First Ascent Igniter Jacket

First Ascent Igniter JacketFirst Ascent Igniter Jacket

Weight:  559.3 grams / 19.73 ounces


-1.06 oz 20-Denier ripstop nylon with StormRepel durable water-repellent (DWR) finish. 100% nylon lining

– 100g PrimaLoft® One polyester insulation is low-bulk, easy to compress, and super warm even when wet

-Adjustable elastic drawcord hem

-Pockets: two exterior hand, one left chest, one right internal mesh zippered mp3 compatible

-5” fleece lined collar protects the face in cold, windy conditions

-Easy running zippers

-Elastic hood adjustment to seal out nasty weather

-Quilted to keep insulation in place

-Elastic and velcro cuffs allow the sleeves to be easily pulled up to the elbow or down over a glove

– Center back length 29”

MSRP: $199

Test Locations: Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Summit County, Colorado; Coronet Peak, New Zealand; everywhere cold in between.

Days Skied: 60+ / Days Worn: 90+

A ski outfit is a pretty important thing. It’s the one outfit that you wear over and over again and that people come to recognize you by. It has to be functional and durable, and it’s a big bonus if it actually looks cool.

So when I decided last year that I was fed up with shivering on the chairlift and that it was time for a warmer coat, I had a big decision to make. I knew I wanted the warmth of a down jacket, but I didn’t want the bulk. It wasn’t until I returned a well-intentioned Christmas gift from my grandmother to Eddie Bauer that I discovered First Ascent.

I have to be honest. When I think of Eddie Bauer, I imagine a couple in their sixties shopping for that big vacation to the mountains next month. I’ve never thought it was a place to shop for skiing and mountaineering gear that you’re actually going to use regularly and depend on its performance.

But First Ascent is a line of mountaineering clothing and gear jointly created by Eddie Bauer, Whittaker Mountaineering, and Rainier Mountaineering. The idea was to create a line of mountaineering gear that is streamlined and functional, a design philosophy they describe as “perfection through minimalism.” Experienced mountain and ski guides lead the design, development, and testing of each piece in the collection.

Although the tagline sounds like just another sales pitch, the Igniter Jacket really does live up to the description. The most impressive thing about this jacket is that it gives you exactly what you need, and nothing extra.

The Igniter has the warmth of a big down jacket without the bulk, and it allows for a full range of motion for whatever activities you might get into. The jacket by itself keeps me warm to about 5 degrees Fahrenheit, and with a couple of layers underneath, it is toasty even in the coldest conditions. In addition, the synthetic insulation packs down fairly easily. The nylon is just a bit slippery, so squashing it down can sometimes be frustrating, but if you persevere, you can get it down to be about cantaloupe sized.

I like a looser fit for my ski clothes so usually wear a women’s size large, but the Igniter men’s small fits me quite well. It is long in the waist, which is something I rarely find in women’s jackets. I think for men, however, this jacket tends toward a slim, athletic fit: snug across the shoulders and chest, but still relatively long for an athletic cut.

First Ascent Igniter Jacket

Emily Cleveland in the First Ascent Igniter Jacket

There are only four pockets in this jacket, but that is just enough. There are two exterior hand pockets on each hip and one on the chest. There is also an iPod-compatible mesh pocket on the inside, which keeps a phone or an iPod warm enough to keep the battery alive.

All of the pockets are medium sized, although with the athletic fit, it’s hard to stash too much in them without looking like you have an abnormal growth. The contrasting colored zippers are also a nice design element and make it easy to access pockets or unzip the coat even with gloved hands.


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