The Altura Esker Trail Long Sleeve Jersey pairs an excellent cut, a durable water repellent (DWR) coating and premium materials in a well-priced package that makes a big difference to improving comfort when riding in the winter months.
Altura Esker Trail Long Sleeve Jersey details
The fact that the Esker includes Polartec fabric may have you double-checking the £50 price tag. It’s a fabric often found on seriously pricey garments, so it’s a real plus to see it used here – I’ve always been impressed with the Polartec-based clothing I’ve used in the past.
In this case, Altura uses the Polartec PowerGrid fabric to create a windproof front panel designed to help keep your body’s core nice and warm.
Altura has used what it refers to as ‘thermal’ fabric to construct the sleeves. This also runs up and over the shoulders and makes up roughly two thirds of the back panel (there’s a grid-like fabric – as on the front – used for the central third of the back panel to help reduce heat build-up). The fabric offers plenty of stretch and has a soft, very smooth feel to it.
At the rear of the jersey, the back panel is cut low to better cover you up when you’re stretched out on the bike.
All seams are flatlock-stitched to help reduce irritation, while the cuffs are bonded. Altura has printed sizing info at the neck rather than adding a label, to further boost comfort.
In a bid to better protect you from bad weather, the Esker also features a C6 DWR coating.
Altura Esker Trail Long Sleeve Jersey performance
How we tested
I rode this jersey back-to-back with five other, similarly intended jerseys in a real mix of weather conditions. These ranged from milder, autumnal days with temperatures around 10C and the occasional rain shower, through to colder rides, around 5C with blustery winds.
On all rides, I either wore just the jersey (along with trousers, knee pads, socks, shoes and a helmet), or the same sleeveless baselayer to keep things as consistent as possible.
When doing the back-to-back testing, I didn’t wear a pack either.
Also on test
- Endura Singletrack Fleece
- Madison Zenith Thermal
- Rapha Trail Windblock
- Scott Trail Storm
- Troy Lee Designs Skyline Chill
With the Esker on, I was impressed with the fit instantly. The neck is close-fitting, but isn’t tight or in any way restrictive. On really windy days, this is a big plus and it helps to prevent any cold draughts entering the jersey and making you cold.
I opted for the size small (which is designed to fit a chest of 930-970mm/36.5-38in) and liked the tailored cut. While it’s baggy and totally free and easy to move about in, the fit is close enough that you don’t have excess material flapping about in the wind as you ride, or when you’re really throwing your body around on the bike.
It also means the jersey stays put, and I never had any issues with the Esker riding up in use.
The sleeves were quite tight around my forearms but not uncomfortably so, and thanks to the amount of stretch on offer, if you do start to heat up, they can be pulled up your forearms without any discomfort.
When putting the jersey on from cold, the sleeves don’t have the same, fleece-like lining as the body of the jersey, so can feel a little chilly when you initially put it on. This isn’t the end of the world, though, as your arms do warm up quite quickly.
When riding head-on into a cold wind, the Esker does a great job of keeping you warm and the breeze out. Over time, the neck has stretched slightly, and the odd draught has crept in, but not enough to get me cold.
On cold days, with a thin, sleeveless baselayer underneath, I never felt chilly or struggled with overheating when working hard on the climbs. Even when faced with light rain showers and puddle splashes, the Esker kept me nice and snug.
Impressively, if it’s not exactly freezing outside, the Esker does a decent job of regulating your temperature before you really start to get toasty.
Yes, this jersey is best suited to proper winter days on the bike when you need to stay warm, and isn’t as good as some lighter options on those awkward transitional weather days, but it’ll still do the job, albeit with a bit more sweating on the climbs.
Considering the price, though, the Esker offers a lot when it comes to performance and makes riding on cold, dank days far more enjoyable.
Altura Esker Trail Long Sleeve Jersey bottom line
The Altura Esker jersey packs a serious punch for the price. The great fit, quality construction and well-considered details really make sense when you’re out on the trail.
While it works incredibly well on colder days in the hills, milder conditions are managed without too much bother and just a bit more sweat. Although the sleeves may feel a little less snug initially, get moving and things properly warm up.
For the money, the Esker is a great jersey and one I’ve found myself reaching for time and time again as the weather gets worse.