The Esker Trail men’s jersey comes as part of Altura’s new off-road-specific autumn/winter collection. It does a great job of offering a little extra warmth and weather protection on those nastier days, at a very reasonable price, but the white colour for a winter garment is definitely questionable.
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Altura’s Esker Trail men’s jersey is a mid-layer with a Polartec PowerGridTM windproof front panel and a DWR (durable water-repellent) coating. Along with that, it also has thermal sleeves and a thermal back panel. Altura’s website also says there’s a neat zipped key pocket but it's obviously very well hidden as I’ve yet to find it…
The fit of the jersey is totally spot on. I usually go for a medium top, and the medium Esker’s arms are long enough without being too long, plus there’s a dropped hem to keep spray from finding its way up your back. There aren’t any tight spots either.
I’ve ridden in the Esker Trail jersey down to temperatures where I would usually consider a base layer and it has performed impressively well. It’s kept me perfectly warm in cooler conditions, and the DWR coating happily shrugs off light rain showers. It comes with a good level of breathability too, however windproof Altura says the jersey is.
I’ve never found it to get too toasty, but because of the warmth, the Esker offers, you'd have to be careful about when you choose to wear it as a mid-layer. It’s totally great on colder days but if you’re looking for more heavy-duty rain protection, it could get a little too warm underneath a jacket.
The only real downside of this jersey is the colour. It’s designed to be worn as winter takes hold, which usually means wet and muddy conditions, so white is a pretty odd choice. Even after multiple washes, previously flung mud has well and truly left its mark, staining the fabric. It’s not something that bothers me much, but if you like your whites as pearly as possible, you’ll want to pick the grey option.
Value & verdict
At £50, the Altura Esker Trail jersey isn’t too badly priced, especially considering the extra weather protection that’s built-in. Also priced at £50 is Madison’s Zenith Thermal jersey, but this doesn't have the wind and spray protection of the Esker.
For another £20 you can get something like the Leatt MTB 5.0 jersey, which has WindBlock fabric on the chest, arms, and sides, and a breathable MoistureCool back. It also has Brush Guard fabric protection on the elbows and shoulders, adding a touch of abrasion resistance.
If you can look beyond the easy-to-stain colour, the Altura Esker Trail men’s jersey offers a welcome level of warmth for cooler weather riding, as well as a hint of useful weather protection. This autumn, it’s become my go-to jersey when I know it’s a touch chilly out.