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Eddie Bauer First Ascent Cloud Layer Fleece 1/4-Zip

rated 5 of 5 stars
photo: Eddie Bauer First Ascent Cloud Layer Fleece 1/4-Zip fleece top

It's unusual I would be sitting down to review a fleece zip tee - - something we all don't pay much attention to.

But I've been wearing the First Ascent Cloud Layer for my past few outings and really love it compared to some of the other fleece zip tees I have, including several North Face Microfleece zip tee's. I generally use these as either a base layer with nothing under them or over a Patagonia Cap 2 or 3 zip Tee - - depending on the weather. I usually go with Capilene plus fleece combo if I might be wearing just the fleece without a jacket. I go with the fleece alone if it's really cold and I'm going to layer on top.

The Cloud Layer is very very good for winter layering either alone or with something under it. It's a slightly heavier fleece than the other Microfleeces, but not enough to make it bulkier. It has a nice heavy multi-ply collar that really helps you stay warm and it's a little higher than the other fleeces I have and really turtles up when you zip it shut - -the other fleeces I have use a single layer collar that aren't as warm.

And probably the best thing about it is the chest pocket. Most microfleece style zip tees in the price range don't have one. I like to use it to keep an energy bar warm in very cold weather, or carry accessories when I'm wearing it alone or with a wind shirt over it. Great feature !!

Overall this is a terrific product and a very good value from First Ascent.

Fabric: Microfleece
Price Paid: $29

This is the first fleece I've ever reviewed online- this is the first time I've had a fleece that was worth going out of my way to review.

I got two of the Cloud Layer Fleece pullovers during a clearance at the Eddie Bauer online store for $10. I don't generally wear fleece, and didn't set out to buy a fleece shirt/jacket but the price was right so I gave them a try.

I'm really glad I did- it makes an excellent base or mid layer. It's surprisingly warm for the weight, fits well in the arms, torso, etc. At $10, it was an excellent deal, but I'd feel comfortable replacing it at the full $40-50 when the times come.

My minor complaints: it could be a smidgen longer, and it'd be nice if the collar folded down.

One of the things I really like about the First Ascent line is that everything is part of a layering system, and that really drives the sizing. The Cloud Layer fleece isn't an exception- it's meant to be worn as a base layer or a mid layer. The 2XL is a size or two smaller than the First Ascent outerwear I've purchased- just something to keep in mind.

I ended up ordering a handful of sizes (XL, 2XL, 3XL, 2XLT, 3XLT) and returning what didn't fit right. I ended up keeping one of the 2XLs for layering and a 3XL for wearing around town. I saw the layer-specific sizing thing as a gimmick initially, but I've been pretty impressed how well the different First Ascent pieces fit together for layering.

I've never shopped at Eddie Bauer, but since someone at BackpackingLight tipped me off on FA I've made a few more orders and have been very pleased by the fit, function, and performance of the FA stuff, as well as EB's service.

Fabric: 5.89 oz microfleece, brushed on both sides
Price Paid: $10

Nice, lightweight fleece that works well by itself or as an added layer under my jacket. There are a lot of color choices at Eddie Bauer and when they have some of their bigger sales, you can pick these up for less than $30.


  • Lightweight
  • Many color choices
  • Tall color zips up snug around your neck


  • The First Ascent chest pocket starts wrinkling some after washing/drying

I probably wear this fleece the most both as a sweater and as an underlayer. It fits nicely around the body, is light weight and keeps me warm on chilly days. When the outside temps go up, it stuffs down to a pretty small in my pack or can be attached to the outside.  It doesn't really compress so it's wadded up size is about the size of a cantaloupe.  

What I really like about this fleece are the colors available from Eddie Bauer. When these are on sale, it's not a big deal to pick up several colors to go along with your other clothes. They have a good choice of subtle colors and bright colors to meet your personal style.

I've worn this fleece a lot over the last year and it has held up well. I recommend this for both city and outdoor wear.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $25

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