Altura's Podium Elite Waterproof Jacket is so thin and light you wouldn't expect it to offer the levels of insulation against the wind that it does. Back that up with an excellent fit and great build quality and it's an appealing choice for a three-season jacket. As a waterproof things could be a little better, but it's not a major quibble.
Altura's Ergofit range came out a fair few years back and early products for me never quite hit the mark in terms of fit. The stuff that I tried always seemed to have a few compromises, but things have evolved, and the Podium Elite jacket has a fit that is hard to knock.
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The cut is close without feeling overly restrictive, which means while it has that racer look you don't need to be whippet thin to get along with it.
With a dropped tail and high neck it's perfect for the winter months, stopping road spray and chilly draughts from entering top and bottom. The sleeves are long too, which means when you are fully stretched out in the drops the cuffs won't pull out of your gloves.
The waist sits higher at the front so you don't get any rucking of the material when you are hunched over, and a zip garage at the top of the neck keeps things comfy here too.
At the rear there are two zipped pockets with the entrances slanted to give you easy access while in the saddle. They are pretty deep so you can carry a fair amount of stuff without them sagging.
As a windproof, the Podium Elite is hard to criticise. In chilly northerly winds you can certainly notice how different other parts of your body feel compared with your torso. It's all rather toasty. What that normally means is that the jacket isn't all that breathable, but the Altura manages to be. On the whole it's been quite a mild test period but I haven't suffered from any form of overheating in the Podium Elite – impressive considering there aren't any vents.
To classify it as a waterproof Altura has taped all the seams on the Podium Elite and it is rated at 10K on the water column, a process to see how much water passes through the fabric at a given rate in a given time. Moderate to heavy rain is the definition for 10K, which in my real world experience means a heavy shower or persistent rain for half an hour or so before the material becomes overwhelmed.
> Buyer's Guide: the best waterproof cycling jackets
The Podium Elite falls a little short on this. The rain beads on the outside for a while, but after 15-20 minutes or so of constant rain the fabric does get penetrated. You do stay warm, though, thanks to the insulation, so in my eyes it's not a major concern. I'd rather be warm and wet than dry and cold.
In terms of value, I think the Altura is punching a little above its weight here considering the average waterproofing; 120 quid is a lot of money. On the whole, though, it has so much going for it, it kind of balances itself out. If it shunned the rain better it would score much higher in this respect.
The Podium Elite is available in sizes between S and XXL and in two colours, the black we've tested plus a fluoro yellow/black option.
Falls a little short on waterproofing but impressive in every other way
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Make and model: Altura Podium Elite Waterproof Jacket
Tell us what the jacket 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?
Altura says: "A lightweight performance softshell jacket with exceptional windproof properties for those colder rides. The perfect thermoregulator tri-season garment."
I found it had great breathability for a waterproof jacket and an excellent fit.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
* Altura Shield™ technology is engineered to provide protection from wind and water, whilst still offering high levels of breathability
* Altura ErgoFit™ 3D patterning engineered for a more comfortable riding position
* Integrated silicon grip detailing delivers enhanced fit
* Strategically located retroreflective trims for increased visibility
* 2 rear zippered pockets
* Internal media port
Rate the jacket for quality of construction:
A tidy finish and well put together.
Rate the jacket for performance:
Impressive windproofing and the waterproofing is up to the standard I'd expect.
Rate the jacket for durability:
As far as daily wear and tear goes, I can't see any issues.
Rate the jacket for waterproofing, based on the manufacturer's rating:
A 10K waterproof rating means it should withstand moderate to heavy rain, and I'd say the Altura's performance was at the lower end of that range.
Rate the jacket for breathability, based on the manufacturer's rating:
The below par waterproofing works to the benefit of the jacket's breathability.
Rate the jacket for fit:
Altura's Ergofit hasn't always worked for me, but when it comes to this jacket I was very impressed.
Rate the jacket for sizing:
It's a close race fit so if you want things a little slacker then go up a size.
Rate the jacket for weight:
Rate the jacket for comfort:
I like the cut and the feeling of the fabric.
Rate the jacket for value:
The softshell market covers a large price range, and I think the Altura is pushing it a bit at this price when considered as a waterproof. Its fit and windproofing/breathability mix does make up for that, though.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Mud and dirt washed off at 30 degrees with no issues.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As a waterproof it was okay, but as an all-round jacket, taking in fit, windproofing and breathability, I was very impressed.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Did you enjoy using the jacket? On the whole, yes.
Would you consider buying the jacket? Yes
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
For everything other than heavy wet weather use, I really like the Altura jacket. The fit is great, and in the cold wind it is pretty impressive how such a thin jacket can be so warm – especially while still being impressively breathable. Considering this, the waterproofing and the price, I think 7 is about right; better waterproofing and a lower price and it would have been an 8.
Age: 38 Height: 180cm Weight: 76kg
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: Kinesis Aithien
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
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