Nick at Rohan Woodbridge – One man and his Gilet(s)

Nick Hughes one man and his Gilet(s)

It is fair to say that I am a fan of gilets.

I think everyone should have at least one if not more. Gilets come in two basic varieties. One type keeps your core warm and the other has numerous pockets and can take the place of a hand bag or man bag.

I’ve had a gilet since I walked into the Scout Shop in Ipswich in 1977 or 1978 and came out with a puffy gilet that really came into it’s own camping at Capel Curig in March 1979 when the rain and snow fell vertically if there was no wind and horizontally when it was windy which it was most of the time.

People who live in a giletless darkness say that their arms would get cold. Well, if you keep your core warm you suffer less from cold arms I speak from experience here, I’ve worn warm gilets in very cold conditions in both the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco and in Kabul where winter temperatures even in Kabul can stay well below zero for days on end.

In the cold, if you keep your core warm you can wear fewer or thinner layers on your arms and not feel cold yet retain movement for scrambling or any other activity involving arm movement. Even the windier sections of the Pennine Way in September are best tackled with a light gilet over a baselayer in my opinion.

Nick Rohan Woodbridge Rohan Wild Vest

I do love multi pocket gilets at airport security. What with tickets, a passport, wallet, a book as often as not (yes, my book goes in a pocket of my gilet), some change and a mobile phone to carry you simply remove the gilet at security and put it through the scanner instead of having to go through all your pockets and empty them into the tray. Reverse the procedure at the other side of security and walk away whilst others stuff change, mobiles etc. back into their pockets. Simple.

When travelling I have my passport on me at all times. I can’t believe the number of people I see putting their documents into their carry on bag as they stow it in the overhead locker. Why would you do that?

I bought my first Rohan gilet, the Wild Vest, in early summer 1986 and gave it away the year after when I got the next generation Wild Vest which I still have thirty years later. I’ve strayed twice since then, I had a Hawkshead down gilet in North Iraq in 2003/4 and I can tell you that it didn’t meet the need. I also have an Alpkit gilet but it is very puffy and I now have Rohan gilets that have the same warmth for a lot less bulk.

I have a couple of reversible gilets with fleece one side and a windproof layer on the other. I have several low bulk Spark Vests, an early one with poppers and no pockets and (cough) two later versions with zip fronts and pockets. I justify this by the fact that they are different colours. I’ve got fleece gilets and several warmer ones and through the year many of them will make an appearance at Rohan in Woodbridge.

Nick Hughes living quietly with his thirteen Rohan gilets

I now live quietly in Woodbridge with, amongst other things, fourteen Rohan gilets and I have my eye on one of the New Season Bracken Vests already.

P.S. Since drafting this I have succumbed and am now the proud owner of my fifteenth gilet, the Bracken Vest.

Nick HughesRohan Woodbridge

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Rohan Heritage


  1. Great minds Peter, great minds.

  2. Spooky… my two gilets are the ones (down to same colour) as the top and bottom photos in this piece…

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