Down ain’t cheap. It’s a great insulating material, but it usually comes at a cost. If you’re frequently mountaineering or live somewhere where extreme cold temperatures prevail (cheers to you Montanans), then you probably don’t think twice about dropping some dime on a quality down jacket. But what about those of us who live in more mild temperatures and who don’t adventure in extreme cold that often? There is a budget option for you, but it’s not without tradeoffs – the Eddie Bauer CirrusLite down jacket.
First and foremost, this jacket retails at $149. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT BUY THIS JACKET AT THIS PRICE. It’s not worth it. But Eddie Bauer often runs mega sales, and I was able to snag a hooded version of this jacket for around $40 a couple years ago. Boasting 650 down fill, this is definitely worth $40. So assuming you’re a patient soul and willing to wait for the right sale, let’s dig into the deets on this jacket.
The first thing I noticed about this jacket was that it felt thin. There was very little fluff to it. So if you’re looking for a single layer jacket for below 32 degrees, this isn’t really it. There’s not enough fill to serve as a single jacket. Where this jacket shines, though, is as a layer. Due to the lack of fluff, it compacts down really well. It compacts easy enough to bring along on cold weather adventures where perhaps you don’t want the down as you’re engaging in activity (e.g. backpacking), but when you stop you want something warm to throw on so you don’t cool down too quickly. The jacket is also very lightweight, which makes it a good budget option for some ultralight winter backpacking or other adventures that might require ultralight gear. Please note, however, that there is no pocket for it to compact and zip down into so you’re best to compact it down into a sleeve.
My biggest complaint about this jacket is the lack of hem cinch. I know I’m a hem cinch cultist, but the bottom hem of this jacket is really wide, and prone to letting wind and air in. Another reason it won’t work well as a single jacket – the wind will blow right in. But paired with a shell jacket that has a hem cinch, it’s an affordable insulating layer. Due to the wide hem, it also isn’t the most flattering or slimming piece of outerwear. It makes you look pear shaped by default. Not great. But we’re not buying this jacket for style, so we can forgive it. The cinch on the sleeve cuffs is acceptable though, much better than the hem.
The hood feels really big. I think you would have no problem rocking this with a helmet if your adventure warranted that. But there is no way to cinch the hood down, so in high wind sans helmet it’s prone to blow right off. Another reason this jacket pairs well with a shell jacket (specifically one with a hood cinch) – the shell’s cinching capabilities make the lack of cinching on this jacket ok.
While the outer material feels weak, it’s not snagged or ripped yet from my adventures – hell, it’s doing better than my Patagonia Nano Puff. So I’ll give the jacket some durability points – at $40 value, not $149 MSRP.
- Affordable when on sale
- Easy to compact
- Insulates well in a layering system
- Feels thin
- No hem or hood cinches
- Expensive when not on sale
- Hood too big without helmet
Rating: 3 / 5
While part of me wants to write a great in depth review on this jacket, I feel like there’s not much more to say here really. So let me summarize my take on the Eddie Bauer CirrusLite down jacket. When on sale, it’s a pretty good deal. When not on sale, don’t even think about buying it. It’s lightweight and compacts well and can make a nice budget piece of outerwear for your winter adventures. However, it lacks some important features like cinches that make the jacket feel and look loose unless it’s paired with a quality shell jacket. If you infrequently engage in cold weather adventures, this is a good option for a layering piece as the temperature drops below freezing. If you’re an avid winter adventurer, look elsewhere. I have relegated my jacket – the hooded version – to a purely adventuring piece that I don’t care if it gets messed ups because it only cost me around $40. I don’t wear it around town because frankly it’s ugly and not very effective as a single jacket. Basically, I’d only buy this jacket if you’re on a budget. It’s not great, but it’ll do pig.
Note: Eddie Bauer also makes a non-hooded version of this jacket.
Do you have experience with this jacket? I’d love to hear your thoughts, especially if you live in Montana. What other budget options are out there? Comment below for all of our readers!