The Altura Podium Cap features venting zones and 3D engineering, but while the fit is good, I got quite a sweaty forehead and the peak is a little small in the rain.
The traditional cotton cap is an iconic piece of cycling attire. Worn under a helmet, its purpose is to shield the eyes from rain while adding a layer of insulation in cold weather. But how much improvement can you make to this humble design? Well, Altura has had a go and, to my mind, might have tried too hard.
My first outing in the Podium Cap was a nice steady four hours on a Sunday. It was 5°C, with a chance of showers and a certainty of a cafe stop.
Donning the cap, the first thing I noted was the fit. The material is nicely stretchy and hugged my head comfortably. Putting my helmet on top alerted me to the other notable feature: the peak is made of two separate pieces, with a strip in the middle, designed to flex with the front edge of your helmet. It's quite a good idea as it allows you to wear your helmet normally, without the tip pushing down on the cap's peak.
Out on the road, though, I was a little disappointed. Though it fitted me well, the peak is a little on the small side when it starts to rain. I found that I just wasn't getting the same coverage from the Altura cap as I do from a more traditionally shaped design.
Once I got to the cafe, I was also surprised to find that the inside of the cap was wet with sweat. It wasn't a taxing ride, and I then faced the prospect of riding home with a damp head.
Altura has included small strips of reflective material to help with visibility, a nice touch with safety in mind.
Sometimes, too many features can spoil a simple idea. Many cycling garments and technologies have been improved, but the humble cycling cap might just be one that doesn't need it. Altura has tried, and although it's made a cap that fits (me) well, it's lost the simple assets that a cap should have. It's also about three times the price of a cotton cap from Prendas, though it's not alone in that...
Expensive, with features that don't work, though split peak is a neat idea
road.cc test report
Make and model: Altura Podium Cap
Size tested: One Size
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
From Altura:"A multi paneled cap construction in a lightweight fabric with breathable Draft Venting™ breather zones."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
* Altura Draft Venting™ strategically located venting zones allow for enhanced breathability
* Altura ErgoFit™ 3D patterning engineered for a more comfortable riding position
* Strategically located retroreflective trims for increased visibility
I got a sweaty head, even on an easy ride in chilly temperatures. Also, it struggled with rain.
The material shows no sign of wear, after wearing and machine washing.
The pre-folded peak makes this fit under your helmet easily. The elasticated material also gives a great fit.
One size fits most.
It's 34g. You'd be pushed to tell it's on your head.
The only issue is it makes your head sweaty, which isn't the most comfortable after the cafe stop.
Cotton caps can cost a third of this. Poor value.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
The split peak meant I was happy to machine wash it. It held its shape.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Not very well. It failed to keep the rain out of my eyes and made my head sweaty.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The split peak idea is good for fitting it under a helmet.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Sweaty head and rain in my eyes.
Did you enjoy using the product? No
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your score
A good idea, but it lacks the basic assets of a cycling cap. Gains points for the fit and the split peak, but loses them for being sweaty during easy riding and failing to block rain.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Di2 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!
Son of a Marathon runner, Nephew of a National 24hr Champion, the racing genetics have completely passed him by. Liam spends his time plodding his way through cyclocross races, very busy not winning. As an advocate for perfectly clean chains, he can be found cleaning his bike instead of training. A shop mechanic, Liam has many helpful skills, such as being able to identify 'cross tubs by the tread pattern alone. If you bump into him, he'll probably be eating.