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Altura Night Vision Evo Jacket Review
Go back in time, say three or four years ago. I was cycling the boys up to school, them giggling and having fun in the back of a bike trailer, while I toiled away on a trusty old Specialized Rockhopper mountain bike. In the summer it was great fun, front of the trailer open and the sun beaming in. However in winter it was a case of battening down the hatches, with the boys tightly wrapped in a blanket, huddling together for warmth but enjoying the adventure.
For the daily commute up to the school, I wore a yellow BTwin jacket that had I'd bought from ebay for the princely sum of £6. Although having seen better days, it was very bright and managed to keep most of the water out, however it wasn't breathable and so by the time I'd got to my destination and having built up quite a bit of condensation inside, I felt hot, then sweaty, then finally rather cold. Nice!
As time wore on the seams started to come apart, and so its days as a waterproof jacket were numbered. With my hand forced, I thought it was time to sink a bit of cash into something more suitable and longer living, so I started scanning the cycling websites to read the many articles extolling the virtues of this jacket or that.
One night I was out in the car, and saw somebody wearing an Altura Night Vision jacket in black. I couldn't believe the amount of reflection it threw back at me. So, after a bit of research I found they'd brought out the Altura Night Vision Evo version of that same jacket, in a rather fetching red colour. This was the one for me. Bright enough to light you up at night, but also in a colour bright enough for daytime use as well. Result!
Altura Night Vision Evo Jacket Review - how good are its visibility credentials?
If I got a pound every time one of the parents that drive their children to school told me how bright my jacket was, I'd have about eighteen pounds. It really does the job in terms of visibility, and gives me reassurance in dark and dreary conditions.
What's it feel like to wear?
I would say the cut is a tad on the generous side, as I'm six foot and relatively slim and the jacket in a 'Large' is a loose fit and long in the arms. A flat out race jacket it is not, but if you want something to pack a couple of layers under when it turns Baltic then this fits the bill. Originally, I did have doubts that I'd bought the wrong size, but the relaxed fit lends itself well to the type of riding I use it for. Layered up, with a rucksack on and pockets bulging with tissues, gloves and all other manner of child-related paraphernalia it works well.
There's a drawstring on the fleece-lined collar to keep out any chills, and a flap at the back with press studs to enable a hood (can be purchased separately) to be attached. It has a mesh lining, and the pit zips to allow a bit of fresh air in and give some ventilation. Breathability is good though, but as it's a warm jacket expect some moisture inside if pressing on over a long distance.
At the back there is a velcro strip that enables an Altura light stick to be attached (latest model fitted with an LED), and there is a good long tail to keep your bottom dry.
Being a winter jacket, it's nver going to pack up small and fit neatly into a bag or rucksack. If that's what you need then I'd advise you look elsewhere.
Theres a fab chest pocket (see first image) that swallows a large screen phone easily, and so keeps it out of the way of legs and jangling keys. The rear pocket is fairly generous, and the front pockets are ok to stash items such as keys etc, but not really big enough to pop your hands into when hanging around waiting for your children. All the pockets are waterproof though, which is a real bonus.
Cuffs come with a velcro strap to tighten up around the wrist as necessary, and the full length waterproof zip has a garage at the top to stop rubbing on your chin. Zips are also fitted with toggles, making them fairly easy to pull up or down with gloves on.
How durable is it?
Taped seams, an inner mesh and tough outer fabric all lend a air of quality to the jacket. It does feel good, and it's resisted abrasion and tearing very well. However, this is my second Evo, as the first started to show signs of the reflective material coming away. A quick email to the supplier from where I bought it, and with the jacket popped in the post a new one landed on my doorstep a few days later. I can report that there have been no such problems with this one.
Would I recommend it?
If you're in the market for a hard-wearing and comfortable waterproof jacket that is cut for daily commuting with children, then wholeheartedly the answer would be a resounding yes. It's warm, but not too warm and I don't have any problem with moisture as I wear a breathable layer underneath. I've worn it through two winters in this manner, with just a t-shirt underneath when things warm up in spring when the weather gets milder.
The pockets are good, and I know I'm seriously visible when wearing it. Being the red version, it's nice and bright during the day but not so in your face that you can wear it off the bike too.
In summary, it's the first jacket I grab when I head out on the bike, because it does everything so well.
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