Lowe Alpine, best known for its high-quality rucksacks, has returned to the clothing market after a small break, and I’m pleased to welcome the company back because I’ve always been a fan of its garments. And if this down gilet is anything to go by, the high standards it always employs have not been sacrificed.
The Ladakh is a down vest that is quite bulky, as down gilets traditionally are, so it’s best worn as an outer layer rather than a mid layer. It’s also heavier than the others I have tested, at 509g in a size XL, although size-wise it feels more like a large as it’s quite snug. Make sure you try it on before you buy to get the sizing right.
The down’s fill power is 650, which offers a decent amount of warmth, and it has had a hydrophobic treatment which means that if water penetrates the shell the down will not wet-out and clump together (which would reduce the warmth). The down is in stitched baffles running horizontally around the gilet ensuring all-round warmth. The gilet’s outer shell is a lightweight polyester fabric which is wind and water-resistant, and the inner polyester lining wicks away sweat to help keep you warm and comfortable.
The strong, snag-free YKK zip has a storm baffle behind it to stop any cool air getting through and the top of the zip has a cover to stop it digging into the neck. The high collar is snug but not restrictive and its inner face has a tricot lining which is soft against the skin and will absorb sweat, keeping it comfy.
There are two fleece-lined zip-up handwarmer pockets and an inner pocket that doubles as a stuff sack for the jacket, although packed down it isn’t the smallest. Although the sizes come up a bit small the overall fit is good. The back has a drop tail to reduce draughts here and the hem is adjustable (and it’s easy to use even if you’re wearing gloves) to stop cold air getting through there.