Eddie Bauer Evertherm Review: The Next Generation of Down
Earlier this year Eddie Bauer released the a new down jacket called the Evertherm. Instead of standard down fill, it uses a manufactured sheet of material made from real down clusters. They claim that it is even warmer than their standard down jacket - the Downlight - yet without any of the bulk associated with typical down jackets. So naturally, when I saw one in the store, I had to check it out.
Probably the first thing you notice when you pick it up is the weight. It is very light - lighter than the regular Downlight. In fact, the weight feels much closer to their Microtherm jacket - a warm jacket, but certainly not the -20F warm that the Evertherm claims. In addition to the weight, the jacket compresses very easily and would happily fit into whatever nook or cranny you might have leftover in your pack.
However, the weight doesn't exactly inspire a lot of confidence in the heat retention capabilities of the jacket. When you first get your hands on it, you may think "there's no way this could be THAT warm!" But I can assure you that it is indeed as warm as they claim. Because of the way that standard down jackets are constructed, there are places where the down is thick, and places where the down is thin. Those thin spots are going to let more heat escape than thick spots. Essentially what the Evertherm does is replace those thick spots and thin spots with an even layer of down all over the jacket - think of it as using the existing down more efficiently. It is because of the elimination of the cold spots that allows this jacket to be even warmer that the Downlight. For reference, I went to college in Utah, and when those -20F mornings came around, I walked to class wearing a t-shirt and an Eddie Bauer Downlight and I was warm. In fact, this jacket is so warm that it found it's way into my Rainier layering system - as my warmest layer. I've never come across a jacket that has a warmth to weight/packability ratio quite like this.
The Evertherm easily fits over a baselayer
It also layers easily over an Eddie Bauer Microtherm and Marmot Zion - two relatively bulky layers
I have a lot of Eddie Bauer jackets, and I did notice one thing different about this jacket than any of the others: the fit. It feels very roomy inside, in fact so much so that I opted for a small size instead of my normal size, a medium. I wouldn't call this a drawback at all, though some users may not find it to their liking. The extra space in the jacket allows it to easily layer over other jackets, even relatively bulky ones. It fits me well whether I wear just a baselayer, or several additional layers. It seems the designers were thinking ahead and knew users might wear this as part of a layering system and not always by itself. Eddie Bauer rates the Evertherm for -20F with moderate activity, add in the ability to layer over other jackets, and you could take this system to some pretty extreme environments. (Keep in mind that temperature ratings are arbitrary and are highly dependent on your individual physiology.)
High-quality weather resistant zips
As far as features, it comes with all of the features you'd expect from any Eddie Bauer Jacket, including some very nicely designed zippers. The only thing I really wish the jacket had is the ability to pack into one of it's pockets to further enhance the packability of the jacket. Though that is merely a personal preference.
The Evertherm truly is a revolutionary piece when it comes to down insulation, and heck, insulation in general. Being able to create pieces that are warmer than traditional down counterparts, while reducing the weight and packed size is no small feat. Perhaps we'll see Everest-grade down mitts that don't compromise dexterity, down pants that are light and packable, or even a down suit that doesn't get in your way.
Whether you're venturing into some uber-cold environments, looking for a warm jacket that doesn't make you look like a marshmallow, or if you're just the person who's always cold, the Evertherm is certainly a worthy addition to any jacket quiver.