Altura are one of the biggest UK cyclewear brands and are heavily represented in many bike shops at the commuter and newbie road end of the market – with much hi-vis and lycra in their product range.
They’re not usually associated with stylish MTB garments – although I have been happily rocking a couple of pairs of their excellent Apex baggy shorts for about four years and have almost worn them out.
So I was a bit surprised to hear that this good-looking two-tone jacket was an Altura product when my pal Scott turned up for a ride wearing it – and even more surprised to hear that he’d only paid £30 for it in a sale.
It must have been fate, but the next day I got an email from good old Merlin Cycles offering me an extra 10% off their Altura stuff – and clicking on the link showed me the same jacket still available in my size for £30. So that was £27 after the discount, compared to an RRP of £80.
Despite already having three or four softshell jackets, I couldn’t resist.
With Merlin only located about a 30 minute ride from my house, and right next to a Royal Mail depot, they are usually pretty quick with deliveries – and again they managed to get it to me the next day, which is always nice.
The fit of the jacket is really good in my opinion. It’s not too tight and not too loose, it’s nice and long in the body and the sleeves the front pockets are still reasonably accessible when you’re wearing a backpack.
Despite the weather staying mild until well into November, I’ve managed to get two or three rides in already.
With just a short-sleeved jersey underneath, I found the jacket a little too warm on the first ride, with sweat quickly building up on the inside as I hauled myself up the first (250m) climb of the day.
In fairness though, it really has been unseasonably mild up here (not anymore sadly), so I should have just been wearing a long-sleeved jersey for that ride.
And I quickly learned that it was possible to regulate the temperature really effectively simply by unzipping the front about half-way down.
Once up on the hill I was glad to be wearing the jacket anyway, especially as day turned to night and I managed to seriously burp my rear tyre so I had to stop to reinflate it on an exposed bit of trail.
It’s billed as a windproof garment and it does seem very effective at cutting out the windchill factor – which of course also helps when descending at speed – so it makes a good alternative to wearing a merino base garment in terms of warmth.
It effortlessly shrugs off drizzle and light rain is no problem either. I haven’t been out in heavy rain but I’d expect it to wet through in pretty short time since the fabric is pretty thin.
Despite my earlier observation about the breathability, that thin fabric is actually a bonus in that regard and the jacket is probably more breathable than any hardshell I’ve used – and it dries out quickly when it does get wet.
I have ridden down a flooded trail, which was streaming with water, at a reasonable clip and the jacket was surprisingly good at not giving me a wet back (no prissy rear mudguard for me thanks).
I think I’m going to get a lot of use out of it to be honest, I’m a big fan of softshells for most of the colder months and I also believe you need more than one anyway – to vary with the temperature.
The front pockets are really useful for stowing gels and a phone, while the drawstring hood could come in handy for rest stops or even to put up under a helmet if the weather turns grim.
The good looks and low price are a bonus – and I’ve noticed they also do a blue and red version which looks even better and was down to £30 at Rutland Cycling at the time of writing.
To be honest it’s not terrible value at the £80 RRP, if only because I think it’ll turn out to be such a versatile garment.