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Review of the L.L. Bean Pa’tridge Strap Vest II

Review of the L.L. Bean Pa’tridge Strap Vest II

A bird hunter wearing the L.L. Bean Pa'tridge Strap Vest II

Take a seasoned look at the practical use of the L.L. Bean Pa’tridge Strap Vest.

There is a part of me that wanted to like this vest simply to satisfy the fact that I am a New Englander. Our storied history in “Pa’tridge” hunting has been evident through the evolution of storytelling in books, paintings and magazine articles. So with a heavy heart I must conclude that the L.L. Bean Pa’tridge Strap Vest did not hold up to what I had hoped for.

There is this line with strap vests that goes from overly simple to the complex guide vests on the market. A bit of a minimalist at heart, I have gravitated towards something in the middle. Just enough pockets for my gear, a comfortable and practical fit, and the ability to withstand a lot of hunting in ruffed grouse and woodcock covers. Although this vest solved some of these requirements, it fell short in others.

My vest from the previous season was the Orvis Waxed Cotton Strap Vest. If I had to choose between the two, I would go with the Orvis. But that vest proved to have issues like fit, the straps always falling off my shoulders and the buckle at chest height having fallen off its track multiple times during the season, making for a frustrating fix. The Pa’tridge vest solved the issue of fit, very comfortable in comparison, I must say. The lower waist belt kept the vest snug to my body, making for ease of movement while trying to bend and duck my way to a point in woodcock cover very pleasing. The straps never fell from my shoulders.

A bird hunter woodcock hunting with an L.L. Bean strap vest.
The L.L. Bean Strap vest fit comfortably throughout the season.

As far as pockets go . . . well, L.L. Bean needs some feedback. Getting a bird into a pouch should not be a frustrating process that often ends in asking a friend to do it for you. That would be my single greatest criticism of this vest. Past that, I just did not have enough pockets in relation to owning a bird dog. Now that’s personal preference, and frankly I should have been more conscious in my decision to understand two front pouch pockets would not suffice.

If I only needed one pocket for shells and a second for spent shells then the pocket situation was elegantly simple. The hidden pocket inside the left side of the vest is a great place to store keys and the back pocket is great for my bird dog medical kit. But what about my leash and my dog collapsible bowl (yes, I spoil my dog)? I found myself mixing those in with shot shells which made things cumbersome and added an unwelcome element of paranoia about losing gear.

Now add in those zippers. Why on earth those zippers in the back even exist is beyond my thought process. According to the website, it’s for “easy cleaning.” But I must say if I could get a bird in it without difficulty then cleaning would be a mere simple problem to be solved in the warm and comfortable confines of my home in off season instead of me having to literally take my vest off at points in frustration–when alone–to get a bird into it.

Read: Review of the L.L. Bean Technical Upland Vest Pack

With time, the zippers began to unzip themselves in the field which I heard is an issue from multiple friends who have the same vest. Some resorted to sewing it shut; I had opted for a heavy-duty safety pin in quick fix fashion. Nevertheless, the rest of the vest did hold up with a lot of hard hunting. The materials themselves were certainly of high quality.

Two seasons, two New England brand vests and I find myself wondering which vest I shall try next season. My concern with many vests is the lack of what appears to be feedback from actual hunters. It would often seem that some brands have become too big (perhaps the corporate decision makers are just too far removed from consumer experience) to truly care about the hunting aspects of their brands. Like the redheaded stepchild, it is no secret that many companies even lack employees that hunt–yet who run hunting development in clothing. Just look at the staged photos in catalogs and the results in the gear. One must shake their head in wonder. Hunting vests are not styling statements.

For the price of $119, free shipping, and then a 20 percent coupon code they emailed me once I let it sit in my cart, I do not feel cheated by this vest as the price is reasonable for the value. It may be a practical solution for a more casual hunter without a bird dog in tow if I am being fair. But the Goldilocks in me has now crossed four strap vests off my list. This makes me wonder if it’s time I move to the more complex “guide” style strap vests for future use. If so, I will certainly consider the L.L. Bean Technical Upland Vest Pack as an alternative–especially if it can retain the comfort of this one.

Upland Gun Company Dog Engraving
View Comments (16)
  • I can completely relate to looking for gear that doesn’t even seem to be worn by a hunter. My vest is still pretty simple but that Orvis vest might be the way to go. Once I save up some money on the off season that is.

    • Agree. I have switched back to the Orvis vest for the rest of the season. My only gripe with it is the straps falling down I think I may just add strap or figure out some kind of fix for that. Pockets are right on as far as the amount, location, etc. If I could transfer the L.L. Bean fit to the design of the Orvis it would be perfect! haha

  • I’ve been using a Tenzing BV16 for the last three years. Like it very much, comfortable for me, waist belt has two levels to choose from, straps stay put, two pockets if each side inf front with shell loops and easy access to the game pouch. My only complaint, the hunter orange color panels have faded over time and are now kinda pastel more than vibrant color.

  • I have used the Filson Mesh Game Bag Vest for 2 years and am quite happy with it. The Filson quality is very good and the functionality and price also met my expectations. Worth taking a look at …

  • I bought the Orvis strap vest two years ago, and have several others from over the years (Pella, Bean, PF, Filson) but I ALWAYS reach for the bargain bin Duluth strap vest. Big pockets, easy access, no frills, tough, light, sleek enough to never get hung-up. Shell pockets are divided enough to stuff a leash, wallet, keys, etc., into, and I just keep the first-aid kit in the bottom of the big bag.

  • I think the Orvis vest is a little over engineered. The shell pockets are a neat idea, but are not as easy to open as they’re made to be, and they included metal button snaps on the outside, which I scratched my gun stock on. So, that alone makes me despise that vest.

  • I know it’s a completely different type of strap vest, but the Scheels brand vest that I’ve been using for two seasons now is a really great vest. It has everything that I want, and nothing that I don’t.

  • I’ve been using this vest for years and love the two pockets. Too many pockets and I forget where I put things and they snag on branches and brambles. I do hunt with a dog and I carry two athletic water bottles, one for me and one for the him. I taught him early on to drink from the straw. The leash is carried in one pocket with extra gloves and spent shells. The other pocket carries 15-20 shells. I have a ball compass clipped to one strap and I clip the e-collar transmitter to my non-shooting shoulder strap. I have a flashlight, lighter, and dog med-kit in the pouch on the back. Those zippers make it easy to remove all the debris you collect bushwacking. Depending on how my shoulders feeling, the loading can prove cumbersome, but never a problem. Maybe I am a “casual” hunter because I don’t need much to spend a day afield, but I think that is my Yankee, New Englander upbringing.

  • I’d love to see a vest with a pocket for a water bottle. Both the dog and I need regular drinks, especially once the streams are frozen. Never mind finding a vest made for a woman. That’s just a dream

  • I have the LL Bean Strap vest and like it a lot. I’ve been hunting with it for 3 seasons now. Overall I’d say it’s a good practical option that’s made well. I don’t need to carry all kinds of crap with me and more pockets would probably just encourage that.

    I’m still looking for a good option for affixing my Alpha 100 to the front strap. I like the water bottle holders (carry a bowl? really?).

    The Zipper doesn’t seem to come undone if you leave the snaps snapped.

    The only gripe I have is one of the gripes A.J. expressed. It can be a bit difficult to get a bird in the back pouch. This seems to be improving as it ages a bit. Once you do have birds in there though, the waist support belt is nice and takes the weight off your shoulders.

    The shell pockets work well for me, although I never use the elastic shell holders within. Anything extra I might need to take with me like a pair of gloves, I’ll put in my spent shell left pocket.

    What I really like is that it doesn’t matter if it’s hot or cool out, I can wear what I want under it. Whether we’re out training and it’s 80 degrees with a short shirt on or needing to bundle up for Nov. & Dec. hunting in Maine (it was 9 degrees and 10 mph winds last Saturday) it fits nicely. The strap adjustments on the front are quick and easy to use. The vest is also rugged with good materials and construction.

    I looked at the LL Bean Technical vest but didn’t like the pockets on the front of it…

  • Hey AJ. As a New Englander myself, your desire to hunt with a vest from a traditional New England company resonated with me, and your quest for the right vest sounds very familiar. I’d encourage you to try the LL Bean Technical Upland Vest you mentioned at the end of the article. I’ve been hunting with it for 3 seasons and I’ve been pleased. As a testament to your statement regarding the questionable things “hunting” companies do with their hunting gear, the first thing you’ll want to do is remove the 2 pockets on the shoulder straps of the vest. Anyone who’s ever mounted a shotgun would know those are terribly placed. Beyond that minor gripe, the vest has enough pockets for a water bottle for my dog, hydration bladder for me, leash, box of shells, and even my jacket if I get too hot. I clip my collar handheld low on my left shoulder strap. With all that stuff, it feels heavy when I take it out of the truck, but I’ve never noticed the weight in the woods. It cinches up nice and snug, so it doesn’t get snagged on branches. I like it so much, I’m tempted to buy another, just in case they ever discontinue it.

  • I too am looking for a new strap vest. I currently have a very old LL Bean strap vest. Functions ok but is very basic with only 2 pockets and the game pouch. I need a little more storage and the rip stop material tears too easily going under barbed wire, etc. What are the 4 you’ve crossed off of your list so far?

  • I picked up an Orvis Pro Series Hunting vest because I was possibly interested. It is bulky, way too many pockets and areas to get hung up in brush. Finally it was HEAVY! I felt like I was humping a ruck sack while wearing it. I don’t know who is working on these vests designs for Orvis but they have never hunting much if any. No way!

  • Third season with the Tenzing BV16 – love it. Does not have water bottle pouches, but it does have a rear pouch for a camelbak. For me, this has been the best vest yet, and I have several from the major makers PLUS made a few from US Milsurplus which were pretty good, BUT the Tenzing BV16 is about as good as it gets for me, so much I bought a second as a back up . . .

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