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The Next Big Thing in Puffies: No Puff

This Eddie Bauer jacket goes big without being puffy

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Price: $249

Sizes: S-XL

Materials: 30g EverTherm Down Insulation

StormRepel Super DWR

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I'm living a dream, heli skiing in the backcountry of Revelstoke, BC. Until, that is, around midday when temperatures rise enough that the snow turns nearly instantaneously to sludge. The crew I'm with—including pro skiers Andy Mahre and Lindsey Dyer—charge through the heavy, wet snow like, well…pros, leaving me to enjoy my own pizzas and french fries. I curse the weather gods under my breath, willing the light rain to turn back to fluffy flakes, and mashed potatoes to powder. It doesn't work and the weather stays relatively un-ideal for a heli skiing trip, but our Eagle Pass Heli ski guides have been down this road before and show us their secret stashes—for which we are forever grateful.

Our two days with Eagle Pass end up turning into a super concentrated version of an entire season's worth of weather variables. And while I don't normally condone skiing in the rain, it proved to be the perfect conditions to put my new midlayer, the Eddie Bauer EverTherm Down Jacket, through the wringer. The EverTherm—made with the latest evolution of Thindown, a super-thin down fabric first used in the fashion industry—looks and feels like it won't get the job done. It weighs next to nothing (9.12 ounces for the women's version I wore), and the entire jacket (including interior and face fabric) feel like they can't be more than a few millimeters thick. Call me crazy (or old school), but I've always equated warmth to thickness and weight, so without this veritable cornucopia of Canadian weather, I might not have given the EverTherm the chance it deserved and fallen hard and fast for Thindown.

The 30-gram Thindown insulation and water-repellant StormRepel Super DWR face fabric proved plenty warm when things got cold at the top, and breathable when I worked up a sweat midway down the mashed potato zone. In Thindown, traditional high-loft down clusters are replaced by sheets of down, eliminating the need for channels or baffling, which in turn eliminate cold spots caused by stitching, making it extra-efficient. In short, you get all the warmth without the puff. In Revelstoke, where changing weather and the stop-and-go patterns of heli skiing meant things went from sweaty to freezing to sweaty again, the EverTherm didn't miss a beat. No sooner had I started thinking about adding or losing layers than I'd forget, already comfortable.

The straightforward, streamlined design of the jacket makes efficient use of features (two hip pockets, one small chest pocket, elastic cuffs), but leaves the real show to the EverTherm. If I learned anything from my two days with Eagle Pass, it's that while your ski heroes are watching you pizza-ing down a manky line, at least you know your mid-layer is going to perform at its best.