Altura's Eskar Dune gilet is a good alternative to a full jacket on chilly days.
Altura’s latest line-up of biking kit is undeniably fresh and good looking. This Esker Dune gilet is a prime example, looking like the sort of down gilet you’d see in an expensive menswear boutique rather than on a muddy mountain bike trail.
- Buyer’s guide to the best mountain bike winter jackets
- Buyer’s guide to the best mountain bike base layers
There’s more to this garment than fashion though, with a windproof Pertex Quantum fabric sewn onto a softshell material in different targeted zones. Elsewhere, various fabric weights optimise thermal insulation against breathability and hot spots.
The insulation inside the Pertex baffles is made from recycled fibres originating from post-consumer PET (think plastic water bottles) with the material covering the chest and shoulders area, the (high) collar and also side flanks/organs on the rear side. The whole jacket is DWR coated and this Pertex fabric appears pretty much waterproof too, judging by how well water beads on it.
Altura offers six different sizes and that’s worth bearing in mind as fit here appears a bit more gravel-orientated than pure MTB. The large I tested had slightly tighter armpits and collar than most mountain bike kit I use.
The Esker is a very cosy and usable bit of kit, and also easy to zip and unzip as needed from both top and bottom to tune the balance between ventilation or coverage. And, (particularly in combination with a buff) the high collar does a great job of stopping drafts and cold air getting down the neck and onto bare skin on frigid days.
One thing the Esker can’t do, however, is pack down like some more minimal single-layer windproof gilets. It won’t stuff into a pocket or bum bag (it should fit in most down tube storage though), so if you’re after packable emergency warmth for a descent or quick shower, this isn’t it.
Instead, Altura’s gilet scores by being more of a top you’d wear on a typical UK day in the GMT time of year. One that really keeps the chill off the body effectively and also looks cool to boot.