Aria is a luxurious gilet, offering high levels of warmth for weight. The 650 fi ll down provides cosy core insulation with stitched-through baffles shaped to eliminate cold spots (it is easily the warmest gilet in this test). The cut is ideal for a women’s gilet: feminine and close but with room to layer. Zipped side pockets have a brushed face and, inside, stuff pockets are handy for keeping gloves warm or stashing lightweight treasures that you don’t want to freeze (in my case, contact lens solution). My problem is the hood. I have been trying to work out a credible situation where you would need a down-filled hood on a gilet. Heat is lost from the head and a down hood is super-efficient at generating warmth, but if it’s cold enough to need a hood this warm, you also usually need sleeves. You can’t comfortably layer it with a hooded shell garment, because the hoods will clash – and in that case, you’ve already got head protection. Perhaps over a non-hooded soft-shell – but then, isn’t a beanie more convenient and versatile?
Judy Armstrong wraps up against the cold with the best sleeveless tops
FABRIC: 20D polyester ripstop, 650+ fill down WEIGHT: 275g COLLAR WIDTH: 60cm SIZES: XS-XL (no men's) PRICE: Ј135 WEBSITE: www.outdoorresearch.co.uk