2 December 2014

FEATURE: Winter Warmers #1

Baby, it's cold outside.

And so December falls like icy blanket, catching your autumn jacket by surprise and forcing it to yield to chilly tendrils like the out-of-season bitch that it is. The cold weather has certainly caught us a bit off guard this year, and already the jumpers and thick coats are being broken out. If you need some help and advice about what to wrap your gorgeous self in this winter, look no further. We've got ideas galore for the first of our Winter Warmers specials.

For this feature we're taking a look in a surprising direction... Aldi. That is because the supermarket chain has stocked up in time for winter with a whole new range of cold weather and skiing gear, all at amazingly low prices. We know what you're thinking - it's probably a load of cheap crap, isn't it? Well, no. Let's take a look...

Aldi Men's Ski Jacket

This jacket is a heavy-weight little number designed to be your main source of insulation while on the piste. Made by Crane (as most of the Aldi kit is) the jacket features quite a few nice touches, despite costing less than twenty quid. For a start there are vents which help to regulate your temperature, an elasticised waist seam so you can freely move around without snow getting in, and a multitude of pockets dotted about, including one designed to fit a phone/mp3 player.

In wearing, the jacket is very warm and a perfect winter coat for wandering around on a chilly winter's day. We weren't massively impressed by the colours and styles on offer though, and our minds were thrown viciously back to the early nineties of primary coloured shell suits and Paul Daniels on TV (weirdly). Still, for the price, this is a total bargain.

Anti-snow seam. Snow joke.


Aldi Ski Top

Despite being fairly vaguely named, this stretchy top would be considered in many circles as a base layer. Designed to be worn under your outer jacket or ski suit, this provides a surprising amount of warmth despite being really very thin.

Slightly thicker than the Helly Hansen Base Layer we reviewed in our cycling accessories feature, this is definitely more of a winter top and promises to regulate your body temperature while you ski. To test that we climbed up onto the roof of Test Pit Towers, strapped planks of wood to our feet, and jumped off. We all crashed through the neighbour's garage roof and smashed into his chest freezer, spilling ice cubes, Cornettos, and what was obviously set to be his Christmas turkey. And, ignoring the broken limbs and bleeding wounds, we were all still perfectly warm. Nice one Aldi.


Aldi Ski/Snowboard Helmet

We really should have waited for this to arrive before attempting the roof leap, as this tough helmet looks very impressive. Again a product of Crane, the helmet is designed to both project your brain (which is very important, apparently) while keeping your noggin cosy - and it will also make you be seen.

The helmet itself is very comfortable to wear, aided in no small part by the adjustable chin strap and contour-gripper slider on the top. Your ears get completely enclosed (which can be a strange sensation if the only helmet you wear is while on a bike) but it is still possible to hear everything around you clearly. The back of the helmet features a goggle strap holder and also a flashing red LED light so the people filming you, hoping that you'll fall over so they can upload the footage to YouTube, won't miss you.


Aldi Technical Ski Gloves

Of course, you can't go skiing without a stout pair of gloves - nor can you easily enter into a snowball fight with those school kids who catch the same morning bus as you - and so here are a Thinsulate-filled pair from Crane. Coming in a variety of colours (although, once again, 1992 is rearing its ugly head) the gloves are well insulated, flexible and adjustable.

We were sent a pair of plain black gloves, which once on your hands in a skiing situation or not, look very nice. Adjustable with Velcro and featuring an elasticised wrist band, the gloves feel great on and we were surprised at just how flexible they can be - despite the apparent bulk. They have rubberised grips in all the right places (ski poles - check; hugging you're mobile in a blizzard as you call your mum saying she was right and that you've made a mistake moving to the big city - check) making these an excellent option this winter. And holy smokes, they're only...

£4.99 (for a pair - wow!)

Aldi Reversible Ski Accessories

Ooo, you're hooked now aren't you? What manner of accessories do we mean? Well, included in this sub-range is a balaclava, a neckwarmer and a headband - all made from stretchy fleece. As accessories go, these are actually pretty handy, both on and off the ski slopes. The neckwarmer in particular is a great solution to the problem of how to correctly tie a scarf. With this you just slip it over your head and wear it like a big flappy necklace.

The headband is also pretty good, keeping as it does your forehead and ears snug and warm (leaving your hair to take care of the rest). We weren't completely sold, however, on the balaclava. Honestly we had no idea that they were still a thing. The last we heard of balaclavas was that they were used in bank raids, and before that all we knew of them was that the mum of the weird kid down the road made him wear one every day to school - even in the summer. He might've been the one doing the bank raid actually.

Still, at this price, no matter what you go for, all three are real bargains.

£2.99 each

All of the above will be available from Aldi from 4th December 2014 - hurry while stocks last!

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