Wednesday, April 2, 2014

the Eddie Bauer Backdraft Jacket - ultralight, packable warmth at a great value - reviewed

Living (or working) in a city like San Francisco or New York, means that having a car with you is often more trouble than it's worth. Dealing with parking, traffic, tickets, street sweeping, dents, dings, vandalism, theft, and other assorted issues, means that many of us choose to walk or take public transportation. It's also usually faster anyway, considering the downtown gridlock.

Walking also has great health benefits (your daily exercise, yay!), but it does not come with a lot of storage space. I sometimes think longingly back to the days when, wherever I went, I always had a spare change of clothes, jacket, shoes, and anything else I might possibly need, just 5 feet away in the trunk of my car. Now it's just my small backpack.

So let me cut to the chase - if you want a super lightweight insulating layer that you can always have with you, guys this is your jacket.              Ladies, this is yours.

The Eddie Bauer Backdraft Jacket. Packs down as small as down, light as a feather, and keeps you nice and toasty. It's not like you're immediately bathed in warmth when you put it on, but that's not what I want either. It's like having a low-wattage heater on and the door closed - you get just the right warmth, not too hot, but you definitely stop being cold. Did I mention it's light, and packs down to the size of a large burrito?

And it's super breathable, so you *will not* be pooled in sweat with this jacket on. That's my favorite thing about it. I can walk, or jump into a bus packed with people, and all I have to do is unzip to cool down. Worst case I can take it off, and then it's still incredibly light, and can easily be stuffed in any backpack. You don't even know it's with you. Blocks the wind like a champ, but I wouldn't trust it too far with rain. Have an ultralight rain jacket as well, and you're set for anything the mother nature might throw at you.

My least favorite thing about it? The insulation leak. You definitely don't get feathers popping out all over the place like you do with down, but the extremely fine Primaloft threads do find their way out through the fabric of this jacket (not just the seams), and then friction from walking ends up turning them into little white puff balls, like you might see on the bottom of your sock. It's particularly bad under the arms. It's a minor thing, but seriously Eddie, this jacket is perfect in every other way. Please, please, stop the insulation leakage.

Oh, and it doesn't stretch. Don't listen to the product page, it doesn't stretch at all, anywhere. But it's an awesome jacket, way better value than any other company. It breathes like a dream, and keeps you warm down to 40F on its own, and down to below 15F if you add a shell on the outside. Best value insulating jacket I've ever purchased, because it's so light and packs so small that I always have it with me, and it doesn't make me sweat when I'm moving. I bring it everywhere, and so might you.

One last thing. It has Eddie Bauer's standard lifetime guarantee. If you ever have a problem with it, save your receipt, and you can take it back to any Eddie Bauer store, or use their prepaid return label included with your order, and receive a full refund. For life. Make sure you save that receipt, because without it you won't get the full refund. What other company offers hassle free lifetime returns, and such low prices, on such an awesome all-around jacket?