Eddie Bauer’s First Ascent line of hard core mountaineering gear has a great motto: “Guide Built. Guide Trusted.” Heck,if it’s good enough for Ed Veisturs, it’s probably good enough for me. One of First Ascent’s more notable pieces is their MicroTherm down shirt, a 10-ounce insulating layer. It’s 800 fill down and narrow baffles are designed to give you the most heat in the warmest, most compressible package possible.
In March, First Ascent is releasing a hooded version of the MicroTherm down shirt, the MircoTherm Down Hoodie ($199). After a few rounds of testing on the Pacific Crest Trail, the weather turned nasty enough to give it a good run-through.
In sub-30 degree weather, the MicroTherm kept me warm and comfortable, and on one of the hikes, the polyester shell held up well when it started to rain on the hike back to the trailhead. Water beaded up and rolled off the outer shell. It took almost two hours of soft, steady rain before water started to soak into the jacket.
The stretchy panels on the side and back provide the mobility that most down jacket lack, and
thee silky-smooth polyester shell fabric feels great on the skin (heck, I’ve slept in the thing). If things heat up, the whole package packs up into a pocket.
There’s no drawstring, so drafts can sneak up the waist, but when the wind picks up I generally have a windshell to layer over it that does have one, so that’s not a huge concern for me.
On the down side (haha) there appears to be quite a bit of down leakage; whenever I wear it, I tend to find little feathers hanging on me for an hour or so after I take it off. So far, it hasn’t had any effect on the insulation, though, but we’ll see after a few more months.
The only real problem that I have with it is the amount of static the thing builds up. Every time I take it off, I’ve got enough static built up to defibrillate a cat. It comes in pretty handy if you want to keep them off the furniture, though.
Bottom line: With its great warmth-to-weight ratio, the MicroTherm Hoodie is light enough to be a “just in case” addition to a travel bag, or a go-to insulating layer when you know the weather’s going to be chilly.
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Author: Billy Brown