The first ascent brand has a lot of people talking, and one thing that i've found (and like most things in life), people either hate it or love it. But one thing I haven't found is a lot of information/reviews on the actual products. I picked up the Igniter Jacket, which First Ascents synthetic puffy jacket. Some of here are comparing it to the DAS parka, though in terms of warmth its probably not a good comparison since the DAS has almost twice the amount of insulation. I'm writing this for several reasons...One, i've never done a gear review. Two, I am a bit of a gear junkie. Three, I like reading people's reviews, and there aren't too many on this piece. And four, doing this is better then writing my stupid thesis
Some basics (mostly from http://www.eddiebauer.com/EB/First-Asce ... /index.cat)...
Weight is 14oz
Made from 1.25oz 20D ripstop nylon, with Eddie Bauer's proprietary StormRepel DWR finish
Contains 100g of Primaloft One insulation
Has 4 pockets. Two fleece lined handwarmer pockets, one outside chest pocket and one inside chest pocket with a headphone port
Fit is on the larger size (it was designed more as an outer layer, like a belay jacket, then a mid layer)
The hood is helmet compatible, it might even be polycephaly compatible (thats 2 or more heads)
The cuffs are velcro and elastic, and wide.
Bottom has adjustable elastic hem
So thats the basic stuff. My review of this jacket is more of a first impressions look for now, as I have yet to really take it for a test drive. I have worn it outside in the cold (20F) with a t-shirt under and can comment on it being warm, but who cares, its a jacket, of course its warm. I'll post again on here once its been properly put through some paces.
My first impression is this...It seems legit.
I paid 120 for it (got it 40% off on cyber monday), and will be replacing my very lightly used MH hooded compressor jacket with it (which i'll be selling on here soon if anyone is interested). I wasn't sure I wanted to get a jacket that is essentially in the same class as the compressor hooded jacket, but the more I researched it the more I decided to give it a try. First Ascents use of primaloft One is huge. I think it gives some credibility to their attempts at breaking into a market filled with quality gear and brand loyal buyers, that they chose to use one of the best synthetic insulations on the market. I don't know much about their DWR finish, but quite frankly I don't care since i'm not using this as a rain jacket, and it'll stay warm when wet (if P one does what its advertised to do). The build quality on initial presentation seems as good as my MH compressor, but use/time will be the only true judge of that. I'm not too worried about this either though, since the "Eddie Bauer guarantee" covers this jacket (supposedly for life).
I joked above about the hood being able to hold two heads. I think the hood size caught me off guard because it really it big. I was a little skeptical after putting it on and having the hood flip over my face, but with a few quick adjustments it very nicely cinched down around my bare head, creating a nice ski-goggle sized peep hole. The added benefit of the extra fabric in the hood means it ACTUALLY will move with your head when you turn it. I don't have a climbing helmet, but I did try it with my ski helmet which is considerably larger then your typical climbing helmet and it fit over that nicely too, with some room left still to turn your head and flex your neck. Another great thing I noticed is when you don't have the hood up, you can zip the jacket all the way up, and create a nice little pouch to stuff your face into (if you don't want the hood actually on, but want your face covered).
Again, its a little baggier then my MH (both are size L), but it allows me to layer stuff under it.
Again, these fit a little large, but this allows me to one fit them over more layers, and allows me to pull them up past my elbows if i'm overheating.
Not much to be said here other then the headphone port is nice (not found on a lot of jackets in this class), and the handwarmer pockets are really soft and appear to be under a layer of insulation making them warmer. I will note that they are placed a little low on the jacket, making them harder to access when wearing a hip belt or harness over top of the jacket.
While all plastic in construction, they are YKK and smooth running. Again, these will be best tested with time. The zipper pulls are long and easy enough to grab with gloved hands, and I haven't noticed any zipper snags on the jacket storm flap.
Again, this is initial, but so far I like that this jacket uses the best in synthetic insulation. I like that it has a larger fit, combined with a DWR finish and from other peoples reports is windproof, making it an ideal outer layer. Its light weight and seems compressible enough, though it does not pack into its own pocket or come with a stuff sack. The basic theme here is, getting back to my initial impression...it seems legit. I think this combined with Eddie Bauers backing of their products makes this a viable option in the already overwhelmed quality gear market. Just a side note, I did notice the MH is able to pack down a little smaller then the Igniter, which is expected given its generally smaller fit.
For those nay-saying the First Ascent line...I suspect many have never seen or used any of their products, or don't like the idea of being seen in something non-mainstream. Was I suspect? Absolutely. I can be very brand loyal, and I am often skeptical of large corporations and their marketing pitches. This being said, it should be said that every company (patagonia, MH, TNF, marmot etc etc) is guilty of marketing pitches and profits. After all, they are just that (corporations). But from what I've seen, no matter eddie bauer's motivations for getting back into this realm, they seem to be making an honest effort.
I hope to post more reviews soon (perhaps barring you anyone likes this one), and I certainly plan on updating this thread once more proper testing has been done (ie using it for its intended purpose). I'm sure someone will point out the fact that I haven't "used" it yet, and I'll save you the trouble by thanking you for pointing this out. But again, this is my initial first impression.
If anyone has questions in the mean time, feel free to ask and i'll try to get on and reply as my thesis permits (it does govern over my now). Until then..."and all that is left is snow on pines"