With tracksuit bottoms vibes, Altura's Grid Softshell Pants are warm, comfortable for commuting and offer some protection in light rain showers.
Only lightly water-repellent
Rear waistband could be higher
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There's a catchphrase-of-sorts within our household, predominantly aimed at me. If I'm heading out for any kind of leisure activity - walking, photography, climbing, cycling - someone will invariably ask 'Are you wearing your sensible trousers?' This refers to any pair of multi-use leg coverings and I can't remember why or how it originated, but 'sensible' feels like a good benchmark for trousers like the Altura Grid Softshell Pants.
Part of Altura's new commuting range, the Grid Softshell Pants certainly tick many sensible boxes. They're made from a DWR-coated polyester, have a decent amount of stretch - although no added Lycra to help with that - and are lined with a grid-fleece designed to trap heat.
These fall firmly into the casual commuting trouser category - they're not the type of pant that could be sold on being as suitable for the boardroom as they are for the bike path. Although with their elasticated drawstring waist and very subtle sheen, their resemblance to 'smart' tracksuit bottoms might mean they're fine for a football club boardroom.
Altura Grid Softshell Pants: fit
Comparing them to Trackie Bs could sound like a negative but actually it's anything but. Track pants are, arguably, among the most comfortable trousers around and the Grid Softshell's score highly here. I'm just over six feet tall (around 186cm) and, sadly, 85kgs and the medium size fit well. Long enough for full coverage with no flapping around the ankles, and the drawstring waist means that they are simple to secure.
The waistband is reasonably high and offers decent coverage of the small of the back, but you do need to cinch in and tie the drawstrings properly to ensure that they don't creep downwards. I'd prefer it if it went a little higher.
These aren't pants to wear over your work trousers on the way in and, as discussed can't really be described as smart attire. That said, the 'carbon' colourway - which I think is actually green - and the slim, tapered flat fronted athletic aesthetic will be perfectly acceptable in many more relaxed workplaces.
Altura Grid Softshell Pants: comfort
I've rinsed the tracksuit analogy to death but... the Grid Softshell Pants do offer similar levels of relaxed comfort to track pants. On the bike they have just enough stretch to allow unrestricted pedalling and off-bike they're good for all day use. They really are 'sensible trousers' and highly useable for non-cycling activities such as walking, wearing over shorts to the gym or just mooching around a supermarket in your slippers.
The grid fleece lining is soft against the skin and it does as described and traps warm air. In fact, during testing in an unseasonably warm British autumn, my legs did get unseasonably warm, which bodes well for winter use. This makes them a neat option for cold weather gravel riding as well as commutes.
There's no chamois of course, so the choice of what to wear under your Softshell Pants is entirely yours. You get two zipped pockets on the front which are big enough for your smartphone and there's subtle reflectivity around the ankles.
Altura Grid Softshell Pants: waterproofing
We have seen some retailers calling the Grid Softshell Pants waterproof but that's not a claim Altura itself makes. The DWR coating won't - as I discovered - prevent moisture ingress in a persistent downpour. They did take just over three miles to wet-out in heavy rain, although water did get in in places around the seams before then. However, in light drizzle or for splash protection they worked well.
Altura Grid Softshell Pants: value and conclusions
At $86 / £70 the Altura Grid Softshell Pants represent reasonable value, they're pricier than the baggier, arguably more mountain bike orientated $99.99 / £59.99 Endura Humvee II but significantly undercut Rapha's Technical Trousers, for example, at $160.00 / £120.00.
As a pair of cycling trousers the Softshells perform well in cold weather and light drizzle, and they're non-bike enough to be worn for more than just riding.
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Rob has been Content Director of Cycling Weekly - and stablemates Bikeperfect, Cyclingnews.com and MBR - since May 2021. Before that he spent two years in similar role at Bikeradar, which followed 12-years as Editor-in-chief of Cycling Plus magazine and eight years at Runner's World. In his time as a cycling journalist he's ridden from London to Paris at least twice, London to Bristol once, completed the Fred Whitton Challenge, L'Etape du Tour and Maratona dles Dolomites. He's also jumped into the broom-wagon at La Marmotte and Oetzaler Radmarathon.
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