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The Altura Women's Airstream Short Sleeve Jersey is an affordable, lightweight option for milder days, with a relaxed fit, but the positioning of the three pockets across the back makes it awkward to access their contents, particularly when you're on the move.
I wasn't hugely impressed with its technical performance, or the pocket placement, but these factors won't be high on everyone's checklist, so the Airstream may well appeal if you're enjoying shorter, more leisurely rides that don't require frequent pocket access or demand technical performance from the fabrics.
It might equally appeal for touring, particularly if you use a bar bag or top tube bag over rear pockets, since it offers a relaxed fit that can easily accommodate layers.
I tested a 12 and I'd say stay true to size for the intended fit – relaxed, with zero clinging or compression.
This is true of the entire jersey: the sleeves don't grip the arms, the collar doesn't restrict, and even the lower band is loose.
The latter won't to be everyone's liking. It can flap around (despite the silicone strip) if the pockets are well loaded and gets lifted away from the back.
The collar has a little more height than I would look for on a summer jersey; fully zipped, it gave too much coverage for my liking. On the other hand, it means the jersey will stretch to three seasons with supporting layers, and there's a garage to protect the neck when it's fully zipped.
I found the body length just enough, though I wouldn't have complained about it being a bit longer. It certainly doesn't match the length of the Gore jersey that Anna recently tested.
Although there are no mesh panels, the fabrics are thin enough to create a cooling effect if you use the jersey without a baselayer. It's functional enough for leisurely rides and touring, being comfortable and breathable, though I did need to unzip in warmer weather to help with temperature regulation.
The 100% polyester fabric doesn't boast any eco credentials, and it's not the most robust; a banana stalk has already scuffed a small area on the one I've been testing.
My main gripe with the jersey is the pocket placement. There is no zipped pocket, which perhaps isn't surprising for the price, but while the three usual pockets are deep enough, they are placed far too high up the back. I only stood a chance of accessing them on the move if I sat upright (riding no-handed) – not ideal for newer riders buying an entry-level jersey.
Their placement also means that if they are fully loaded, they lift the tail of the jersey well off the back. Since it's not elasticated, this makes it prone to flapping around.
To address this, I think there needs to be more length in the tail, some stronger elastic, and a better position for the pockets.
Altura offers the jersey in two colours, Coral and Olive, which go well with plain black shorts. The design is unique and stands out without being garish.
The Airstream is currently selling for £23.99 on Altura's site and others, so if it ticks your boxes, it's an absolute bargain.
Comparing its RRP of £39.99 to others, it still remains decent value, provided you can tolerate the pocket issue.
Lara tested a similarly specced jersey from Primal last summer and there are loads of designs on the Primal website with a 'sport fit' for between £55 and £70.
It's not as great value as Decathlon's Van Rysel RR 900, though, which Tass tested a couple of years ago. The latest versions (in short supply) are also £39.99, but you get more for your money in terms of pockets and mesh panels.
The Funkier Prima Pro I tested in 2019 is also still available, and is also now £39.99, down from £44.99. I thought it was excellent at the original price.
Poor pocket placement aside, the Altura Airstream is a reliable warm weather option. Its relaxed fit enables easy layering for cooler days too. It's comfortable and sufficiently functional if you're not focused on performance, and comes with a very palatable price tag.
Affordable and functional but let down by poor pocket positioning
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Altura Women's Airstream Short Sleeve Jersey
Size tested: 12
Tell us what the product is for
Altura says, 'The ever popular Airstream Jersey has a dynamic new print for a fresh, fun feel and updated high wicking fabrics that provide improved comfort and quality over previous seasons of this familiar style. There's plenty of storage for your belongings and an easy, relaxed fit to suit all levels from beginner to the more experienced cyclist on a family ride out.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Altura lists these features:
High wicking fabrics
Dynamic graphic print
Silicon rear hem gripper
3 rear storage pockets
Full length front zip
Main Fabric: 100% Polyester
The actual construction, so seams and finishing, is good, but the pockets have been placed too high.
It functions perfectly well for leisurely rides, with or without additional layers. It's not been designed to compete with breathable, race-orientated jerseys.
While the seams and stitching seem sound, the fabric itself is prone to pilling. There is a photo in the body of the review showing where just a banana stalk has rubbed up the fabric; it's nothing major, but then it was only a banana.
Relaxed, as claimed. I found the lower band lacked elasticity, and meant that the tail lifted away from the lower back when the pockets were fully loaded. It's not as long in the body as some, so this could leave you feeling exposed.
Stay true to size to get the intended 'relaxed fit'.
Mostly okay, but having the pockets so high isn't ideal; if they are loaded, they may irritate anyone with a bony spine.
It's undercut by a couple of excellent options from Van Rysel and Funkier, but it compares well with others, doing what it's aimed at for not a lot of money.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
I found that it was just fine in a 30 or 40 degree cycle. It comes up fresh every time.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Good for long, steady rides or leisurely outings; no pinching or clinging and sufficient breathability for low-level efforts. The pocket placement needs looking at though; they sit too high up the back for me.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Casual fit, ideal for touring.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's one of the cheapest out there, especially at the moment (on sale for £23.99, limited sizes). So far this year we haven't tested any real entry-level jerseys. Fat Lad At The Back's Cove is £54.99, but you can get closer to the Airstream's price tag with Decathlon or dhb.
Did you enjoy using the product? The pockets were a let-down. If I didn't want to access contents, it was a good choice of jersey for easy rides.
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Unlikely
Use this box to explain your overall score
As a basic entry-level jersey, the Airstream isn't a bad choice, but it's let down by the pocket placement, which affects the comfort and fit of the jersey.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road My best bike is: Carbon road.
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, Getting to grips with off roading too!
Emma’s first encounters with a road bike were in between swimming and running. Soon after competing for GB in the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in Edmonton in 2001 she saw the light and decided to focus on cycling.
After a couple of half decent UK road seasons racing for Leisure Lakes, she went out to Belgium to sample the racing there and spent two years with Lotto-Belisol Ladies team, racing alongside the likes of Sara Carrigan, Grace Verbeke, Rochelle Gilmore and Lizzie Deignan. Emma moved from Lotto-Belisol to Dutch team Redsun, then a new Belgian team of primarily developing riders, where there was less pressure, an opportunity to share her experience and help build a whole new team; a nice way to spend her final years of professional racing.
Since retiring Emma has returned to teaching. When not coercing kids to do maths, she is invariably out on two wheels. In addition to the daily commute, Emma still enjoys getting out on her road bike and having her legs ripped off on the local club rides and chain gangs. She has also developed an addiction to touring, with destinations including Iceland, Georgia and Albania, to mention just a few. There have also been rare sightings of Emma off-road on a mountain bike…