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Aero leather choices/options (End of 2022)

TartuWolf

Practically Family
Messages
939
Location
Tartu, Estonia
Hey folks,
I am creating this thread for two reasons:
1 . INFO - On the off chance that I'm not the only fool who kept looking for info about different Aero leathers and didn't know that Aero themselves have a lot of information about each (slightly) hidden in their own website, I wanted to put this info here.
2 . Discussion / Opinions - I would like to discuss how we all chose leather (for our Aero jackets in this case). What are the main characteristics when choosing leather, which are more important and why.



Aero leather choices and descriptions

Chromexcel Horsehide (3oz/1.4mm) / Chromexcel Steerhide (4oz/1.7mm)

From Chicago’s world famous Horween Leather Company, ‘Chromexcel’ is the original pull-up leather, still made using time honored techniques and formulas that have remained largely unchanged since they were first developed nearly 100 years ago. ‘Chromexcel’ is a truly beautiful heavy leather with depth of colour and a luxurious feel. Although its natural full grain nature means each hide is different, it usually has initial shiny, smooth, firm, and relatively uniform characteristics. But with wear the leather softens up or “breaks in”, developing its own grain/patina and undertones showing through the top coat, which along with the pull up nature of the leather (dynamic changes in colour tone/character under stress), means every ‘Chromexcel’ jacket is increasingly unique.

Horween’s complex and proprietary ‘Chromexcel’ production process includes combination tanning (an initial chrome base tannage with a heavy vegetable retannage), "hot stuffing" the hides with oils, waxes, and greases and even hand staining with several hand-rubbed coats of full aniline (non-pigmented) finish.

Chromexcel Front Quarter Horsehide (CXFQHH) and Chromexcel Steerhide (CXSH) follow the same production process and share similar features. However, CXFQHH has a denser fibre structure which results in sharper crease marks, a longer break in period and generally less grain than CXSH. CXSH is also generally a bit thicker and heavier than CXFQHH:

“Tumbled” options: Exactly the same Chromexcel FQHH that we have put through an additional dry-tumbling procedure which speeds up the breaking in process, knocks off some shine and can bring out substantial grain – end results can be quite unpredictable with each hide being unique.

My summary:
- Full grain
- Combination tanned
- Full-aniline
- Heavy weight
- Stuffed/infused - pull-up
- Spray dyed
- Firm hand
- Shiny
- Smooth

1670615902021.png


Vicenza Horsehide (2.5oz/1.1mm)

Vicenza is a leather crafted in the valleys of Tuscany – an area steeped in a rich history of leather manufacturing which combines centuries-old tradition with innovation and continues to be one of the main centres of high-quality leather production today.

It’s a vegetable-tanned midweight horsehide which has a soft-medium hand and a drape that is pleasing to the eye and although it has vegetable tanned leather’s characteristic firmness, is still comfortable straight ‘out of the box’. The leather is drum dyed through with a semi aniline (lightly pigmented) finish which allows for a wide range of consistent, rich and deep colours and although the natural full grain nature of the leather means every hide is unique, it usually has a lovely consistent grain, which only gets more interesting and pronounced with wear.

In terms of development, while the leather will still ‘break in’ and develop its own patina and character, because of its dyeing and finishing process it will hold a much higher degree of long-term colour consistency than full aniline leathers like Kelpie and Badalassi (but will still develop with wear, particularly around creasing areas). The gorgeous grain of this leather is where you will enjoy the most development, especially given exposure to the elements.

The Blackened Brown option is black topcoat over brown. With wear, brown undertones will start to show through the black topcoat, accentuating the ageing process.

My summary:
- Full grain
- Vegetable tanned
- Semi-aniline
- Midweight
- Not Stuffed/infused - no pull-up
- Drum Dyed (Blackened brown has additional black pigment topcoat)
- Soft-medium hand

1670616134929.png

1670616149660.png


Jerky Horsehide (2.5oz/1.1mm)​

‘Jerky’ is an exclusive-to-Aero and unique midweight horsehide with a distinctive robust and firm handle, but which still retains the comfortable medium drape of a midweight leather. It has become our standard and recommended Type A-2 leather, striking the right balance between quality, durability and capturing the authentic Type A-2 look and feel (especially once the leather develops).

The leather is chrome tanned, drum dyed, then given a particular semi-aniline finish to give it increased toughness and some degree of colour consistency, but still ensuring that the natural full grain of the horsehide still enhances the leather’s aesthetic look.

Over time, the hides will develop a softer handle on wearing and mould to the wearer’s body shape (almost like a second skin) and appreciate with a beautiful patina developing due to its lighter crust. We have recently worked closely with our UK-based tannery in specially selecting skins and darkening the base colour/crust of the hides so as to emphasise the aging process as the Jerky develops.

‘High Grain’ Jerky is the exact same leather but particularly grainy hides which have been specially requested by Aero.

My summary:
- Full grain?
- Chrome tanned
- Semi-aniline
- Midweight
- Not Stuffed/infused - no pull-up
- Drum Dyed
- Firm hand

1670617631877.png


Kelpie Horsehide (2.25oz/1.1mm)​

Like Jerky and Vicenza, ‘Kelpie’ is also a full grain midweight horsehide. What makes it unique in our midweight horsehide range is its full aniline (non-pigment) finish. Married with a blend of classic waxes, this fully translucent and slightly shiny finish protects the leather, but leaves the dye to accentuate all the natural markings and variations in the hide, leaving a beautiful mottled effect throughout and resulting in one of the most dynamic and interesting leathers we’ve worked with.

Unlike the other midweight horsehides, it is also combination tanned (mostly veg tanned then a couple of hours with chrome tanning agents to help lock in the waxes and colour) leaving the leather with a fairly soft temper and with a comfortable suppleness from the start.

We’ve yet to see any examples of this leather developing long-term, but as the leather is full aniline it’s safe to say it’s already interesting character will develop and patina heavily.

Brown Kelpie is a Tea Core leather featuring a lighter coloured crust base. As it ages, the lighter base shows through which emphasis the aging process with a beautiful patina.

My summary:
- Full grain
- Combination tanned
- Full-aniline
- Midweight
- Stuffed/infused - pull-up
- Drum Dyed? (Brown version is a Tea Core leather featuring a lighter colored crust base)
- Soft hand
- Slightly shiny

1670617716497.png


 

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TartuWolf

Practically Family
Messages
939
Location
Tartu, Estonia

Unfinished Horsehide (2oz/1.0mm)​

‘Unfinished Horsehide’ is one the most unique and interesting leathers in our range and another of our leathers made in Tuscany – one of the world’s leading centres of excellence in leather manufacturing which combines centuries-old tradition with cutting edge innovation to create some of the world’s finest leathers – and ‘Unfinished Horsehide’ is no exception.

Like Vicenza, Unfinished Horsehide is also a full grain, vegetable tanned midweight front quarter horsehide. Like most vegetable tanned leathers, it has a little bit of breaking in to do over the first few weeks/months of wear but it’s relatively supple and comfortable to wear straight away.

The skins are tanned in drums for five weeks and lightly oiled but what gives this leather its unique properties is that this is where the processing stops. Unlike every other leather in our range, no dying or finishing process is applied to the leather, leaving a light ‘bone’ colour throughout the leather with all the natural markings and grain intact.

The leather is designed to evolve with everyday wear and especially exposure to the elements (moisture and sunshine) darkening the leather over time – etching a unique story into each jacket like a fingerprint in the form of a gorgeous deep caramel patina.

A jacket in this leather will make a really eye-catching and unique addition to any collection!

My summary:
- Full grain
- Vegetable tanned
- No finishing
- Midweight
- Not Stuffed/infused - no pull-up
- Undyed
- Firm hand? (veg-tan)

1670620742066.png


Battered Horsehide (2.5oz/1.3mm)​

Battered Seal/Tan Horsehide are the same substrate as our ‘Jerky’ leathers – chrome tanned midweight horsehides which have a comfortable medium drape which will break in and mould to the wearer’s body relatively quickly, but which still have still a distinctive robust and firm handle.

What sets these leathers apart from the rest of our range is the dynamic nature of their highly visible ‘distressed’ character, which starts developing before the leather is even made into a jacket! This is achieved through the unique dying and finishing process these leathers go through – particularly the use of a paraffin-based wax in the finish which lightens up the hide dramatically throughout stress points. The development of this finish is enhanced with wear and the unique natural aesthetics each horse crust.

With minimal effort and wear, Battered Horsehide will present a distressed vintage-style look that is completely unique to your jacket.

My summary:
- Full grain?
- Chrome tanned
- Semi-aniline
- Midweight
- Stuffed/infused - pull-up - distressed
- Drum Dyed
- Firm hand? (Same as Jerky? Or the "unique dying and finishing softens it?)

1670620761435.png


Soft Black Italian Horsehide (2oz/1.0mm)​

Alongside Battered Steerhide this is our softest and most supple leather which has a nice waxy matte feel and a beautiful drape. It’s extremely comfortable and wearable straight away, with little to no breaking in required. The leather is chrome tanned and has a semi aniline finish and waxy feel and usually has a subtle-medium grain which is fairly consistent.

The leather’s supple properties make it more ideally suited (and one of our main choices) for ladies’ jackets and can sometimes have too much of a drape for certain men’s styles – particularly larger sizes.

My summary:
- Full grain?
- Chrome tanned
- Semi-aniline
- Lighter weight
- Stuffed/infused - pull-up
- Drum Dyed?
- Very soft hand

1670620777097.png


Badalassi Steerhide (2.25oz/1.3mm)​

Badalassi is another of our leathers produced in the Tuscany region of Italy from the renowned Badalassi Carlo tannery - known within the industry for producing some of the finest pure vegetable tanned leather in the world.

Badalassi Carlo leather is processed by using the traditional Vacchetta technique: infusing the hides with a special blend of natural oils and Italian fat wax giving it the famous hand and feel attributed with the Vacchetta name.

‘Badalassi’ is a traditional Tuscan Vachetta Vegetable Tanned Midweight Steerhide. It’s a dyed through leather with a non-uniform, unique grain effect and a medium soft feel with a glazed/glossy finish. It’s also been lightly tumbled in the milking drum giving special character to the texture.

Over time, it’s full aniline (non-pigmented) finish ensures the skin will be easily patinated and take on an even richer look.

My summary:
- Full grain?
- Vegetable tanned
- Full-aniline
- Midweight
- Stuffed/infused - pull-up
- Drum Dyed
- Medium soft hand
- glazed/glossy
- lightly tumbled

1670620802296.png


Soft Grainy Steerhide (2.5oz/1.0mm)​

As the name suggests, a very soft natural full grain steerhide. The softness comes from the leather’s chrome tannage and a particular semi-aniline finish where the grain has little protection, but results in a superb hand feel and softness. As the semi-aniline finish is very light and (like all our leathers) has no grain surface treatment, there will be minor imperfections and variations of effect on the skin, but all add to the natural beauty of the leather.

My summary:
- Full grain
- Chrome tanned
- Semi-aniline
- Lighter weight
- Drum Dyed?
- Very soft hand

1670620839976.png
 

TartuWolf

Practically Family
Messages
939
Location
Tartu, Estonia

Battered Steerhide (2oz/0.9mm)​

This is a beautifully soft leather that is the lightest and most supple in our range. What makes this special and a popular choice particularly for our Type A-2 jackets and styles like our Shackleton Waistcoat and Aeromarine, is its unparalleled comfort and wearability straight away, with little to no breaking in required.

The leather is chrome tanned and has a full aniline finish and a slight waxy feel. It usually has a really nice mottled effect and it’s full aniline nature means that natural variations in the hide are accentuated, although the leather is usually fairly consistent.

My summary:
- Full grain?
- Chrome tanned
- Semi-aniline
- Light weight
- Drum Dyed?
- Very soft hand
- Waxy feel

1670620672436.png


Goatskin (2.75oz/1.2mm)​

While lighter and softer, Goatskin is generally considered tougher than Horsehide and Steerhide relative to its weight. It is very breathable, yet has amongst the best natural water resistance properties of any hide (which is why most Navy jackets were made from Goatskin). Compared with Horsehide and Steerhide, Goatskin develops/ages more slowly, although still has the potential to yield a beautiful patina with a lot of wear.

As tough and durable as Goatskin is, it is very soft to the touch and is remarkably supple compared to most Horsehides and Steerhides, so it’s incredibly comfortable to wear straight away and requires very little break in. It almost always has a very pronounced ‘pebbled’ grain which really adds to the unique feel and properties of this leather. Not to be overlooked when deciding your leather – especially for those looking for the toughest leather they can get without the need for a long break in!

Our Goatskin is vegetable tanned, drum dyed and given a semi-aniline finish, resulting in an incredibly tough and resilient leather characterized by a natural colour, a particularly beautiful fine grain and a very comfortable light and supple feel and soft temper.

We have worked hard to source the largest hides possible which means that we can accommodate Goatskin requests in larger than standard sizes.

My summary:
- Full grain?
- Vegetable tanned
- Semi-aniline
- Light-mid weight
- Drum Dyed
- Very soft hand
- Pebbled grain

1670620892779.png




Leather characteristics

Here I will try to explain how I understand each of the main characteristics that seem important to me.

Animal - horse vs steer(bovine, male cow?) vs goat. Seems that horse is denser and firmer. Steer is thicker and grainier. Goat is softer and extremely resilient.

Tanning - vegetable tanned vs chrome tanned vs combination tanned.

Dyeing - Dye through / drum dyed vs pigmented. In the first case the whole leather is dyed through, in the second case the core / flesh side is left undyed / natural / died differently while a top coat of pigment is applied. Most famous for being a "tea-core" leather.

Finishing - aniline vs semi-aniline vs pigmented. Here it get's a bit confusing to me as pigment can be thought of as both a way to color leather and a way to finish/seal the leather. Aniline is suppose to be only a clear protective coat, semi-aniline is a more robust, less clear/transparent coat that still shows what is underneath and pigmented is a coat that covers the leather hiding the natural characteristics.
But according to Aero leather can also be full-aniline and tea-core at the same time, not sure how that works.

Weight/thickness - Light, midweight and heavy. Personally I would say anything less than 1mm is light, 1mm-1,3mm is midweight and 1,3mm+ is moving towards "heavy".

Cut - full grain, top grain and everything else. Full grain is leather that is has the flesh side skived down but the grain side untouched. Top grain is the same but the grain side is slightly sanded/corrected to remove the main "imperfections". Anything else is not worth mentioning. From the fuzzy types you have suede, nubuck and rough-out (getting out of Aero choices a bit). Suede is the worst of the 3 - grain side skived off, flesh side is used. Nubuck is much better - basically top grain leather with rougher sanding used to give the fuzzy feel. Rough-out is the best as it is full grain leather turned upside down, which means it includes the uncorrected grain and the strength and durability that it provides.

Infusion/stuffing - how much waxes, oils and greases are infused in various ways into the leather. The more infused it is the more pull-up it will have giving it more character in terms of variation of lighter and darker shades of the color.

Hand/feel - from very soft to very firm. I'd say that a lot of things contribute to the hand/feel, including thickness(thinner softer, thicker firmer), the animal (horse firm vs goat soft), tannage (soft chrome vs stiff vegetable), waxes content (more waxes firm vs less waxes softer?), oils content (more oils softer, less oils/drier firmer), etc..



Questions / discussion topics that I propose​


1 . In which order do you consider characteristics in terms of importance? Which are completely irrelevant to you and which are a no-compromise?

2 . In general discuss various aspects / characteristics, especially if I got something horribly wrong in my understanding. Add to the knowledge base of this thread.

3 . Maybe there is something about the particular leathers that Aero offers that they don't mention but you know from other sources? Also you could compare the leathers from your perspective in the ways not mentioned by Aero themselves, especially if you own / have owned several of their leathers.

4. Favorite Aero leather and why.



I know some of you might say that I wasted my time compiling all this information in one place but I also hope some of you will appreciate it. It was certainly useful for me to think all of this through as I'm preparing my first order from Aero.
Happy discussing!
 

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TartuWolf

Practically Family
Messages
939
Location
Tartu, Estonia
@3.14nche
As both Kelpie HH and Thinner CXL HH are in my current top 3 choices when I will finally order my Aero jacket..
Can you comment on their differences? On paper they are almost identical:

Kelpie HH:
- Full grain
- Combination tanned
- Full-aniline
- Midweight
- Stuffed/infused - pull-up
- Drum Dyed? (Brown version is a Tea Core leather featuring a lighter colored crust base)
- Soft hand
- Slightly shiny

CXL HH:
- Full grain
- Combination tanned
- Full-aniline
- Heavy weight ( Midweight if you request the 1.1mm thickness )
- Stuffed/infused - pull-up
- Drum Dyed?
- Firm hand
- Shiny
- Smooth

Seems to me that the main difference is that CXL HH has a firmer hand while Kelpie has a soft hand feel?
 

Canuck Panda

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,180
@3.14nche
As both Kelpie HH and Thinner CXL HH are in my current top 3 choices when I will finally order my Aero jacket..
Can you comment on their differences? On paper they are almost identical:

Kelpie HH:
- Full grain
- Combination tanned
- Full-aniline
- Midweight
- Stuffed/infused - pull-up
- Drum Dyed? (Brown version is a Tea Core leather featuring a lighter colored crust base)
- Soft hand
- Slightly shiny

CXL HH:
- Full grain
- Combination tanned
- Full-aniline
- Heavy weight ( Midweight if you request the 1.1mm thickness )
- Stuffed/infused - pull-up
- Drum Dyed?
- Firm hand
- Shiny
- Smooth

Seems to me that the main difference is that CXL HH has a firmer hand while Kelpie has a soft hand feel?

CXL is only dyed on the grain side. The flesh side is still the veg retan "teacore" color. So as it wears the color will fade to the brown tones underneath.
Both feel "wet" or oily to the hand touch.
 

3.14nche

One of the Regulars
Messages
247
Location
Belgium
@3.14nche
As both Kelpie HH and Thinner CXL HH are in my current top 3 choices when I will finally order my Aero jacket..
Can you comment on their differences? On paper they are almost identical:

Kelpie HH:
- Full grain
- Combination tanned
- Full-aniline
- Midweight
- Stuffed/infused - pull-up
- Drum Dyed? (Brown version is a Tea Core leather featuring a lighter colored crust base)
- Soft hand
- Slightly shiny

CXL HH:
- Full grain
- Combination tanned
- Full-aniline
- Heavy weight ( Midweight if you request the 1.1mm thickness )
- Stuffed/infused - pull-up
- Drum Dyed?
- Firm hand
- Shiny
- Smooth

Seems to me that the main difference is that CXL HH has a firmer hand while Kelpie has a soft hand feel?
Pretty much yes.
CXL is a bit stiffer.
Kelpie is a bit squeaky, I don't know to which degree compared to Badalassi, while CXL is not.
Other than that yes they feel relatively similar to me.
 

TartuWolf

Practically Family
Messages
939
Location
Tartu, Estonia
@Canuck Panda
Ahh, so all CXL HH/SH is over dyed / spray dyed rather than dyed through / drum dyed? Interesting.
Found some info about it here: https://horween.wordpress.com/2010/03/23/chromexcel®-2/
"Now that we have the canvas ready, we can start the finishing process. Chromexcel receives several hand-rubbed coats of aniline (non-pigmented) finish – this type of dye application allows for even staining of the hide".
 
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Tark

New in Town
Messages
29
Location
Canada
My first Aero was in goatskin and the second in dark seal brown Vicenza. I prefer the Vicenza for the following:
- the finish has a great dark-brown-black-mid-brown color variation depending on the ambient lighting; in comparison, I felt that goatskin had a flatter/duller finish that doesn't hold a candle to Vicenza
- Vicenza's under-finish core is light brown, while the batch of goatskin used for my jacket was pale-grey
- Vicenza feels substantial with its weight, but there's none of that legendary break-in needed you hear about from CXL
 

Pandemic

One Too Many
Messages
1,503
Location
In The Flat Field
Agreed that Vicenza is one of the best do-everyone first good jacket hides. It creases and ages beautifully. I also like that it isn’t too shiny. It feels substantial but doesn’t need to be broken in and doesn’t bruise the wearer. The blackened brown has the bonus of ‘tea core’ fading, though CXL also has lovely and subtle fades.

I do want to try a thick goat jacket next, since I already have a few Vics and CXL.
 

Aloysius

My Mail is Forwarded Here
Messages
3,438
My first Aero was in goatskin and the second in dark seal brown Vicenza. I prefer the Vicenza for the following:
- the finish has a great dark-brown-black-mid-brown color variation depending on the ambient lighting; in comparison, I felt that goatskin had a flatter/duller finish that doesn't hold a candle to Vicenza
- Vicenza's under-finish core is light brown, while the batch of goatskin used for my jacket was pale-grey
- Vicenza feels substantial with its weight, but there's none of that legendary break-in needed you hear about from CXL

The specific colour makes a difference for this, IMO. Black Aero goat looks far richer than black Vicenza and CXL.

Agreed that Vicenza is one of the best do-everyone first good jacket hides. It creases and ages beautifully. I also like that it isn’t too shiny. It feels substantial but doesn’t need to be broken in and doesn’t bruise the wearer. The blackened brown has the bonus of ‘tea core’ fading, though CXL also has lovely and subtle fades.

I do want to try a thick goat jacket next, since I already have a few Vics and CXL.

I think the goat feels simultaneously tougher and more luxurious.
 

newtojackets

Practically Family
Messages
636
Great thread @TartuWolf , surprised that there aren’t more responses.

Of the leathers listed I only own a CXL FQHH- a thing of beauty but pretty damn tough to break in
 

TartuWolf

Practically Family
Messages
939
Location
Tartu, Estonia
Thanks @newtojackets
Don't know why there's not much traction in this thread, maybe this stuff is common knowledge around here. Still glad I gathered all this info in one place. Helped me narrow down my leather choices from Aero to CXL HH (thinner) , Kelpie and Badalassi. Mainly because I'm really strict about wanting full-aniline combo or veg tanned leather. Once my leather samples from Aero and SB arrive I'll try to make some nice photos in natural lighting and make a small separate thread about it or just throw that info here as well.

I also snagged a lightly used Aero jacket in CXL FQHH (full thickness, not the thinner kind), absolutely love the leather even if it is a bit too thick for my taste. Shame the fit of the jacket is off, hope I can manage to sell it or trade it in at Aero for a fresh order.
 

newtojackets

Practically Family
Messages
636
Thanks @newtojackets
Don't know why there's not much traction in this thread, maybe this stuff is common knowledge around here. Still glad I gathered all this info in one place. Helped me narrow down my leather choices from Aero to CXL HH (thinner) , Kelpie and Badalassi. Mainly because I'm really strict about wanting full-aniline combo or veg tanned leather. Once my leather samples from Aero and SB arrive I'll try to make some nice photos in natural lighting and make a small separate thread about it or just throw that info here as well.

I also snagged a lightly used Aero jacket in CXL FQHH (full thickness, not the thinner kind), absolutely love the leather even if it is a bit too thick for my taste. Shame the fit of the jacket is off, hope I can manage to sell it or trade it in at Aero for a fresh order.
Yep, very handy to have all the info in one place, I’m sure it will help people who have similar questions down the line

I didn’t even know that CXL FQHH had varying thicknesses. Look forward to seeing the photos of the samples. Have you decided between SB and Aero yet?
 

TartuWolf

Practically Family
Messages
939
Location
Tartu, Estonia
@newtojackets
I think thinner CXL is a fairly recent offer. A lot of FL members appreciate it and recommend it highly. I also think it's a great idea. I'd say that currently that thinner natural/brown CXL is my top1 choice if I end up ordering from Aero. Depending on how kelpie and badalassi feels like.

I have not decided yet. My plan is to push the negotiations with both brands to the final pre-order step where I have very detailed and final options ready to order. See how expensive each one ends up (and if they agree to do some maneuvering around customs), what guarantees I can get from each (for example regarding returns, need to get very concrete conditions from SB regarding that).

Currently lost between these options in my head:
Center-button (belt length) : SB Klondike, Aero Moonshiner, Aero Maxwell
Minimalist cross-zip : Aero Hooch Hauler, SB Pacific, SB Oakland

Luckily I'm not in a big hurry to order. Hopefully the choices will naturally narrow down in my head.

One consideration that I have in terms of center-button vs cross-zip is how it goes with a western/cowboy hat that I truly love wearing (Akubra "The Boss"). I feel like center-button works much better with that kind of a hat (or any brimmed hat) than a cross-zip. Feels like cross-zip likes to fly solo, no distraction from hats or caps.

Just some thoughts..
 

newtojackets

Practically Family
Messages
636
@newtojackets
I think thinner CXL is a fairly recent offer. A lot of FL members appreciate it and recommend it highly. I also think it's a great idea. I'd say that currently that thinner natural/brown CXL is my top1 choice if I end up ordering from Aero. Depending on how kelpie and badalassi feels like.

I have not decided yet. My plan is to push the negotiations with both brands to the final pre-order step where I have very detailed and final options ready to order. See how expensive each one ends up (and if they agree to do some maneuvering around customs), what guarantees I can get from each (for example regarding returns, need to get very concrete conditions from SB regarding that).

Currently lost between these options in my head:
Center-button (belt length) : SB Klondike, Aero Moonshiner, Aero Maxwell
Minimalist cross-zip : Aero Hooch Hauler, SB Pacific, SB Oakland

Luckily I'm not in a big hurry to order. Hopefully the choices will naturally narrow down in my head.

One consideration that I have in terms of center-button vs cross-zip is how it goes with a western/cowboy hat that I truly love wearing (Akubra "The Boss"). I feel like center-button works much better with that kind of a hat (or any brimmed hat) than a cross-zip. Feels like cross-zip likes to fly solo, no distraction from hats or caps.

Just some thoughts..
Agreed, central button goes better with the cowboy hat, but then again I’m a sucker for a D-pocket cross-zip
 

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