading out on a frigid day to go salmon fishing. I start here and build up. 

L.L.Bean Chamois Shirt

You know what lives up to its reputation? The Grand Canyon. So does the Taj Mahal. It may not be a wonder of the world, but the Chamois Shirt is celebrated with good reason. I know New York editors who swear by them and clothing designers who hoard them. These are demanding types, and they know what generations of trekkers and anglers know: the Chamois is where it all begins. I don’t think too hard about it – I love the original pale tan color, but they’re all great. I’ve spent a fair amount of time on eBay looking for old ones in various stages of disrepair. There’s not a person who can’t wear a Chamois Shirt and wear it well.

L.L.Bean Mountain Classic Parka

Now I try to layer and be discreet. I’ve been known to wear a cardigan over another sweater and then decide to wear a cardigan over all that. That’s either brilliant or mildly eccentric - probably some combination of both. Sometimes it’s not about pattern and texture and layers, but a definitive all-encompassing down barrier. That’s to say: you need a parka. When that moment comes, nothing else will do. I love this classic that has the spirit of L.L.Bean parkas from the 1970s, but the technology of today. To wit, it’s lighter and warmer than ever. 

L.L.Bean Double L Waxed-Cotton Upland Coat

If there’s something better than waxed cotton, I don’t know what it is. One of the most versatile things to wear, it also shows its history through marks that might be called sartorial scars. From the moors of Scotland to the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park to the Maine North Woods, you will always be perfectly at home in the world’s great settings. It also works just as well in a city. The decision between green and tan (loden and maple brown) is an enduring one with no wrong answers.

L.L.Bean Wicked Good Moccasins 

You don’t just need to be warm when you’re outside, you need to be warm when you’re inside as well. That’s why the “wicked good” moccasins exist and why they’re beloved. Now “wicked good” is not an industry term, but anybody who wears them knows what it means. Imagine the welcome warmth of a roaring fire, but portable and on your feet all the time. That’s the idea!

L.L.Bean Buckskin Chopper Mittens

There are times you need articulated fingers, and gloves are the order of the day – say, when you’re salmon fishing in a snowstorm in October. But plenty of other times you just need to stay warm. I love these buckskin mittens very much. If you’re doing something enjoyable, like taking a mid-winter stroll, or less enjoyable, like shoveling a lot of snow, then these are for you.

The L.L.Bean Boot

Choosing a favorite L.L.Bean Boot is a very personal decision. Everybody adores their own Bean Boots for their own reason, and I would never prescribe or judge. I completely support the 6” boot, an absolute classic. I also enjoy the ease of the slip-on Rubber Moc, which really is terrific. I guess you can say I love all my Bean Boots equally, but I love some more equally than others. In the end, I love the Lounger the most equally. With the side buckle, it’s a smart pull-on that I can’t live without.