Eddie Bauer has long been known for their incredible down products. In fact, Eddie Bauer was the pioneer of down development in the late-1930’s, and he patented the first down jacket in America in 1940. Eddie Bauer also developed the first down flight suit for U.S. airmen in World War II, and outfitted the first Americans to summit Mt. Everest in 1963. It is no surprise then, with this long legacy of down innovation and quality, that Eddie Bauer still makes some of the premier down jackets available on the planet.
Fortunately, I had an opportunity to experience an Eddie Bauer down jacket first hand with the First Ascent Peak XV Down Parka. This guy is the Big Daddy of down jackets. Holy warm and cozy. When you slide this jacket on, it gives you a big hug right back. This jacket is the epitome of the Eddie Bauer First Ascent line, an extremely high performance jacket that has everything you need and nothing that you don’t. It was built to keep you warm in the coldest conditions you can find, and it does that very well. In anything but the most extreme conditions, you will want to avoid overly strenuous activity while wearing this jacket, or you will actually overheat quickly. Of course, you can self-regulate this by managing the main front zipper. For the average, everyday person, this jacket is perfect if you are going to be hanging out in sub-freezing conditions for an extended period of time for something like an on-slope ski or snowboard competition, and evening of exploring a mountain town during a ski trip, or maybe a mid-winter football game in the upper Midwest (I’m looking in your direction Lambeau Field).
It can sometimes be difficult to push the limits of some of the higher-performance jackets that we test and review, and this jacket is no exception. The Peak XV is designed withstand the most extreme, subzero conditions of an Antarctic blizzard and a Himalayan summit. We have some tough conditions here in Colorado from time to time, especially at the higher elevations, but this winter has been pretty mild, and the extremely cold temperatures have been limited. Fortunately, one of the weekends I spent in Summit County for some snowboarding, I had a chance to wear this jacket in mid-teen temperatures pre-ski, post-ski, and for an evening out in Downtown Frisco. The temperatures were fairly cold at around 15F, but even then, I was barely able to zip this jacket up without breaking a sweat. Not exactly a bad problem to have. I would always rather be a little warm, than a little cold. You will never be cold again with this jacket.
The primary feature of the First Ascent Peak XV jacket is the down, and lots of it. The 850-fill premium European goose down is ultra-light, ultra-compressible, and ultra-warm. Down fill power is the measure of down’s loft and insulating efficiency. A higher number equals higher quality down that contains more clusters and more loft to trap more heat. Down fill with a rating of 850 is considered excellent, and this is about as good as it gets. The 100% nylon ripstop shell is windproof and water-repellent, and has a nice look and feel to it. The integrated hood is fully insulated as well, and will keep your noggin just as warm as the rest of your body. It is large enough to accommodate a climbing or ski helmet, but is adjustable enough to work great over a regular hat as well. The brushed tricot pockets are nice and soft, and will warm up cold hands in a snap.
The Peak XV Parka, which adds two inches to the overall length of the jacket, is only available in Black, while the slightly shorter regular length jacket is available in Black or Dark Lava (Red). It comes in five sizes…Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large, and XXL. I wore the Medium, and the fit seemed pretty normal in the shoulders, chest, and arms. I am only 5’5″, so the parka ran a little long on me, but it should be fine for most. The total weight is 2 lb-6.08 ounces. At a retail price of $399, this jacket is getting a little expensive, but you will be hard-pressed to find a warmer, more comfortable jacket available anywhere else. And with its level of comfort and quality, you will probably have the Peak XV with you for life.