L.L. Bean Technical Upland Vest Review

Beautiful but flawed
Beautiful but flawed

I wanted to love L.L. Bean’s Technical Upland Vest, but I can’t. First, the good stuff:

  • Excellent quality: really good, durable materials, seams and stitching are solid, and the fabrics used are top notch.
  • It’s really cool looking, with very bright hunter orange all over the thing.
  • Super nice shell pockets with simple Velcro closure, easy to access shells quickly and keep them in the pockets.
  • Decent cargo space (but not ideal; see below).
  • Good hip belt and other straps.

My main beef with this vest is that for some reason they designed it so the hydration bladder pouch rides below the bite valve! To get water, you have to lean over so the bladder is above the bite valve. This wouldn’t be so bad but I water my dog with the bladder, and this design makes it pretty much impossible. The other real bummer about the hydration accommodation in this vest is that it’s too small to hold a decent-sized bladder for even a half-day hunt in any weather.

L.L. Bean Technical Upland Vest ridin' low
L.L. Bean Technical Upland Vest ridin’ low

The cargo pockets, which are actually too small to store any bulky clothes (chukar hunting is one of the most layering-centric activities I know of), ride a bit too low, right on my butt (I’m 6′ tall and I got the regular size vest). It comes with a couple of clip-on pouches, too, but when installed on the shoulder straps they’re in the way so I didn’t even put them on.

So I’m returning it, darn it. Why can’t someone make a chukar vest that’s hydration bladder compatible and has enough storage space for an all-day hunt? For now, I’m sticking with the best vest I’ve found (for my money), Cabela’s Lite’N-Load Strap Vest.

9 Replies to “L.L. Bean Technical Upland Vest Review”

    1. Thanks for the tip, Phil. I wanted to get a Badlands vest a couple years ago but they were out of business. The new vest looks great; one reviewer ragged on the shell straps and said the pockets couldn’t hold more than 5 or 6 shells. Have you had trouble getting it to hold enough shells for a full day out?

      1. The shell pockets are plenty big enough. I have 12 20 ga shells in each pocket and they are not even half full. You can easily fit 15 12 ga shells in each pocket. I just tried it. I really like the magnet closures on the shell pockets. I don’t trust the shell loops as they don’t seem to hold the shells all that tight. I don’t know how many shells you need for a full day out but 30 12 ga should be enough. Phil

    1. I just ordered the Badlands vest. Review to come. Season so far has been wet and Hun-filled. I’ve seen one chukar, one blue grouse, and one ruffed grouse. Tons of turkeys, too. Will try to get out this weekend, but have teacher conferences most of it (and a bagpipe gig for the U.S. Navy of all things). How’s your birding coming along so far?

      1. Went after himalayan snowcock last week for four days.. super chukar on steroids. Didn’t bag one. Chukar opens on the 12th, can’t wait. Scattered and varying reports down here, so we’ll see once we get into it.

        US Navy bagpipes!? Sounds interesting!

  1. Himalayan snowcock? Just looked it up – had never heard of the bird. You must’ve been in the Ruby range? Did you see one? Went out last night for a couple hours and only saw Huns – still no chukars, despite excellent habitat, tons of greenup. Birds aren’t where they were last year at this time…

  2. Have you tired a mothers vest, there not made anymore but can find one used online. I was looking at the pf tenzing pack vest also

Chirp away