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Stand out in the dark with our selection of kit that shines in headlights

The evening's are getting darker and you'll soon need lights for the office run. Adding some reflective clothing and equipment will help drivers pick you out from the urban visual chaos.

Walk into any decent bike shop and the shelves will be stacked with a variety of reflective products, from jackets and waist coats to sticker packs and ankle bands. As we head deeper into autumn, and soon winter, there's a good chance more of your riding time will be spent in the dark or at the very least, low light, and for many people that means donning some reflective products, or a product with a significant amount of reflective detailing.

Reflective clothing or other kit doesn't have to be in fluorescent high visibility colours. Reflectives work by reflecting back toward its source any light that plays on them A black jacket made from the right material or with the right reflective detailing can be just as visible as a fluoro yellow one. Studies suggest that in the dark, in car headlights a reflective product is more visible than a fluorescent one.

But will wearing reflective clothing or products improve your safety on the road? There are various studies that have looked into the effectiveness of such products, such as the 2009 study that found fluorescent vests were not a significant improvement on black clothing at night. It concluded that at night reflective knee and ankle stripes were far more effective. That's because the up-and-down motion from pedalling can catch the eye of the motorist more than a large reflective stripe across the back, which can appear stationary, so the placement of any reflective product is as important as wearing it alone.

More recently, another study suggested that it’s reflective, not high-visibility, clothing that is the answer to being seen in the hours of darkness.

In recent years many clothing manufacturers have paid more attention to visibility. Beside the obvious trend of fluoro, more clothing designers are adding reflective details, often very discreetly in the seams or zip lining and smartly applied details, so that style conscious cyclists can boost their visibility without having to don a bright yellow jacket with huge reflective stripes. That all makes it easier to add some reflectivity to your outfit without looking going overboard.

Let's take a look at 11 reflective products that give a snapshot of what's available, from ankle bands to jackets.

Proviz Reflect 360 Jacket — £40

The Proviz Reflect 360's unique feature is that it's entirely made from reflective material. If you spend a lot of time on the roads in the dark it'll certainly get you noticed. The cut of the jacket is more commuter style than race so it's safe to assume that a streetlit urban environment is where the designers expect it to be used most.

The Reflect 360 is water resistant rather than Proviz claiming any waterproofing ratings but the material keeps out moderate rain for a decent amount of time backed up by taped seams and a storm zip. The rear drops slightly to which also adds protection if you aren't using mudguards.

Read our review of the Proviz Reflect 360 Jacket
Find a Proviz dealer

Endura Luminite jacket — £85.49

Endura's Luminite jacket has been a commuting staple for many years. The Luminite II has a fabric that's slightly thinner than the original, plenty of reflectives and a built in rear LED. It's a good choice for the daily schlep to the office. The 2.5 layer fabric is very waterproof with fully taped seams and is breathable too.

Read our review of the Endura Luminite jacket
Find an Endura dealer

Sugoi Zap Shoe Covers — £49.49

Sugoi Zap Shoe Covers

As well as protecting your feet from cold and wet, Sugoi's Zap overshoes are highly reflective. Making your feet glow in headlights is an ideal way to improve visibility to other road users because they are moving at 90rpm. For a piece of kit that is generally used in poor light that's a really good move.

Read our review of the Sugoi Zap Shoe Covers
Find a Sugoi dealer

Respro Reflective/Hi-viz Ankle Bands — £13.49

The most significant point to come out of studies on cyclist visibility is that moving reflectives, of your feet or ankles for example, really do increase your visibility. These simple Respro Hi-viz Ankle Bands don't cost a lot and wrap around the ankle with Velcro securing them in place. They may not be that fashionable, but if you plan to do a lot of riding in the dark, then they're a sensible idea.

Read our review of the Respro Hi-viz Ankle Bands
Find a Respro dealer

Lomo High Visibility Backpack Dry Bag 30L — £29.99

If you're commuting to work on a daily basis with a rucksack, then this Lomo 30L High Visibility Backpack Dry Bag is a highly reflective option that will keep your office clothing and sarnies dry. It's made from tough UPVC with welded seams, and there bold reflective chevrons and stripes are very prominent. There are also reflective stripes on the front of the shoulder straps.

Read our review of the Lomo 30L High Visibility Backpack Dry Bag

BTR High Visibility Waterproof Helmet Cover — £5.99

The BTR High Visibility Waterproof Helmet Cover is an easy way to add some high-level reflectivity, while also doubling up as a nifty rain cover. It packs small enough when you don't need it, and fixes over a helmet with an elasticed hem and draw string closure for adjustment.

Read our review of the BTR High Visibility Waterproof Helmet Cover

dhb Flashlight Windproof Gilet — £35

dhb Flashlight Windproof Gilet

There are lots of reflective patches on this nicely-priced vest and it's windproof too, so it helps ward off the winter chill. The cut is relaxed, so there's enough room for warm layers underneath and it packs small enough to stash easily in a jersey pocket.

Read our review of the dhb Flashlight Windproof Gilet

B'Twin 500 High Visibility Waterproof Cycling Jacket — £24.99

B'Twin Hi-Vis Waterproof jacket

The latest incarnation of the B'Twin 500 High Visibility Waterproof Cycling Jacket adds orange and black colour options to the searingly bright fluorescent yellow of last year's model, and more side reflectives for greater visibility.

Read our review of the B'Twin 500 High Visibility Waterproof Cycling Jacket

Proviz Winter Cycling Gloves — £24.57

Proviz Winter Cycling Gloves

Gloves are a good candidate for adding some hi-vis and that's the idea behind these Proviz Winter Cycling Gloves. Useful for signalling an intent to change direction or lane, there's a large reflective panel on the little finger and across the back of the hand.

Read our review of the Proviz Winter Cycling Gloves
Find a Proviz dealer

Altura Night Vision 20 Pannier — £49.49

Altura's Night Vision 20 Pannier combines fluoro orange and a lot of reflective decals with a waterproof Duratec 450 fabric construction so your luggage with remain dry. The orange provides a boost of visibility in the daytime and lowlight conditions, while the generous reflective patches provide night time visibility.

Read our review of the Altura Night Vision 20 Pannier review
Find an Altura dealer

Respro Camo Sticker Kit — £12.59

Lastly, the Respro Camo Sticker Kit lets you customise your bike, mudguards, panniers, with shaped reflective panels. There's of course nothing stop you simply buying a roll of Scotchlite reflective tape and getting creative with a pair of scissors.

Read our review of the Respro Camo Sticker Kit
Find a Respro dealer

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

5 comments

Avatar
Username [176 posts] 6 months ago
1 like

I spoke to a motorcycle cop recently who told me despite his defensive riding training, despite being 6'2" dressed head to toe in fluorescent, despite sitting on a 300 kg BMW decked out in even more flourescent and lights, he has still had several SMIDSYs.

Avatar
giff77 [1237 posts] 6 months ago
1 like
Username wrote:

I spoke to a motorcycle cop recently who told me despite his defensive riding training, despite being 6'2" dressed head to toe in fluorescent, despite sitting on a 300 kg BMW decked out in even more flourescent and lights, he has still had several SMIDSYs.

 

aye. But he has the advantage of blue lighting them if need be. 

Avatar
geargrinderbeard [94 posts] 6 months ago
1 like

Please stop showing that photo of the reflective shower cap. It upsets me that someone made this product let alone the fact that there is a demand for it!

Also, I bought one of the proviz gillets and feel compelled to note that it's got all the breathability of a binbag so if you're upping the tempo I'd say it's a poor choice.

Avatar
farrell [1950 posts] 6 months ago
2 likes
giff77 wrote:
Username wrote:

I spoke to a motorcycle cop recently who told me despite his defensive riding training, despite being 6'2" dressed head to toe in fluorescent, despite sitting on a 300 kg BMW decked out in even more flourescent and lights, he has still had several SMIDSYs.

 

aye. But he has the advantage of blue lighting them if need be. 

 

And if something does happen to him, he will actually be able to have his situation taken seriously by the police, rather than being dismissed, lied to, denigrated, ignored or abused by them like us mere "civilians" have to face.

Avatar
robertoegg [63 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes
Username wrote:

I spoke to a motorcycle cop recently who told me despite his defensive riding training, despite being 6'2" dressed head to toe in fluorescent, despite sitting on a 300 kg BMW decked out in even more flourescent and lights, he has still had several SMIDSYs.

 

Well he should read the studies and wear reflectives. Flouro has no impact at night.