First Ascent lives up to the hype!

Meena is snug as a bug at the summit of Mt. Monadnock in her new down jacket.

Wow! Who would have thought that Eddie Bauer would have created such a great line of mountain gear? It seems with North Face moving in the urban style direction, Eddie Bauer smelled blood. Sign up a couple mountain climbing superstars, create a story-driven marketing campaign, and target North Face loyalists disgruntled with their choice brand’s recent obsession with getting North Face jackets on every teenager in downtown everyplace, and you have a recipe for Dan and Meena grabbing Peter Friday night and driving down to Burlington, Mass. to check out the new First Ascent line. It was worth every mile. We each came away with brand spankin’ new 850-fill downs and Peter nabbed a snazzy Perasoft jacket that everyone agreed looked damn good on him! Add 40% off the tag price and a “anytime for any reason” return policy and there was no question.
The real test came Saturday morning as D and M huffed it up Mt. Monadnock, new downs in tow, for a real, frosty gear test. The jackets are real winners. With sustained 15-20 mile an hour winds at the summit, and temps hovering in the teens, our First Ascents kept us dry and warm. We were able to spend a full 30 minutes lounging up top, watching freezing hikers tag up and scramble away, while we took in the views and snacked on PB&J and steaming coffee. A real treat!
Pluses:
Full wind coverage.
Velcro wrist ties to keep your hands closed off.
Inside warming pocket for small warming bottle or a pouch for batteries.
Full fill hood with double drawstring that scrunches up to your eyes.
Minuses:
2 pounds, a bit heavy for a down, but not too unusual for 850 fill.
Stuff sack is terrible. The stuff sack the down comes in is thin and worthless. We used our own medium sized sacks and the jacket stuffed down to about grapefruit size.
An excellent first outing for this new line. We’re going to keep our eyes open for snow pants as well, and Meena ordered a base layer from them so we’ll see how that stands up. First Ascent may soon become our first choice for winter gear.
Here’s some photos. The full series of our Mt. Monadnock gear test hike is at our photo site here:
http://danandmeenakshi.phanfare.com/4533487#imageID=91296465

Dan atop the summit, damn warm!

Peter models a down jacket and can’t find the dummy’s face at the First Ascent display.
 
Man. Mountain. Dan trying to eyeball a route to the summit.
Meena begins her ascent of the summit cone on a grand day atop Mt. Monadnock.
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