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< Inside L.L.Bean

Freeport, ME, October 1, 2021

For nearly 100 years, sportsmen have relied on L.L.Bean’s Maine Guide line of wool apparel to stay warm and dry on cold-season hunting trips, ice fishing excursions and other winter outdoor adventures.

The iconic collection includes the traditional, tried-and-true field guide shirt and zip-front “jac shirt” (a jacket/shirt hybrid), plus parkas, pants, vests, sweaters, hats and other sturdy staples for braving Mother Nature’s brisk elements.

While many outdoor apparel brands have transitioned from wool to synthetic materials and cotton, Bean has doubled down on its exclusive, premium-quality, tightly woven wool, which delivers lightweight comfort, warmth and durability.

“This is the originally outdoorsman apparel,” explains Jeff Miller, Corporate Merchant for L.L.Bean Hunting and Fishing. “Wool is a hard-to-duplicate natural fiber that offers many attributes for being outdoors during the colder months, specifically hunting. It’s hard to duplicate the performance of these natural, sheep-sheared fibers with manmade fibers.”

Debut of what was originally called the 'Guide Shirt' in the Fall 1921 Catalog

Fall 1925 Catalog feature of the renamed Maine Guide Shirt

To address the inherent itchiness of wool, Bean offers several Maine Guide items lined with advanced PrimaLoft® Infinity insulation, which separates the fiber from the skin and delivers lightweight warmth.

Wool is warm, breathable and quiet, with natural stretch properties and mildew/odor resistance. “It also doesn’t saturate as quickly as other materials and can absorb 30 percent of its weight in water, which is why it stays warm when it gets wet,” Miller said. “And that’s important for hunters.”

So is safety. In fact, Maine Guide’s signature red-and-black plaid is widely considered to be the original safety hunting pattern.

“Big game can’t see colors the same way humans can,” Miller said. “That’s why hunters today wear bright colors like orange—so they can be seen by other hunters, but not by deer. Years ago, red provided visibility in the field and the black helped break up your silhouette and blend in.”

Maine Guide’s hand-me-down, heirloom quality garments often stay in the family for generations and, given the surging popularity of rugged, outdoorsy fashion, double as lifestyle wear from the Northeast to the Northwest and from Minnesota to Maine.

“Wool is making a bit of a comeback,” Miller concluded. “Not only in the woods, but on main street, as well.”