I’ve been testing out the Down-In-One from Eddie Bauer’s First Ascent line over the past month. From bluebird groomer days at the resort to blower powder days deep in the backcountry, I really put these pants to the test. This review goes in-depth on my experiences with these extremely durable pants and how they’ve stood up to the beating I’ve given them while backcountry skiing.
About First Ascent
First Ascent is Eddie Bauer’s line of expedition tested outerwear. The First Ascent line was launched in 2009 to separate Eddie Bauer’s new line of technical outerwear from their well-known casual outerwear. The First Ascent line of clothing has been built from scratch by mountain guides and rigorously tested on expeditions to stand up to some of the harshest environments on Earth. Whether you’re looking to get out on your first climb, set first tracks, or log a first ascent, this line of gear is one that you should consider.
The Down-In-One Pants
The Down-In-One pants are a 3-in-1 solution from Eddie Bauer designed for backcountry skiers. They feature a hard outer shell and a removable 800-fill power down liner with responsible sourced down filling. They’re designed for the toughest conditions and can be worn in a variety of ways. I find myself wearing just the shell most days backcountry skiing, but when the wind whips up and the temps drop, the shell and liner are a perfect combo. As a standalone piece the down liners looks a bit weird, but when the temps drop outside, it’s actually pretty comfortable to wear lounging around on the couch.
Where To Buy
Eddie Bauer also has 370 stores worldwide, check out their store locator and stop in for expert advice on which gear is perfect for you.
I tested the Down-In-One pants in a variety of conditions to make sure I could give a fair review:
- In-Bounds: I skied at several different Colorado resorts with these pants including Vail, Crested Butte, Keystone, and Breckenridge.
- Backcountry: I’ve skied at several popular backcountry destinations in these pants like Hidden Valley in Rock Mountain National Park, Butler Gulch at Jones Pass, Loveland Pass, and several other lesser known destinations.
- Ski Mountaineering: I had the pleasure of taking these pants into the alpine in Crested Butte above Kebler pass on a beautiful bluebird day in February.
- 14er Skiing: To make sure I tested these in the harshest conditions I could find, I climbed and skied Mt. Elbert (14,400 Ft.), the highest mountain in Colorado, on a day with temps in the teens and wind gusts up to 50 MPH.
The Down-In-One pants are packed with all of the features you need for a successful outing in the backcountry. In-addition to sustainably produced fabric, they feature StormRepel DWR to quickly shed moisture and ensure you stay dry all day long. To ensure a good fit, they have an adjustable waistband which is great for a guy like me who has long legs, but a bit of a smaller waist. I was able to cinch down the waistband a get a great fit.
For skiers, the pants feature boot gaiters to make sure snow doesn’t get in and soak your layers, plus multiple pockets to make sure you have space for all of your stuff. Additionally they feature RECCO reflective technology to aid in rescue if you ever get into an avalanche accident.
For backcountry skiers, the pants feature a pocket specifically designed to hold a beacon. It fits my Barryvox perfectly and it’s a pretty large beacon. They also feature full leg zips which are essential for long days touring. The zippers are very durable and are easy to zip even with large mittens on. If you have large temperature swings in a day, the down liner also zips on the inside for extreme venting capabilities.
Fit, Feel, & Durability
These pants have a relatively loose fit similar to other ski pants I’ve worn over the years. This is perfect for mobility when you’re out on the slopes or in the backcountry. If the pants were too tight, they might limit your ability to execute turns or easily walk uphill when touring. They’re similar in weight to my insulated pants that I typically wear when resort skiing, which puts them on the heavier side for a shell pant, so if you’re looking for an ultralight pair of shell pants I would look elsewhere. That being said, due to the weight of the material, they’re very durable and abrasion resistant. I’ve worn them on several bushwacks and dragged them along underbrush, branches, and tree trunks alike and they still look brand new. So from a durability perspective, I expect them to stand the test of time.
These pants are not going to be a standout piece of gear for you. They come in a dark green and have a bit of a muted color scheme. However, they pair very well with other bright, more vibrant gear and let’s be honest, do you really want to have loud flashy pants?
Because of their thick, durable material, nothing gets through these pants. I’ve spent hours digging in snow pits during avalanche courses, many snack breaks laying in the snow, and have even tumbled a few times skiing steep pitches. I haven’t had any problems with moisture getting through or snow coming up through the gaiters. Even standing on top of ridges in howling wind, I haven’t felt anything get through the materials. However, these are snow pants, so you really need to make sure to cover your waist with the powder cuff from your jacket to make sure snow doesn’t get in. If you don’t have a jacket with a great powder cuff, I would recommend getting a pair of bibs instead. The biggest advantage of pants over bibs though is the ease of going to the bathroom on long days in the mountains.
Without a doubt these pants will keep you warm, almost too warm, especially if you wear the liners while you’re touring uphill. Due to the thickness and weatherproofing of the material, you’ll retain heat very well in these pants, so make sure to keep the vents open when you’re moving uphill. If you forget, you’ll regret it in a second when you’re sweating 10 minutes into your tour. That being said, when you’re high up on an alpine ridge getting hammered with wind and snow, you’ll be grateful for the windproof material that’s also keeping you dry.
Backcountry or Resort? Where do these pants excel?
These pants are definitely built for the backcountry. The full side zips, beacon pocket, and durable fabric are made to stand up to the harshness of the elements in the backcountry. They would definitely work in the resort, but have a few extra features that are not really worth paying for if you primarily ski in-bounds. Although, if you’re in the market for a new pair of resort pants and have any desire to start sidecountry or backcountry skiing, these pants would be a perfect intermediate for you. They’ll do everything you need them to do in the resort and more. Plus, they’ll hold up for a long time so they’ll be ready when you make your transition out of bounds.
Overall Rating – 4/5
These are great pants, they’re incredibly durable, weather resistant, warm, and functional. They’re designed for backcountry skiers and have the perfect amount of features without going overboard. The only reason I’m not giving them five stars is because of how thick and heavy the material is. For backcountry skiing, a thin breathable material that keeps you warm is ideal because you spend most of your time going uphill, not downhill. These pants are built for very extreme conditions and function well in most conditions, making them a bit overkill for the average backcountry skier. That being said, all of the features are well thought out and overbuilt, so these pants should last a very long time and provide great value. I would definitely recommend them to anyone who spends a lot of time deep in the backcountry or someone like myself who runs a bit cold and wears tons of layers all the time.
Paul Brastrom is an active outdoorsman from Houston, Texas. He recently completed his goal of climbing all of the Colorado 14ers and is continuing to spend his time in the Colorado Rockies. A digital marketer during the week and a mountain biker, splitboarder, rock climber, hiker, runner, and fly fisher when he’s not a work, Paul is at home in the mountains.