Ben took the Aldan vest, by Sprayway for a spin. Here is his review. Vests are a touchy subject. You either hate them or love them. Some would argue no sleeves is plain useless and others, like me, think core warmth is what matters in many situations. A vest is my go-to layer for high-output activities.
I was very interested to try the Aldan because it looked like a great piece of kit at a competitive price. Microbaffles, 60g of hydrophobic 90/10 natural duck down with 700cc fill power, streamlined design? Yes please!
Aldan vest specs
The Aldan is a simple vest that will not look out-of-place in town or on the trail. The version I received is a sober dark grey (Slate they call it) that doesn’t look like a plastic bag. It features two hand-warmer zipped pockets, an internal zipped pocket and an adjustable hem.
The overall construction looks robust. The baffles are stitched-through which is fairly common in the range but I did not feel any cold spots during use. The front zip looks sturdy and reliable and moves with ease. The vest comes with a stuff sack, way too large I have to say. You could probably stuff two in one bag.
Testing, in town, in the mountain
I start almost all my reviews by wearing the garment around town. Commuting (on a bike), going to the climbing gym etc. I like my gear to be versatile and if I can use it daily, the cost (prohibitive some would say!) of a decent piece is somewhat balanced by the high use I will make of it. As said earlier, the slate version of the Aldan is a great town layer on brisk mornings and doesn’t look completely out-of-place.
One gripe I have, for both technical and daily use, is the size. The smallest size is an S, which I normally wear but the Aldan feels a size bigger. “Potato sack” comes to mind even if I’ve been assured it’s “not THAT big”.
At least it’s warm. It’s incredible how much warmth comes from just 60g of down. We have been out-and-about this autumn with team Gear Exposure and I made use of the vest on every trip. We might be in Spain but the Pyrenees from September onwards is a cold area. I’ve worn the Aldan as an outer layer or an insulation layer hiking, snowshoeing, mountain biking and I am thinking about using it on the ski lifts later this season.
Its high compressibility makes it easy to fit in a backpack pocket. I also played with the front zip a lot to regulate ventilation. It proved a too light for belaying and other static activities though and I was glad to also have a heavier down jacket for camp and lunch stops.
The Sprayway Aldan, and its women version the Nuna, are simple pieces, but at the MSRP of £100 and £90 respectively, they are great value for money. Beware of the sizing though, you probably want a size smaller. A shame they don’t make an XS version for Men.