Available in long or short-sleeved versions, Altura's Thermocool base layer has radically improved my default perception of man made, mid priced technical wear.
Not only does the temperature-regulating fabric decide whether to retain or disperse, it also ensures a faultlessly smooth and confidence inspiring profile beneath snug fitting race jerseys. Admittedly even the best polyester/nylon/Lycra mixes can't quite pip natural fibres to the post when it comes to outright comfort but then again, they're less likely to emerge from an accidental boil wash fitting the neighbour's Siamese cat.
Basically the idea is to keep you cool as you warm up but retain warmth when the air temperature drops and this is as significant when blistering along Pyrenean mountain passes in the height of July as soldiering through the Surrey slush. The downside of base layers made from synthetic fibres is that they can get a bit whiffy here though antibacterial yarn helps prevent things turning funky should you all pile in for a mid ride meal at the Dog and Duck.
Altura employ a form of body mapping technology; which tailors material density according to where you sweat most-thinner beneath the arms and sides, thicker around the shoulders, chest and back area to protect these regions from chill, resulting in a mesh- but- not- quite look. Flat locked seams prevent unsightly branding while going unnoticed against the skin. Aided by our old friend Lycra, the clever cut ensures optimum comfort when stretched out on the drops, or more extreme cross-country mountain bike cockpits. To be frank, this all comes together rather well.
Watching vampire flicks on the telly, strapped to the trainer and with the oil fired heating going strong, it took a fair while for things to get noticeably soggy- especially beneath the arms and around the lower back but never to the stage where it was matted against the skin and the wicking comes to the rescue pretty quickly, leaving me relatively dry after forty-five minutes. Out in the real world, worn beneath other polyester layers, moisture trafficking has been remarkably good in varying temperatures without discomfort or unsavoury odours.
Probably the most comfortable man-made base layer I have used to date
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Make and model: Altura Thermocool Base Layer
Size tested: Black M/L
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?
"New high tech short sleeve base layer with advanced moisture wicking and temperature regulation".
Does exactly what it says without fuss or fanfare.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Temperature regulating fabric
Spun with 10% antibacterial Body Fresh yarn
Close stretch fit
High wicking properties
73% Polyester (Thermocool Eco) 22 % Polyamide (Nylon) 5% Elastano (Lycra)
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Altura Thermocool regulates and disperses heat with remarkable efficiency, retaining an ambient, odour free inner climate-even worn beneath less sophisticated jerseys/training jackets. Not quite on par with natural fibres perhaps but very easy to care for and tolerant of accidental tumble drying.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Fit and comfort were bang on.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing given the design brief.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Age: 38 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb 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, mtb,
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)