When I was a kid growing up in the frigid upper Midwest, the arrival of a box from Eddie Bauer containing a new down jacket was a big event. It meant you were going to stay warm that winter. Back then, Eddie Bauer gear was the real thing, worn by cold weather hunters and serious mountaineers. Eddie Bauer himself took out a patent on a quilted down jacket in 1940.
We had Bauer down everything: jackets, snow bibs, slippers, even gloves. Unfortunately in the 70s and 80s, new owners General Mills and Speigel took the brand away from its outdoor roots and into the malls, making “Eddie Bauer” synonymous with boring casual clothes and Ford Expedition interiors for soccer moms.
A pleasant surprise at SHOT Show was the news that Eddie Bauer is back. After introducing a line of technical mountain climbing clothes a couple of years ago and outfitting an expedition to Everest, Bauer returns to the hunting and shooting market this year with a full line of clothing. Some of the pieces are pleasingly retro, others are highly technical. All of them have been designed by people who actually hunt and shoot.
My son John is modeling the 1936 Skyliner Jacket, which is very similar to one my dad used to wear for late season hunts in the 60s. Besides looking good and being insulated with warm down insulation, the Skyliner has front pockets big enough to hold over a box of shells each and a rear pouch for 100 empty hulls.
If you look at the collar, you’ll see it doesn’t get in the way of your gunstock when you bring it to your face, unlike the big collars on a lot of hunting and shooting coats. And it has lots of leather trim so it looks good when you wear it around town. It does cost $299, but Eddie Bauer stuff was never inexpensive, and even so, it is great to see the brand once again standing for hunting and shooting.