Down jacket is rare combo of Waterproof, Warm, Breathable

Heavy, wet snow plopped onto the puffy, down-insulated jacket I wore up the chairlift, but I didn’t give it a second thought. With the Eddie Bauer First Ascent BC MicroTherm Down Jacket 2.0 wet snow, sleet, and even light rain are non-issues.

Unlike most down-insulated jackets, the BC MicroTherm is fully waterproof. It has a DWR-coated fabric that water beads on. The jacket is rated to the same 20k/20k waterproof-breathability spec as many technical hard shells.

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The author, left, tests the BC MicroTherm Down Jacket 2.0 on a warm powder day

Simply put, this is a down jacket and shell layer in one garment. It was designed for high-output activities in cold weather. It breathes well, maintains loft with 800-fill European goose down, and it is burly enough to block the elements as a winter mountain shell.

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Eddie Bauer BC MicroTherm Down Jacket 2.0.

Large pockets double as huge heat-dumps on the chest — you can open them to expose a mesh and vent the body when hot. I found that they are quick and effective in cooling off during and after heavy exertion.

The jacket was designed with climbers in mind. Its large hood fits over a ski or climbing helmet. The big pockets provide plenty of room for water, snacks, maps, and other essentials.

Pockets are placed a bit higher and out of the way of a harness or backpack belt. Its zippers are waterproof. It has a streamlined fit and weighs only about 20 ounces.

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A down puffy and shell layer in a single jacket

Fabric durability is fine but not bomber — the shell material is tough but also light and thin enough to allow the down to loft inside. My test period of a few weeks showed a small cut where a ski edge rubbed the material, which I doubt would have happened with a heavier shell material.

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Inner down baffles

But overall I am very happy with this piece. It’s a fair deal, too, at $299. Jackets of this type often can cost easily $100 more.

The BC MicroTherm works great as a ski parka or winter mountaineering piece that provides both insulation and weather protection. While it won’t replace a rain jacket or a dedicated shell layer for spring weather, I was impressed with the versatile design that can keep you both warm and dry.

—Sean McCoy

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