Eddie Bauer First Ascent MicroTherm Down Hooded Jacket
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $125
This lightweight compressible down jacket outperforms and replaces the need for other transitional base layers. It has been one of the most beneficial additions to my gear arsenal in years.
- Light weight
- Thermal versatility
- Lightweight material is not very durable
I am just shy of 6 foot and when I originally bought this jacket I was 190 lb and now I am 175 lb yet the jacket still fits correctly. The jacket has elastic cuffs around the wrist and hood that help secure the jacket without over constricting.
In the spirit of minimalism the jacket doesn't have any adjustable section or pit vents. In place of pit vents there are small portions of fleece to give breathability. The jacket is also made of an ultralight nylon that, although great at keeping it light and compressible, does expose the jacket's only con of not being overly durable. My jacket has worn in the lower back but it is nothing that a little tenacious tape hasn't corrected. I say that to say this; I have a few friends with this same jacket that are of a smaller frame and not nearly as big of a dumb animal like I am and they have NOT had any issues with fabric durability.
The nylon is slightly water resistant and can withstand a light drizzle for an 30-45 min but substantially less in harder rains (comparable to other nylon jackets). The jacket has very high thermal versatility, meaning that I have used this jacket in 50°F down to the single digits comfortably.
I took the jacket out last January for cold weekend trip that got down to 9°F with pretty steady winds of 20-30 mph. Through the weekend I never wore more than 1 light base layer, 1 midweight base layer, the Microtherm jacket, and a rain shell to cut the wind. I stayed plenty warm, though not toasty, through the whole weekend (I was testing the jacket for my own curiosity).
I then took it out in -15°F and it was great to snowshoe/climb in and as a layer for my heavier down coat while at camp. It got somewhat damp during activity but it was quick to dry out. I even brought this jacket to the Everglades last March, where I only needed it once or twice when it got into the upper fifties and breezy, but it is just too lightweight to not use in every situation.
This thermal versatility has allowed me to eliminate my need to bring any kind of fleece on any kind of trip; at 10 oz and since it can be packed into its pocket it is the ideal jacket to replace a fleece. There are 3 pockets which are perfectly functional (2 on for the hands and one outer chest).
Use this jacket for day hikes, weekend trips any time you might need warmth or for layering on mountaineering/winter climbing trips. BUY this jacket, it is as awesome as I say it is.