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Reviews > Clothing > Shirts > Altra Performance Womens Half Zip Top > Owner Review by Kathleen Waters


February 3, 2017



NAME: Kathleen Waters
EMAIL: kathy at backpackgeartest dot com
AGE: 65
LOCATION: Canon City, Colorado, USA
HEIGHT: 5' 4" (1.60 m)
WEIGHT: 125 lb (56.70 kg)
WAIST: 28 " (71 cm)
TORSO LENGTH 18" (45 cm)

Living in Colorado and being self-employed, I have ample opportunities to backpack. There are over 700,000 acres/280,000 hectares of public land bordering my 71-acre/29-hectare "backyard" in addition to all the other gorgeous locations which abound in Colorado. Over the past 15 years, my husband John and I have also had the good fortune to hike/snowshoe glaciers, rain forests, mountains and deserts in exotic locations, including New Zealand, Iceland, Costa Rica, Slovenia and Death Valley. My hiking style is comfortable, aiming for lightweight. I use a tent (rainfly if needed). Current pack averages 25 lb (11 kg) excluding food and water.


Manufacturer: Altra Running
Year of Manufacture: 2016
Manufacturer's Website:
MSRP: US $65.00
Listed Weight: 3.7 oz (105 g)
Measured Weight: 4 oz (113 g)
Available Colors: Dark Blue, Light Blue
Color Reviewed: Light Blue
Sizes Available: XSmall to Large
Size Reviewed: Large

Other details:

* Construction Materials: Body: ZeroLite (90% Polyester, 10% PU - Polyurethane); Mesh: 82% Nylon, 18% Spandex
* 360 degree reflectivity
* Full Mesh Underarms and Back Ventilating Perforations
* Altra Guarantee: "We promise a 30-day satisfaction guarantee on all of our products."
performance top
Photo Copyright Altra



The Altra Performance Women's Half Zip Top is a slim-cut, athletic-fit top with a front zipper half-way down the chest. It is constructed with Altra's exclusive ZeroLite fabric which is 90% Polyester, 10% PU in the body of the top and 82% Nylon and 18% Spandex in the mesh sections of the top which gives the fabric a very smooth, silky feet and a very stretchy fit.

There are reflective thin strips on the front of the top - including the zipper - the back of the top and on both sleeves. The nylon zipper is a very generous 12 inches (30 cm) and it tucks neatly at the stand-up collar in its own parking garage (flap of fabric which covers the metal zipper pull).

All seams are welded. That includes the bonded thumbholes at the base of each sleeve. There are no threads at all in this garment!

The underarm portion of the top is fully meshed - about a 15 x 5 inch (38 x 12 cm) panel. The fabric is stretchy and reminds me of panty hose material, only a little thicker. Two dozen small - 1/8 inch (0.3 cm) square holes are positioned in the center of the back of the top.
Peforations on Back
Back Vent Perfs
Mesh Underarm
Underarm Mesh - See my "ring"?
Stuffed Top
Stuffed and Ready to Go!

A Napoleon pocket on the left chest is accessed by way of a 6 inch (15 cm) zipper and is (according to the Altra website) able to handle the iPhone 6. My Samsung Galaxy S4 does not fit though. This pocket doubles as a stuff sack for the top when it needs to be stashed away on the go.

The Altra Performance Hall Zip Top is well-conceived and constructed in my opinion.


I've had the Altra Performance 1/2 Zip Top for Women for just about six months now and have worn it often at home for daily hikes to the mailbox, weekend day hikes in my "backyard" and various other out-of-town locations. Fun, outdoor, out-of-state locations have included: the Canadian Rocky Mountains in Banff and Jasper National Parks (Alberta, Canada), and Glacier National Park and Custer-Gallatin National Forest (Montana)

Location and condition details were as follows:

Custer-Gallatin National Forest - Moose Creek Flat
Terrain: we base-camped in a valley besides the Gallatin River, but day-hiked to mountain lakes for fishing as well
Elevation range: 5700' (1700 m) to 7500' (2300 m)
Temperature range: 35 F (2 C) to 65 F (18 C)
Other weather-related conditions: rain every day for varying periods of time from just a periodic drizzle to a downright downpour for hours (mostly at night). Very little sunshine

Banff/Jasper National Parks
Terrain: ah, mountains. Rocky, heavily treed mountains
Elevation range: 4500' (1400 m) to 10,000' (3000 m)
Temperature range: 22 F (-6 C) to 70 F (21 C)
Other weather-related conditions: rain every day for varying periods of time from just a periodic drizzle to a downright downpour for hours (mostly at night). Very little sunshine. (Yup, same as the previous week in Gallatin!)

Glacier National Park
Terrain: high, rocky mountain trails
Elevation range: 4600' (1400 m) to 6600' (2000 m)
Temperature range: 45 F (7 C) to 65 F (18 C)
Other weather-related conditions: Sunshine!

As can be seen, I spent a lot of time in the rain in the mountains. Different states/countries, but pretty much the same conditions!
On Colorado Trail
Colorado Trail near Hoosier Pass

Closer to home:

Fremont County, Colorado (my home "range") - this area is in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains with elevations ranging from 5500 ft (1700 m) to 9900 ft (3000 m). The terrain is mostly rather rough with lots of mud, loose rock and huge slabs of granite rock. Vegetation is scrubby pinon pine, Gamble Oak, juniper, cactus and prairie grasses (or weeds, depending on who is talking!).

Weather conditions were pretty much the same through all locations and throughout the entire season. Hot, hot and more Hot! Dry, Dry and more Dry! And for most of the summer, fall and early winter, temperatures have ranged from above 90 F (32 C) to the freezing mark. It's been unseasonably warm with very little snow so far.


In evaluating a piece of clothing, I general consider what I call the "Four F's" - Fit and Feel, Features and Field (performance). I will detail my thoughts on the Altra Performance Half Zip in that manner.

Fit and Feel: Thanks to the long zipper, I am able to pull the top on over my head without every snagging my glasses, getting caught on my cap or struggling. The top is cut very close to the body and I could easily wear it as a base layer without anything between it and my skin. Wearing it over a base layer makes for a tight but not overly constrictive fit. I attribute that lack of constriction to the stretchy fabric of the top. Were it a less flexible material, I suspect I would be unable to more comfortably.

I normally wear a women's size medium in just about every top, vest, jacket, etc. I think this top runs small for my needs. I wear it over at least a base layer camisole top and mostly a light silk or wool base layer. Wearing solo, it would perfectly hug my curves (ripple, wrinkles, etc.). That's not how I dress though. In the interest of full disclosure and for comparison purpose, my measurements are bustline 37 inches (94 cm) and waist 30 inches (76 cm).

The sleeves are long enough to cover my hand to my fingers and the thumb loops are positioned perfectly for me. The length of the sleeves from the welded shoulder seam to the cuff is 27 inches (69 cm).

The hem of the top doesn't quite cover my entire bottom but does cover most of it which is quite nice. From the collar seam to the hem of the top is 26 inches (66 cm).

Overall, I'm very happy with the fit of the Altra Performance Half Zip.

Features: Unlike some of my outdoor clothing, the Altra Performance Half Zip top doesn't have a lot of extraneous bells and whistles. It has a zipper, a small pocket, thumbholes, stand-up collar and venting. For the most part, nothing crazy, distracting or useless. Everything works as it should and can be found on many of my other windshell tops. EXCEPT the way the Altra handles venting. That's crazy unusual and crazy neat and efficient! Which leads me right into how the top worked for me in the field.

Field: Wind seems to be a regular weather pattern wherever I go, so I really like the fact that the Altra Performance Half Zip top works as a very efficient wind shield and keeps my core from suffering chilly breezes. As thin as the material is, I hadn't expected it to be particularly good in that department, but it was. Especially when above tree line - as I often am - I appreciated the ability of the top to keep me warm.

I didn't use the thumb loops much as mostly wore glove liners when it was at its coldest. Usually I will use thumb loops simply to be able to get gloves over the cuffs of my tops. The close fit of the sleeves on this top allowed me to easily tuck in the sleeves without the need of the thumb loops. For me, that is more comfortable than using loops.

I also liked the feeling of the stand-up collar. It added an extra bit of protection from the wind. And because the fabric is so thin and silky-soft, I wasn't bothered by any rubbing on my neck.

Conversely, when the wind wasn't a'blowin', I was just as comfortable thanks to the Altra's venting systems. The mesh underarm fabric is stretchier and a finer mesh than any other top I've ever seen. Usually, the underarm venting is almost like a netting. This is truly a very fine mesh. And it is so subtly color-matched to the rest of the tops that I didn't even notice it at first glance. But I certainly noticed it the first time I was hiking with a full pack and that early morning breeze was stilled and the mid-day sun started to warm me up! Ditto on the back vents. They gave added breathability under my backpack and were even more effective when the pack came off.

I wore the Altra Performance Half Zip top at least a couple dozen times over the last 6 months. Most of the time, I wore it over a very light silk or wool base layer top, often a camisole and under a light down vest. It has not snagged or stained or shown any signs of all the wear and tear I've subjected it to either.

I couldn't find any care instructions on the Altra website. Inside the top are "tagless" instructions that are printed in a very hard-to-read silvery color and while I love the tagless feature, I need to use a magnifying glass and hold the top at a slant to sunlight to read them!

The directions are pretty much the usual stuff - wash is cold water, gentle cycle with similar colors, dry flat, no bleach, ironing or dry cleaning. The one extra line though threw me initially and that was "put the garment separately into a laundry bag." Huh. There's something I don't have in my laundry supplies! So, I just tucked the top into a cotton pillow case and that worked just fine. After at least a half dozen go-rounds in the washing machine, the top still looks great. Lots of wear left for me!


1.) So very light weight - almost tissue paper!
2.) Keeps the wind out wonderfully.
3.) Breathes well, even when I'm working hard.


1.) The top runs rather small. Need to go up at least one size.


To tell the truth, when I first saw this top at a media event in Park City last June (2016), I didn't think I would get all that much use from it. It isn't like any other outdoor clothing that I own.

I'm happy to say, I've totally changed my initial "non-excitement" to enthusiastic endorsement of this very comfortable and versatile top. It is at the top of my mid-layer/light wind shell pile when it is not on me on the trail or dirty and in the wash.

Thanks, Altra, for making clothing I can really use!

Kathleen (Kathy) Waters

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

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