The Altura Nevis III Waterproof Overtrousers are a lightweight pair with a 'relaxed fit', ideal for commuters who ride a few miles to work in smart trousers and want to arrive clean and dry. They're windproof, waterproof and fairly breathable – though a little loose around the calves for my liking.
Compared with previous generations of Altura waterproofs hanging in my wardrobe, the Shield fabric felt a little delicate, but several weeks of regular use suggests otherwise. They also pack conveniently small into a pannier or larger saddlebag.
In terms of fit, using its ErgoFit 3D technology, Altura has erred on the civilian, with compromises that will suit some and alienate others.
They're available in gender-specific versions and a comprehensive range of sizes from XS to XXL, and I would say the sizing chart takes the guesswork out of online purchases: medium was perfect for my 32in waist, 33.5in inseam. The broad elasticated waistband offers excellent tenure, ensuring they sit high enough on the waist to protect the lower back but without feeling restrictive.
Overall performance is surprisingly good. Altura's Shield is 100% polyester, more windproof and waterproof than breathable. Sharp, stormy stuff simply strikes the surface, beads up and rolls away. My teenage son required no encouragement to blast me with the garden hose for a few minutes in the interests of torture testing – nothing doing. Their stitched and taped construction locks rain and other wet stuff outside.
More surprising was that I only felt trace misty dampness around the calves and thighs after an hour at 20mph and 80-odd rpm. At these sorts of speeds, even on blustery autumnal evenings, flutter was minimal too.
On more leisurely scoots of two to three miles, wearing jeans or chinos beneath, they kept me warm, dry and comfortable, and the chinos' looser cut, heavier-weight materials filled the legs, so no builder's tarp tendencies.
Now, while the lower leg adjuster kept the bottoms safely out of transmission's way, the looser calves did have a tendency to catch empty bottle cages on the seat tube when pulling away, especially from a track-stand. It was less of a problem while pedalling at a steady tempo, but once it had happened I was always aware of the possibility and, consequently, tended to angle my legs further apart.
One of my bugbears with overtrousers is their tendency to be slippery. Thankfully, the Nevis's texture is satin, offering good purchase with traditional leather saddles yet still permitting unrestricted, intentional mid-ride shuffling.
Black complements pretty much everything, and extends their horizons to walking and other outdoor activities. Stealthy by day, their retro-reflective logos and splashes come alive under vehicle lights for some additional visibility, though reflective heel tabs on trainer/type shoes are, in my opinion, more effective attention grabbers.
When all's said and done, the Nevis IIIs satisfy their design brief pretty convincingly. They're definitely worth closer scrutiny if you're doing shorter bike-as-car utility runs and want a set of weather-cheating longs that will also perform off the bike.
Good overtrousers, especially for shorter commutes and riding in normal clothes
road.cc test report
Make and model: Altura Nevis III Overtrouser
Size tested: Medium
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?
Altura says: "A lightweight waterproof overtrouser, perfect for slipping over clothes in downpours."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Altura Shield™ technology is engineered to provide protection from wind and water whilst still offering high levels of breathability
* Altura ErgoFit™ 3D patterning engineered for a more comfortable riding position
* Strategically located retroreflective trims for increased visibility
* Lower leg adjuster for a tighter lower leg fit
* Elasticated waistband
* Relaxed Fit
Seems durable for a relatively thin polyester.
Generally good, though the calf sections were a fraction too baggy for my liking.
Medium was bang on for my 32in waist, 33.5in inseam.
Seem genuinely waterproof and breathe better than might be expected from a (fairly) budget polyester weave, although the thin fabric undoubtedly helps.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very easy to live with, just avoid biological detergents and fabric softeners. Line dry in around half an hour.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They're easy to slip on and off, breathe fairly effectively, yet fully waterproof.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Lightweight, waterproof yet reasonably breathable and they pack down very compactly – great for commuting.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Loose cut around the calves.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? On balance no, I would want something more performance orientated.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Worth a closer look if you regularly commute shorter distances.
Use this box to explain your score
Do what they're meant to reasonably competently. However, the loose calves had a tendency to catch when setting off, which was annoying and potentially quite dangerous.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough stuff tourer based around 4130 Univega mountain bike frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)