Eddie Bauer First Ascent Women’s Alpine Front Jacket
Size Tested: Medium
Color: Bright Jade
Stated Average Weight: 369g (13 oz)
Material: 100% nylon with 2.5-layer
WeatherEdge® Pro technology and
StormRepel® DWR finish
- Stretch fabric in the hood, shoulders and elbows for enhanced mobility and comfort
- Two-way adjustable hood (works with or without a helmet)
- Internal chest pocket
- Zip hand pockets
- Draw-string adjustable waist
- Velcro adjustable wrist-cuffs
MSRP: $199 – $229
Reviewer: 5’8”, 123 lbs. Arm Length (shoulder to wrist): 22.5”
Days Tested: 35+
Test Locations: Canyons of Southeast Utah; Turtle Rock, Buena Vista, Sangre de Cristo & Gore mountain ranges, CO
I’d heard good things about Eddie Bauer’s First Ascent line, but I hadn’t personally used any of their gear. I’ve been using the Patagonia Torrentshell Jacket as my summer hardshell for quite some time, but after using the First Ascent Alpine Front Jacket this season, I think I’ve found a new favorite.
Fit / Sizing
I have a very thin frame, with broad shoulders and a fuller chest, so I often struggle choosing between a size Small and a size Medium when it comes to jackets. Eddie Bauer’s website describes this jacket’s cut as “designed to fit over midweight layers,” and in my opinion, they have hit the mark.
I went with a Medium in the Alpine Front Jacket because I wanted to be sure I could also layer up under the shell, and, as it turned out, Eddie Bauer’s “Classic fit” worked well in Medium for me. It tapers slightly at the waist, with a touch of flaring back out around the hips, giving it a more feminine look. The fit is very similar to that of my Patagonia Torrentshell.
The Alpine Front jacket uses a stretch fabric in the hood, shoulders, and elbows, which adds a great deal of comfort. I never felt restricted moving in this jacket, and often ended up wearing it for far longer than I needed to, because I simply forgot I was wearing a hardshell. It is far more comfortable than the Torrentshell, which has no give in the fabric.
For my 5’8” frame, the length of the Medium jacket is just about perfect. It comes down to just below my beltline and I found that I never had issues with it riding up and out of my harness.
The length of the jacket’s arms was adequate, but a little short for my arms whenever I raised them up to do work. (I have a +1.5” ape index.) The cuffs do have nice, beefy Velcro tabs for making easy adjustments with your gloves on the go.
Pockets and Zipper
The Eddie Bauer First Ascent Alpine Front Jacket has one internal chest pocket and two outer zip hand pockets. The outer pockets are mesh-backed and can double as vents when opened.
The one downside to the layout of the pockets is that under a harness or a pack hipbelt, you can’t fully access the zippered hand pockets. You can still unzip a bit of the top half of the pockets and utilize some of the pocket space, but beware of items sliding down below the harness / hipbelt line and getting jammed into your stomach. Because of this, you’re essentially left with just the one chest pocket for all of your essentials. This problem could be solved if Eddie Bauer positioned the pockets high enough not to interfere with the harness or hipbelt.
Another issue that I have with the Alpine Front jacket that I don’t experience with Patagonia or Black Diamond’s jackets is that the main zipper up the front is tiny, and always gets caught when I’m trying to zip it up. I have to hold both sides of the top of the jacket to get it to zip, and even then, I often have to go up and down several times to get it zipped all the way up. The Patagonia and Black Diamond jackets that I’ve used have beefier zippers that don’t seem to ever get stuck.
NEXT: Hood, Construction, Etc.