Aldi’s range of low-cost snow gear will again hit our Aussie stores on the 18 May. Yep, that’s the same day as our Federal election. So time to grab bargain, possibly get in a fist-fight and celebrate our democracy with a sausage sizzle at you nearest election booth (what could be more Australian than that?). High fives all round.
With the anticipation and excitement building, I can hear you asking: What will it look like, how much will it cost and most importantly, will it do the job? All reasonable questions my friends…
Well….*drum roll*…..This year we are really excited because SRA has for the first time been granted unprecedented early access to the catalogue material.
Like previous years, Aldi will in 2019 offer a range of jackets, pants, mid and thermal layers, helmets, gloves, socks, boots, neck warmers and goggles. There will even be a range of toboggans. So let’s take a closer look at its value, quality, durability and style.
Let us start with the price. The good news is, the prices haven’t changed in three years. Aldi will again offer jackets and pants starting at $AUD59.99 and $AUD49.99 respectively for the low-end garments, and $AUD119.99 and $AUD99.99 respectively, for the high-end garments. So that’s a saving straightaway. How many retailers have been able to freeze their prices for 1 year, let alone 3.
So that’s a big tick for prices. But what about quality?
First of all, how do you tell a quality garment from a cheap and nasty garment? Without getting too technical it just depends on what you want to do. Quality garments prevent water from getting in, while allowing water vapor (i.e. sweat) to escape, with the quality garments doing it better than inferior garments.
If you ride a few hours a day and rarely break a sweat, then water proofing of 10,000 mm and breathability 10,000 g/m2/24hr is probably going to be fine. If however, you ride irrespective of the weather, ride hard or like to earn your turns (i.e. hike), then garments of 20,000 mm and 15,000+ g/m2/24hr are more for you.
Aldi offer two lines of product. Aldi’s high-end Inoc range offers a surprisingly high level of water resistance and breathability at 20,000 mm and 20,000 g/m2/24hr respectively; numbers which are equivalent to the top brands. And at less than $AUD120 they are a steal when you can easily pay between $AUD400 to $AUD1,000 for the same level of water resistance and breathability in name brands.
This year the outer wear is insulated with Dopont ‘Sarona’ wadding, a 100% renewable and sustainably sourced fiber with very good breathability and insulative qualities. They come with fully taped seams and a 3-layer laminate construction. Sounds fancy! Another nice new feature this year is the addition of a ski pass pocket on the bottom left hand sleeve.
Their low-end Crane range has stepped down a notch this year, offering water resistance to 8,000 mm and breathability to 8,000 g/m2/24hr. Last years range was higher at 12,000 mm and 10,000 g/m2/24hr respectively. The low-end range also features built-in Dopont ‘Saraona’ thermal wadding. In terms of warmth, water resistance and breathability, the low-end range is probably OK in average Australian conditions (to minus 5 degrees C) but not in persistent rain, or for folks who like to hike the back country.
So if you can afford the high-end range, it represents great value and with the specs on offer, it will probably get you through the worst winter can throw at you.
In terms of gloves, Aldi are again offering a good quality glove suitable for skiing, snowboarding or snow play, for just $34.99. The range is breathable to 10,000 g/m2/24hr and comes with soft, durable goatskin leather on the palm, fingers and thumb. They are also keeping up with the times by offering touchscreen friendly finger tips. Nice!
The Aldi kid’s range is attractive to the eye and super competitive at just $39.99 for jackets and $29.99 for pants. But what about quality? Kids love rolling around in the snow, and nothing spoils your day faster than a cold, wet and miserable littlin’. Aldi has stepped up again this year offering a high quality product with a 12,000 mm and a 10,000 g/m2/24hr water and breathability rating, respectively. Not bad when you consider that brand products in 2018 were 3 times the price while offering only small improvements in specs (15k/15k) or none at all (10k/10k).
For kids, nothing is more important than a good quality glove. Little fingers get cold quickly and can become painful. The Aldi range of children’s gloves also specs out at 12,000 mm and 10,000 g/m2/24hr, which is not too bad. They are actually more water resistant than the adult range, so it shows Aldi have done their homework. If in doubt, always buy a set of inners (not available at Aldi) so your kids fingers are double insulated. But at $11.99 a pair, the kids gloves are also a steal.
Anecdotally the gear stacks up. Plenty of trusted folk close to us have purchased and used Aldi’s gear in Australia, Japan and other overseas destinations, without complaints – in fact, some even rave about its quality. Nonetheless, the Aldi range of snow gear very much polarises the skiing and snowboarding community; you either love it or hate, with little room in between.
As any of us – and particularly those of us with kids – know, it’s the qualities of the zips and seams, quality of the stitching, the insulation and the amount of stretch in the fabric that ultimately determine how durable your jacket is and how long it will last (and just as importantly, how cold and wet you and your kids will be at the end of the day!). There’s also the attention to detail, like the quality of the pocket zips and the zip toggles (quality toggles make it easy to zip and unzip your jacket while wearing gloves).
Personally, we haven’t used the Aldi range, but 2 years ago took the time to interview people at the Mirrabooka store in Perth, Western Australia (yes, Mirrabooka is a place!). We asked why the chose to purchase the range and what they thought. The responses were overwhelming. Most people were shopping for their children. Most felt that Aldi offered fantastic value for children and refused to pay high prices for ‘brand’ gear, when their children would likely grow out of it in one to two seasons. David of Joondalup stated:
“we are here shopping for our kids who are really tough on their gear, which makes resale a bit of an issue. Happy to buy the Aldi range which has worked really well for our friends on previous trips”
Others were shopping for themselves in preparation for their upcoming trip to the Aussie or the New Zealand ski fields. As entry level skiers and snowboarders, they lamented the cost of snow sports generally, and added that the Aldi range offered an effective means for saving just a little bit of cash – cash which could be used to either fund the rest of the trip, or be spent on other items (i.e. resort food – which as we know is not the cheapest grub going around). Peter of Duncraig adds:
“we’ve never been snowboarding before and don’t have any gear at all. We are heading to Perisher this year so my wife sent me down to pick up some jackets, gloves and pants”
As for style, we at SRA are not qualified to comment on what’s hot or not on the slopes this year – but one thing we have noticed is the general improvement in aesthetics over the years. What once screamed “I’m wearing Aldi”, is now more subtle, even slightly stylish. How does it stack up against well known fashionista brands, Mocler, Lacroix and Spyder? Well, we’ll leave that up to you.
Would you be caught dead in the Aldi range? If it was us, the answer is probably yes. Leave us a comment if you agree.
Aldi’s snow gear sale starts on the 18 May 2019, and will continue until sold out