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Eddie Bauer Thermal Hooded Sweater Review: Warm Waffle Knit, Balaclava Included!

This hooded sweater ended up being a highly technical, great-for-anytime winter-layering piece. Here's everything we loved about the Eddie Bauer Thermal sweater.

Eddie Bauer Thermal Hooded Sweater A close-up of the waffle knit balaclava hood; (photo/Mary Murphy)
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The “trail to town” category of apparel is enormous — hiking pants double as casual wear, beanies are common indoor accessories, even mountain bike shoes boast off-the-bike style.

Even outside the outdoor industry, you’ll notice labels from brands like prAna, Royal Robbins, The North Face, Vuori, and Patagonia creeping into cubicles. “Outdoor chic” is not only acceptable, it’s fashionable.

But in the winter months, fewer layers fall into my “trail to town” wardrobe. My go-to, everyday, multi-use pants and tees retire in exchange for shells, base layers, and fleece — really, anything insulated and warm. And when it comes to those winter layers, it’s hard to find a good base layer (or jacket) that’s truly a fit at the skin track, office, and a winter night on the town.

In short: Part of Eddie Bauer’s First Ascent collection, this base layer sweater ($99) offers great warmth and is super comfortable next to skin. We layered up with this “sweater” a whole bunch over the winter, especially on big snow days. Its warmth and knit construction proved fantastic. I was expecting it to be more of a casual sweater, but don’t be fooled — this thermal was built for cold-weather performance.

Eddie Bauer Thermal Hooded Sweater


  • Fabric Synthetic, recycled, and wool blend
  • Materials 40% polyester, 35% EcoVero (wood viscose), 25% merino wool
  • Features Built-in balaclava, thumbholes, ribbed at hood and cuffs
  • Fit Athletic, longer hip length
  • Sizes XS-2XL
  • Weight 260 g / 9.1 oz. (size S)


  • Warm
  • Breathes well
  • Awesome design with integrated balaclava
  • Great face and neck protection


  • Not quick drying
  • Heavier compared to other base layers

Eddie Bauer Thermal Hooded Sweater Review

Testing the sweater in 20- to 30-degree winter weather; (photo/Mary Murphy)

Over the past few months, I’ve worn this thermal hooded sweater skiing, hiking, shoveling snow, walking the dog, snowshoeing, and as a top at the office, a Christmas party, a restaurant, and more.

Finding the perfect sweater you can wear skiing, and après-skiing, is easier said than done. But this one from Eddie Bauer is a capable, comfortable, and durable layer. And it stands up to super cold temps in winter! I tested it in -5 to 40-degree Fahrenheit weather, and it really shined in temps between zero and 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

But there are plenty of great base layers out there, so why this one? If you’re looking for warmth, knit and wool blend sweaters really take the cake.

Eddie Bauer Hooded Thermal Sweater in purple
Layered up in the purple Eddie Bauer Hooded Thermal Sweater for skiing; (photo/Mary Murphy)

I’ve never been a stylish person; I will never write for Fashion, ELLE, or Vogue.

I appreciate the general idea of being stylish (what colors are in this season, what cut of jeans are in) and make an effort. I color-coordinate my apparel and accessories, make sure I match my outfit and shoes, and don’t wear white after Labor Day — call me old-fashioned. But that’s where my expertise stops.

I’m much better suited to hike for hours, test packs, or spend a day in the dirt pounding in tent stakes and making a fire than I am trying to pull off a pair of Matisse heels.

All that said, half my love for this layer — alongside its reliable warmth and dependable comfort — is its fantastic style. I’ve received compliments on its fit, color, the pseudo-cowl-neck cut when the hood is down, the integrated gaiter — you name it.

Knit sweaters are a-plenty anywhere you go in Colorado, especially in Summit County post-skiing. Even just one compliment on what I thought was a simple base layer? I was shocked. It’s a great-looking sweater, and most folks hanging out après-side would never know it could handle prolonged, rough winter use as well. And that’s exactly its beauty.

Eddie Bauer made this sweater first and foremost to perform outdoors in the cold, but its ability to offer some style is great too.

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Editor Mary Murphy pulling up a balaclava over her face on a powder day
(Photo/Mary Murphy)

This thermal knit sweater is very warm, great for layering, and offers great face and neck protection from wind and cold. It exudes warmth and cuts down on extra or bulky layers, not to mention you don’t have to fiddle with accessory balaclavas or gaiters. Overall, it was a nice surprise —  this was a more technical layer than I was expecting.

For readers wondering if there were any cons: Yes, but a minor one. If you take on a lot of snow or moisture to the face area, it will take a while to dry. It wasn’t uncomfortable, but clinging wet knit is not my favorite thing to have next to skin — consider an extra buff or gaiter for super-wet snow days.

All in all, the Eddie Bauer Thermal Sweater for me is now an everyday winter staple.

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