Altura's Grid Parka manages to pull off the tricky feat of being both a really practical waterproof for urban riding and a coat you'll happily wear when the bike is still locked in the shed. With 10k waterproofing and taped seams it does a great job of keeping the rain out, while the same rating for breathability stops moisture build up from the inside. It'll cover a suit jacket - if that's your commuting thing - and covers your rear, so great if you eschew mudguards and fenders. This tester also things it looks pretty good too.
Looks great on- and off-bike
Hood isn't helmet friendly
Any colour as long as it's olive
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After 15 years as a bike journalist I have owned a large number of waterproof cycling jackets. After 32 years as an adult human I've also owned a much larger number of 'coats'. That doesn't necessarily make me an expert in either field but, I reckon it does mean I'm vaguely knowledgeable enough to deliver a verdict on outerwear apparel that sits in both spheres of what could be vaguely termed 'fashion'.
The Parka is part of the Altura's latest Grid range which was launched in the Autumn, with the brand claiming that the products had 'been engineered for those who want to transition from bike to an urban setting seamlessly.'
It's quite easy to be sniffy about marketing statements like this but to be fair to Altura the Grid Parka genuinely carries through with this promise - it's both a cycling specific waterproof and its a 'coat'. And, IMHO it's a very good example of both and one of the best commuter cycling jackets out there.
Altura Grid Parka: construction
From a technical jacket point-of-view the Grid Parka ticks a lot of boxes. The polyester shell is rated 10k/10k for waterproofing and breathability. What does that mean?
Well, it's exactly the kind of rating we'd expect for the best waterproof cycling jackets and should keep most downpours out, whilst still allowing your own vapour to escape as you exert a decent level of sweat-inducing effort - (If you're really interested check out the Schmerber test.)
To further aid the Parka's water repellency, the smart olive green fabric also has the standard DWR coating, and all of the seams are fully-taped.
A mesh lined rear vent just below the shoulder blades and generous pit-zips further boost the breathability.
There are three external pockets - the two main hand pockets are pretty generous, and the chest pocket has room for your phone - mine's a Google Pixel 7 and although a squeeze it is big enough to accommodate.
The hood is adjustable using elastic pull cords but it isn't designed to be worn over a helmet. The zip is a two-way affair and extra wind/water protection comes from a poppered (is that a word?) stormflap. You can also adjust the cuffs using Velcro tabs.
As this is a parka, it's longer than you're average cycling outerwear. Basically, it covers your rear which means that, should you be a suit jacket type of cycle commuter you can fully cover up and, obvs, it also prevents a soggy bottom.
There's a nod to traditional parkas with the pseudo-fishtail detail. The inverted 'v' has a reflective tape surround, whilst the fabric within the fishtail section also has more subtle reflective detailing. This reflective coating is repeated on the side seams and there's more reflective tape on the sleeves, the top of the stormflap and a discreet Altura logo on the shoulder vent.
A women's specific version is also available - in the same olive hue.
Altura Grip Parka: the ride
Luckily for me, my testing time with the Altura Grid Parka coincided with some of the British autumn's dampest weather. Cycling-wise, I used the parka entirely for its intended use - urban riding - and it passed with flying colours.
Worn over normal clobber, and paired with Altura's 'matching' Grid Softshell Pants, the Grid Parka worked well. I'm just over six feet tall and, let's be honest, not at racing snake levels of un-chunkiness but the large size never felt tight and allowed plenty of movement even when I was generously layered up.
I was worried that riding in a longer-length coat would feel restrictive but I really didn't notice the additional fabric. Of course, I wasn't wearing the Parka for hill reps on a drop-barred race bike, but that isn't what it's designed for.
As I said, I was testing through some helpfully inclement weather and I'm happy to report I stayed dry through some impressive downpours. Basically, the Grid Parka works when it's p***** it down!
And, of course, this holds on days when you don't ride. The Grid Parka is also a really good coat - I find myself chucking it on for wet walks. The understated looks mean that it's a cycling coat that you can wear without looking like a cyclist if that's your thing. It's especially good if, like me, you're of a certain age and have fond memories of the aesthetic favoured by bands from 30-years-or-so-ago!
Altura Grid Parka: value and conclusion
I think it's fair to say that it's hard to compare the Grid Parka directly with other commuter-centric jackets we've reviewed. Rapha's Commuter Lightweight jacket is less expensive, but it's not quite as heavy duty, obviously not as long and, to my mind at least, not as subtle off the bike. Altura's own Electron Nightvision jacket has a higher RRP and, despite built-in illumination, is passable as a casual jacket.
The difference, though, between the two jackets above and the Grid Parka is that I'd happily recommend it to someone who wants to use it for urban riding, but also to a friend who doesn't even own a bike.
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