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

[This article was last updated on December 5, 2017]

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 — £71.99

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 — £95

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

Northwave H2O Winter Reflective Shoecovers — £29.99

Northwave H20 Winter Shoecover Reflective.jpg

Northwave H20 Winter Shoecover Reflective.jpg

As well as protecting your feet from cold and wet, Northwave's H2O overshoes have plenty of reflective areas. 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 Northwave H2O Winter Reflective Shoe Covers
Find a Northwave dealer

Respro Reflective/Hi-viz Ankle Bands — £16.99

Respro Hi Viz Nightsight Ankle Bands.jpg

Respro Hi Viz Nightsight Ankle Bands.jpg

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 — £32.99

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

Proviz Reflect360 reflective helmet — £79.99

proviz reflect 360.jpg

Proviz Reflect 360 Helmet

The German-made helmet uses what’s called the KStar reflective system with reflective particles embedded into the microshell covering. The reflective particles are protected by a clear outer casing.

The helmet has a pearl grey colour in daylight, but becomes brilliant white when caught in direct light from other road users. There is also a anti-bug net at the front, leaving your hair wasp-free and unstung.

Mat Brett took a look when it was launched

BTR High Visibility Waterproof Helmet Cover — £8.99

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 elasticated hem and draw string closure for adjustment.

Read our review of the BTR High Visibility Waterproof Helmet Cover

Endura Lumigilet — £47.49

Endura Lumigilet.jpg

Endura Lumigilet.jpg

There are lots of reflective patches on this vest and it's windproof and water-resistant too, so it helps ward off the winter chill. It packs small enough to stash easily in a jersey pocket. The mesh back makes it most suitable for Spring and Autumn use.

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

B'TWIN 500 HI VIZ WATERPROOF CYCLING JACKET - ORANGE

B'TWIN 500 HI VIZ WATERPROOF CYCLING JACKET - ORANGE

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. For a mere £25, it's a steal

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

Proviz Winter Cycling Gloves — £37.99

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 — £34.99

Altura Night Vision 20 Pannier.jpg

Altura Night Vision 20 Pannier.jpg

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 will 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 — £13.99

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

[This article was last updated on December 5, 2017]

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.

15 comments

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ktache [627 posts] 3 months ago
3 likes

The Repro ankle bands are very good.

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Izaak30 [140 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

Always wish that in articles like this you would show photos of the kit at night time showing how reflective  the kit is

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alansmurphy [1162 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

There are many alternatives to the proviz jacket these days including a Boardman for around 40 quid with removable arms. The loo backpack is reasonable but again you can get a Hump cover that'll go on many better backpacks to use. I'd be interested to see you compare some expensive and cheaper alternatives rather than just pick 12 objects.

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hawkinspeter [1111 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

I like the Proviz reflectiveness, but the jackets seem to have a non-cycling cut - quite big around the torso and the arms aren't very long. I do recommend the Proviz rucksack though - extremely visible from the rear and just the right size for my needs.

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Alessandro [157 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes
hawkinspeter wrote:

I like the Proviz reflectiveness, but the jackets seem to have a non-cycling cut - quite big around the torso and the arms aren't very long. I do recommend the Proviz rucksack though - extremely visible from the rear and just the right size for my needs.

I bought one of the racier gilets for an overnight event that I did earlier in the summer and sized down from normal after reading so many stories about the baggy fit. I'm around 183cm tall and 70kg so a bit of a beanpole and even the XS was enormous. It seemed to be pretty well made and, personally, I think it's a great product but the sizing is borderline hilarious. 

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Crashboy [53 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

Th Lomo rucksacks are the business: comfy, lightweight and roomy, tough as old boots and in my experience completey weatherproof: for the price, a total steal and perfect for my commute.  Would highly reccommend. 

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Crashboy [53 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

...and yes, now I've re -read it I'm aware that post is riddled with typos.  Sorry everyone.   Must have been dazzled by the reflectives.

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BarryBianchi [419 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

Proviz jacket = breathable as a bin liner. No thanks.  The B'Twin "mere £20" jacket for £24.99 seems like a bargain...

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antigee [451 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

based on road.cc's         8 out of 10 2016 review and already having a piece of Lusso kit that refuses to die - bought one of these:

http://road.cc/content/review/176388-lusso-nitelife-gilet

I liked the large area of reflective material on the front as well as the back, comfortable to ride in over a long sleeved top on what passes for cool pre sun rise around here 2 to 6degs C or so , would replace with same if lost it - not widely available though

 

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Veloism [75 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

LOL at that helmet shower cap. Really won't make any difference, apart making you look like a complete ti t.

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fenix [835 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

Also check out some of the Lusso longs - they have reflectives on the legs for 360 degree visibility.

 

Stuff on the legs is much much more visible than the upper body and the movement identifies you as a cyclist much better than say - a floating reflective helmet....

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alotronic [532 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes
Veloism wrote:

LOL at that helmet shower cap. Really won't make any difference, apart making you look like a complete ti t.

Well I have one (altura version) and while it is a thing of hideousness and I feel like an utter berk wearing it it is actually fantastic in heavy persisent rain and a top piece of kit for longer rides. By long I mean all day and night when the four hours tolerance that most products seem to  be 'waterproof' for is too short. I accept that all my moral and personal standards have declined to a point where I don't give a f**k about what people think at 3am in Suffolk, I'd rather keep my head dry... YMMV!

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David9694 [20 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes
BarryBianchi wrote:

Proviz jacket = breathable as a bin liner. No thanks.  The B'Twin "mere £20" jacket for £24.99 seems like a bargain...

 

I've got a Proviz gilet - and I agree. They are not cheap either.

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workhard [400 posts] 2 months ago
3 likes

Always wish articles like this would show how these things look from the perspective of a driver who isn't looking and doesn't give a fuck about vulnerable roads users. 

Because those are the drivers we need protecting from, not the attentive ones, driving with due care and attention.  Imagine if they passed a law to ensure people drove like that?

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Rich_cb [450 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes
workhard wrote:

Always wish articles like this would show how these things look from the perspective of a driver who isn't looking and doesn't give a fuck about vulnerable roads users. 

Because those are the drivers we need protecting from, not the attentive ones, driving with due care and attention.  Imagine if they passed a law to ensure people drove like that?

If a driver is paying no attention then clothing will obviously make no difference but if a driver is partially paying attention they are more likely to see bright colours than dark colours.