Hikers aren’t known as the most fashionable bunch.

I understand that looking good on the trail isn’t really first priority. For me the priority is comfort, but I feel most comfortable when I actually like the clothes I’m wearing. So it’s no surprise that, despite my addiction to hiking gear, I own hardly any hiking apparel.

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It seems that things are starting to change though. I’ve recently discovered Cotswold Outdoor, a UK gear retailer and manufacturer that sells some pretty groovy looking stuff, which you can now buy online in Australian dollars and have delivered to you (here in Australia) relatively cheaply within 5 to 7 days. An hour spent flicking through their online store was devoid of my usual groans and murmurs of “oh my god that’s ugly”.

I was stoked when they offered to send me over an Ayacucho Men’s Medino Fleece to review. Ayacucho is one of the brands manufactured by Cotswold Outdoors, so I was keen to test it out. It didn’t disappoint.

My first thought when I pulled this out of the box was “how is this only selling for $110?!” It’s heavy, thick, and immediately looks incredibly well made. The chunky zipper looks like it will never break. Made from 100% polyester, the outer is knit-textured and it’s lined with thick, deep-pile fleece.

I couldn’t wait to get it on me, and once I did I didn’t want to take it off. That was even before I put my hands in the pockets and realised they were lined with the same luxurious fleece. Oh. My. God… Heaven for cold hands.

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While it’s the perfect thing to start off a crisp-morning hike with, it’s just as perfect for wearing around the house on these cold winter nights. I’ve never owned anything so completely comfortable and warm. To be honest, I’ve been wearing it every night for the last two weeks. I should probably give it a wash soon, but that would mean not wearing it for a day or two.

I’ve only taken it out for one bushwalk so far and, being in Melbourne, it rained on us for about 5 minutes before the sun came out again. The rain was heavy enough to give everyone else a good soaking, so I was surprised to find that the fleece didn’t soak through. I was even more surprised at the end of our walk when it was already completely dry. While I haven’t worn it hiking in strong winds yet, I have been out in the garden on a couple of windy nights and it offers excellent wind protection.

Considering its weight (1190 grams) I don’t think I’ll be bringing it on any overnight or multi-day hikes, but I’ll surely be wishing I did. For any outdoor day-trips in the cooler months, I’m considering it an essential part of my kit.

The Ayacucho Men’s Medino Fleece is available from Cotswold Outdoor for $110. This has now been replaced with the (very similar) Ayacucho Men’s Medino II Hoodie, available from Cotswold Outdoor for $85.

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While you’re checking out Cotswold Outdoor, make sure you have a look at their children’s section. They sent us some Jack Wolfskin gear for the kids – a Girl’s Acorn Hoody for The Fairy Princess and a Boy’s Camping Hoody (links removed – items are no longer available) for The Chop.

Not only are they totally adorable, but we were surprised at how well-made they are too. We reckon both kids will outgrow them long before they wear them out. I’m a bit jealous of The Chop’s hoody. Extremely disappointed that they don’t make them in grown-up sizes.

 

Cotswold Outdoor sent me out the gear and have also sponsored this review. However, as I made clear to them prior to accepting the gear, this in no way influences the opinions I express here. If I’d found flaws with the gear, you’d be the first to hear about them.

 

Have you shopped with Cotswold Outdoor? Have you got any Ayacucho or Jack Wolfskin gear? Or do you have questions about the review? Let us know by commenting below.