Simple and effective, the Altura Dry Mesh Baselayer should be an essential part of every cycling wardrobe. The benefits of wearing a baselayer are well known among amateur and pro cyclists alike, which is why you'll see racing cyclists on Alpine climbs, jerseys open with a mesh layer on show. The thin open mesh approach to baselayer design allows for increased evaporative cooling when exposed or beneath a layer or two of clothing, cutting down on the time that perspiration sits next to the skin, creating more comfortable riding conditions.
Altura has created something here that is both inherently simple but wickedly effective. This sleeveless version pairs very well with the Podium Elite Jersey, which I tested at the same time. I think I would have struggled to get the short-sleeve version under the tight sleeves of the jersey, so worth thinking about if you're considering which to go for. Other than that, there are simple logos front and rear, with washing instructions woven into the waist hem – a nice detail that cuts down on the need for superfluous labels.
In use, the baselayer is fantastic. On both cooler mornings and stinking hot days it performs admirably, regulating body temperature and keeping sweat away from skin. Top layer clothing was noticeably drier than when worn without this baselayer underneath. This was helpful when testing the Altura Podium Elite Jersey as it really helped improve wicking across the chest area.
Fit is close, as you would expect, but not in the same league as a compression vest. I didn't experience any pinching or rubbing, it's hardly noticeable when on, and at no point during hot weather rides did I feel the desire to remove the baselayer; if anything, you can really feel the benefit, especially when riding with your jersey zip open.
Arriving in a box, the packaging is fully recyclable – another tick for me. The white-only garment option could be improved on – surely someone out there will want a black version? Having said that, it's washed very well and hasn't greyed despite being washed with all colours of cycling clothing. Let's face it though, the manmade fabrics of road-race orientated clothing don't tend to run in the wash.
At £35 it isn't cheap for a baselayer, but it's worth every penny. It does appear that it will be good for a long time yet, too, which is good as I've grown rather attached to this unseen unsung hero.
A wardrobe essential with fantastic fit and excellent function
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Altura Dry Mesh Baselayer
Size tested: Small/Medium
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
This is aimed at anyone who wants a baselayer that will wick away sweat and improve on-bike comfort. Also good to provide that bit of extra protection on mild early-morning summer rides when temperatures are forecast to increase.
Altura says: "Our tubular knit air flow base layer uses engineered body mapping open mesh knit construction and Altura Dry™ moisture management technology to deliver superior breathability and comfort – a perfect summer base layer garment."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
* Altura Dry™ technology is engineered to move excess moisture away from the skin, keeping you dry and comfortable
* Altura tubular body mapping construction for improved air flow
* Available in sleeveless and short sleeve options
The RRP is probably more than I'd like to pay, but it's worth every penny, and not dissimilar to others on the market.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Washes very well and dries rapidly too. Washing instructions on the hem are great.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Works fantastically. The amount of sweat it wicks away is impressive and it makes for much more comfortable riding, from short and fast to longer rides.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Everything! This is my number one wardrobe essential – all other summer baselayers have been resigned to dark corners of the kit pile.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
I dithered as to whether to give this a 10, it's so very nearly perfect. Given other people's preferences, I would like there to be an additional colour offering for those who want more choice.
About the tester
I usually ride: Kinesis Racelight T (winter) Cervélo S2 (Summer) My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking