Product Reviews June 12, 2012

Altura Night Vision Jacket

In my view, the best compliment you can give a product is to buy it again when the original requires replacing. I've done this twice now. Once with my pair of Specialized BG road shoes and now the other is with my Altura Jacket. The original didn't get the benefit of a bikebritain product review - but it's replacement does. Firstly though, some background.

The original was performing quite well prior to my well documented argument with a pothole in early February. Despite it losing it's water repellent quantities it still functioned perfectly well as a (yellow) Dayglo Hi-Viz jacket. The fact that I was wearing it (on that particular ride) was to my advantage as it took the brunt of the damage when my arm met with road. Torn in several places, I decided that maybe it was time to retire it from active duty. Enter the search for a replacement jacket.

A jacket of this type, that you can wear during three out of four seasons is essential kit considering the changeable weather we experience in the UK. It's now June and I think I've worn it every time I've been out this month. I had been idly considering buying a replacement, but ultimately put off by the lack of substantive need, since there was nothing really wrong with the old one. But I now had reason! I wondered what the current version offered........

In truth it's similar to the previous model but Altura have made it better. To more colourfully illustrate my point I'll provide some examples. The original had a breast pocket which was very useful for carrying your phone or a camera at a stretch. The only trouble was that it wasn't entirely waterproof. The new version has the same pocket, only the waterproofing qualities have improved somewhat. In terms of pockets the are now more of them too. Left and right zippered pockets have been added, again helpful for stashing gloves or arm warmers. The new jacket retains the rear pocket but it also has a Velcro strip and a detachable rear light included as a secondary safety device. This is a great idea. It won't replace the light on your bike, but this is a neat touch. 

There's a pair of 20cm zippered vents under each arm to help you lose unwanted heat, along with fully adjustable velcro wrist cuffs that are also reflective. Talking of reflectives, there are patches down each the arm to assist with visibility. There is a toggled drawstring around your waist to keep the fit nice and tight. The main zipper is flat seamed to improve water resistance. Like many of these jackets, the rear is tapered at the back to give your lower back and bottom some further protection from the elements.

I've used the jacket now in all weathers and crucially stayed dry throughout a significant rain shower. My elbows used to get wet quite quickly and you could feel the rain trickle down your shoulders and the tops of your arms. Not a great feeling. Happily there are no such problems with this jacket. Colour wise it comes in black, Hi-Viz yellow and white. Interestingly I read somewhere that yellow offers better visibility during twilight and sunrise than night-time. During the hours of darkness you're better off wearing white. Taking that (and the reflectives) into consideration, I concluded the yellow was better placed for all round visibility as opposed to one specific to the time of day. Plus it is really bright. 

Altura have done a good job improving this jacket from its previous incarnation. Furthermore, the changes have improved the versatility of the jacket; additional pockets are always helpful and the light at the back is a good example of attention to detail being spent on the product. There are many different types of jacket available on the market, but this product represents decent value for money at £90. Altura's Night Vision Jacket is available from all good bike shops and on the web at wiggle.co.uk where I predictably bought mine.

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