User Review: Eddie Bauer Men's First Ascent Downlight Sweater
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $89 (on sale)
The Eddie Bauer First Ascent Down Sweater is an excellent example of the design and quality of a light down jacket that is becoming "standard equipment" for many backpackers. Its 800 fill European goose down is what made Eddie Bauer down gear famous "back in the day" of the '50s and '60s.
What you get with the EB Down Sweater is a no-frills light down jacket that, when worn alone or combined with a waterproof/breathable parka, is a lot of warmth for a little weight.
- Excellent weight-to-warmth
- Great quality of materials and construction
- Moderate price (and often on sale)
- Newest versions lack the inner pockets of the beta model.
The Eddie Bauer First Ascent down jacket is in a class of lightweight down jackets that is becoming a "basic item" for lightweight and U.L. backpackers. The First Ascent down jacket easily falls into this category, being light and made of 800 fill down inside light nylon ripstop.
The EB jacket is reasonably water repellant and water pooled on a seam will leak in only very slowly. The jacket has elasticized wrists and two zippered pockets and that's about it for extras.
To keep it light it has to be made with very few extras. But the inside of the jacket does have the pocket material stitched into inner pockets that could be a place for your map or for warming up a frozen pita bread. :)
Patient buyers will usually find Eddie Bauer First Ascent gear on sale. I got this jacket for an amazing $89. plus shipping. But even at its regular retail price it's still a bargain.
As a former Pennsylvanian now living in Nevada I see the light down jacket as a "shoulder season" item for Easterners and a summer item for Westerners going above 7,000 feet in many of the western mountains. Plus it is great for extending the range of the ubiquitous 30 degree summer sleeping bag. Worn under a waterproof/breathable parka it can provide enough warmth for all but the most bitter weather.
But don't forget your gloves if you do expect cold weather. Don't ask me how I know.
Update: July 8, 2012
Eddie Bauer's First Ascent line of clothing and gear has been field tested and designed by professional guides. It shows in the design, functionality and quality of their products.
The EB Down "Sweater" is far more than a sweater. It's a light down jacket that is very water repellant and quite warm. If you want a "state-of-the-market" light down jacket the EB Down Sweater is it. It will compare very favorably with any equivalent offering from "brand name" makers.
I've worn mine with only a T-shirt and light polyester long sleeved shirt in temperatures of 30 F. and was quite comfortable just standing around. I have also worn it under my eVent rain parka in cold, windy weather and had to ventilate my parka when walking uphill. It's that warm.
The sleeve cuffs and waist are lightly elasticized to keep out drafts. The stand-up collar also easily virtually eliminates heat loss from the neck in cold weather when fully zipped. The zipper has a light sueded chin/neck protector, always a thoughtful touch.
I bought my EB Down Sweater a few years ago after a VERY cold August (yes) morning on the PCT heading down from Olancha Peak in 16°F weather with only light poly hiking clothes, a light fleece vest, and a GTX PacLite parka. Lesson learned! When backpacking the Sierras, Rockies or even my own Las Vegas' Spring Mountains above 7,000 ft. take a light down jacket.
The only improvement I could recommend for this jacket is that Eddie Bauer use the new Dri-Down treatment to make down much more water resistant and faster drying.
BTW, I'm wearing this jacket in my avatar photo.