I often say that getting kids out the door in the winter is like herding cats: nearly impossible. They never want to put on their jackets and once they do, it can be a whole affair getting them into a car seat, or to the trailhead. Sometimes the jacket has to come on and off a couple of times.
When our daughter was just 3 years old, we discovered the secret to our success: the L.L.Bean Down Kids’ Jacket. With the lightweight design, she immediately quit griping about it “bunching up her sleeves,” and we noticed that she always chooses this jacket when we’re on the go.
When I asked her why she loves it so much, she put it simply: “It doesn’t feel heavy, mama.” Well, okay then.
While it’s a featherweight in the world of kids’ jackets, it’s also warmer than it would lead you to believe at first glance. Now 6 years old, our daughter has worn hers doing everything from around-town errands in the Colorado Rocky Mountains to building snowmen and sledding at our local golf course.
It was also her jacket of choice for forest school last year where the kids learned outside every day for 6 hours. It surprised us with its durability, as it survived a year of stick forts and tunnel tag relatively unscathed.
As a parent, I will fully co-sign any item that lasts through two or more seasons of use. And this jacket gets a solid stamp of approval.
In short: The L.L.Bean Kids’ Down Jacket ($109) is a cozy warm puffer that will keep kids warm during the majority of wintertime activities. Its lightweight design, fleece interior, and high collar protect our daughter during nasty winds, and the lined hood adds an extra layer of warmth during exceptionally cold days.
Read our full GearJunkie Kids’ Snow Gear guide.
- Outer Recycled ripstop nylon
- Lining High-pile polyester fleece
- Insulation DownTek 650-fill down
- Waterproof rating Not available
- Breathability rating Not available
- Fleece lining is cozy against skin
- Down insulation is relatively packable for kids
- High neck collar blocks against wind
- Zippered pockets stash a lot of sticks, rocks, and toys
- Relaxed fit, so it doesn't easily fit beneath a shell
L.L.Bean Kids’ Down Jacket: Review
I spent a few years living in Maine when I was a kid, the location of L.L.Bean’s flagship store. While I was aware of the brand’s famous “Bean Boots,” I had no idea they also made kids’ apparel — until every single kid in my school showed up wearing Bean puffy jackets and Bean backpacks. Message received.
Named after the founder Leon Leonwood Bean, the company has been in business for over 100 years. You don’t make it that long without high-quality construction that works. The Kids’ Down Puffy is no exception to that standard.
We got our first kids’ puffy when our daughter was 3 years old. She wore it through everything that winter: Snowball fights, sledding, and neighborhood night walks with her parents towing her in the sled.
The Kids’ Down Puffy we received in November 2020 lasted until just a few months ago — September 2023 — when we finally gave it to another family and bought a new one. It saw temperatures as low as 20 degrees and spring days as warm as 50 degrees and sunny. It attended forest school for a year with her (whenever she wasn’t wearing a snowsuit).
Now, the new L.L.Bean Down Jacket we ordered has become her daily driver when she runs off to school each day. She’s currently wearing it paired with snow pants to her weekly nordic skiing lessons.
Warm Enough for Colorado Winters
The best way to describe this jacket is comfortable. L.L.Bean packs the Down Jacket with DownTek insulation, a type of water-repellent down. This insulation will retain its loft even when it’s wet, ensuring your kiddo doesn’t get cold if they go for a roll in a wet snowbank.
But the warmth isn’t only reliant on the down insulation. The body of the interior torso is lined with high-pile polyester fleece, which is exceptionally soft to the touch and ridiculously cozy.
The fleece lining does make the jacket heavier than L.L.Bean’s ultralight version without fleece. But it’s a tradeoff of just several grams, and we were willing to make it for our daughter at her age. She made it through multiple 6-hour days of forest school with 20-25-degree F temperatures, and the cozy fleece and down insulation kept her quite warm.
But, we also love that there isn’t any fleece lining on the sleeves. One of our daughter’s biggest gripes about jackets is that they bunch up her shirt sleeves and she is forever trying to hold them down while putting on a coat. But with this down puffy, the smooth nylon arms make it easier for her to slide into the jacket — without any bunching.
Light and Packable
While the Down Jacket isn’t as lightweight as the ultralight version, this puffy still feels light on kids. Many kids’ jackets are bulky and puffy, making younger kiddos look and feel like the Marshmallow Man. This is likely because outdoor brands aren’t focused on packability and making kids’ gear light — let alone ultralight.
But those large jackets literally weigh heavily on kids, especially those who are younger and/or smaller. If the jacket feels heavy or cumbersome as kids run around and play, they’re less likely to wear it.
Thanks to the 650-fill power insulation, the Kids’ L.L.Bean Down Jacket is light and relatively packable, and it feels that way for our daughter. She gladly traded in her old jacket in favor of her new Down Jacket because this one was lighter and easier to cram inside her backpack.
Typically, a higher fill power means a higher quality of down and a higher level of packability (because the down lofts better). In adult apparel, 900-fill power is about as good as you’ll get. For kids, 650-fill power is on the higher side of the average, making the Down Jacket both packable and relatively affordable.
Durable for Rough-and-Tumble Kids
In general, down jackets aren’t designed for durability. They’re made for lightweight packability and warmth, but the flimsy exterior fabric is not as sturdy as hardshell materials found in other styles of coats. Bottom line: don’t buy a puffer thinking it’s going to be a bombproof fortress.
That said, we’ve been pleasantly surprised with the rugged construction of the Kids’ L.L.Bean Down Jacket. The exterior fabric is recycled ripstop nylon, the same type of material often used in lightweight tents or hammocks. The secret to ripstop nylon is that the nylon fibers are woven into tiny squares. While the nylon itself is fairly durable, this weave pattern prevents a rip from continuing if it starts.
Our daughter wore her original Down Jacket for nearly 3 years, and it was not in pristine condition. During forest school, she’d crawl on her stomach through a tunnel to gain entrance to a stick fort or use her jacket as a seat during lunch by the river. She was hard on this jacket, and she definitely put a couple of pinpoint holes in the front.
However, the ripstop nylon performed as it should. Those holes never spread. She wore the jacket for an entire year after the micro-holes appeared. Sure, a few feathers fell out. But that was it. While imperfect, the jacket still looked good enough to pass down to another family who happily took it.
The Down Jacket doesn’t have a ton of extra design details. But the few that it does have are efficient. The attached hood is lined, which makes it a fair bit warmer than unlined hoods.
The insulated high collar of the jacket tucks neatly inside the hood. This pairing provided a cozy and protective layer. It kept our daughter’s head warm during a blustery day with 25mph gusts of wind.
Two zippered hand pockets are standard but effective. They have plenty of space to stash her hands plus the odds and ends she tends to carry around like crayons, pinecones from our yard, and hair ties.
We also love the reflective triangle on the back of this jacket. We’ve done a lot of camping with our daughter, and she loves going out for dusk photography sessions with my husband. While he snaps photos, she scampers about the wilderness, and it’s always easy to find her with the fading light bouncing off the reflective material.
Room for Improvement
Some reviewers have complained of the “boxy fit” of the jacket. When our daughter was 3 years old, we ordered her a size small and, indeed, it was quite big. It remained loose into the next year and finally, last season she grew into it perfectly at the age of 5 years old (and she is tall for her age).
For us, this was a good thing. We got 3 years of use out of the jacket because of its relaxed fit. Just keep in mind that it does run a little big. If you order typical sizing, it’ll likely be roomy.
While this isn’t a downside, it should be noted that while the Downtec 650-fill down is waterproof, this jacket is not. It isn’t a shell and has no waterproof coating, so water will penetrate it. But the down should retain its loft and warming power thanks to the Downtec.
L.L.Bean Kids’ Down Jacket: Conclusion
Before you buy a jacket for your kid, it’s important to know how they will use it. If you want a ski jacket to protect them during monumental blizzards, the Down Jacket isn’t it.
But if you are looking for a cozy layer that can repel a moderate amount of moisture while still retaining its substantial warmth, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better deal than the Kids’ L.L.Bean Down Jacket. When combined with the soft fleece interior and accessible price point, the L.L.Bean Down Jacket is tough to beat.
Our daughter used and abused her Kids’ L.L.Bean Down Jacket for over 3 years, and it survived to be passed on. This is a solid down jacket for little ones who like to stay warm in the winter, and it has served us so well that we replaced the first one with an identical second — just in the next size up.