Eddie Bauer First Ascent Microtherm Down Shirt

/ / /


Manufacturer Description

The lightest down layer in our long history, this instant warm-up is the ideal weight for layering or packing. The adaptable design features an athletic cut that allows this critical insulator to function expertly as a mid, outer or emergency layer. 800 fill power premium European goose down traps core heat, while the lightweight ripstop shell features a StormRepel DWR finish to shed light precip and light snow. Stretch panels add mobility when reaching, twisting or turning. A simple, low bulk hem design eliminates hardware and trims from under harnesses and hipbelts.

Features

  • Water-Repellant, Windproof Shell
  • Shell Fabric – Lightweight 1.06 oz 20-denier ripstop nylon with StormRepel DWR finish
  • 800 fill premium European goose down
  • Down-packed micro-baffles
  • Integrated stretch panels
  • Lightweight and packable
  • 2 low profile hand warmer pockets – 15.5 cm wide x 20.5 cm tall (6.1 in x 8.1 in)
  • No zippers to snag or catch
  • Elastized cuffs
  • Packs into own chest pocket – 18.5 cm wide x 22 cm tall (7.3 in x 8.7 in)
  • Interior carabiner clip-in loop
  • Measured size medium
    • Weight – 267 g (9.4 oz)
    • Center Back – 69.7 cm (27.4 in)
    • Sleeve length – 90.5 cm (35.6 in)
    • Pit to pit – 52 cm (20.5 in)
  • Retail – $169

YMMV Review

Many people probably don’t realize that Eddie Bauer has its roots in mountaineering clothing.  Back in the day the company started by making top of the line clothing to outfit people for their trips.  Over the years Eddie Bauer strayed away from their beginnings and more into a casual outdoor brand.  A couple of years ago Eddie Bauer teamed up with some of the biggest names in the mountaineering world to come up with their First Ascent line of clothing.  This clothing is designed and tested by the outdoor professionals themselves and made available to everyone just like Eddie Bauer of old.  I have been impressed with what I have seen and was able to set up a review to see if it performed as well as it looked.

View from the Front

Testing

I have been testing the Microtherm Down Shirt as a light insulating layer and sometimes outer layer while snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and around town.

Design ★★★☆☆

Appearance (10%) ★★★☆☆

Construction (20%) ★★☆☆☆

Materials (10%) ★★½☆☆

Packability (20%) ★★★★☆

Pockets (10%) ★★½☆☆

Sustainability (10%) ★☆☆☆☆

Weight (20%) ★★★½☆

The First Ascent Microtherm Down Shirt is an extremely lightweight down insulating jacket.

View from the Back

It is called a Down Shirt, but it could really just be a lightweight jacket.  The shirt is made with a thin 20 denier nylon ripstop fabric that has been treated with a DWR finish.  This gives the outer fabric a little more water-resistance as light rain and snow will just bead up and fall off.  The outer shell is also windproof giving more protection from the elements.  The jacket has another fabric used in the jacket.  In the back of the shoulders and down under the arms there is a lightweight stretchable fleece.  This fleece is not water-resistant or windproof.  On the other hand, they add to both the comfort and the breathability of the Down Shirt.

The main construction of the jacket is made of micro-baffles.  These micro-baffles are filled with 800 fill premium goose down.  Down is a very efficient insulator.  It is lightweight and compresses very small.  If you would like to know more about down as an insulator, check out the knowledge article I wrote.  Just click on the banner below.

The Down Shirt has two hand warmer pockets.  The pockets are low profile and have elastic openings, so they do not snag anything going in or out.  There is also a chest pocket with zipper.  The jacket can be stuffed into this pocket for storage and has a clip-in carabiner loop.  This chest pocket also has an audio out to keep earphone cords out of the way.  To save weight, there are no adjustments around the neck or at the bottom hem of the jacket.  The wrist cuffs use a thin elastic band to keep drafts from coming up the sleeves.

The other thing that I gave a poor rating is the sustainability of the Down Shirt.  I search around the website and could not find any information about environmental sustainability.  The materials themselves also do not seem like they are from low-impact sources either.  The down insulation is a renewable resource which is why I gave the Down Shirt a rating of 1.  If I find out any information that changes this rating, I will adjust it.

Microtherm Down Shirt Video by First Ascent

Fit ★★½☆☆

Arm Length (25%) ★★★☆☆

Comfort Next to Skin (10%) ★★½☆☆

Cuffs (10%) ★★½☆☆

Ease of Movement (25%) ★★★☆☆

Torso Sizing (25%) ★★☆☆☆

The First Ascent Microtherm Down Shirt is built to be low profile and snug fitting.  The micro-baffles have some stretch to them making them adjust well to your shape.  This stretch and the stretch panels in the upper shoulders help the Down Shirt move as you do. The Down Shirt never felt restricting.  I tested the size medium and felt like it fit me reasonably well.  The inside of the jacket is a lightweight nylon just like the outside of the jacket.  It is a soft nylon which feels good next to the skin.  The only time it did not feel good next to the skin was when down feathers poked through the inner fabric.

Inner Fabrics – Nylon & Stretchy Polyester

The length of the arms is good and long.  Even when lifting my arms and moving them around the sleeves did not ride up.  The elastic wrist cuffs are a good size; they were not too tight or two loose.  I was initially afraid that since the cuffs are not adjustable that I would have issues with there being too much room.  This was not the case, and the cuffs worked well.  I do like to be able to adjust the cuffs but adjustments inevitable add to the bulk around the wrists.  The torso sizing was good in the upper body but slightly loose in the lower body.  The bottom hem does not have any adjustability, which is a bummer.  I would really like to be able to tighten the hem for most active activities.  Around town the adjustable hem is not as big an issue.

Performance ★★★☆☆

Breathability (10%) ★★½☆☆

Durability (15%) ★★★☆☆

Versatility (20%) ★★★☆☆

Warmth (25%) ★★★½☆

Water Resistance (15%) ★★½☆☆

Wind Resistance (15%) ★★★☆☆

The Microtherm Down Shirt is surprisingly warm for the thinness and weight.  The micro-baffles and 800 fill make for a jacket that is lightweight and very packable.  The Down Shirt only weighs 267 grams (9.7 oz).  Like I mentioned above it can be packed into the chest pocket.  I did not find the carabiner loop super useful.  I did not test it while climbing, but that is the one place I could see using this feature.  Generally, I just stuff the jacket into my pack and go.  The Down Shirt breathes as you would expect.  The stretch panels are a lightweight fleece which does let out heat better than the main nylon does.  Since the baffles are sewn through, air can move in and out of the jacket a little more in these areas.  The nylon fabric itself is windproof and water resistant for better weather protection.  I would only suggest wearing this as an outerlayer in a light rain or snow as anything more than that will get the down wet and when down gets wet it loses all its insulating properties.

Elastic Wrist Cuffs

The construction of the Down Short is solid and seems like it will last for some time.  I have not had any issues with it thus far.  It is slightly annoying in that it will lose the occasional feather.  It is not as bad as some in this aspect.  I am not sure why they cannot make down jackets that the down feathers will not poke through.  The Microtherm Down Shirt is low-profiled so it will layer very well with your shell jacket.  Even wearing it with a tighter cut shell, there was still some room even with this on.  The Down Shirt is really versatile and can be used for a wide variety of activities.

Overall ★★★☆☆

Overall, I like the Down Shirt.  I like how it is really lightweight and compressible, so there is really not much of a reason to leave it at home when you need a lightweight insulating layer.  It does not take up much room in a pack and can even be clipped to the outside by its integrated loop.  I do not suggest doing this, I have heard many stories of people clipping things to the outside of their packs never to see that item again.  The shirt does loose feathers which I find a bit annoying.  Not too many but enough to notice.  The stretch panels in the back and underarms are great for fit and mobility.

Audio Port out of Chest pocket

They also help the jacket regulate temperature well if you are slightly active.  For such a lightweight top, the three pockets are good.  The only other thing I wish the Down Shirt had was an adjustable bottom hem.  This would keep the bottom of the jacket tighter to the body when active.  The Microtherm Down Short does come in a variety of colors; I tested the Limeade color which is definitely bright, but it does grow on you.  The First Ascent Microtherm Down Shirt retails for $169 which I think is a fair price.  As always, your mileage may vary.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Compresses down small
  • Good warmth for the weight
  • Stretch panels give it good mobility
  • Three pockets

Cons

  • No adjustable cords for the bottom hem
  • Loses some down feathers

Adventure

About the Author

I am an avid runner, cyclist, swimmer, hiker, climber, skier and many other activities that would make this list too long. I started Your Mileage May Vary Reviews in Early 2011 to combine two of my passions: sports and gear.

2 Responses to “Eddie Bauer First Ascent Microtherm Down Shirt”

  1. Thanks for the info. It’s nice to have eco friendly info as well as an unbiased review of performance. What would be your recommendation for a midlayer for downhill skiing in Colorado? I have very little body fat and find it difficult to stay warm if I’m not active. My TNF Nuptse is a little bulky under a Marmot Gravity softshell. Thanks for your time.

    Jeff

    • Hello Jeff,

      Thanks for visiting the site. Glad you liked it. Downhill skiing is tricky for layering. You want something that is not too warm when you are skiing and not too cold on the chair. Ideally you may just start getting cold when it is time to get off the chair at the top. With insulating layers the warmth is directly correlated to the loft (thickness) of the jacket. Thus your Nuptse was very think and warm, but bulky. I understand completely on getting too cold. Your Gravity should be a fine outerlayer as it is windproof and breathable.

      My recommendation would be for a midlayer that is warm and low profile as then it will layer better and not feel restricting. The First Ascent Down Shirt will be low profile but may be too little insulation for you depending on what you need. It is much thinner than the Nupste. If you are a trimmer build than you may be like me and like the fit of Arc’Teryx. I like their cut as it does not have all the extra room in the lower torso for me. The Atom series is a good option there:
      http://www.backcountry.com/Store/catalog/search.jsp?q=arcteryx+atom&s=a
      One last thought would be a high fill power down jacket like the North Face Thunder or Mountain Hardwear Nitrous. These will be thinner than the Nuptse but have a great warmth to weight ratio. Gennerally they do not fit me as well as the Arc’Teryx does.
      http://www.backcountry.com/Store/catalog/search.jsp?q=north+face+thunder&s=u
      http://www.backcountry.com/mountain-hardwear-nitrous-down-jacket-mens
      Hopefully this all makes sense. I can help direct you further if you need it. Just would like to know if the Nuptse is warm enough or too warm as that will help narrow down the possibilities. Have a good one and think snow!

      JJ

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>