Altura Airstream Jacket review - an inexpensive emergency layer
The Airstream scrunches up small and provides reasonable protection from the elements - although its durability may prove an issue
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With mesh panels on the side to aid breathability, this is a jacket to help keep off road spray rather than a downpour. A budget top layer which can be ripped off and stashed away with ease. However, bottom-budget jackets don’t always have the durability you require.
Mesh panels allow water ingress
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With spring and summer around the corner, having a lightweight, stuffable jacket in our back pockets is convenient. However, most of us don’t want to be spending the big bucks. Altura, though, seems to have an answer in its Airstream Jacket...
Super lightweight and packing down small, the Airstream is ready to break out if the heavens do open - this jacket is designed as a handy emergency option, whilst also being a windproof buffer in colder conditions.
To boost the breathability, Altura has inserted mesh panels under the arms. An important point, for we, as cyclists, know that mesh is rarely - if ever - fully waterproof.
On a jacket that's primarily intended to be a just-in-case emergency options, that's fine. But it's something you'd want to consider if you were planning on using this as your primary waterproof.
Altura Airstream Jacket: construction
Made out of ripstop Nylon, the Airstream will fold up small - or scrunch up, if you’re being quick. The weather protection comes from a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) Coating, to make the water bead up and stream off when riding in the rain.
There are reflective trims on the mesh panels as well as the Altura logo on the jacket’s bottom. The zipper is two-way, giving you control over breathability from the top and the bottom. You can have both zips meeting in the middle if you like. This allows for high breathability whilst still giving your chest some protection from the rain or road spray.
Finally, a zipped chest pocket is sized generously enough for a phone or other grabbable items.
Let’s assess this jacket for what it is, a final layer item designed to keep the wind off on colder starts and drizzly summer days.
This is not a jacket for a heavy downpour; the mesh panels increase water ingress, and DWR-coated materials are rarely, if ever, fully waterproof.
It fits well in a medium. I’m 6’0”, and with an average dad-bod build, I didn’t feel like it had any pinch points under the shoulders or across the chest. It was a bit snug, but I am used to wearing a more fitted type of jersey and jacket, so I had no qualms.
On the arms, the length was good, and I never felt like it was riding up my sleeve. I liked the fact that there was a zip pocket on the front. It made storing my phone a bit easier. I also used it for my house keys for when I finished the ride for super quick access.
As a jacket, I liked it, but it’s by no means a jacket for a downpour, but a jacket to buffet wind and keep off road spray.
It does its job as a final layer, which you can peel off and bung on. It’ll buff wind and deal with road spray perfectly fine. However, if you want something a little bit more suited to rainy weather, the Rapha Brevet Gore-Tex Rain Jacket $360.00 / £265.00 is much better suited - albeit at a much higher price.
Or, if you fancy something more for commuting, while again very expensive, the Castelli Commuter Reflex Jacket $239.99 / £280 might be the way to go.
No doubt you’ll struggle to find a jacket at a lower price than this, as Altura often comes up as the budget option. However, that does come with durability woes. The zipper on this jacket malfunctioned during testing, and the Airstream was replaced. While this could happen to any jacket, it’s my experience that it happens more often with more budget options.
As an emergency option, it’s fine but I would personally spend a bit more and get a jacket which is more durable and waterproof, like the aforementioned Rapha Brevet Gore-Tex Rain Jacket.
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Myles Warwood is a cycling journalist, automotive journalist and videographer. He writes for Cycling Weekly, Cyclist and Car magazine.
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