You can’t ignore the meteoric rise of ALDI and LIDL as dominant forces in the UK retail world. And I can rarely ignore grabbing something I never realised that I needed when I pop in there. It’s a man’s paradise of ‘stuff’, much of which I’m absolutely sure I’ll find a use for, one day. But will I find the Technical Softshell Jacket useful? Well, we got one a day or two ahead of today’s in-store launch, and here’s what I think. (note: it’s not exactly exhaustive testing, but stuff doesn’t stay on the shelf long in ALDI)
First impressions from the packet are that it’s thin. Much thinner than any other ‘outer’ softshell I have, by virtue of the fact that it’s a single layer of fabric. There’s no liner or insulation here. So, it’s a warm-weather, or active, or layering piece rather than an early-spring keep-you-warm jacket.
Secondly, the finish. Well, it’s not bad actually! At under £20 you might expect to see some wiggly stitching and sharp bits of zip, but none are evident. In fact, I’ll go as far as to say that it’s a very well made garment, and if it had a North Face badge on it, you’d not complain.
The softshell is dense and smart, with a slight air of crispiness still (it’s 2 days old, remember) and there is a soft fleecy finish on the neck and chin.
The main panels are softshell, and the side, underarm and under-sleeves are a fleece-lined “stretch” material. There’s a little bit of stretch in it, maybe 10-15%.
The main zipper and pockets zippers are solid, dependable YKK, so they’re not a weak point either. And the toggles are chunky and easy to find with gloves. Those two hand-pockets are fleece lined and cosy. And I’m pleased to say that the zippered chest pocket is big enough for my ridiculous Samsung Note. Bonus.
There’s a hidden vent on the upper back of the jacket to help you let some steam out, which is certainly a nice touch on a jacket which is so cheap.
So, how do they make it so cheap?
Well, what it doesn’t have is wrist, waist or neck bungees, so breezes will find their way in. And, well, that’s it really. Like I said, if it had a brand-badge on it, you’d happily spend double or triple and not worry. Such is the force that is direct-retailing like ALDI – can any traditionally-distributed brand compare on price?
If you’re after a simple, pretty effective and definitely well-made softshell to keep off a bit of rain, a fair amount of wind and a bit of cold, grab a bargain.