Eddie Bauer Sun Valley Down Parka Review
Cons: No storm flap or front snaps, not waterproof, not our favorite style
Manufacturer: Eddie Bauer
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Sun Valley isn't the warmest jacket we tested or the best at fending off wet weather. It's easy wearability and cushy features make it a comfortable option for milder climates. It also comes in a wide array of colors and sizes from XS to 3X and in tall, plus, and petite size options. We found the jacket to be trim and true to size. Our friends and online reviewers agree.
The Sun Valley Parka is a warm winter coat, but we don't rate it at the top of the test. Our arms were often chilled when temperatures dipped below freezing, and our bums got cold when sitting out in the cold. A fleece lining along your back keeps your core comfortable and cuts down any wind. We wish it wrapped around the entire torso for more warmth.
It's common for companies to rate sleeping bags and winter jackets generously, and we don't buy the -30 F rating. It's just not that thick and didn't keep us toasty in temperatures well above zero. The fabric doesn't claim to be windproof, and we felt a chill creeping in through the seams.
The jacket's 650 fill power down offers middle-of-the-road loft amongst the jackets we tested. Down's fill power measures its quality. The higher the fill number, the more room the down takes up and the more air pockets it captures. Your body heat warms up those air pockets, so the more you have, the warmer you are.
Down fill weight measures how much down is in a jacket. Eddie Bauer says this jacket has a 300-gram fill weight, which is one of the highest in the test. Manufactures are often reluctant to disclose these numbers because they seldom tell the full story. On paper, this jacket should be one of the warmest in the test. We didn't find that to be the case. That said, the Sun Valley is adequate for moderate winter temperatures outside of the deep-north.
The outer shell has a durable water-repellant (DWR) finish to help water bead and roll away before soaking into the fabric. It's not waterproof, and the DWR doesn't work for very long. In our four-minute shower test, water quickly soaked through the baffle seams and shoulders. It kept beading water on the shell throughout the test, but water worked its way through to our back, chest, and thighs by the end. Rain didn't charge through the zipper, though, which is nice. And the hood kept our head dry.
While this parka can shed some splashes, it won't give you much time to get out of the weather in a rainstorm or wet sloppy snow. The fabric isn't windproof either. Though the layer of fleece in the back provides some extra protection from cutting winds. Overall, this jacket is best for cold, clear days without dangerous weather.
Lightweight, with a comfortable cut that gives us plenty of shoulder room, this is jacket is one that we quickly forget after pulling it on. It doesn't feel like wrapping up in a cloud (our favorite winter jackets are wearable sleeping bags), but plush fleece cuffs and pockets and a cozy hood keep us happy.
The fleece lining on the back is also soft and comforting. Oddly, the type of fleece lining you get varies by jacket color. The black version we tested has short-pile fleece. (So does the navy, carbon, DK loden, driftwood, and plum.) The other colors have a high-pile sherpa fleece. That sounds even softer, so we're all for it.
This jacket is never restrictive, giving your arms and legs plenty of room to move. If you do need more space to increase your stride, a two-way zipper lets you open up the hem. This jacket gives us no cause for comfort complaints as long as you keep it out of wet weather.
The Sun Valley's function lends grace to its form, but it's not a style standout. The exposed zippers and arm pocket are visual distractions that feel dated. The shell's sheen that comes from a metallic cross dyeing process according to Eddie Bauer, looks a little plastic on the relatively stiff shell fabric.
The chevron baffling and shiny fabric is similar to several very fashionable jackets we tested. While their light and soft polyester fabric have a subtle drape, the Sun Valley's stiff outer fabric stands straight up and down. The effect isn't as appealing. But the slim cut does flatter. This jacket isn't bulky and has a pleasing line. And we do think the faux fur ruff is among the prettiest we tested.
The Sun Valley is a well-made parka. It does have many seams on the shell that could snag and rip, but we don't expect that to be a game-changing issue. The zipper works well, but it does seem less expensive and possibly less durable than those on other jackets.
Cozy, well-executed features make this jacket a joy to wear. Super-soft fleece cuffs caress your hands, hold in heat, and tuck smartly away behind the protective shell, so they're not likely to get wet. The same fleece lines the well-placed hand-warming pockets that tuck into the soft down insulation.
Those pockets zip and are big enough for a cell phone, but sitting down with one zipped into either of them is uncomfortable. The chest pocket is a great place to carry valuables, though. It zips and is big enough for most smartphones. Most jackets tuck this pocket into the coat for a more streamlined look. Putting it outside just makes it easier to access in a storm, and we like that.
The pocket on the left sleeve is less functional. When you're wearing the jacket, it's hard to reach across your body to access the opening. If you're trying to curb your spending habits, it's an excellent place to keep your cash. You may decide that whatever your heart desires at the moment isn't worth the hassle of breaking into that little pocket.
The jacket's hood is nicely sized and insulated with a functional faux-fur ruff. It protects our ears and faces without restricting our field of view. The ruff and hood both snap off so easily that you can do it while wearing the coat. We appreciate this functionality, and fabric flaps do a fair job of covering the inelegant snaps.
The two-way zipper doesn't have an external storm flap. We like these flaps for their weather protection and because their snaps offer a quick and easy way to fasten your coat without reaching down for the zipper. An internal flap helps keep water and wind from rushing in.
This jacket performs well in moderate winter weather and is easy to wear. It should also last for years. That means it gives you good value. Other coats in the test offer more warmth, weather protection, and style for about the same price, though.
Eddie Bauer is Responsible Down Standard (RDS) Certified. If cruelty-free down sourcing matters to you, this jacket honors that value.
The Sun Valley Down Parka has very few flaws, and if the style and level of weather protection work for you, we have no hesitations in recommending it.
— Clark Tate