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The Altura Grid Field Jacket has rapidly become my go-to for all sorts of circumstances. Whether it's short rides to the shops, longer leisure rides or even just going out in the evening without the bike, this is now the first jacket I reach for – unless it's tipping down with rain. It's not one for hard riding or genuinely foul conditions – and it may not seriously be up there with the best waterproof cycling jackets on performance terms – but I've quickly become a big fan and my wife think it looks great. Who am I to argue...?
This is the second Altura Grid top we've tested recently, following the Half-Zip Softshell Hoodie. Personally, I think the Grid Field wins the battle for looks, even with its 'geography teacher' elbow patches – which are actually subtle but pleasingly large reflective patches.
It's a one-colour-only jacket, so if navy isn't your thing (say, you're not a geography teacher) then you're bang out of luck. But it is available in six sizes, so getting the correct fit using Altura's sizing guide should be straightforward. I found the large size, my usual, was a comfortable fit with room for a couple of layers underneath.
While at first glance there's little to mark out the Grid Field as a cycling jacket, it does actually have a good number of cycling-specific features.
The back is dropped so that your posterior is protected when you're riding. The sleeves are long too, which looks a little odd when you're off the bike, though not absurdly so. When you're riding, however, the extended cuffs come into their own for weather protection to your wrists. The cuffs are adjustable too, and you can tighten them and secure them using poppers.
The full-length front zip is adjustable top and bottom, and there's a full-length wind flap secured by five poppers in front of it. The four pockets are deep enough for your phone, glasses cases (yep, plural for me) and wallet (sadly just the one), and each is topped with a 7cm-deep flap that's secured by a couple more poppers.
While not immediately noticeable until illuminated, there are a reasonable number of sizeable reflectives here, and they're extremely effective. The large (20x10cm) elbow patches are accompanied by lengthy strips along the dropped tail and on the back of the collar.
The front's reflective material is limited to a small Altura logo on the left-hand chest pocket, and I would have appreciated more, but I'd also like to think you're using a decent front light.
Altura actually calls this the 'Grid Field Waterproof Jacket,' but it doesn't live up to that. It does however live up to the 'shower-resistant' description Altura uses in the small print. It's made of cotton (responsibly sourced – thumbs up, Altura!) and has a DWR (durable water-repellent) coating.
Ride in a light shower and beads of water will form on the surface and roll off. Result. Wear it in heavier rain and the water will make its way through, as there's no waterproof membrane and the seams lack waterproof taping. And while the DWR will inevitably lose its resistance over time, Altura tells us: 'When the time comes, we'd recommend reproofing the jacket with something like Grangers' Performance Repel Plus spray by following the instructions on the bottle and applying a localised heat.'
Altura's distributor ZyroFisher also told us that it is working on product care pages for its website.
The Grid Field is pretty warm and probably best suited for autumn, winter and spring use, though you can moderate your body heat while riding by using the two-way zip and the two 10cm-long 'pit zips.'
It's a very cosy jacket too, and I like a bit of cosiness. The high-cut collar is snug around your neck, and has a soft, wide fabric strip for comfort, though as with the Grid softshell hoodie, there's no waist adjustability. That said, I never found this an issue on or off the bike.
We haven't reviewed that many commuter-specific or casual waterproof jackets. The Altura Grid Field is cheaper than the Chapeau City that Hollis liked, as that's now £149.99, though it's also genuinely waterproof and windproof.
The Grid Field is also up against Altura's own £85 Grid Waterproof Half-Zip Softshell Hoodie which Hollis rated highly (though like this jacket it's not really waterproof, just water-resistant). Meanwhile Altura's more overtly cycling-specific but properly windproof and waterproof Nightvision also remains as good an option as when George tested the Nightvision Storm a couple of years ago, even at £100 as opposed to £80.
This is pretty expensive for a non-waterproof jacket, but its styling, versatility and all-round quality go a long way to justify that cost. It's great for cycling commutes on cool and showery days, and the looks appealed to pretty much everybody as a non-cycling coat-cum-jacket. My experience of Altura kit suggests it should last for years too.
Subtly styled and well-made commuting jacket with weather resistance and good looks
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Altura Grid Field Men's Waterproof Jacket
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the jacket 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 classic cycling style with off the bike looks and on the bike features."
It continues: "The Altura Grid Field Men's Cycling Jacket delivers the best of both worlds on and off the bike. With its classic styling and technical features, it is great for cycling and also looks stylish off the bike when you reach your destination. The responsibly sourced cotton fabric gives a smart tailored feel whilst the DWR finish will help to keep the rain off in a shower. With an ergonomically engineered design it fits perfectly when active on the bike whilst the subtle reflective print in key areas will help you to stay seen by other road users in lower light conditions. A high cut collar keeps the cold out and the four generous lidded pockets not only look great but provide plenty of storage for those must have essentials."
I think Altura has pretty much got the description spot on - it's water-resistant rather than fully waterproof, but its looks proved popular with my wife and my more style-conscious friends.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
100% responsibly sourced cotton with a DWR finish
High stand-up collar to protect from the elements
Reflective print in key areas
Four lidded pockets for storing valuables securely
Air venting via pit zips
Construction is very good. Neat seams and zips throughout.
It's water-resistant rather than fully waterproof. It's cotton with a water-repellent finish, but the seams aren't taped.
Looks and feels well made, and my experience of Altura kit suggests it should be good for a fair few years too.
While Altura calls it 'waterproof' in the full name of the jacket, it goes on to say the 'DWR finish will help to keep the rain off in a shower', and that description is accurate. Ten or 15 minutes in a shower and you'll be okay, but heavy rain gets through quite quickly.
It seems okay, but I wouldn't do hard rides wearing this.
Fit is relaxed and generous, which I think is what you want for a casual or commuting-style jacket. The sleeves look slightly long when you're off the bike, though not absurdly so, but come into their own when you're riding.
My jacket was size L, which is my usual size (apart from jerseys and jackets from the likes of Santini) and this was generous, with enough room for a couple of layers underneath.
It's a jacket. I was never aware of the weight, and even with the pockets filled it felt fine.
It was fab - warm, cosy and comfortable.
It's more expensive than the Chapeau City https://road.cc/content/review/chapeau-city-jacket-290701 for instance, which is more waterproof, but I'd say the Altura Grid Field looks better off the bike.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
30°C wash and bish, bash, bosh. No worries. It will lose its water-resistance with wear and washing, but can be reproofed using something like the Grangers Performance Repel Plus spray.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It performed excellently as a casually cut commuter jacket for drizzly days and showers - but it's not a substitute for a full-on waterproof for those properly wet days. In a downpour you need a jacket with a waterproof membrane, taped seams and the like.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
The looks. I found it good for cycling but it's smarter than just about any other winter jacket I own, especially now my duffel coat is no more (anybody found it? I've no idea where it went! Is Paddington a bit light-fingered? Not sure - mine was camel-coloured and I think he'd be swamped by mine) but the Grid is much better on the bike.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Nothing. It's not a genuine waterproof, but take that into account and it's excellent.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Probably the nearest competitor is the Chapeau City, which is £90, but the Altura Grid has more features, albeit with less weather-resistance.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes - it was a winner for me on and off the bike
Would you consider buying the jacket? Yes - it looks great
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes - at least one of my friends wants one
Use this box to explain your overall score
I found little if anything to fault with the Altura Grid Field. It's warm and comfortable, keeps out showers, has loads of pockets and a casual, commuter-cut with a dropped tail.
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...