The Feathered Friends Eos Down Vest (7 oz / 200 g, $249.00) is a simple, well-constructed, well-fitting down vest with a high warmth-to-weight ratio. The Eos Down Vest is, as you might suspect, the vest version of the Feathered Friends Eos Down Jacket. That jacket is a popular piece of apparel that BPL jacket-guru Max Neale once referred to as “arguably the best down jacket on the market.” The Eos Down Vest seems primed to follow in the Eos Down Jacket’s footsteps by utilizing the same 900 FP down and lightweight shell fabrics as the jacket.
About This Review
This Limited Review is based on use over three nights of backpacking and 10-15 day hikes and trail runs in the Lake Tahoe area of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in late winter and early spring.
Features & Specifications
specs are for men’s size medium
- claimed: 7 oz (200 g)
- Measured: 7.0 oz (200 g)
- fill weight: 2.1 oz (60 g)
- fill power: 900+ RDS certified goose down
- materials: 37 g/m2 Pertex Quantum brushed nylon, lycra
- 12 x 20 denier weave with DWR coating
- zippered hand-warmer pockets
- elastic drawcord hem
- MSRP: $249
Because this is a Limited Review, a detailed performance analysis based on long-term testing will not be presented. In lieu of a detailed analysis, performance observations and issues are noted below.
|criteria||observations and issues|
|warmth||The Eos Down Vest delivers a high degree of warmth for its weight. Partly this is a function of premium materials - 900 fill-power down, and 12 x 20 denier woven nylon. It’s also a feature of choosing a vest over a jacket. In a sense, you could look at a vest over a jacket as minimalism applied to its logical extreme - insulating only where necessary (torso) and trimming everything else.
The zippered hand warming pockets are generously deep, going well beyond my wrists when using them.
|fit and comfort||This product features a moderately trim cut. I routinely wore mine on top of a Brynje Wool Thermo T-Shirt Base Layer and Ridge Merino Solstice Lightweight Pullover Hoodie, and still had room to layer one more light fleece-type layer underneath if necessary. Anything more than that will begin to feel constrictive. In other words - it is a refined fit - certainly less baggy than a jacket. This fit makes it a very functional mid-layer.
Lycra around the armholes ensures the vest doesn’t pull or rub in that area. The elastic hem is adjustable on both sides. The nylon fabric is soft and comfortable - what you’d expect from a high-end insulating layer.
|packability||Although I prefer to let my insulating garments remain uncompressed in my pack as much as possible to extend their lifespan, that isn’t always an option - particularly if I’m using a pack that features external storage. In those cases, I need to keep my jacket easy to access but also protected from moisture, so I will sometimes keep an insulating layer in a waterproof stuff sack on the outside of my pack.
The same premium materials and minimal cut that make the Eos Down Vest so warm for its weight also make it highly compressible. During my testing, I mostly kept my Eos Down Vest in an 8 in x 10 in (20 cm x 25 cm) Hyperlight Mountain Gear Drawstring Stuff Sack (size small). It fit easily in there, far from its maximum compression.
|weather resistance||The DWR coating and calendered 12 x 20 denier woven nylon fabric shrug off light rain and snow as much as expected. I take great care not to expose my insulation layers to moisture, but if you were caught in an unexpected light shower while wearing this vest, you’d be okay long enough to get it safely stowed away or covered with a rain layer. The Eos Down Vest is wind-proof within reason, but you’d certainly want to toss a wind-shirt over it if you were dealing with moderate-to-high winds in cold conditions.|
|quality of construction / durability||The Feathered Friends Eos Down Vest is sewn with extremely high quality. There are no errant seams, and the stitching is straight. The zippers glide easily and do not catch in the fabric. In my time testing this vest, one down plumule migrated through the fabric.
The 12 x 20 denier woven nylon fabric is light but not so light as to be overly delicate. I wouldn’t want to expose it to sustained bushwhacking, but I wouldn’t worry about pushing through some brush while visiting the latrine or hanging a bear bag.
After rigorous inspection, I haven’t found anything that would indicate a short lifespan for this vest. If anything, the opposite is true - you would be safe in assuming that an investment in this vest would be paying off for a long while.
What Makes The Feathered Friends Eos Vest Unique?
At first glance, the question of “What Makes the Feathered Friends Eos Vest Unique” is somewhat hard to answer. There are no gimmicks or trendy features on this insulating layer – the only way to make it any more minimal (or lighter) would be to remove the pockets and zippers and make it a pull-over, reduce its fill weight, or use even lighter (e.g., 7d/10d) shell fabrics.
After giving it some thought and using this garment broadly (across a wide range of circumstances and temperatures) if not deeply (for an extended period on a long, multi-week backpacking trip), I’ve determined that two factors make the Eos Down Vest unique. These factors are:
- Quality of Construction and Materials
- Utility While Fastpacking
Quality of Construction and Materials
Feathered Friends sews its products in Vancouver and Seattle, and if “made in the USA” isn’t quite the byword for quality that we sometimes believe it is, in this case, the old maxim is true – this is an exceptionally well-made garment. In researching this article, I spoke with Juna Gates from Feathered Friends, who shed a little more light on how Feathered Friends maintains such high quality of construction (the brand’s quality is well-known in the outdoor world).
Firstly, Juna told me, Feathered Friends places a lot of emphasis on retaining their Seattle workforce, preferring to keep workers for years. There’s something to be said for practice and experience, particularly behind a sewing machine and while working with ultralight fabrics.
Secondly, Feathered Friends’ small scale (relative to larger brands like Arc’teryx) means they “hand inspect every piece coming out of [the Feathered Friends] factory.”
Neither of those factors makes for a flashy product, but when combined with good customer service and function-centered design, they do make for a very high quality product. The final factor to consider is Feathered Friends’ use of premium materials in the Eos Down Vest. I’ll talk more about that below.
Utility While Fastpacking
As the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has limited my vagabonding area to my immediate surroundings, I’m experimenting with ways to challenge and progress my backpacking skills and fitness. One of the ways I’m doing this is by fastpacking and trail-running (and blurring the lines between the two). In essence, I’m playing with how quickly I can move over challenging terrain for short distances (thirty miles or less). For this purpose, the Feathered Friends Eos Down Vest has been perfect. Its compressible nature and high warmth-to-weight ratio (both factors of simple, elegant design and premium materials, including 900 FP down) make it perfect for inclusion in fastpacking kits – particularly on trips where you’ll be spending a minimum amount of time lounging around camp. My weekly long trail runs are now edging up towards marathon distance, and I like to take a break at the halfway point to eat and admire the scenery. It’s still somewhat chilly in my area, so the Eos Down Vest is a worthy inclusion in my 18L running vest – well worth the 7 oz (200 g) and the minimal space it takes up.
When longer backpacking trips are back on the table, it will make a stellar insurance garment. While I’d probably lean towards a more substantial down jacket for serious alpine trips, I’d be tempted to bring the Eos Down Vest along instead of a jacket on multi-week trips in milder climates where I just need something small and light to fend off evening and morning chills.
I chose to compare the Feathered Friends Eos Down Vest to the Arc’teryx Cerium LT Vest. Both vests are simple, streamlined designs, at an identical price-point and similar weight, from companies known for quality garments.
|warmth||The Eos Down Vest uses 900 FP down, while the Cerium LT Vest uses 850 FP down and minimal amounts of synthetic insulation at strategic locations. The Cerium LT Vest weighs in at 6.5 oz (185 g) vs. the Eos Down Vest is 7 oz (200 g).||Eos|
|price||Both products cost $249.||Tie|
|insulation type||The Eos Down Vest uses 900 FP down, while the Cerium LT Vest uses 850 FP down and synthetic insulation.||Eos|
|weather and moisture resistance||Both garments utilize calendared, ultralight nylon fabrics coated with a DWR. What sets the Arc’teryx Cerium LT vest apart is its use of synthetic insulation at strategic points (notably the shoulders). In my opinion, this gives the Arc’teryx Cerium LT vest a slight edge in terms of moisture resistance.||Cerium|
|durability / quality of construction||Both products are from companies known for high-quality production. That being said, research into the Cerium LT Vest revealed ongoing issues with zipper durability (according to multiple user reviews on Arc’teryx and several third-party websites). The Eos Down Vest is a new product and hasn’t garnered many reviews yet. I certainly didn’t find anything of concern on my sample, so for now, the Eos Down Vest holds the edge.||Eos|
|packability||The inclusion of synthetic insulation in the Cerium LT Vest makes it slightly less compressible than the Eos Down Vest.||Eos|
|pockets||The Eos Down Vest has two zippered hand-warmer pockets. The Cerium LT Vest has two zippered hand-warmer pockets but also includes an inner zippered chest pocket. I find this type of pocket especially useful for keeping electronics and batteries warm, so in this case, I give the edge to Arc’teryx.||Cerium|
- Ideal for peak-bagging, fast-packing, trail-running, or other pursuits where you might be trying to shave ounces but maintain warmth on short rest breaks.
- Great utility as an insurance layer or primary insulative layer in milder climates
- Precise, refined fit functions well under layers.
- Quality of Construction
- Lives up to the Feathered Friends reputation for quality.
- Insufficient warmth for long stays in alpine environments where temperatures can fluctuate dramatically.
Where to Buy
- Leaning towards something synthetic? Check out our extensive Synthetic Insulated Jacket State of the Market Report.
- Our community discusses the Feathered Friends Eos Down Jacket and several other insulated jackets in this forum thread.
DISCLOSURE (Updated November 7, 2019)
- Product(s) discussed in this article may have been purchased by the author(s) from a retailer or direct from a manufacturer, or by Backpacking Light for the author. The purchase price may have been discounted as a result of our industry professional status with the seller. However, these discounts came with no obligation to provide media coverage or a product review. Backpacking Light does not accept compensation or donated/discounted products in exchange for guaranteed media placement or product review coverage.
- Some (but not all) of the links in this article may be “affiliate” links. If you click on one of these links and visit one of our affiliate partners (usually a retailer site), and subsequently place an order with that retailer, we receive a small commission. These commissions help us provide authors with honoraria, fund our editorial projects, podcasts, instructional webinars, and more, and we appreciate it a lot! Thank you for supporting Backpacking Light!
- Read about our approach to journalistic integrity, product reviews, and affiliate marketing here.