Eddie Bauer First Ascent MicroTherm Down Hooded Jacket

Reviews

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A layering piece for anyone that wants to shave some…

Rating: rated 2.5 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $129.99 winter clearance sale

Summary

A layering piece for anyone that wants to shave some weight by not carrying a fleece midlayer. This could replace a fleece, but will not move moisture away from you like a fleece.

Pros

  • Very light
  • Layers well under hard shell
  • Eddie Bauer Warranty is excellent
  • Jacket goes on large discount from time to time

Cons

  • Zipper is weak
  • Doesn't wick moisture well
  • No way to cinch waist up in windy situations

I had this jacket twice. The first one I had to use the excellent EB warranty after two months because the very end of the zipper tab broke, rendering my zipper useless. It is lightweight plastic instead of metal. This shaves weight but sacrifices durability. 

The next one that I had I used for about a week. The reason that I returned it and bought instead the EB Downlight Sweater was this, this jacket is good as a layering piece in similar temps where you might usually want to wear a Capilene midweight or fleece midweight layer. Although during heavier activities it caused me to sweat quite a bit more than if I were layering with fleece. Once I would begin to sweat I felt that I just stayed wet under this layer. 

First I had the older model that lacked the DWR treated down, and that would wet out quickly once I started to sweat. The second model I had was the 2015 model with the DWR treated down. This upgrade did seem to make a difference in loftiness being in the loftier range when I was sweaty. But there were a couple of reasons I would still feel cold once I started to perspire. 

The first being that there was no cinch at the waist on this jacket. There wasn't elastic at the waist either. I tried both a large and extra large and I would get gusts of wind, up the waist whenever there was a windy day. 

The other reason was that once this jacket did become fairly sweaty, it began to just feel like the moisture wasn't going anywhere. I have had other coats where I can see the moisture on my back on the outside of outer shell fabric, which has left me drier and feeling warmer. This was not the case with this jacket.

Construction is fair for the price range if the item is purchased on sale. I really feel that in the case of this jacket you are likely going to use the EB warranty on this product within one season. Which may be fine for some people, maybe not for others. I was really gentle on the lightweight zipper and it still broke.

I had  a couple of stitches that were off their intended mark, in places that most consumers wouldn't notice. One being near the bottom of the garment on the inside, and one being near the inside of the right armpit. I did also find at least a few baffles in the arms that appeared to not have any down fill in them. 

The down fill in the arms also seemed to migrate to the outer part of the arms and leave the inside of the arm with less fill. 

Water resistance on the outer shell was great in snowfall. I never felt like the jacket was getting wet from the outside. I never wore it in the rain. 

Warmth on the jacket was moderate. As long as I didn't break a sweat I was comfortable. I wore the jacket in temperature ranging from 40 degrees f to -15 degrees f. 

The jacket's outer shell when I had it didn't seem to show any signs of abrasion. I was wearing this mostly for work outdoors, and not always carrying a pack. 

Pockets all functioned as intended. The hand pockets on the side are unlined and the zippers worked well to stay closed. The single chest pocket stays zipped well and features a small hole to pass a headphone cord,  I never used this pocket to stow my phone because it would end up sweaty. 

The wrists featured an elastic on the ends, but somehow always still let wind up the arm. I thought that moving from an XL to a large would reduce the wrist size but it didn't seem to. 

The things that I would want to see this jacket improve on for me to consider owning it again would be easy to change. First, I would like to see some elastic in the waist or a very light shock-cord cinch that would not add much weight to the jacket.

I would like to see all baffles containing down fill. I would also like to see a slightly more "breathable" or moisture wicking inner shell material. Lastly, I would like to see an upgrade to the zipper. Not one much larger, but just the addition of a piece of metal at the bottom tab so that it would be a little more durable. The last thing you would want to happen on a thru-hike would be for your zipper to fail on your puffy.  

If Eddie Bauer made these changes I think the MSRP of $199.99 would be more realistic since it is competing with products like the Patagonia Nano Puff or Down Sweater (when they are on sale) and overall the product would be better. 

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This lightweight compressible down jacket outperforms…

Rating: rated 5 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $125

Summary

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.

Pros

  • Light weight
  • Compressible
  • Thermal versatility

Cons

  • 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.

Eddie Bauer First Ascent MicroTherm Down Hooded Jacket

MSRP:
$199.00 (men's)

The Eddie Bauer First Ascent MicroTherm Down Hooded Jacket is not available from the stores we monitor. It was last seen June 27, 2013 at Eddie Bauer.

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