This feature was produced in association with Altura
Maybe you recall Altura’s previous mountain bike clothing range – it’s a while since they made them and shifted focus to road and commuter gear, but if you owned some there’s every chance you’re still using it. It was built to last. Those who don’t recall that earlier range may know Altura better through their functional products beloved of urban commuters and bicycle tourers. They make products that work for people that do their best to wear them out, at a price point that appeals to the kind of intrepid traveller that books into a youth hostel instead of a hotel. Luggage, panniers, waterproofs and reflective bits. Stuff you need and that will serve you when you need it. They’ve been doing it for 25 years, so clearly they know a thing or two about getting it right.
For those who are still using their old Altura MTB kit, or are mourning its absence from their local bike shop, you’ll be glad to hear that Altura is moving with the times. This year sees them introduce the new Trail Adventure range, aimed at mountain bikers who want stuff that works but doesn’t scream wannabe racer, and at a price point that doesn’t make them squawk like they’ve just hit a blind double. That’s not to say that these are for MTB-lite – all the items are designed to accommodate today’s modern slim fit knee and elbow pads. With a whole new design team on board for the mountain bike range, they’re offering up a new range of clothing that is fashion conscious as well as functional – so you won’t have your kids disowning you when you pick them up from school after your ride, or your friends sidling away from your enduro pyjamas in the pub.
Form and Function
Altura isn’t leaving its roots behind, but instead is seeking to build on its reputation for reliability and value by sticking to six core pillars of design. For every item it will be determined how breathable, ergonomic, windproof, thermal, reflective and waterproof an item needs to be. Those design features will be tailored to a specific need, as suggested by Altura’s collective of real world testers. This means you get products that are based on experience of real life scenarios, here in the UK. What kit do they wish they had on a cold day when it’s lashing with sideways rain? How about on the days when the rain is drifting around in fine swirls, the sun making frequent appearances to produce rainbows and a layer of sweat on your brow? Or what about those cold crisp mornings where barely frosted leaves lie crisply atop a thick layer of soupy mud, luring you into their chilled ooze and splashing at your shins?
Ours are not the dusty trails of California, and riders will appreciate the understanding that a little British weather and testing brings to fabric choice and colour selection. Fabrics to keep the wind out with appropriate venting rather than mesh panels that chill. Earth and natural tones chosen from a pallet that reflects the landscape rather than clashes with it, or is stained by it.
A Natural Touch
As well as working with our British landscape and its climate, Altura is seeking to make sure its products don’t excessively impact the global environment. Corn starch packaging, vegetable dyes, recyclable tags attached with cord not plastic, and clay balls instead of silca gel mean that the high volume items used on every item that is sold are made as sustainable as possible. Whatever the product, those basic measures are in place. Then there are the measures that affect a subset of products, such as waterproofing – they’ll be PFC free by 2025. And with a 2-year warranty on all items they’re invested in making products that last.
To make a product that lasts, you need to start out with some solid fundamentals. Every factory used by Altura works to a ‘style guide’ that dictates every details right down to stitch length. This means that every factory is manufacturing to the same standards, as determined by Altura’s testing process to meet their needs. To keep that consistency, Altura conducts regular visits to all its factories, and independent quality control checking takes place before anything is shipped. If there are problems they are discovered early and fixed at source, rather than after hundreds of garments have been shipped around the world.
Every new item goes through at least two prototypes to ensure a good fit before a test samples are made and sent out to testers such as Rich Rothwell. You may well be familiar with him – he has a keenness for long and arduous adventures such as most of us would consider a disaster story of trial and tribulation, only worth enduring for the years of storytelling and reminiscing it offers. You’d certainly think twice about joining him if he suggested a weekend away with bikes.
All that effort has resulted in what might be considered a capsule wardrobe. A collection of just enough pieces to get you through the winter months, while Altura continues its product development of spring and summer additions for next year. Let’s check them out.
Esker Trail Shorts
These splash-proof shorts are available in a single unisex/men’s fit. They have tapered knee designed to play well with kneepads – room to fit them in, but not big and flappy. The pattern is cut so that you’re not sat on a bulky seam, and the raised, clean back with no loops and buckles means you get no interference with backpacks or waist straps. Stretch in the side panels provides further comfort, and you get a zipped pocket for your valuables.
Esker Trail Trousers
Similar to the shorts – but longer, obviously – these women’s trousers have a stretch panel at the ankle for a snug fit without fouling your cranks. There are no fasteners or adjustments, just soft stretch side panels. Like the shorts, they’re kneepad compatible.
Ridge Tier Waterproof trousers
These waterproof trousers are only available in a unisex/men’s cut, and have a softshell front and back. Hip pockets are zipped for valuables, and a button fly fastens them securely in place.
Merino 50 Baselayer
This 50/50 merino polyester/merino base layer is available in a unisex cut. With flat seams for comfort and thumb loops and a dropped back for cosiness, this is the first layer in your capsule wardrobe. Wear it on its own on warmer days, or layer it up to keep the chills at bay.
Esker DWR Jersey
This long-sleeved men’s jersey has Polartech Powergrid fabric – a sort of fleecy waffle fabric design to be warm and wicking – on both the front of the body and central back panel. Tapered and bonded cuffs ensure a neat fit around the wrists, and a DWR coating keeps the splashes at bay if you’re wearing this as an outer layer.
Escalade Women’s Gilet
Only available in a women’s cut, this softshell gilet has a DWR coating, brushed back fleece lining, and is windproof and water resistant. Wear it as an outer layer to keep the chill off your core on cool days, or layer it up underneath an outer shell for snug riding on really cold days.
Cave Softshell Hoodie
Made of the same materials as the Escalade Gilet, this hooded softshell jacket – available in men’s and women’s cuts – has tapered arms, brushed back fleece lining, and chest pocket.
Esker Packable Jacket
This is a water resistant 2.5 layer fabric jacket with an over the helmet hood and chest pockets. It’s a lightweight and packable jacket that will roll up and can be tidily secured using the elastic loop that’s sewn into the inside pocket. Keep it in your pack for when the weather turns, or ride in it on damp days. Vents front and rear help keep you cool. Shaped arms, with bonded cuffs and a touch of elastic keep the flappiness at bay on this relaxed fit jacket, while retaining enough room for a set of modern slimline elbow pads.
Ridge Waterproof Jacket
This jacket is made from Pertex Shield fabric, making it less packable but more waterproof than the Esker. The helmet fits over your hood, and gills to the rear sides give ventilation. Two zipped front pockets reveal mesh pouches, handy to stop snacks or your phone from moving around in your pockets, and further ventilation is tucked under flaps just above the front pocket zips. A rear waterproof softshell panel provides added breathability.
Polartec Waterproof Gloves
Warm and waterproof, these gloves have padded palms for comfort and silicone grip to keep you in contact with the brakes and grips even on the wettest of days. These gloves have an 8k/8k waterproof/breathability rating.
With clothing choices for all conditions, there’s no excuse for staying indoors. Whether you like to cruise along taking in the scenery, or want to pedal hard until a hill top sandwich, there are layering options for you. Check out the Altura Adventure Range online or at your local bike shop, choose the layers to suit your riding style, and get out to play.
This feature was produced in association with Altura