Posts Tagged ‘altura’

Altura Attack Watwrproof Shorts

What price a dry bum? I contemplated this long and hard before a trip to Dalby Forest last spring. I have got a crud guard on the front and a race guard on the back so why bother? A good question indeed but with the necessary cash in my pocket (around about £50 a pair) and having already stocked up on brake pads, I took the plunge. You never know, Yorkshire, spring, warm and dry or cold and wet, not difficult to analyse. Anyway I headed home, stuffed them in the cupboard and went on with life.

Before I knew it I was heading up north with a car full of bikes, a young hobbit next to me (OK Richard M) having a laugh and long inane discussions about nothing at all. It was sunny, it was warm and the world was fine. We stopped somewhere close to the Forest to stock up on goodies and check out the local bike shop. There were signs of rain having passed that way but the sky was blue, there were white, puffy clouds floating about and there was no way I’d need either my waterproof jacket or indeed my new shorts.

A few miles later and as we approached our weekend base it began to drizzle. We booked in at the Lodge and spotted that the others in the party had already arrived and were out riding. A rushed unpack, a cup of tea, bikes sorted and we went to get changed. By the time we were ready (5 minutes flat) the world had changed and we were looking at a monsoon. Jackets swapped, warmer clothes donned (3/4 roubaix bibs for me) we peered out hoping it would stop. No way, so I wandered back, grabbed the new shorts and we headed out.

The shorts have that familiar “crisp bag” noise which always suggest fragility but to be fair they are robustly constructed. There are more pockets (zipped and open) than you can shake a stick at and the waist band has plenty of adjustment so the popper won’t burst if you have eaten too many pies since last wearing them. All good stuff, they seemed to fit nicely with no obtrusive seams, what’s not to like? Note, these have no chamois nor do they seem to have any fittings for a liner so they are definitely overshorts.

We rode in rain, buckets of the stuff. Mud was flying up everywhere and in no time I was sitting on a crinkly crisp bag with loads of bits wearing away my nether regions. This would be a good test. My Endura jacket held up quite well but what was happening lower down? First of all the shorts had ridden up. The inside leg had rucked up towards the saddle and the below the knee shorts were now well into schoolboy territory… not good. I had a few odds and sods in my pocket and it felt quite obtrusive as I pedalled, so much so that I transferred it all quickly to my Camelbak. I also started to get a soggy, gritty feeling inside.

An hour or so later we headed back to the Lodge. It was still hissing down with rain and everything was rubbing… brake pads, chains, shorts…..

Despite the mudguards I was caked with mud and grit from head to foot and, having opted for the full “boil in the bag” option – waterproof jacket and shorts, I was sweaty as a very sweaty thing. We changed and then the analysis began. Grit and wet had indeed got through the short’s defences but only because it had crept up my legs. The waterproofing had resisted the worst Yorkshire had to throw at it. There was a tradeoff though. Had I not had 3/4 length bibs underneath the inside of my legs would have been rubbed raw. Grit/mud, water, skin rubbed together make you very sore. I had very tender areas just above my knees where all the above had mixed together. What it would be like with ordinary (short) shorts was something I would find out next time I wore them. Take my word for it… this is something you really want to avoid as it can ruin your ride.

I tried the shorts out in another deluge (Dusk 2 Dawn 2010) later in the year with the same result. Grit gets up your legs, the shorts ride up, you can’t really ride and have stuff in your pockets, they rub around the inside of your knees of and another thing… they are really loud. Riding is accompanied by the rustle of crisp bags and it drives you bonkers!

My overall take on these shorts is: they are waterproof and will keep you pretty dry in even the worst weather but there are shortcomings. As long as you take steps to deal with these, they are a reasonable purchase.


Altura Base Layer

Posted: January 4, 2011 in 2011, Product Reviews
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I should have written up a straight comparison with the Paramo base layer but to be honest, I forgot! This garment has been in regular use for almost as long as the Paramo.

The Altura Cyclone, long sleeve, base layer is marketed as a cycling specific, technical, shirt designed to wick away moisture and keep you dry, allowing the other layers to maintain body warmth… very much the same as the Paramo.

It is cut much smaller and therefore acts like a second skin without being too clingy. It is lightweight and like all similar products, packs away into a very compact space. As with the Paramo, there is little obvious thermal benefit although it must contribute something.  My main criticism is that it is cut so short. Maybe I am just too tall but if I wasn’t wearing bib shorts, the shirt would ride half way up my back and I’d probably get hypothermia by the time I got home. It keeps you dry although not as dry as the Paramo but it has yet to take on the distinctive aroma of say a Helly Hansen or indeed, the Paramo. To those of you unfamiliar with this smell, believe me it is a “good thing”!

Both shirts dry rapidly and can be ready for use in no time for those “wash and go” moments.

You can pick these up for £20.00 now and as such represent a cheaper garment than the Paramo.

The good points have to be the closer fit and the absence of putrefying pilchard post ride stench. Wicking properties are good but not as good as the Paramo. The bad point – it is cut way too short to cover your lower back.

Buy it as a cheap base layer if you use bib shorts or are particularly short in the body otherwise, look for something else a lot longer.