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The Altura Airstream Men's Windproof Gilet is designed for what are called 'those changeable rides', and the last couple of months have seen plenty of those. I found it pleasingly warm on very cold rides, keeping out the most biting of winter winds, and its 'semi-fitted' design left room for a couple of layers underneath, even with my less-than-svelte physique.
Essentially, it offers just about everything that I look for in a gilet. I'm not after a full-on waterproof top with no sleeves – if it's raining I'll just wear a proper waterproof jacket (check out those in our best winter cycling jackets buyer's guide if you're in the market for one).
But for cold rides without rain, or at least not heavy rain, where I want to keep my torso warm, this is just the ticket. It's up there with a lot of our best cycling gilets in terms of protection, and its price isn't bad either.
First off, the windproof front is just that – absolutely windproof. On days where the temperature was hovering around freezing I usually wore this over a couple of layers to keep my core temperature up and to generally just feel warm and comfortable – two of my favourite states while riding – and it did the job admirably.
I'm around 175cm tall and last time I weighed myself was 75kg, but I think it's fair to say I'm presently above that, and the large size was quite generous without being baggy. Large was also in line with Altura's size guide. I may have squeezed into a medium but I don't think there'd have been much room underneath for extra layers.
It's a well-considered gilet too. The front has a DWR – durable water resistant – coating that proved fine in showers, and though I didn't get to test it in a downpour, my experience suggest that heavy rain will get through. But as the back is a very lightweight mesh affair, the top isn't striving to be waterproof.
I found the cut good too, with gently elasticated armholes and a deep-drop tail with a silicone gripper keeping it all in place.
The two-way zip allows you to undo the gilet from the top or bottom, which helps you to regulate your temperature and to access your jersey pockets.
The upper pull has a larger tab for use with gloved hands.
Unless it got particularly warm I tended not to take the gilet off while out riding (I'm lazy like that), preferring to unzip it to avoid overheating. Underarm vents also help to keep you cool.
There's a zipped pocket with a large tab on the upper right chest. It's not spacious enough for a smartphone (which would be too heavy anyway) but is ideal for keys, credit cash or cash.
The pocket also doubles up as a 'pouch for packing the gilet away', though I generally just scrunched it up and stuffed it in my jersey pocket; yep, laziness again. Either way, it packs down to a size a bit bigger than a cricket ball, or maybe a medium-size baking potato or yam (or a mango). Whatever the edible simile, it's compact enough for your pocket.
It's always good to see lots of reflective details on an otherwise muted top, and the Altura doesn't disappoint. In addition to a reflective Altura logo on the front left shoulder, there's reflective piping across the back of both shoulders and in two full-length strips down each side, with a strip on the back of the tall neck rounding things off.
In addition to our 'carbon' top, you can also choose from the much brighter 'lime' or 'burnt orange' colours.
The Altura Windproof Gilet is less expensive than the Galibier GrandTour Foul Weather Gilet that has become Josh's choice for, yes, those truly foul cycling days. That's £69.25.
It's also slightly cheaper than the Izoard Quilted Gilet, also from Galibier, that Dave liked hugely for its warmth, if not its breathability, though that's a slightly different beast.
There are some cheaper options, though. Siobhan found the women's version of the ultralight Van Rysel Windproof gilet from Decathlon virtually faultless when it was just £19.99. The men's version is still less expensive than the Altura, if not quite such a bargain these days at £34.99.
Altura's high-quality windproof gilet has quickly become a favourite for its warmth, comfort and packability. It's ideal for cold, dry rides and showery conditions if not for heavier rain, and should prove useful for a good deal of the year too.
Super-warm, wind-resistant and packable gilet that's a great choice for cold, dry rides and showery conditions
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Altura Airstream Men's Windproof Gilet
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the product is for
Altura says (in capitals!): "A PACKABLE, WATER RESISTANT WIND STOPPER WHICH IS IDEAL TO TAKE ON THOSE CHANGEABLE RIDES
"The Altura Airstream Men's Cycling Gilet is an ideal lightweight wind stopper to help stabilise core temperature when conditions are changeable whilst the DWR coating will help to keep the rain showers off. Mesh panels provide added breathability whilst reflective trim help you to stay visible. There is a two way zip which allows for easy access to jersey pockets and a handy zipped chest pocket for carrying essentials and which also doubles as an integrated pouch for packing the gilet away."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
100% nylon with a mini ripstop for extra durability
DWR coating to repel water
Full mesh back panel
Reflective trims for extra visibility
Packs away into zipped chest pocket
2-way front zip for jersey pocket access
Looks very good throughout. After months of regular use it still looks as good as new.
It's warm, water resistant and packable, which are the qualities I want in a gilet.
It was a perfect fit for me. Room for two layers underneath (I like to be warm when I'm riding) and the elasticated armholes and dropped hem keep it in place.
I was somewhere on the cusp of M and L and went for large and it was the perfect fit for me, so I'd say Altura's sizing is bang on.
It weighs 136g, I weigh over 75kg – so it weighs around one 5,000th as much as I do. I think that means it's light. You certainly don't notice when you're wearing it.
Lovely. It's warm and comfortable and, as above, you barely notice you're wearing it – apart from the fact that you're warm rather than cold.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Fine. Throw it in at 30°C and follow the lengthy instructions – stay clear of bleach, the iron, tumble drying, biological detergents or softeners. So, read the small print and you'll be fine – as will your lovely Altura gilet.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It's great. Keeps you warm when the weather is cold.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
It keeps you warm when the weather is cold. Oh, and it's light, packable and has good reflectives.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's a fair price compared with gilets of this quality that offer this level of protection.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
I like this Altura gilet a lot and there's very little to fault it on at all. It's genuinely windproof, which is the quality I really want. Water rolls off the DWR coating but heavy rain will get through eventually. It's comfortable and so light you don't really notice it. It's very good.
About the tester
I usually ride: 2018 Giant TCR Advanced 2 with Halo Carbaura disc wheels My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding,
Simon has been riding since he was a nipper and more seriously since his university days way back when. He has been a cycling journalist for more than two decades and reckons he has upwards of 200,000 miles in his legs. In his time he has competed (in the loosest sense of the word) in time trials, triathlons, duathlons and a lone cyclo-cross; he has been a long-distance commuter for decades – on road and canal towpath. He has also toured extensively in Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia and has ridden 4,000km from Cairns to Melbourne in Australia, and the 700km from Picton to Dunedin in New Zealand. If his legs carry on working, he'd like to ride from Perth to Sydney...