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Altura Cave Softshell jacket review

Is this chilled-looking hoodie actually the most versatile part of Altura’s new Adventure range in terms of on-bike performance?

Altura Cave Softshell jacket review
(Image: © Guy Kesteven)

Our Verdict

The cut is a bit weird off the bike, but Altura’s Cave soft-shell hoodie is a consistently comfortable, practical and good-value weather-beating layer for all sorts of riding

For

  • - Casual look hides impressive performance
  • - High value versatility
  • - Impressively water resistant
  • - Reasonably breathable
  • - Fast drying
  • - Generous zipped pockets
  • - Over helmet hood
  • - Eco packaging

Against

  • - Awkward off-bike shoulder/throat fit
  • - No reflective detailing

Bike Perfect Verdict

The cut is a bit weird off the bike, but Altura’s Cave soft-shell hoodie is a consistently comfortable, practical and good-value weather-beating layer for all sorts of riding

Pros

  • + - Casual look hides impressive performance
  • + - High value versatility
  • + - Impressively water resistant
  • + - Reasonably breathable
  • + - Fast drying
  • + - Generous zipped pockets
  • + - Over helmet hood
  • + - Eco packaging

Cons

  • - - Awkward off-bike shoulder/throat fit
  • - - No reflective detailing
  • -

We’ve had mixed results from testing Altura’s new Adventure range and, to be honest, the Cave's fit feels a bit odd when you try it on at first. The fit, fabric and features all come together really well whether you’re cruising into town, sheltering from the wind while making a brew or even doing old-school DH laps on a dark, wet night. While its DWR treatment won't compete with the best MTB jackets, the well-thought-out features make this hoodie perform well on the trail when you don't need hardcore weatherproofing.

Altura Cave Softshell jacket review

The hood is big enough to fit over a helmet (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Design and performance

The Altura Cave uses an unbranded, mid-weight soft-shell with a hexed fleece inner face to add warmth and help spread out sweat to increase breathability. It gets both a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) surface coating and an embedded water-resistant membrane, too. That’s a pretty impressive spec for the price and there’s a good feature list too including a structured hood that’s big enough to pull over your helmet if the weather comes in or your ride starts within a few degrees of frost point like it did last night. There’s a generous chest pocket so ‘grammers' can keep their phones close to their hearts and two front hand pockets all of which have tabbed zips for easy grabbing with gloves. There’s enough weight in the fabric to not worry about draughts coming up the uncorded dropped hem. The one thing it lacks is reflective detailing, but if your riding is always off-road you won't miss them and if you’re on a stealthy ‘arrive late/leave early’ wild camping mission it might be a bonus. 

While the body and arms are comfortably casual but long enough not to be draughty and with just enough elbow space for light pads it almost feels like the shoulders and collar are on backward. To be precise, there’s lots of spare fabric that pushes into the Adam’s apple but not much spare under the armpits which looks and can feel restrictive when you’re standing or sitting normally. Lean forward in a riding position though and that tall collar provides a useful leak or draught stopper which is matched by the doubled back hems to back up an impressively impermeable performance from the Cave when we’ve ridden it through some fairly serious downpours. Even when it finally wets out, the fleeced inner keeps it a lot warmer than a bare shell and it dries quickly too (apart from the doubled cuffs which unsurprisingly take a bit longer). The cuffs have got a few tiny pulled tufts from off-piste bush dives but the DWR and logos have lasted a couple of washes fine so far. 

Altura gets extra eco cred for using biodegradable poly bags for packaging and keeping them fresh with corn starch drying sachets instead of silica pouches. 

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Altura Cave Softshell jacket review

On the inside the hexed fleece material adds warmth (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
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Altura Cave Softshell jacket review

There is an insulating flap behind the zip to eliminate drafts (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Verdict

It’s our job to be picky but, apart from the slightly odd off-bike fit of the Cave, its performance on the bike and overall versatility provided by the well-thought-out features is excellent. While we’ll always pick a soft-shell over a ‘waterproof’ unless conditions are going to be consistently torrential anyway, the boosted water-resistance of the Cave adds even more bad weather capability to the inherent thermal robustness and increased comfort of a fast-drying, fleece interior compared to a cold shell. It looks good for mooching around when you’re not in the mountains and it’s a great price, too.

Tech Specs: Altura Cave softshell jacket

  • Price: £70
  • Sizes S - 3XL
  • Colors: Carbon (tested) or Navy 
Guy Kesteven

Guy Kesteven is Bike Perfect and Cyclingnews’ contributing tech editor. Hatched in Yorkshire he's been hardened by riding round it in all weathers since he was a kid. He got an archaeology degree out of Exeter University, spent a few years digging about in medieval cattle markets, working in bike shops and warehouses before starting writing and testing for bike mags in 1996. Since then he’s written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of riding gear. To make sure he rarely sleeps and to fund his custom tandem habit he’s also coughed out a handful of bike-related books and talks to a GoPro for YouTube, too. We trust Guy's opinion and think you should, too.


Rides: Pace RC295, Cotic FlareMax, Specialized Chisel Ltd MTBs, Vielo V+1 gravel bike, Cannondale Supersix Evo Dura-Ace Di2 Disc road bike, Nicolai FS Enduro, Landescape custom gravel tandem

Height: 180cm

Weight: 69kg