Spring is approaching and the winter clothes are going away. Now comes the moment to pull out all of the jackets and vests that can handle temperatures from 30 to 70 degrees all in the same day. It’s not an easy task but Eddie Bauer has many options that are up to the task.
Eddie Bauer has a rich history of products which fill in nearly every niche that is demanded in the outdoors world. From pants, shirt, jackets, socks, they really do have it all. And despite not making everything in America they have a serious and strong following throughout the united states. For many years I have worn and searched for particular styles of clothes that only Eddie Bauer had at a reasonable price.
Our Test Guidelines
We wanted to find spring and fall temperature jacker that would easily fit the needs of an outdoorsman/woman. Since this is one of the hardest times of year to dress for it was essential to find a product that would hold up to the fluctuations that come twice a year, every year. They needed to tolerate a significant amount of moisture during spring and early fall, reduce wind effectively, insulate a wearer, and have the durability to be used in rough terrain.
When the snow begins to melt and the rain begins to fall moisture finds a way into every little area. Cotton is not a good material to wear when there is a high chance of getting it wet, since it does not insulate well when wet. Finding the right garment and overcoat during this wet period of the year is essential to health and comfort.
When fall starts the loss of leaves on the trees mean only one thing; wind. Without the leaves the wind will whip right through most clothes. While it’s not the only reason it is a strong reason why winter can seem so bitterly cold.
The main purpose of any jacket or overcoat is to insulate the user from the cold elements. Any piece of clothing must do this to some extent. It’s a matter of how efficiently it does this that needs to be reviewed.
Hiking and camping is not always around a bed of flowers but also roses; dead, thorny roses. I cannot tell you how many times I have ripped pants and jackets because of a thorny bush. To use a product outdoors it needs to be up to the task of handling what is thrown at it, within moderation. I will not jump into a briar patch expecting complete safety.
We are testing a men’s Cirruslite Jacket and a women’s Downlight Stormdown Vest. Each of these, while a different style, is made to handle similar weather and climates. It can be argued that the women’s vest is better suited for fall weather and while it may be overkill for spring it is certainly useful.
The men’s jacket came in a ‘rust brown’ color. It’s a very earthy tone and matches the color of a Poplar leaf in winter. Both pockets have a zipper enclosure and, on the inside, there is a space that can be used as two additional pockets. In addition to the jacket itself it also comes with a storage compression bag for packing away. Being made from down meant that it could easily compress away and fit into a much smaller space, albeit wrinkled.
The women’s vest
Through two months we tested the jacket and vest according to our guidelines.
The men’s jacket seemed like the best option for both seasons. It fit well and true to size, even a little larger than some other companies. This isn’t a negative, in fact it leaves the perfect amount of room to layer without feeling uncomfortable. This jacket will make a lot of noise with its nylon shell.
This Cirruslite shell was designed with StormRepel DWR to shed water and avoid soaking into the fabric. While it does shed some water after a short walk in a moderate rain the jacket takes in quite a bit of water. Sure, it’s not a rain coat but walking from a car to a front door will still allow water to permeate the shell. Once inside the jacket the down feather will have a tendency to release a slightly foul odor. After the jacket is dry the odor does away. However, in a humid environment the Cirruslite is able to keep moisture out. It seems water only will permeate the shell when water is set on the jacket and given time to be absorbed.
The shell does do a great job at reducing wind. Nylon is a great fabric for cutting through a strong gust of wind. Whatever the shell is unable to do the down insulation is able to handle. That much empty space between the feathers stops airflow quickly. Not just that, but the 650 down fill is rated for –10F. I’ll be 100% honest, I would never wear this in –10F temperatures without something else. No matter what kind of activities I am doing that seems like an exaggeration of insulative quality. It does well in temperatures to the 20’sF and up to the 50’sF while still remaining comfortable to wear.
Wearing it in areas with extreme terrain should probably be avoided. With the stitching on the exterior creating a ‘quilted effect’ the jacket has a lot of areas that thorns and branches can attach to. In another model we’ve seen photos online about how often the exterior sticking can catch on sticks and throns, pulling the sticking and making the down settle into an uncomfortable area. While we did not have that experience with this particular jacket it is something to keep in mind. Nylon is also a bit of a fragile fabric prone to ripping and holes. Ask any woman with nylon hosiery. If the terrain is fairly friendly or sticking to a trail or city the Cirruslite is a perfect option.
This women’s Downlight Stormdown vest was a happy fit and overall improvement over the men’s Cirruslite jacket in a few major ways. The Dark Berry color, while earthy, was enough to make it a fun vest to match a wide variety of outfits and clothes without being overly bright. Made from 100% recycled 20D ripstop polyester and treated with StormRepel DWR it did a better job at actually repelling water than the men’s Cirruslite.
That polyester shell also meant that the jacket was more windproof than the nylon shell of the Cirruslite. However, nylon will breath better in colder and warmer temperatures so there is a tradeoff when choosing the polyester shell. Regardless of that, the polyester shell does a much better job at stopping wind and barely lets it break through the shell barrier keeping a user warmer right from the beginning.
800 down fill is stuffed evenly throughout the vest. So, the vest insulation also traps more air than the Cirruslite Jacket and theoretically will keep a user warmer. However, there is a big trade off as the Downlight is a vest and not a complete jacket. They do make a jacket and hooded jacket version, but we were unable to test those options. With just enough space under the vest it was a perfect complement to a sweater and/or long-sleeved shirt. Eddie Bauer does not have a temperature rating for the vest, probably because it is a vest and not a complete jacket. The jacket itself also has a temperature rating of –10F which seems a bit lofty as well.
Extreme terrain is going to be more manageable with Downlight Stormdown vest than the Cirrus jacket, as well. The vest allows more movement and therefore more camp tasks can be completed with unencumbered arms while still keeping a core temperature high. The reduced weight is also nothing to gawk at. The vest weights 7.36oz while the jacket version weighs 9.92oz. When weight matters and layering is essential this vest is a great option.
Having a ripstop polyester shell also gives this vest some more durability. Yes, stitching is still on the exterior of the vest and can still be pulled, but there is less likely of a risk from rogue thorns. Even if a thorn does find its way into the best the ripstop nylon will allow for an easy in-field repair. Keep in mind, there is a men’s version of this very vest with all the same qualities and only color and weight changes.
Each of these pieces of outerwear serves a special purpose. Material choice is important when deciding what season to wear these pieces. While spring may be a better option for the Cirruslite –either for men or for women- since it breathes better the Downlight Stormdown may be a better fall option to stop wind and protect against moisture from rain or snow. I cannot recommend their use at the temperatures Eddie Bauer recommends but they will still do an adequate job with the proper amount of layers and planning.
The Cirruslite Jackets for both men and women range from $69-119 and the Cirruslite Vest from $55-$80. The Downlight Stormdown Vest for both men and women range from $75-200 and the Downlight Stormlite jacket from $115-250.
The two items we tested were priced at $125.30 for the Downlite vest, currently on sale from $179, and $69.30 for the Cirruslite Jacket, on sale from $99. Keep in mind, color choice and sizes will affect the price.
What really sets Eddie Bauer apart from other companies is the warranty. They offer a 100%, no questions asked guarantee on all of their products. If you damage or do not like a product you can return or exchange it. Since the company does offer a lot of sales on their items you may not always get the price you paid without a receipt, but exchanging is always an option. So, if you are in the woods and rip a nylon Cirruslite jacket just return it to the company and they will replace it without hesitation. That is all the more reason to try what you think you want and find the best product for you.
Eddie Bauer Men’s CirrusLite Down Jacket, True Blue Regular L
Eddie Bauer Women’s MicroTherm 2.0 StormDown Vest, Black Regular S