Eddie Bauer's lightest and warmest down layer to date, the First Ascent MicroTherm Down Shirt, is an ideal layering piece that can used for just about any outdoor activity. Extremely lightweight and packing down really small, the down shirt should be a staple in your pack to pull out when you need that extra bit of warmth.
The MicroTherm Down Shirt is an extremely versatile piece than can be worn both as an outer layer for those chilly mornings and evenings, or as an extra mid-layer under a softshell or hardshell for more extreme conditions. I am looking forward to wearing the down shirt as an extra warm mid-layer for ice climbing this winter.
The MicroTherm Down Shirt features 800-fill premium European Goose Down packed into horizontal micro channels that help keep the down in place as well as reduce bulk. The 20-denier ripstop nylon external fabric is both windproof and water repellent with the StormRepel DWR finish.
Integrated stretch panels at your shoulder blades, underarms, and hips give you tons of freedom of movement, something you might not normally find in a form fitting insulated piece and key for those more active pursuits.
The down shirt packs down into its own zippered chest pocket, including an interior carabiner clip loop so you can throw the piece on your harness for some extra warmth at the belay station or snack stops. To cut down on weight most likely, the two hand pockets are not zippered, so mostly useful for warming your hands.
Elastic cuffs help seal in heat and keep any elements out. At just 9.5 oz., the MicroTherm Down Shirt weighs roughly 3.5 oz. more than Patagonia's Ultralight Down Shirt but has more features such as the chest pocket, hand pockets, full zip, and more durable ripstop nylon fabric.
The athletic fit is true to size with just a base layer or even a thin fleece underneath. If you would like to wear the MicroTherm Down Shirt more as an outer layer with full layers underneath, I would order a size up. I really enjoy the petite, regular, and tall sizing variations with First Ascent gear, as the tall jacket actually fits me through the arms and torso.
In terms of durability, I have noticed quite a few tiny little feathers poking through the nylon and out of the seams. There is not enough feather loss for me to be alarmed but it will be interesting to see how the piece holds up over the course of the winter climbing season.
Bottom Line: The MicroTherm Down Shirt is an extremely versatile piece that can provide an extra layer of warmth for almost any activity, on its own or as part of a full cold weather layering system.
The First Ascent MicroTherm Down Shirt retails for $169 and is available in a variety of colors for both men and women.