Eddie Bauer Centennial MicroTherm 1000 Puffy Review
“Eddie Bauer Centennial Collection Microtherm 1000 puffy” is a bit of a mouthful. So many words. Let’s break that down. The Centennial Collection is a line of retro-inspired outdoor apparel launched last year by Eddie Bauer to celebrate the company’s 100th birthday. The MicroTherm 1000 is a part of that collection: it’s a puffy, obviously, and it’s the latest in a line of MicroTherm down jackets.
The jacket was inspired by Eddie Bauer’s self-explanatory 1957 Down Shirt, which the company credits as introducing the concept of ultralight layering systems in the outdoor community. What makes the MicroTherm 1000 stand out is the use of three ounces of 1000-fill (aka very lofty) down.
What does all of this mean in terms of performance and value? Does the heir apparent of Eddie Bauer’s ultralight layering legacy live up to the hype?
Eddie Bauer MicroTherm 1000 Puffy At-a-Glance
- MSRP: $399
- Weight: 10 oz
- Fill weight: 3.2 oz
- 1000-fill Responsible Down Standard (RDS) goose down insulation
- 100% recycled nylon face fabric w/ DWR finish
These specs are for a men’s medium (I tested a women’s small).
How We Tested It
I tested the MicroTherm 1000 in a women’s small on multiple icebound hikes along the North Country Trail in Allegheny National Forest and Philadelphia’s Wissahickon Park trail system in January, February, and March. I also wore it around the house (which I typically keep heated to 45 degrees) and on snowy walks around the neighborhood throughout the winter. In my testing, I never wore it mostly on breaks, around camp, to ward off the early morning chill while walking—never during heavy activity when I might sweat in it. The jacket saw temperatures as high as 50 degrees Fahrenheit and as low as three degrees, as well as high winds, snow, and hail.
Packable: The MicroTherm 1000 packs down to roughly the size of a lumpy Nalgene in its own zippered internal chest pocket. The 1000-fill down in this garment is highly compressible, and this jacket could undoubtedly squash down even smaller if pack space is at a premium.
Stretch-knit panels under armpits: The polyester/spandex blend improves mobility and provides an uninsulated spot for your ‘pits to dump heat. The material feels stretchy and pleasantly fleecy, but it also tends to pill.
Performance fit: Slim (not tight) fit = improved mobility and thermal efficiency, reduced weight, and it’s easy to fit an outer shell layer over top on extra cold/rainy/windy days.
Discontinuous channels: Roughly one-inch-long sections of vertical stitching intersect each horizontal channel at regular, offset intervals. This creates discontinuous, zigzaggy channels that make it harder for down to migrate and clump. The purpose of this design is to get the benefits of a more tightly baffled jacket (i.e., less down migration and a slimmer fit) without as many seams (stitching tends to create unpleasant cold spots and weak points for potential fabric failure).
1000-fill down insulation: Yep, this is a thing. Premium materials are the name of the game with this jacket, and the MicroTherm 1000 manages to provide an excellent warmth-t0-weight ratio largely thanks to the use of ultra-lofty 1000-fill goose down.
About the Materials
Down insulates by trapping warm air, and its ability to do this is a function of the down’s loft, or fluffiness. Fill power (the volume, in cubic centimeters, that one ounce of down will fluff up to occupy in a cylindrical container) is a measurement of loft. Tl;dr: higher fill power = more loft/higher warmth-to-weight ratio/better quality/more expensive.
650-fill down is standard for backpacking gear, generally considered the minimum quality you should look for in technical apparel and sleeping bags. 850-fill is very good, and 900-950 is typically the best of the best—only it’s not. Even puffier 1000-fill down takes that crown. 1000-fill is a rare commodity because most geese don’t live long enough for their down clusters to mature to their full fluff potential. The highly self-explanatory MicroTherm 1000 is insulated with, as you may have guessed, 1000-fill down.
Interestingly, Eddie Bauer chose to pair this ultralight-est of insulation options with a relatively beefy 20D ripstop nylon shell. In contrast, most manufacturers dabbling with 1000-fill down are going full bore ultralight with vanishingly thin sub-10D shells.
Fit and Style
This jacket’s slim fit is perfect for backcountry pursuits. I like the snugness of it, which minimizes drafts and maximizes thermal efficiency. The lack of annoying extra bulk improves mobility and saves weight. It also means I can easily layer an outer shell over top of the MicroTherm, though it would be challenging to comfortably fit anything more than a base layer beneath it without sizing up.
The hood is elasticized and stays snugly in place—especially when the jacket is zipped under my chin. The hood and cuff elastic have a good deal of stretch and seal out the draft effectively. There is no elastic or cinch cord around the hemline, which is a minor bummer. The jacket has three zippered pockets: two at the front of the coat and one interior chest pocket.
The MicroTherm 1000 is ideal for three-season backpackers and thru-hikers who want to keep their base weight under control but still value warmth and comfort. It kept me warm as a standalone midlayer down to about 45 degrees, below which I needed additional layers to stay comfortable. That’s a reasonable lower limit for most shoulder season pursuits, though you may want to opt for something warmer from late fall to early spring.
This jacket strikes a delicate balance between warmth, weight, and durability. There are lighter midlayers out there, but the Eddie Bauer jacket has more insulation than those offerings. Similarly, while there are warmer/more insulated jackets out there, they tend to weigh and cost more. Want to keep a foot in both camps? This is the midlayer for you.
Also, EB’s unconventional choice to use a heftier 20D fabric for this jacket may appeal to some users. It weighs more than the paper-thin materials favored by the competition. But on the other hand, it doesn’t feel like I’m donning a $400 grocery bag every time I put it on. I’ll still baby it, but it feels like it’s built to last.
Eddie Bauer MicroTherm 1000 Pros
Responsibly-sourced materials: The Responsible Down Standard (RDS) accreditation exists as a way for consumers to ensure that their down-insulated products came from humanely raised geese. The MicroTherm 1000 is RDS-certified and also features a 100% recycled nylon shell.
Minimal down migration: The discontinuous channel design works as advertised. I haven’t experienced any significant down migration or clumping within the channels. No feathers or fluff poking through the shell fabric so far either. Minimizing the number of seams definitely improves the jacket’s warmth (compared with similar-loft jackets with narrow baffles) and should increase the durability too.
Fit and style: This jacket fits true to size. It’s comfortably snug without feeling tight or pinched anywhere. I have a longer torso, and this jacket tends to ride up when I lift my arms. However, in fairness, most garments do that for me. I like how this jacket feels and looks, though the “Citrus” color is too evocative of a bottle of lemon-lime Gatorade for my tastes.
Pockets: The two zippered front pockets are generous, easily swallowing my hand and half my forearm. No shortage of storage space there. There’s also an internal zippered chest pocket meant for packing the puffy away (see below), but it’s quite large and could be used to hold other stuff too.
MicroTherm 1000 Cons
Uneven down distribution within each channel: The MicroTherm does a great job of mitigating down migration. The problem is that the down isn’t evenly distributed within each channel in the first place. It clusters up in the middle of each channel, leaving conspicuous gaps where the horizontal and vertical seams intersect. These voids weren’t a big deal in mild conditions, but as the temperature drops into the low 40s and beyond, they became noticeable—especially on windy days. Several episodes of fervent shaking, massaging, and patting did nothing to even out the fill. Sadness.
No cinch cord at waist: Would love to see either a drawcord around the bottom of the jacket to lock out cold drafts. On windy days this would really make a difference in the overall warmth of the jacket.
Eddie Bauer’s Centennial MicroTherm 1000 is an exciting addition to the ultralight down jacket scene. It’s not warm enough to be practical for four-season outings, but it’s ideal for backpacking from spring to fall. It’s a little pricey, and noticeable voids in the insulation where the seams intersect undercut the jacket’s warmth. Even so: lightweight, responsibly sourced materials, including coveted 1000-fill down, plus thoughtful design and attention to detail, make it well worth a look. I plan to keep wearing mine for lightweight warmth in mild conditions.
- MSRP: $375
- Materials: 2 oz of 1000-fill down + 5D ripstop nylon
- Weight: 6.7 oz
- MSRP: $330
- Materials: 1.6 oz of 1000-fill down + 7D ripstop nylon
- Weight: 4.8 oz
Note: Montbell also makes an 8.5 oz total/3.4 oz fill weight/$440 version of this jacket.
- MSRP: $550
- Materials: 4.5 oz of 1000-fill down + 10D Pertex Quantum GL
- Weight: 11 oz
Product donated for purpose of review.
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