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Gear Review: First Ascent Microtherm and Crystal Ridge Down Parka

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By Jennifer Hobson, Principal, JLH Media

First of all, I have to preface this by saying a few things. One is that I am not a hardcore adventure chick who is scaling mountains. I’m a hiker, runner, and general outdoor enthusiast, but I keep it pretty simple. The second is that I used to think Eddie Bauer was just for my mom. My mom is stylish. It’s just that Eddie Bauer always struck me as a brand for people who were on the other side of their adventure years. This winter I learned that this was completely untrue.

I have two Eddie Bauer coats, one is the First Ascent Microtherm down shirt—the lightest down item on the EB menu. First Ascent fits closer to the body, is very modern, and definitely has an edge in terms of how it stands up to even the most technical cold weather gear. The jacket never fails to bring compliments for its deep plum color and fit. And I have to say, it is one of the warmest things that I own—deceiving because it is also the lightest and probably the smallest cold weather item that I own. As one of those always-cold people, this jacket is ideal for airports and airplanes; I slip it on when the temperature on board dips, and then stuff it into my bag as I sprint from gate to gate. The truly amazing thing is that this article of clothing will nearly disappear in even a small handbag. As I travel from my cold weather climate in the high desert of northern New Mexico to warmer places such as Brazil or Mexico, I find this to be the perfect travel piece as its great as I leave a snowy morning in Santa Fe yet stashes easily when I get to the beach. Its kind of like being a golden retriever—your coat is designed to keep you warm but is not overwhelming when temps come up.

The second EB jacket that I own is the Crystal Ridge Down Parka, in seaweed. I have worn this coat nearly every day since November—over my yoga gear, nice dresses for a dinner out, business meeting attire and grocery store dashes. It is medium weight, has a slick collar-to-hood transition that keeps the profile neat and modern, and it never looks bulky even over heavy winter clothing. Because EB items do tend to run a bit large on me, I loved this jacket for its slim fit. And because I didn’t need another black down coat, I thought the organic, natural seaweed color was a nice compliment to the rest of my wardrobe. Most versatile, comfortable, stylish and flattering winter coat I’ve ever had. Even more so than the one I bought in Paris and spent way too much on. Because, when you’re in Paris…

These jackets don’t remind me of my mom, but what does is the smart and fresh new approach that Eddie Bauer has taken to suit the moderate to hardcore adventurer—who has a fashion conscious streak!

Jennifer Hobson

Santa Fe, NM

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