MGO Gear Review – The Verdict

By Penny Kaltsch

The gear and I have had a very exciting 8 weeks.  From daily walks around Lake Wendouree in blistering wind and rain, weekend adventures to Mt Cole, and The Grampians. The gear has been on adventures involving smiles, laughter, blood, sweat and swear words. After a strong 8 week period, here are my reflections of the gear’s performance on the trail and in the wash.

Wearing Jack Wolfskin waterproof and backpack

Summary:

I have found these points to be true:

  • TRY IT ON: Try it on, walk in it, sit in it and be confident that it fits your body in all right places. Buy what fits, not simply because you love on the rack.
  • INVEST: Purchase brands that are environmentally sustainable. Invest your money into your own interests – the great outdoors!
  • INVEST: Disposable income is hard to come by so when you do have it, invest in pieces that are durable, serve your purpose and allow you to enjoy your passion (in this case, hiking) many times over.  Play the long game.
  • Never pay full price. Spend smart. Never ever, pay full price. A sale is only around the corner and with MGO discounts at both Vast Outdoors and Jack Wolfskin you can purchase quality gear all year round. 

My final impressions are:

  • Aldi hiking products were hit and miss. For me, gear on a hike that could possibly be required in a life or death situation shouldn’t be hit or miss. 
  • North Face, Patagonia, Lowe Alpine, Bridgedale (Vast Outdoors) – brands that are well known for standing up to the elements, remained true to their reputation and I enjoyed using all their gear. You can feel the quality and I am confident these items will last for years to come.
  • Jack Wolfskin was an unknown to me at the beginning of this review. After using the gear for 8 weeks I found myself reaching for the JW gear more regularly than the others. Clearly I started to have a preference and I suspect this came down to personal preference of fit, appearance and performance.

The Rankings:

Gear 1st 2nd 3rd
Socks   Bridgedale Jack Wolfskin Aldi
Hiking Pants North Face Jack Wolfskin Aldi
Insulated Outer Jacket Salomon Jack Wolfskin Aldi
Water proof Jacket Jack Wolkskin Patagonia Aldi
Hiking bag Jack Wolkskin Lowe Alpine Aldi

A more detailed review

Hiking Pants

The durability of the hiking pants from Aldi had always concerned me, and hitting the trails in them, I never really felt fully at ease. The Jack Wolfskin pants are fantastic for both everyday wear and perform well on a hike, however, the North Face pants were my favourite for trail only activities.  A snug fit with multiple pockets at multiple places from knee to waist make for a convenient pant while hiking. I wore the North Face hiking pants on the overnight hike at Mt Cole as well as the Grampians Pinnacle hike and they were nothing but perfection. 

Outer Jacker (Insulated Jacket)

Wearing Patagonia Waterproof, Lowe Alpine Backpack & Jack Wolfskin boots.

The puffer jacked from Aldi, while it works really well as an everyday jacket (and I will probably buy it for my teenagers for winter 2020), as a key piece of hiking equipment, it simply didn’t breathe and left me feeling sweaty and gross.

This realisation further illustrates why both Vast and Jack Wolfskin suggested moving away from down and into a synthetic jacket.

Choosing between Jack Wolfskin and Salomon was like splitting hairs, although overall, the Jack Wolfskin jacket was my choice for my first overnighter with MGO and it didn’t disappoint.

Waterproof Jacket

The Patagonia raincoat performed well in some pretty heavy rainfall but it was the Jack Wolfskin jacket that copped a beating of both rain and hail on several delightful afternoons around Lake Wendouree. The Jack Wolfskin raincoat has been my standout piece from the moment I tried it on in store and stood a beating from Ballarat’s finest winter weather.  Both jackets have retained their shape and colour after numerous hikes in rain.  I packed the Jack Wolfskin rain jacket for the overnight hike as I was confident it would shield me from what ever weather mother nature would dish out. 

The waterproof ability of the raincoat from Aldi has always had me concerned. It felt very heavy whenever it rained and I begun to feel as though it was absorbing moisture – even though all three jackets that I had were rated to the same waterproof standard! Feeling paranoid that you might wet out in pouring rain is not something that you want on your mind while pushing on through the elements.

Socks

Wearing Aldi down jacket, backpack and hiking pants (and socks)

Aldi’s sock’s remain my favourite Aldi gear for all round performance, cost and comfort. Although I’m noticing that over time they are staring to loose their shape after washing so I’m worried they will be a short to mid term item. Luckily, you get a 2nd pair for the $12, so I’ve got a back up. During the 2020 Hiking Gear sale you will see me stocking up on these.

Reviewing the difference in socks has also been tricky. Both the Jack Wolfskin and Bridgedale brands have performed well on the trail. The Bridgedale has held its shape and colour the best so far. In terms of comfort and personal preference, I can’t tell the difference. Sorry, that is not a very helpful review but the truth. So, I guess in terms of making a purchase of hiking socks, I would reflect on environmental sustainability of the brand and price.

Bags

In comparison to the other bags in this review my Aldi bag did not compete.  The zips, clips and placement of the straps felt insecure. If this was your budget hiking bag, I would suggest shopping around to see if you could secure a better-quality bag on sale.

From the get go, I loved the look and shape of the Lowe Alpine 30 Lt pack from Vast Outdoors.  As someone who previously wore a fashion backpack on trails a big flash backpack was very exciting.

Brian from Jack Wolfskin however suggested a smaller 18Lt pack. At the end of the 8 week period the 18Lt pack has become my go-to backpack.

The Lowe Alpine 30Lt is a worthy selection.

It is comfortable and durable but ultimately I found myself hiking with a backpack half packed. I simply didn’t need the space for a daypack. I found 30Lts a “no mans land” size; too big for day hike, too small for overnight hike.

For me, the 18Lt is the perfect size for a solo day hiker. Without stuffing or left-over space, it fits the essentials for a day trip including the recommended emergency gear – clothes, head lamps, first aid, and extra food and water.

**Editors note: Vast supplied Penny with a 30L backpack as the Aldi one was 30L and all products were meant to be like for like. Jack Wolfskin went rogue on this one by supplying her the 18L – so the results in this section aren’t comparing the same sized item.

**Final Editors note: All items for this review were supplied to us by Jack Wolfskin and Vast at the request of one of our co-founders Tamara. MGO reached out to both of these brands to see if they would be willing to participate. We would like to thank both teams at Jack Wolfskin and Vast Outdoors for donating their gear so that MGO could do an honest review of the experiences in store, how it holds up on the trail, and how it compares to the ALDI hiking range.

To select our gear reviewer, MGO put a call out to members in their facebook group to apply for the opportunity. From the applicants a random name selector was used and Penny was the winning applicant. All views and opinions in both blogs are Penny’s honest opinions.

Leave a Reply