We’ve recruited a new gear tester! Intrepid explorer Amelia-Faie has put the warm and toasty Spotty Otter Drift Down II Gilet through its paces – and here’s what she thinks of it.
Amelia-Faie’s dad Ben has been testing outdoor gear for Trail magazine for more years than he’d like to admit, so between them they know more than most about the best kit for family adventures. Here’s the first of hopefully many reviews from this awesome dad-daughter combo.
What’s right with it?
In the cold depths of winter, this warming layer has obvious benefits. But it’s the usability throughout the rest of the seasons that make the Spotty Otter Drift Down II Gilet an essential piece of outdoor wear.
My 7-year old daughter Amelia-Faie adores this gilet, and it goes everywhere with her. Spotty Otter specialise in kids’ gear, and they know the things that matter. In A-F’s case it’s the bold pink colour, plus pockets for hands and interestingly shaped stones. It’s been up mountains, down toboggan runs, and across lakes. But it’s also smart enough to be worn day-to-day as an extra layer.
In colder conditions it can be worn either over or under a windproof layer for total insulation, but it can easily be paired with just a t-shirt for a bit of extra warmth on a summer’s evening. And because its a gilet, it doesn’t suffer from the ‘shrinking-arms’ effect that growing kids have on sleeved jackets. We bought this big – it was oversized at first but still entirely wearable, and as a result we’ve had plenty of use out of it. It’s only just coming towards the end of its useful life now, and we’ve got plenty of friends with kids who are keen to take it off our hands.
Features we love
- The duck down fill is incredibly warm for the weight and, because it’s responsibly sourced, we can tell Amelia-Faie that no ducks suffered to keep her cosy.
- The polyester outer fabric is surprisingly soft to the touch, but still seems to be remarkably tough. It’s taken a fair battering and is still going strong.
- The fleece lined pockets are just the job for warming cold hands.
- The robust YKK zips are chunky enough for gloved fingers to grab hold of and capable of coping with the less than delicate tugs and yanks from the hands of young wearers.
- The gilet is highly compressible and squishes down really small for storage in a rucksack when its not needed.
What’s wrong with it?
Not a lot. The RRP of £80 is on the high side compared to cheap high street alternatives (although Spotty Otter have had it on sale at £24!), but what you get here is a quality product that uses real down and substantial materials.
Spotty Otter’s sizes seem to err on the large size, so the gilet was initially even roomier than anticipated, but that’s meant we’ve had nearly 3-years of use out of it. Plus, because it’s so well made, once Amelia-Faie has finished with it there will still be plenty of life left for somebody else.
Finally, although the down is responsibly source, it does rule the gilet out for vegans. It also makes the care of the gilet a little more complicated than synthetic insulation, but the advantages of down may well outweigh this.
Outdoor Dad Verdict: Spotty Otter Drift Down II Gilet
A year-round garment that deserves its place on every adventure. Buy big to get your money’s worth and the quality and usability mean it’ll easily justify the steep initial outlay.