The Eddie Bauer BC DownLight StormDown is a versatile, wet-weather ready winter jacket good for trips and activities where things may get bad, but not extreme. The fit stands out when worn over midlayers and the array of pockets and features make this jacket ideal for those who live in urban environments that aren’t known for pleasant weather. It’s heavier than it looks and it's priced at a point to be attractive in this category. This is a jacket ideal for the beginning mountaineer, backcountry ski tours, and guides who understand how to manage their temperature when active.
The jacket is packed with 800 fill, DWR-coated StormDown encased in Eddie Bauer’s 2-layer, Weatheredge 30D mini-ripstop polyester shell. The down is RDS-certified, and the shell is rated to 20k/20k*, one of the highest ratings possible for water repellency and breathability, typically found in hard-shells marketed as waterproof.
The materials combine to make the jacket much more lightweight than its size and feature collection would suggest, and the Weatheredge shell also nicely sheds dirt and potential stains. The “DownLight” is clearly a contributing factor to sustaining its relative weight, as the material’s original intent was to serve as a midlayer.
* 20k/20k = ratio of water repellency/breathability = 20,000 mm of water pressure in 1’’ column required before fabric leaks / 20,000 grams of water vapor capable of moving through a square meter of fabric.
The BC DownLight StormDown was designed to insulate best during active outdoor pursuits. Testers remarked that during an uphill snowshoe hike it performed like a champ, and justified the use of its elbow-to-ribcage venting. Post-trip, tailgate beer sessions got a bit chilly, requiring a fresh mid-layer when the breezes picked up.
The wet weather performance of this coat was marked as a standout by testers, as the 20k/20k rated shell and DWR-coated down combined to fully insulate against moisture-laden flurries and infrequent downpours.
The three-way adjustable hood of the BC DownLight StormDown and brushed fleece chin guard did a good job of trapping warm air through the neck and around the head, and layered nicely with an insulated Buff. The lengthy waistline slows heat escape—shorter coats would lift away from the waist when reaching, bending over, etc.
The lengthy pit zips are excellent, offering almost 24 inches of venting. However, there is no mesh or protective material beneath them, so be wary of too much moisture infiltrating midlayers in stormy conditions. The velcro cuffs are also good heat control features.
The 20k breathability rating seemed on point during a sunny but windy snowshoe hikes above Lake Tahoe, with only a light mid-layer between the body and the jacket. This jacket performs best while active, thus its use of such a versatile shell material.
The Eddie Bauer BC StormLight Downlight excelled in this category, given its intent as an “active” insulator. Under a medium while doing lift-served laps in February, mid-layers didn’t make it feel restricting, and it wasn’t too bulky or burdensome when worn with only a flannel or casual layers later in the afternoon.
Shoppers need to be aware of the extra length in this jacket, which is by design. It’ll come down to personal preference. For our 5’9’’, 170-pound tester the hem ended just below the crotch, and is adjustable using drawcords on either side. Sleeves are longer to accommodate the Velcro wrist tensioners that can reach over larger forms of hand protection. The hood slides up nicely over helmets because it’s taller at its peak, but doesn’t move all that well with the head, something few jacket manufacturers have managed to accomplish. However, Eddie Bauer compensates for that by making the hood lay closer to the ears so it never ends up in the one’s line of sight
Eddie Bauer packed the BC DownLight StormDown with a number of practical ways to adjust fit, store stuff, and stay warm. Two exterior hand-warmer pockets are lined and layered into the insulation, and are plenty big for gloved hands.
The internal chest pocket has a media cord outlet, and the two internal side pockets are mesh with large horizontal access at about the rib-level. They can accommodate a number of items but lack bottom support, so wearers will know they’re carrying anything larger than a smartphone. The waistline drawcords didn’t need frequent adjustment, and the lengthy pit-zips are actually easy to open and close with one hand.
The hood comes with three ways to tune its fit, two on each side at chin level and one in the back. Velcro-tabbed cuffs and Aquaguard zippers from YKK round-out a jacket that’s well-prepared against not just cold weather, but wet and cold weather.
The jacket weighed 1lb, 13 oz., placing it reasonably in the middle of others in this test. Eddie Bauer states its average weight to be 1.6 lbs.The BC DownLight StormDown isn’t going to come along on day hikes—it isn’t too heavy considering its purpose, but it doesn’t pack well. There are no included stuff sacks or pockets for it, and its length is also pack-prohibitive. This is best folded or shoved into large gear duffels or the bottom of a backpack.