A well constructed jacket which keeps the rain off and provides plenty of visibility. The material is fairly bulky so doesn't pack down that well, and fit could be refined.
Doesn't pack down that small
If there's one thing we've had a lot of this winter, it's perfect weather for waterproof jacket testing.
The Firestorm from Altura is a lightweight waterproof designed for easy pocket stowing, suited to those rollercoaster days where mother nature seems to be experiencing serious mood swings between dry/sunny and wet/wild.
I did most of my testing in this jacket at the Red Bull Time Laps - a 25-hour relay race that happened to have the added bonus of being absolutely sodden for much of that time period.
Altura has taken weather protection seriously - teaming waterproof and windproof fabric with taped seams. Since no one wants that 'boil in a bag' feeling, the brand has prioritised breathability too.
Donning this jacket for hard, fast race laps in the pouring rain, I did find I needed to remove it after about 20 minutes - but this was when riding just below FTP (the power I can sustain for an hour) in a race situation. Wearing the jacket for more relaxed winter ambles, the breathability was adequate.
Of course, in a complete downpour you are always going to get wet - but the fabric here certainly keeps the worst out for a good length of time.
Care has been taken to ensure the weather stays out - with a high collar, shaped cuffs, plus a silicone taped hem to ensure the jacket doesn't shift around on the bike. There's a neat tab on the inside so you can hang the jacket up on a coat hook too, which is nice to see.
On the inside, Altura has provided a drawstring fastened compartment, which the jacket can be folded into when out of use, keeping it relatively compact when you want to stow it in a jersey pocket.
Weighing in at 109g, this jacket is pretty lightweight- more so than the Rapha Shakedry I tried earlier in the year. However, the fabric is quite tough, read thick, making it durable but at the expense of increased bulk. Resulting in the jacket taking up more pocket real estate than some of its competitors.
What really sets the Firestorm apart in a positive way is its added visibility. All too often, kit designed for low light conditions come in black - and so this all-over reflective material really sets the offering apart and is a major plus for me.
Sizes range from 8 to 18. In the size 8 on test, I still felt the jacket was quite baggy - becoming quite flappy in the wind - so a closer fit could be an improvement in future iterations.
Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is Cycling Weekly's Tech Editor, and is responsible for managing the tech news and reviews both on the website and in Cycling Weekly magazine.
A traditional journalist by trade, Arthurs-Brennan began her career working for a local newspaper, before spending a few years at Evans Cycles, then combining writing and her love of bicycles first at Total Women's Cycling and then Cycling Weekly.
When not typing up reviews, news, and interviews Arthurs-Brennan is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 190rt.
She rides bikes of all kinds, but favourites include a custom carbon Werking road bike as well as the Specialized Tarmac SL6.
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