Gear Closet: Eddie Bauer Microtherm Stretch Down Jacket

Eddie Bauer Microtherm: With cooler weather upon us and even colder temperatures coming soon, more than a few of you are probably on the lookout for a new jacket to keep you warm on your winter outdoor excursions. Recently I’ve been testing the new Microtherm Stretch Down Jacket from Eddie Bauer, the company that practically invented the down jacket in the first place.

I’ve found it to not only be warm and comfortable but stylish too, making it a great option for use on the trail, while traveling, or just exploring around town. 

Designed to be a lightweight insulation layer, the Microtherm Stretch Down Jacket is built for use in cool weather when your activity level is low and cold weather when you’re really working up a sweat. Eddie Bauer says that it is rated for use at 45ºF (7ºC) when you’re not particularly active and -5ºF (-20ºC) when you’re on the move.

That’s an extensive range of temperatures, to say the least, so knowing if this jacket is the one for you depends on your own tolerance for cooler conditions. Personally, I felt plenty comfortable in the Microtherm Stretch Down in temperatures lower than 45ºF, even when I wasn’t especially energetic.

Still, it also warmed up quite nicely when I went on a hike or a light jog. At the moment, I can’t imagine wearing it in the long run, however, as my outdoor temperatures simply haven’t been that cold yet, and the jacket is simply too warm to use in weather that isn’t below freezing.

Of course, warmth is what we’re looking for after all, and the Microtherm Stretch Down uses 800-fill goose down as its insulator. As you would expect, that down has been harvested as part of the Responsible Down Standard, which means the birds that provided it were cared for and handled ethically and humanely.

The jacket even ships with a code that you can scan to see where that down was harvested and how it made its way through the supply chain to Eddie Bauer for use in production. This is something that the outdoor industry is taking these days very seriously, and it is good to see that newer products aren’t just being made more eco-friendly but are also using methods that don’t harm animals. Of course, you can always go with a jacket that uses synthetic insulation instead, but down remains the warmest insulator available for the weight.

But this jacket isn’t just warm, it also helps to keep you dry too. That’s an important component for staying warm while outside, and to help with that, Eddie Bauer has given the Mirotherm Stretch Down a DWR (durable water repellant) finish that helps it shed moisture and keep the wind at bay too. The result is a jacket that performs well in poor weather conditions while still weighing a mere 13.8 ounces (391 grams).

The Microtherm Stretch Down features an athletic, form-fitting cut that hugs the body nicely. This helps it trap warmth inside; it also makes it a good option for cold weather athletes. If you’re out for a winter trail run or you’re going snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, you’ll probably wear apparel that doesn’t impede your motion too much.

This jacket definitely fits in that category, and its stretchy fabrics make it a nice option for high-energy, aerobic activities. That said, however, if you prefer a roomier fit, you may want to size up a bit.

Other nice features include zippered hand and chest pockets, elasticized handcuffs, and an adjustable drawcord hem that makes it easier to get exactly the right fit. The jacket is also highly compressible and packs down to a surprisingly small size, making it easy to fit into a backpack or suitcase when traveling.

As you can probably tell, I’m pretty impressed with the Microtherm Stretch Down Jacket. It pretty much ticks all the boxes that I’m looking for from a garment that I need to perform in challenging weather conditions. Its size and weight make it an ideal traveling companion, too, although I suspect many will keep it close at hand for use all winter long while at home as well. As mentioned, this is a jacket that looks great both on and off the trail, making it versatile enough to be used on your backcountry adventures or just running to the grocery store.

At its normal $249 price point, the Microtherm Stretch Down is on par in terms of performance, quality, and value with its competition. However, it is currently on sale for $174, making it an incredible bargain for looking for a new high-performance jacket. It is super easy to recommend at that price, although I have no idea how long it will stay marked down. So, if you’re interested in grabbing one, I’d head over to the Eddie Bauer website and order one while you can. Chances are, you’ll be just as impressed as I am.

Kraig Becker