Eddie Bauer First Ascent BC-200 Jacket
Source: bought via a "pro deal"
Price Paid: $99
This is a surprisingly lightweight, weatherproof breathable jacket.
- Uncertain about durability due to the thin fabric
I purchased this jacket last spring, and used it on several day hikes and backpacking trips. At 11 oz it's quite a bit lighter than the REI eVent jacket that I had been using.
Mine is sized large, allowing for layering underneath. It's a comfortable fit on me, at 5'10" and around 185 pounds. The zipper engages easily, a big deal in bad weather. The hood is oversized so that can fit over a climbing helmet, but it has a drawcord that allows cinching it down to fit one's head comfortably. It also has a small brim.
My first few trips with this jacket were at Mount Rainier, hiking from Paradise to Camp Muir. On the first trip the weather was inclement; it was windy and raining pretty much for the entire trip. I kept the BC-200 on the entire time, and the water beaded off it nicely. The jacket did an excellent job of keeping the gusts of wind out as well.
I took my BC-200 with me on a week-long backpacking trip in the North Cascades, specifically the Glacier Peak Wilderness. For the most part, the days were hot and the evenings chilly. Most of our camp sites were at 6000 feet or higher, so when the sun went down so did the temperatures. That said, it was July in the Cascades, so the sunset was pretty late.
The weather was perfect when we arrived at our 3rd to last camp, but not much later a cloud bank rolled over the ridge and enveloped us, bringing with it a cold breeze as well as the threat of rain. I wore my BCS-200 over a First Ascent softshell and an Ibex wool hoodie base layer. The combination kept me warm, and kept the wind out. The weather the following evening was even worse, with lower temperatures plus fog and more wind. Same story.
I used this combination when hiking in the Gates of the Arctic also, a wool base layer, First Ascent softshell, and BCS-200 hardshell. Being labor day weekend, it was near the end of the Arctic autumn, so the nights were bitterly cold, and the warmest it got during the day was the 30's and 40's when the sun was out.
The pockets on this jacket are accessible when wearing a backpack, but being an ultralight hardshell, they're not handwarmers. It does not have armpit zips, because as I understand it the testers didn't feel that they needed them, because the fabric was breathable enough to get the job done.
My only concern so far is that due to the extremely light fabric, I don't know how well it will hold up over time. So far however, it shows no signs of wear, in spite of having it out in some fairly harsh conditions — including wearing it at the summit of Mount Rainier.
I recommend this jacket for anyone looking for a lightweight hardshell jacket, or even just as an emergency rain jacket.
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