ALTURA THERMOCOOL LONG SLEEVE BASE LAYER
120g Black L/XL (as tested) £44.99
Altura’s ThermoCool Long Sleeve Base Layer seems to promise contradictory qualities of wicking and insulating. Having ridden in autumn conditions - including morning with the temperature on the distinctly icy side, I have been pretty impressed by its performance.
Technical base layers can be funny things and are often dependent on the system they are part of; shell and, if present, mid layer can have a major impact on effectiveness. So, let’s be clear that I have tested this with Altura’s NV2 Long Sleeve Thermo Jersey (review to follow shortly) and a variety of other jerseys/shells. Equally, effectiveness can be quite person-specific - I, for example, cook about a degree lower than is usual for the human race; I feel the heat!
Materials and Size
ThermoCool fabric is a mix of Polyester/Polymide/Elasatane mix, which aims to wick away moisture while regulating temperature at the same time. With a “performance fit” but plenty of elasticity, the re are just two sizes S/M and L/XL. Expect the body to be hugged, whichever you go for. Snugness is pretty much a requirement of a performance base-layers, but this feels pretty comfortable.
A lengthy drop is perfect for ensuring a solid tuck into the cycling tights to prevent riding up and unwanted lower back exposure. The crew neck feels a little lower than some, but that is a moot point. Cuffs do not grip, so feel comfortable under outer layers that offer a stronger seal around the wrists, though some might prefer a l;little more length in the arm.
Taking it on an autumn weekend away with the Altura NV2 Jersey atop, climbing some of Shropshire’s best led to a good built up of sweat on the brow, but no clammy unpleasantness next tot he skin. As the day warmed up, this remained the case, both on the ups and the occasional flat.
Needless to say, for every up there is a down, and some lengthy full-tilt descents saw a distinct chill. you’d expect that in almost any garment. To the ThermoCool’s credit, this was a dry cold, not that horrid weta and cold feel that can creep up detrimentally when on an all day ride.
Under less technical jerseys it has done equally well.
In combination with mid-layer and Altura’s iconic Night Vision jacket (a commuter jacket and not one aimed specifically at the racer or tourer) any claminess has been inside the outer, rather than on the skin. With more technical waterproof jackets, wicking has been very effective on lengthy climbs at a brisk pace.
Insulation is good, too, though less robust than one or two other hefty winter specific base layers I have in the draw. With the temperature around eight degrees a third layer came into play, except when pushing hard.
Some of the team have suggested that Altura’s merino mix base layer is a better and cheaper bet. For tourers and commuters there’s a distinct point, though for others the racy slim-line performance fit would be a big loss.
Drying time is rapid, as you’d expect. I haven’t worn it alone in the rain, but it was barely wet when it came out of the washing machine. A pretty good bet for those needing to get a garment dry overnight in hotel or hostel.
Casually it probably won’t suit for pub-wear, whereas many a merino base layer will. Those who are less image conscious will not be put off, nor will those who are on day-rides.
A really efficient wicker of moisture, especially in combination with other technical gear. A good insulator, too. Forty-four ninety-nine is not the highest price tag, and you will find it for less on some popular on-line cycling retail sites, but there’ll be tough competition form some store based brands. Definitely one for fast folk travelling light.