Sprayway Aldan Down Vest Review

17th Oct 2017

Sprayway Aldan Vest

I have had several down vests over the years and really rate them for a wide range of situations.  They provide simple core insulation after exercise or when belaying at a chilly crag.  They are useful for everyday use around town and can be carried for lightweight layering on wild camping trips.  Down offers great weight for warmth and a lightweight outer shell material will keep chilly winds at bay.  There is really nothing not to love about a down vest.

Sprayway are a local business to us and we’ve used a range of their products to good effect.  They have a strong mountaineering history and a thorough understanding of the needs of UK mountain goers.  I see them as producing good value and great performing products suitable for a broad cross sections of users.  They have just added a down vest to their product range and I've been taking one for a test drive…….

Features

The Aldan Vest is the men’s version which I tested and Sprayway also produce a women’s version called the Nuna.  Both models feature 60 grams of 700 fill power 90/10 duck down and the down has a teflon coating for water resistance.  The vests are constructed with stitch through baffle construction and have an inside pocket and 2 hand warmer pockets.  There is also a drawcord hem, elastane trimmed arm holes, a full length front zip and Sprayway supply a stuff sack.  It is a feature rich package weighing about 290 grams for the Aldan and 250 grams for the Nuna and costing £100 for the men's and £90 for the women's.

The Test

This isn't a long term test as I've only been using the Aldan for a month, but it's arrival conveniently coincided with very chilly autumn weather and so it has had almost continual use during this period.  The vest has also just accompanied me to Morocco for a week of trekking and an ascent of Jebel Toubkal.

In Use

The Aldan is a very smart looking garment. I received one in black which has neat baffling, subtle Sprayway branding on the lower hem and a well designed collar.  I asked for a medium vest and have found this to be on the large size for a medium (if that makes sense!) when compared with medium size in some other brands (and even when compared to size medium in another Sprayway Grenfell jacket I own).  This slightly larger sizing has worked fine as I usually want to layer underneath a jacket of this type, but it is something to be aware of.

As expected, the Aldan makes a great cold weather layering piece and adds considerable warmth when sitting around in camp or waiting for your turn on that downhill mountain biking track.  I often find a full down jacket to be too warm and it is great to have an alternative for less challenging weather.  This insulation is impressive as I was unsure how much warmth benefit only 60 grams of down would offer.

Stitch through construction is fairly normal on garments of this type, but of course each of those stitch holes is a potential insulation cold spot.  It mainly comes down to whether offering a more expensive stitching method would be financially viable and, given the expected usage of a vest, I suspect Sprayway have decided it just isn't practical. 

The front zip is a chunky and good quality job and the pockets, hem drawcord and stuffsack all work well and are welcome additions.  The internal pocket will store a phone or wallet easily and is another really useful feature.  Sprayway have obviously thought carefully about the features needed and avoided adding anything unnecessary.  I like the simplicity of the Aldan design.

I haven't yet been in a situation where I can properly assess the water repellency of the down treatment Sprayway have used in the Aldan.  However, I have a very good knowledge of the benefits of water resistant treatments for down.  They are designed to minimise the amount of water the down absorbs (this may be water from outside or moisture we create by sweating).  Drier down performs better and minimising moisture absorption means the down dries faster and can be used in a wider range of conditions.  Treatments of this kind are a great addition to any down product and I say full marks to Sprayway for using treated down in the Aldan.

The outer fabric used on the Aldan is a lightweight nylon (I couldn't find much specific detail about the fabrics on the Sprayway website) and the vest has a lighter weight nylon lining fabric.  These  have both stood up to wear and tear easily so far and there is no sign of any down leaking out through the material.  The finish gives a fairly matt appearance which looks great.  Using a lighter weight and breathable inner fabric is usually done by manufacturers both to lighten the jacket and also to aid the down to loft efficiently and I guess that is also the reasoning here.  It works well.

Summary

I think the Aldan is a great addition to the Sprayway range and is a very versatile garment that will be useful for lots of outdoor activists.  The construction quality is excellent and the styling is subtle and attractive.  It also benefits from the use of hydrophobic down and, at £100, I think it offers excellent value for money.  A great product.         

Posted by Paul

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