We recently interviewed Chad Peele, a guide and tester for Eddie Bauer’s First Ascent line. While early testers are often in “ninja black,” Chad also weighed in on some of the more colorful offerings from First Ascent for this spring.
Some of those better colors are especially represented in new gear we’ve had the chance to test ourselves. The Sandstone softshell jacket we tested in “First Ascent Blue,” which is a dynamic, electric hue, but they also have the Bright Lime that pops like no other as well. My Mistral wind shell tester has vibrant green inserts but comes in a more popping red, and our women’s Sirocco came in highlighter florescent green, a great color for being spotted while jogging.
“Out of all of our ‘lighter’ jackets, the Sandstone is my favorite!” Chad tells us when asked about the new spring jackets. “Although it’s soft and highly breathable, it can cut mountain winds and withstand the abuse of summer alpine climbing. Because the Sandstone has such amazing stretch, it goes everywhere with me—from climbs on Mt. Rainier and the North Cascades to summer rock cragging. This jacket will really move with you!” He liked the pockets, too, which can sometimes be a problem, noting they work well with a pack and that the chest pocket is perfect for his MP3 player.
“I feel the Sirocco is at home in cool weather and mist,” Chad tells us of his testing with the wind shell. “Although the Sirocco was not designed as a rain jacket, the coated nylon provides excellent temporary shelter from light rain or drizzle.
“At 5.3 ounces and designed specifically to be used in conjunction with a backpack (soft low profile hem adjustments), the Sirocco is one of the best minimalist wind shells I’ve ever used!” Chad said enthusiastically. “When organizing for a trip, I really like the fact that it stuffs into a nice little ball inside its own pocket.”
The Mistral meets with his approval as well: “I feel the Mistral Wind Shell excels in high aerobic cool weather activities like trail running and moderate alpine climbing. I like to think of the Mistral as a beefed up Sirocco! [my thoughts exactly] The plush interior lining adds warmth and increased wicking while still focusing on high output movement. Although one has the potential to overheat in any product (even cotton!), the Mistral was designed to be the top of its class in balancing wind blocking, breathability and moisture wicking.”
We asked Chad about under layers: “When wearing the Mistral, I usually have on a light weight short-sleeve crew or a long-sleeve quarter zip base layer, depending on temperatures. Ultimately, I like to be cool while at rest and slowly move into a comfortable temperature when moving. It’s all about efficiency!”
In Oklahoma our window for light jackets is pretty narrow, but if you live in cooler climates or find yourself gaining altitude, any of these jackets can fill major needs—all ranging between $50-80. The value here is strong, and when asked about durability, Chad didn’t hesitate to vouch for their durability and usability in everyday activities.