We were recently approached by the Aldi special buys team to test out a selection of the outdoor gear that they will have available as part of their weekly specials on 6th November 2014, and these are the results.
Womens’ Softshell Stretch Trousers
If you’d told me a couple of weeks ago that I would find my perfect outdoors trousers in a supermarket I would have scoffed at you. However, I would have been wrong to have mocked…
I’ve been trying out a pair of their softshell trousers and from the moment I put them on they brought a smile to my face. The fit (for me) is perfect – from the waistband right down to the leg length. I’m a UK size 12 and had a pair of the mediums on test.
The fabric is nice and soft to the touch and they do indeed stretch and move with you, meaning no riding up, no bunching and no exposed bits of flesh.
The waistband does up with a simple zip and button detail. It does also feature belt loops if you need some extra support. It also features elasticated sides, which initially did conjure up thoughts of middle aged trousers, but they really do add to the fit and comfort.
The rear has been cut subtlety higher, so bending or stretching doesn’t reveal your lower back, which I think will also make these great for mountain biking or other more strenuous activities than my dog walking and hiking.
One final thing to say about the waistband is that it has been lined with a darkish pink fabric, a subtle design/styling touch that I rather liked.
The trousers are lined with a soft fabric so they feel good next to the skin, and all seams are double stitched so I think they’ll be hard wearing and long lasting, however there is no heel tape. They have two waist pockets and one zippered on your right bottom.
The fabric is water repellent, not waterproof, and has faired fine whilst on test in a light shower and also whilst washing the car.
They’ve washed well and dried really quickly. They are excellent value for money and I shall be investing in a second pair and envisage them being a wardrobe staple for many years to come.
Gaiters.. well – there’s not a huge amount to go wrong with them really – is there? I mean, what can separate a really good gaiter, from a really poor one? Well – maybe these Aldi ‘Crane’ brand gaiters have helped me figure that out.
Upon first putting on the ‘one-size-fits-all’ polyester gaiters I was quite glad to see that Aldi haven’t bothered with a zip, the velcro and a popper at each end is quite enough to keep the material together around the front, and the lace-hook worked well with the non-adjustable lower elastics to keep the gaiters tight around my size 10s.
The simple buckled under-foot straps (made of a shiny faced plastic strap) work well and even have elasticised ‘keepers’ on both sides to stop the excess flailing about as you walk. It’s worth mentioning the size of my boots because they show that I’m not the Hulk, so when I found that the upper circumference of the gaiter was almost enough to get both my legs in I was rather surprised. Perhaps the average hiker in Germany has much larger calves than in the UK? (Research of Germanic mountain scenes would suggest this is possible….). However, this didn’t prevent the adjustable elastic cord keeping the gaiters up all morning, which was good.
Due to the largely clement weather of recent days I haven’t been able to really test the waterproofing, but clambering around some heavily overgrown rhodie woodland definitely showed these khaki gaiters off to good effect. The dampness that would normally get transferred to my trouser legs from the bushes was kept on the outer surface of the gaiters. Unfortunately, what was also demonstrated on a warm-ish morning was that the gaiters do not breath at all. Admittedly they make no claim whatsoever as to their breathability, but it was something of a surprise to see the amount of ‘moisture’ trapped within the rubberised liner when I whipped them off! The soft-shell, water-repellent trousers I was wearing stopped the moisture coming back, but anyone using these with cotton trousers had better be prepared for wet ankles, albeit not rain-wet ankles.
Overall, I found these gaiters to be perfectly useable, but perhaps not ideally suited for warmer (sweatier) days or cotton trousers. They keep the water off well, but unfortunately they keep the moisture in too! Given they make no claims at all to breathability, which is the only point you can knock them on, I’d say they do their job perfectly satisfactorily making them well worth a look.
Mens SoftShell Stretch Trousers
Out of the packaging they’re a well shaped pair of polyester trousers with an elasticated waist and a slight bit of stretch overall. The trousers are fitted with YKK zips and the inside face of the material has a brushed finish which makes them very comfortable indeed to wear. The black colour of the trousers does make them them a little warm to wear on a warm day, or a very sunny one, however once the weather cools they maintain a decent environment within without instantly losing heat. They breathe very easily too, as evidenced by the moisture trapped inside the pair of gaiters I was testing above.
The softshell trousers are marketed as ‘water repellent’ which after a few days wear I’ve worked out actually means that they’ll shed water if you splash some on, or a bit of light drizzle but a constant source of water – ie a downpour or a drenched top dripping onto the cloth will get through, and that trickle of cold moisture down your left thigh can be a source of mild discomfort! So – they’re excellent for a dog walk in a bit of drizzle, but I wouldn’t wear them if I was out all day without over-trousers, and there was a good chance of getting caught in a downpour.
The fit is good (Large fitted my 35″ waist fine) and they were a good length for wearing with walking boots. At the front they have been cut with extra room at the knees for deep bending or climbing steep slopes. I would have preferred deeper pockets for a pair of outdoor trousers, especially as there’s only 3 of them. The rear pocket is zip-closed though so there’s some security for your wallet, and the zip runs reasonably smoothly.
Overall, for the money you’re paying, these trousers do the job without any fuss or fancies, so if you need an extra pair for hanging around the campfire or walking the dog in muddy trails (thus saving your hipster jeans), they’re worth the investment.
Bamboo Base Layer
A base layer made from ‘viscose derived from bamboo’ sounds as thought it ought to be comfortable, and fit for purpose and I have to hand it to Aldi; they have nailed it with this latest offering in their outdoor range.
The fabric is soft and a tiny bit ‘ooh’ in an almost brushed cotton and positively lovely kind of way, so I wore it daily in the name of research.
One of my main concerns was that cheaper fabric can easily ‘bobble’ so this base layer has been worn continuously for two weeks without a wash, and through daily long walks outside and other tasks. I am delighted to report that it has not gone ‘bobbly’. It also washes up really well. I would not have expected that with a cheaper priced top.
So what about regulating body temperature, which is why you buy a base layer in the first place?
The UK is experiencing a warm Autumn, and the day’s weather really varies between sunny mid-day but chilly mornings and evenings.
Job’s a good-un here too. I wore this base layer plus a light mid layer and a light fleece while walking and it regulated my body temperature well – so after hill walking with the sun on my back I wasn’t over hot by the time I reached the top, as I had been with a regular T’shirt. It also worked really well under a waterproof jacket, because in the rain you want breathable items, not warm ones. I was very happy in this T’shirt and my big blue rain coat.
And I also wanted to test ‘keeping warm while being still’. I like to layer up indoors while sitting at the laptop, disappearing into a project, because that’s when I get cold. I like to have the window open and the heating off. So whilst sitting at my desk in the mornings blogging, I wore this base layer with a mid layer and then tried on another day with a regular cotton T shirt and jumper. This outdoors line from Crane with its bamboo base layer was considerably warmer, so has stayed on.
Sizing – a large is 16-18. I am a booby-16 and it’s a generous fit, and didn’t hang in the wrong places, especially at the back/bra area. The neck line was not too high as it is in some round necked garments, and the short sleeves just the right length, and again nicely cut.
As a base layer, for a more snug fit, I would go for a medium. That is a good excuse for me to buy a pink version. And at £4.99 I am happy to part with my money for a second top.
Well done Aldi designers. You have the right colours, a well thought out cut. You have the material spot on and even in the right colours.
And the price, well, it’s Aldi, you know its going to be good.