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The Altura Dry Mesh Vest is a really comfortable and incredibly breathable base layer at a great price. While brand snobs may sniff at the Altura marque, this is unwarranted. This vest is only missing an inspirational motif on the chest to give me difficulty picking between this and more upmarket tops.
First of all, the fit of this sleeveless base layer is amazing. It hugs your entire torso without bunching up in any areas and the arm openings are the perfect size, not rubbing under the armpit but also being snug so that the technical fabric does its job in wicking sweat away everywhere. I welcomed the close fit around the waist as this stopped it from riding up over the course of a ride, improving comfort over other base layers I've tried.
The only criticism I have is of the relatively high neck-line, though this was only an issue when wearing a skin suit with quite a wide opening at the neck. It doesn't impact on comfort but it looks a bit silly having the base layer sticking out at the top. For 99% of riders during 99% of their rides, this wouldn't be a problem at all.
The open mesh fabric does a really good job of transporting sweat away from the skin and allowing air to circulate underneath your jersey, keeping you cool in hot or humid weather. It also keeps the jersey fabric from sticking to your skin when it gets sweaty which is a horrible feeling. In the summer heat, wearing this base layer kept me cooler and more comfortable than no base layer at all. The actual material is very soft next to the skin.
The top didn't shrink at all in the wash and doesn't seem to retain the sweaty pong that some synthetic fabrics fall victim to. It came out of the washer as good as new even after getting very dirty riding on some wet, mucky lanes.
At £35 this is quite an expensive top. It performs comparably to offerings from Rapha, Castelli and other brands so this is reasonable: Rapha's pro team base layer, for example, costs £45. Other brands like Endura have mesh base layers available for £5 less than Altura's so these may well be worth a look. It is also available in a short-sleeved version if you prefer.
All things considered, this is a brilliant item of clothing and a great addition to any cyclist's wardrobe. While I do believe in paying for quality, I don't think a premium for a logo is justifiable on underwear and think this garment is competitive with high end brands' offerings.
Top quality base layer with a stretch that should accommodate a variety of body shapes
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Altura Dry Mesh Vest Baselayer
Size tested: Small/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 make no claims of 'designed specifically for racers' nor 'perfect for relaxed riders'. However with images of riders in aero tucks on their online marketing of the baselayer, it is safe to say this is designed with speed and performance in mind. This tallied with my experiences of wearing it.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The mesh is of large fibres, Altura describe this as tubular knit and this gives more separation between one's skin and a tight jersey. 4-way stretch and Body Mapping Technology contributes to a great fit. The wicking and breathable Altura Dry fabric takes sweat rapidly away and keeps air flowing over your skin.
Best base layer I've ever worn.
Excellent figure hugging fit, no bunching of fabric or pulling around shoulders.
Spot on for me, with only two sizes this could be a problem for short and stocky riders.
Lightweight fabric and mesh construction means less of it.
Great value, top level performance and lowish price.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Size stayed constant and still a bright white after a multiple washes.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Keeps you dry and cool in hot weather. Very comfortable next to the skin. Handles high sweat rates with no problems.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fit was great and the soft fibres felt really nice touching sensitive areas of my skin.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized Allez My best bike is: Starley R1
I've been riding for: Under 5 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, touring, club rides, mtb,