Opinionated World

Clothing

An Intermediary Outer – Craghoppers Luka Gilet

Mixed conditions tend to give us a bit of a headache when it comes to choosing what clothing to wear. Potential for rain or a chance of high winds means we may need a waterproof jacket despite the generally warm weather or a windshield to keep the cold breeze out.

What I hadn’t considered until recently was a gilet – the item of clothing that provides more protection or warmth to the core of our body, but leaves the arms exposed. What a gilet should provide is an intermediary step between another full layer and not having one at all, giving maximum breathability through simply having no sleeves and yet keeping the important bit toasty warm.

They come in a couple of variants when we discount ones made for specific sports or activities – there’s the ’Puffa’, duvet-like, down-filled models as well as thinner fleece-gilets which are designed to take the edge off the cold and can also worn as mid-layers.

A fairly 'cosy' fit around the body.

A fairly ‘cosy’ fit around the body.

A tougher, wind resistant outer increases warmth.

A tougher, wind resistant outer increases warmth.

The Luka Gilet by Craghoppers falls under the fleece-gilet bracket, weighing in at around 400 grams with a windshield outer. At only £40, it immediately seems like a decent buy, even as a casual item of clothing, considering some competitors are selling similar products for double that.

The Gilet is made from 94% polyester with 6% elastane for added stretch and freedom of movement. Two hand pockets are placed low down are are nicely lined with soft polyester which is comfortable and warm on the hands. The pockets as well as the main zip are a nice quality – plastic ends attached to durable nylon that are easy to grab. Wearing a rucksack over the top meant the pockets were tough to get to but this is the same for most jackets unless they’re placed above the waist strap.

Along with large arm holes, the 6% elastane aids movement.

Along with large arm holes, the 6% elastane aids movement.

The hem is elastic bound, allowing you to pull it in tight, but the fit is just about good enough for this to remain un-touched. Craghoppers say the Luka Gilet provides a ‘snug fit’ which would be true if the cut was slightly tighter. It’s snug in terms of being comfortable and warm but not so much in terms of fit. It’s not baggy and loose by any means (and you all know I like a near body-tight fit!) but it could do with losing an inch or so.

The holes for the arms are large, double the size of my arms in-fact. They’re elastic bound too which is a good thing but due to the size of the hole, I see no purpose for this. Your arm is never going to be in contact with it to prevent you moving around; unless you’re Mariusz Pudzianowski.

Easy to grab zips.

Easy to grab zips.

Windshield outer and plush interior.

Windshield outer and plush interior.

The main function of the Luka Gilet is to act as a windshield and it does that very well. The tougher, slightly harder outer provided good protection from the wind at all times, taking the edge off weather that would’ve been too chilly for a fleece alone. It’s also water-resistant which adds a lot to it being an intermediary layer. Light rain will be kept at bay even if you’ve left your rain jacket at home – though your arms might get a bit damp!

You get a pretty nicely finished and soft interior akin to the hand pockets and it’s more neatly finished than some of Craghoppers’ other offerings too. I’m a big fan of this simple, clean and un-cluttered design. Contrast panels and fancy zips, as well as technical details everywhere have their places and I love those too but in this instance, minimal is good. Because of this, the Luka Gilet is versatile enough to be worn casually with almost anything.

These off-centre logos are enough to frustrate me.

These off-centre logos are enough to frustrate me.

Now it’s time to nit-pick…

Just one, small detail has really annoyed me. Probably more than it should but now I know it’s there, I’ll never un-see it. On the back of the neck is the Craghoppers logo and at the top of the back, a Windshield one. The problem is that these are misaligned. One or the other, or possibly both are off-centre which for someone who likes good design and perfect alignment is very frustrating. It could be that it’s a one off, or part of a small batch that was incorrectly manufactured but it’s mediocre on a product that is otherwise very good. I have measured and re-measured and it’s not my eyes playing tricks. I too appreciate it’s only wrong by a small margin, but that margin is too big.

I would recommend the Craghoppers Luka Gilet based on it being a lightweight, nicely finished windshield at a fantastically low price (if you shop around you might get it even cheaper) but I’d also recommend you check the alignment of those two logos upon delivery – I couldn’t live with it.

Update

We have had a response from Craghoppers after they read our review. Here’s what they said.

Hi Ste, thanks for a great and honest review. With regards to the alignment of both the Craghoppers and Windshield technology logos, we do have set tolerances for such products and it seems yours might have reached the more extreme. The logos are screen printed by hand and ideally they would all be centered but we have to allow for some human error. I’ve relayed this to our QC team for their future reference but thankfully this is the first time we have heard of such issues! Glad it served you well otherwise. Thanks, Laura


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