The Eddie Bauer MicroTherm StormDown Jacket is a versatile lightweight down jacket that looks best after you’ve put a few miles on it. True, it’s not the lightest jacket in this category, but it boasts a combination of features that make it a choice that wears well and looks surprisingly good.
The Eddie Bauer MicroTherm StormDown jacket caught my attention and made my personal shortlist because it is one of the few lightweight down jackets that come in tall versions. For guys with long arms, there is nothing more annoying than sleeves that are too short. The XL Tall version’s sleeves are plenty long, and I’m a fan because of it.
Moving on, what about the overall design and components?
Eddie Bauer MicroTherm StormDown Jacket Review: The Down
Eddie Bauer says its First Ascent guide team designed this jacket for alpine climbing in cool to cold weather. The small-channel baffles are filled with 800 fill down insulation that has a water-resistant hydrophobic treatment. Eddie Bauer calls its version of treated down StormDown, and it’s real goose down. Initially, I was dubious as to the amount of down packed into each baffle — it just didn’t seem as packed as it could be.
Still, I decided to give the jacket a chance. I wore it as a midlayer while downhill skiing on multiple bad-weather days, as well as around town. The first thing I noticed is that it starts looking great as the fabric wears in — most down jackets have faint fold lines along the sleeves from the coat hangers when they’re packed on a rack in the store, or if you buy online, fold marks from how they were folded while waiting for shipment. The only way to change these fold marks is to wear the down jacket. With the Eddie Bauer MicroTherm, the more I wore it, the more the down started filling out the baffles better.
However, the amount of down insulation still is not impressive on its own if you’re looking for a true lightweight “puffy” down jacket. Instead, the MicroTherm StormDown isn’t really designed to be a lightweight puffy at all. What you get is a well-designed layer that has a fantastic feature: it’s windproof. In my experience, what I lost in terms of down insulation puffiness, I gained back from the windproof shell.
In terms of warmth as a mid-layer, it competes with puffier lightweight down jackets . . . except when you’re already wearing a windproof outer shell. When you wear it with and without a shell, for multiple purposes, the MicroTherm starts to shine with versatility.
MicroTherm StormDown Jacket Review: The Design
The 50% recycled 20D ripstop polyester shell seems more durable than many ultralight down jacket shells. I’m all right with that, even if it costs me an ounce or two of weight. The shell is covered with Eddie Bauer’s StormRepel Super DWR finish, which is really just a fancy name for the company’s own durable water-resistant chemical coating. It seems to shed water about as well as most every other DWR-covered jacket I’ve worn, but Eddie Bauer claims it is the longest-lasting and most durable water-repellent finish. (Ask me again in a year or so.)
The Eddie Bauer MicroTherm StormDown Jacket has a few design features that give it some interesting visual lines, which work to up its overall style value. The shoulders have channels angled against the horizontal chest baffles. Plus, the side channels are exactly half the width of the chest and back channels. I’m not convinced there is any functional benefit here, but it looks great when you’re wearing it.
Similarly, the shoulders in the back have slightly stretchy fleece panels. Eddie Bauer says they add range of motion. I’m not sure they increase my range of motion — or if the jacket just fits me correctly to begin with — but the overall fit gives me all the range of motion I need.
Speaking of fit, a lot of down jackets aren’t designed for slim, athletic builds — but the MicroTherm StormDown Jacket is actually pretty trim. Eddie Bauer says it is the company’s “active” fit style, which fits close to the body yet is designed to go over baselayers and lightweight midlayers. The XL Tall fits true to size, and while I get just a bit more material around the waist than I want when I’m wearing a t-shirt, I’m happy the space is there there when I’m skiing with a baselayer and fleece midlayer.
The MicroTherm cuffs, simple and effective.
Interior stash pocket.
Back stretch panel.
Chest pocket and zippers.
The Eddie Bauer MicroTherm StormDown Jacket has an athletic fit and is windproof.
MicroTherm StormDown Jacket Review: Pockets
I’m not a minimalist — I like pockets. You get two hand zip pockets as well as two interior stash pockets. In addition, the roomy chest pocket acts as the jacket’s stuff pocket for the entire jacket. It’s handy when you want to throw the MicroTherm StormDown Jacket into a backpack or use a carabiner to attach it to the outside of your pack while hiking in changing weather conditions.
The interior of the chest pocket as has a media port for headphones.
The only minor quibble I have is with the zippers — they are typical high-end lightweight zippers. I prefer bigger, heavier zippers because I’m willing it give up a few grams of weight in favor of zippers that always error on the side of robust caution. That said, I have not experienced any zipper issues and can’t say that I’m worried about it. Just a personal preference here.
What about the weight? My XL Tall came in at 13.5 ounces. Eddie Bauer says the average size Regular comes in at 11.52 ounces. To put that in perspective, the more costly (but also excellent) ultralight Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer weighs in at 8.75 ounces in the XL.
All-in-all, the Eddie Bauer MicroTherm StormDown Jacket isn’t the lightest lightweight down jacket available, but it is versatile. First, the DWR finish, windproofing, and hydrophobic StormDown combine to create a functional backcountry layer that can handle a little moisture. Second, Eddie Bauer offers the MicroTherm StormDown Jacket in a wide range of color combinations, including a sweet camo version. Third, the cut is athletic and comes in tall versions. Best yet, the Eddie Bauer MicroTherm StormDown Jacket is surprisingly stylish, both on the mountain and in town. If you’re not completely sold on the full-on puffy look of most down jackets, the MicroTherm StormDown Jacket might be your answer.