The Eddie Bauer Microtherm is a lightweight, 800-fill down jacket that I use as a winter coat in Toronto, a mid-layer while snowboarding, and a must-have while hiking & camping. I have owned this jacket for a year and worn it as much as one possibly could: every day for an estimated 6 months. As such, here is my completely unbiased review of a packable down jacket that ticks a whole bunch of boxes, but falls short in one major category. And, as of 2019, the jacket’s shape and cut has changed. At the end, I’ll talk about the updates to this jacket and wether I’d buy it again or not.
Eddie Bauer Microtherm 2.0 Stormdown Hooded Jacket Overview
Would I Buy it Again? Yes, but ONLY for at least 40% off. If I was made of money, there are other jackets I’d rather have.
Price: $319CAD. I bought mine on super sale (they always have sales) for 50% off, plus I had a gift card, so I paid under $150. Which, I recognize, is a steal. Alternatively, the non-hooded version is $229.
Who is this jacket for? This jacket is for anyone, really, which is part of what makes it great. It would serve you well whether you were an alpine expedition guide or a commuter in the city.
Uses: hiking, biking, camping, commuting, skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, driving, eating, drinking, breathing, existing
Eddie Bauer isn’t your typical outdoor gear outfitter. With products ranging from car window scrapers to fleece lined jeans and everything in between, it’s not a go-to for many “outdoorsy people”. Their First Ascent line, however, is built for professionals. Plus, they have been doing the down jacket well for a long time. The Microtherm 2.0 Stormdown is part of their First Ascent Line. It scores 4/5 stars on their website, based on over 200 reviews.
Specs & Tech
Fill: 800-fill Stormdown. This in-house designed type of down allegedly retains its loft when wet.
Sustainability & Responsibility: Responsible Down Standard Certified Down (Learn more about RDS). I go into a few details about fill technology and ethics in my ultimate guide to down jackets.
Outer Fabric: Windproof 20D Ripstop Polyester Shell. From experience: not 100% windproof, fairly moisture-proof, thin material that tears. However, on the trail/slopes, you would wear this with a shell jacket on top of it which solves those issues.
Appearance & Aesthetics
This jacket scores big points in this category, especially compared to other jackets. As Eddie Bauer is a bit less trail and a bit more town, their style game is good. The jacket is an active fit, which is “close to the body without restricting mobility”. What that translates to is this: you can wear a base layer and a fitted fleece under the jacket. When it’s zipped up, the cut is flattering and trim. Everything fits neatly under a shell.
The stitching on the jacket helps make it look great. While the seams serve a functional purpose to keep the down from clumping together and moving around to create cold spots, they have been tastefully placed. Closer seams on either side panel and curved seams on the back take the looks far above your typical down jacket with straight, even seams.
With the unassuming logo and style, I wear this all over the city and with any outfit. If it’s possible, this jacket dresses-up my Saturday sweatpants.
Performance: Insulation and Warmth
On the tag and online, the Microtherm 2.0 is rated to -20ºC (-5ºF) in moderate activity. I can attest to this. This jacket keeps you WARM. Last year, Toronto went below -20ºC without factoring in the windchill and damp cold from the lake. Last year, the most I wore on the streets of the city was my Microtherm with my North Face Venture 2 Rain Jacket (which I also reviewed). If that doesn’t convince you of its warming-powers, I don’t know what will.
Skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, biking… it’s all good in the Microtherm. The fit is fantastic for sports.
Weight and Packability
For a packable down to be a packable down, it should pack down. The Microtherm Stormdown has a fantastic warmth to weight ratio and squishes down to almost nothing. It truly is ultralight, and I bring it on any adventure where it might get even a little chilly. The Microtherm packs into its own pocket. Why we love the pack-into-pocket feature when we could just as easily ball it up ourselves is beyond me, but that’s a fight for another day.
This could fall into either pros or cons, really. As mentioned, Eddie Bauer always has sales. Do not buy this jacket at its full price. At $320CAD, this jacket is not worth it. At half that, this jacket is a steal. It is near impossible to find this performance and quality at this price with any other outdoor outfitter: trust me, I’ve tried. Generally, the packable down falls right in the middle of my “spend or save on gear” spectrum. While a lightweight, high-performance and responsibly made mid-layer is worth my money, the Eddie Bauer Microtherm has proven that you can have this at a lower cost.
If you’re looking for something cheaper, see what other down jackets I recommend in various price ranges.
Of which there are 5. 5 pockets! 3 zippered and 2 non-zippered pockets make this a pocket-rich gem. Who doesn’t love pockets?
The Eddie Bauer Microtherm has 5 stars up until now. So what’s the catch? Alas, all good things come to an end – literally. The biggest pitfall of this otherwise fantastic jacket is its durability; or lack thereof. My jacket is less than a year old. I wore it almost every day of the Winter, many days in Fall & Spring, and on cool nights camping at the end of Summer, tackling everything from summiting Kilimanjaro to cross-country skiing over frozen lakes in -20ºC weather.
The first signs of wear and tear were evident early on. Somehow, this jacket loses more feathers than I can keep track of. They seem to pop out of the seams at random. While this doesn’t immediately impact the performance, I am sure over time it will lose its loft and warmth.
Next is the zipper. I understand that this is a lightweight jacket that calls for minimalist hardware. However, at the end of its first season, the zipper started to undo at random from the bottom up. While this happens rarely – the zipper isn’t actually broken, just faulty – it’s a risk I don’t like to take.
Pilling and Un-Prettyness
Finally, the material. Around the shoulder/armpit, a stretch fabric is used. This adds mobility and breathability to the jacket. Unfortunately, this fabric has become pilled and worn. While this is mostly aesthetic, I expect a jacket priced at over $300CAD to look better so early in its life.
All that said, however, the jacket still performs. There is no way of knowing exactly how much insulation has been lost, nor when the zipper will bust, but I continue to happily wear the Eddie Bauer Microtherm Stormdown every day. Plus, Eddie Bauer guarantees their products for life. I may take it back to see what they have to say about the unusually rapid wear and tear.
Which Packable Down Would I Buy Next?
For an in-depth look and recommendations that fit your specific needs, refer to the guide to packable down jackets. For more details about each of my “wish list” jackets, check out that post. However, here is the shortlist:
- IceBreaker MerinoLOFT™ Hyperia Lite Hooded Jacket (merino wool, active fit & classic look)
- Black Diamond First Light Hoody (synthetic, active fit & look)
- Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody (down, classic)
- Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody (synthetic, pro-quality)
Finally, if Eddie Bauer has another one of their epic sales, I might try their newest down technology: the Evertherm. These down jackets have an even colder temperature rating. The coolest thing about this technology, however, is that there are no baffles, seams, or quilting. This means that there are no cold spots, no seams to let in the wind, and a clean look. It is the lightest down jacket they’ve built, won a long list of awards, and is “slimmer, tougher, and more versatile than a traditional puffy.” Now I just have to wait for a deal, as they currently retail for $379.
Final Thoughts on the Eddie Bauer Microtherm 2.0 Stormdown Hooded Jacket
The Eddie Bauer Microtherm 2.0 Stormdown Hooded Jacket is a high-performance mid-layer for both city and mountain life. While it is expensive considering its fragility, the Microtherm is a great jacket. It has style and performance in extreme weather, and rarely stays at home on Winter and Summer adventures alike. However, I’d rather spend a bit more to have a long-lasting piece of gear that can endure years of use. If I am able to exchange it for a new one at no cost – or it goes on sale for less than half of its MSRP – I would be more than happy to own the Eddie Bauer Microtherm 2.0 again.
2018/2019 Update: Not As Wonderful
After all of that, I went back to Eddie Bauer to ask about the faulty zipper. They accepted the jacket without hesitation, and I was told to pick up a new jacket. The 2019 version of the Microtherm is flawed in a few ways that make it far less fantastic. While I’m okay to wear it, it’s certainly not my favourite and I might not buy it again. Here are the major changes:
- Added a hem drawcord – this is a fine addition, however I actually prefer the jacket without the drawcord hem. The cord changes the shape of the jacket and makes it less flattering as the hem cinches in rather than following the shape of the body.
- Looser in the mid-section – again, the shape changed in a way that made the jacket worse. It appears more like a box than the athletic fit I had grown to appreciate for wearing around the city. Plus, the loose-ness means the insulation is less effective as well.
- Tighter in the arms – they reduced the amount of stretch fleece around the underarms. Why??!? This was great for ventilation as well as mobility. Now, snowboarding and cross country skiing will be far less enjoyable. WHY!!
- Tight hood and collar – again, why?? Something changed with the collar fit. Now, when it’s done up all the way but you aren’t wearing the hood, the collar is too tight. Why!!?
Now, I’m being dramatic to make a point in hopes that someone from Eddie Bauer will see this. However, the sentiments are real and the pain is too. I’d give quite a bit to have my old jacket back.
Would I Buy the Microtherm Again?
To wear around the city, on cross country ski day trips, and maybe resort skiing, yes, I would buy this again. If, and only if it was on sale, however. I have faith in Eddie Bauer and was so impressed by this little jacket’s performance despite it’s new setbacks. While I’ll still keep this one and appreciate its weight to warmth ratio and versatility, I am anxiously awaiting these changes to be undone for next year.
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