Born in 1900, Eddie Bauer the man invented the down jacket, held over 20 patents on sporting equipment in the 1930s, and – for better or worse – single handedly popularized badminton in America. Born in 1920, Eddie Bauer the company started as a tennis shop, outfitted the U.S. Army, and equipped the first American ascent of K2 and Everest among other expeditions. The company was sold and bought several times over during the freewheeling 1980s, and eventually went bankrupt in 2009. Rising from the ashes, Eddie Bauer the company sought to regain its mountaineering and expedition heritage with the launch of sub-brand First Ascent, dedicated to producing technical outerwear for the most hardcore alpinists and adventurers in the world, many of which they hired as ambassadors and consultants.
Getting back to one’s roots can be liberating – the philosophy and plan are all laid out by past generations, all you have to do is execute a modern version – and it has paid off for Eddie Bauer. The First Ascent line was created by athletes, for athletes, a trite cliché in the outdoor gear market for sure, but significant in this case none the less. Re-engineered from the ground up, the Heyburn 2.0 ski pant is a fine example of the commitment to its technical outerwear past and the attention the First Ascent team pays to detail.
The Heyburn’s exterior is made from a waterproof 70-denier shell and rates at 10K/10K – without getting too technical, this means its pretty good at keeping water out while letting moisture escape – and finished with DWR for extra water resistance -ness-ability. Two cargo pockets flank each leg and the hand pockets are fleece lined for comfort. Zippered vents in the inner thigh help regulate temps on the slopes and the boot gaiters are adjustable to accommodate any size ski or snowboard boot and still keep the snow out. These are crucial features, but the Heyburn really shines when you take a closer look at the little details that matter, but may not be noticed at first.
Take the waist for example: with the adjustable, stretch heavy duty Velcro inner belt, you can cinch the waist to optimize the fit. The seat of the pant extends up the lower back and is doubly stiff to add extra protection against the elements, especially for snowboarders who spend a lot of time on their backside. Small loops integrate with a jacket’s powder skirt so nothing can get in, even when you scorpion into a tree well on a powder day. The bottom cuffs are lined with Cordura to prevent any fraying and the insides are double lined so they won’t get cutup by boot buckles, giving the pants extra life and more bang for the buck. Added insulation at the seat and knees keep you warm when riding the lifts or waiting for your buddies at the lodge. The fit is relaxed, but not so baggy that it gets in your way and the color options range from conservative navy blue to howling neon green.
Individually, these features are nice, but throw them all together and they are great. It’s great to have a warm butt and watch water bead up on your thighs on a chair lift; it’s great to not have snow down your crack when you strap on your bindings; it’s great to not have to roll up your cuffs so they don’t get ruined by a mix of dirt, gravel, and salt while grabbing a slice in the village. Basically it boils down to having a piece of gear you don’t have to worry about: like a boxing referee, if you notice it, it’s not doing its job. You won’t notice the Heyburn pant while your riding, and that’s a good thing. If you choose the limeade color, however, people will surely notice you.