Claw Gear Aviceda Fleece – Swiss Greatness
After a few early spring hikes at the start of this year, back then when there was still some snow on the ground, I found myself in want of a lighter fleece jacket. I needed a top that I could use on dry, cold day while hiking and sweating, but that would fit under a shell jacket during a break. So I looked around for a while through the catalogues of my local dealers and I noticed that there was a spring sale going on in one of them. And from the spring sale I found a perfect candidate, Claw Gear Aviceda fleece, with only just under 80€. I had not heard too much about the brand, but from the pictures the design of the jacket looked cool and after a brief research I decided to give the Aviceda fleece a go.
There is not much information about the company actually, not even in their own website. Claw Gear is a Swiss company, that wants to give the impression of doing all their design and development work in the famous Swiss clockwork fashion. At least the jacket label proudly states “Swiss performance engineering”, although as though a little bit dismissively is followed by, in slightly smaller text, “Made in China”. I heard from someone that they also manufacture stuff in Pakistan.
Be that as it may, and I will get into the quality of the manufacturing of this particular garment later, the company has a lot of different products in their line. Their clothes line stretches from undergarments to the combat shirts, hardshells and insulation too. They also have equipment, such as gloves, watches and identification patches to most Western countries. And they also got some firearms accessories. A very very wide product range I would say. Some might wonder that if the wide product range has affected the quality of design or manufacturing of some of their products.
Features and Personal experiences
Well hard to say, but I will say this though: The Aviceda fleece is all alright! It says in their website that they wanted to develop a middle layer, that is both light and versatile, easily packed away when not used. It features all YKK zippers with cloth pull tabs, a stand up collar (Claw Gear actually has a hooded version of the Aviceda as well!), two arm pockets with velcro for your favourite patches, two handwarmer pockets and an inside chest pocket with a headphone cable channel. There is a draw cord in the hem of the jacket as well for closing the bottom from wind etc. And there is a big Claw Gear logo in the front left bottom and tons of small logos in the lining of sleeves and collar.
I have to say that it is really light, 367 grams actually as I weighted it, although their website says 380 grams. The fleece is really thin, but still warms you adequately. But this brings a problem with it too, I think. The pockets start to sag a little bit when you put weighty objects in them. That is why I don’t like to keep even my phone in the handwarmer pockets and very rarely I have anything besides extra morale patches in the arm pockets. This is not a big problem and it is quite understandable when you come to think it, but nonetheless it troubles me sometimes. While still talking about the pockets, I have to say that the design of them, with the thinner black polyester fabric is very cool and was actually one of the reasons I decided to go ahead and buy the Aviceda.
And the jacket is very versatile indeed. I have not used it under any top layer yet, because well it is summer here, but I have used it as a standalone jacket on various occasions; I have used it to take the dog out on a chilly evening, I have used it on the shooting range and so on. Blue actually once said that the jacket looks surprisingly discreet and could see me wearing it to the city too. That I have not done yet, but there are really only a few places you cannot take the Aviceda with you. The jacket also breathes very well, as they promise in their website. The jacket does not have any openable vents under arms, as you see in many modern fleece jackets, but this is probably due to the lightness and the fact that it really does not need any to keep it breathable. I have used it on a demanding day hike (the one I wrote about a few weeks back, you can find the story from the other section) and I did not need to put anything on top of it while on the brake to keep warm, or take it off because of moisture.
There are a few things I would like to point out though. The sleeves could really benefit from thumb holes, this way the sleeves would not ride up under any top layer or would stay in place as standalone jacket. The cloth pull tabs on the zippers are quite horrible. The threads are a bit fraying out of the box and they do not really spell out confidence in the overall construction. It is a small thing, I know, but I think the small things count. The draw cord on the hem is alright, but when drawn in a bit too much, the bottom of the main zipper opens up from below, thus revealing your belly to the cold. The, what I am guessing is, cheap manufacturing in China can be seen in the finish of the stitching.
All in all the Aviceda fleece jacket is well worth the money. Besides the few things I mentioned, the pros really eclipse the cons. This said, I have been really upset with the Prometheus Design Werx, for putting out their JAAC fleece hoodie. Although I wanted a jacket, not a hoodie, the JAAC would have been a really awesome light fleece too, but now I cannot really justify getting one, because I have the Aviceda. But really, it is a really good jacket and I am content and happy with it. Or so I try to tell myself everytime I go to the PDW website… Damn you PDW…
Cool pocket design
Pockets bulge and sag when full
Sleeves ride a bit
Finish of the stitching
On a side note, I have to say a little something about the colour. Clawgear is so far the only brand that offers clothes or equipment in RAL7013, a sort of brown grey colour. In photos it looked quite dark, but in nature it is quite adaptable. In some light it looks a bit like dirt on the ground, like muddy brown, but in other lighting it looks more dark grey than anything. I really like this colour actually and this is why I am seriously considering getting myself a Clawgear Mk.III Combat shirt in RAL7013. It just blends into the Finnish forest background magnificently and also is at home in more urban areas. In this time of fifty shade of tacticool greys, I think this is the hue I like the best.