The Altura Esker Trail shorts are another addition to the brand's recent winter range, and they're great for riding year-round, thanks to their light weight and weather protection. However, the slightly too-large sizing could do with some adjustment.
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The Trail shorts follow a similar design to the Trail trouser, with the addition of an extra side pocket. This is great as it opens up more opportunities for bag-less riding if you’re so inclined.
As for the rest of the build, the Esker Men’s Trail shorts get a durable water repellent (DWR) coating, stretch panels at either side and a soft upper waist at the back that’s also raised to protect from stray filth. The closure consists of a popper, zip, and button.
The fit of the shorts is pretty good, but it's by no means perfect. My medium size pair come up a little large when compared with other shorts I've tested. This could be fixed with some simple adjusters around the waist, but unfortunately, Altura has chosen not to equip the shorts with any.
While definitely comfortable on the bike, they didn't feel secure, so they required a quick adjustment after each descent. Though I'm very happy to say that they've never properly fallen down!
The fit in other areas is great, though. The shorts are long enough to hide all manner of kneepad gaps, and they leave plenty of room for on-bike manoeuvrability.
I found them to remain comfortable in a range of challenges. I've ridden them in as-dry-as-it gets, dusty conditions right through to where the DWR coating has become really useful. They're not full-on wet-weather shorts, so they'll soak through with enough of a downpour, but the coating shrugs off the spray and light rain.
Aside from the fit, the Altura trail shorts have proven themselves to be a solid and capable piece of clothing that you'll be happy to ride in all year round. However, it's definitely worth trying them on before you buy, even If you already own some Altura bottoms, because the range hasn't been consistent in terms of sizing.
These shorts are priced rather well for what they offer. Another solid option is Endura’s Singletrack Lite shorts that cost £70, which are more of a summer-only garment, thanks to a range of venting. Still, they fit better and have more pockets than the Altura Eskers.
Another competitive pair is Polaris Bikewear’s AM500 TX shorts. They’re a full £25 pricer at £80, but they fit very well, have more pockets and, importantly, have waist adjusters. While nothing stops you from riding them in the summer, the AM500 TX shorts are much more heavy-duty and offer more robust weather protection.
It’s clear that the Altura Esker Men’s Trail short could do with a bit of refinement, mainly with the addition of waist adjusters. Still, if they fit you from the get-go, there’s little else to complain about. They’re comfortable, resistant against spray, and very versatile. They’re well priced too.
Inconsistent sizing seems to be a recurring theme with Altura. For me, still nothing to beat an ancient pair of Decathlon Rockrider 500s (from around 2015 and still going strong, wish I'd bought a spare pair). Having said that, will probably order these as they tick the matchy-matchy box.