A good waterproof jacket is something every cyclist needs, and with the addition of its standout retro-reflective safety feature, the Planet X Illuminati Maximus fits the bill nicely.
First impressions straight out of the packaging were good. It looks stylish and the material feels well made. On closer inspection the seams are near-invisible, all of them neatly taped internally to aid with the waterproofing, and decent zips on the side vents and rear pocket.
The two main features of the jacket are the reflective material and the waterproofing. Planet X makes a cheaper Illuminati jacket (RRP £79.99) with the same retro-reflective fabric, but the Maximus has a 'laser perforated outer shell for enhanced breathability' as well as a breathable waterproof membrane.
I've seen these kind of reflective jackets advertised, but never actually seen anyone wearing one on the road, and I must say I am seriously impressed. Even in normal daylight the surface has a silveriness to it as light plays off the surface, but in low light and darkness it quite literally shines, almost lighting up as street lights and car headlamps reflect off it.
Yes, I'm easily pleased, and yes, I did possibly spend too much time taking pictures of it with a phone camera with flash in a dark room... but the resulting shots did show just how well the tech works. I also noticed cars giving me more space on the rural roads around my area, the jacket really standing out – probably well before they would have spotted the rear light on the bike.
In terms of fit, the jacket I tested was a medium; I'm tall with a slim build and the fit was just about right – not restrictively snug and not baggy enough to flap about in windy conditions (it's not me in the photos). The sleeves were a little short for me – my usual go-to rain jacket, which is around the same size, has much longer sleeves, which help with stopping rain getting in, and when on the bike don't ride up your arm, leaving your wrists exposed.
Sizing up would cure the sleeve issue but then possibly lead to the jacket being too baggy. Those with less ape-like arms probably won't have an issue. The waist has a draw cord to aid with fit, but I didn't need to tighten this at all.
Other features of the jacket are the open (covered) vent on the back at mid-level, a zipped centre pocket at the rear centre and two zipped vents, one under each arm for extra cooling. These three zips have long tabs on them to make opening and closing them easier, and were manageable with thick winter gloves on. As well as the pull cord at the waist the cuffs have a Velcro adjuster to loosen or tighten the fit.
The testing period saw a real mix of weather conditions, from sunny and warm days to absolute torrential rain. Starting with the bad weather, it coped admirably, shrugging off drizzle, light rain and snow without issue. I only saw evidence of water ingress in the heaviest downpours or long weekend rides in sustained wet conditions, and even then it was only in small patches on the back by the vent and at the wrists.
In dry but windy conditions it did a great job of keeping the wind out, but if the temperature picked up it could get pretty warm, despite that laser perforated outer shell and breathable membrane. But after a bit of experimentation with layers I found a good balance to suit most rides.
On the flipside, despite having a thin lining it did keep the worst of the cold out, so worked fine in temperatures below five degrees down to around freezing. One thing to note is that, owing to the material itself being a little stiff, it did form up into a wedge at the front when riding (aerodynamic maybe?) and meant packing it down still left quite a big parcel – it would just about fit in a jersey pocket but it is bulky.
All in all, it's an impressive jacket, though in terms of value at RRP it's £20 more than the very similar Proviz Reflect360+, at £109.99 – an upgraded version of the one Stu tested in 2014, it now having enhanced breathability and waterproofing too. As Planet X frequently has offers on, though, you might be able to pick it up for a bargain price – at the time of writing it's on sale for £65.
Amazing reflective properties plus waterproofing and breathable fabric all add up to a great jacket
road.cc test report
Make and model: Planet X 365 Illuminati Maximus Jacket
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the jacket is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Planet X says: "The Illuminati Maximus takes the brilliant glow in the dark Photonic retro-reflective fabric from our entry level Illuminati Jacket and maximises it with a laser perforated outer shell for enhanced breathability and a seam taped liner to help it shake off even the heaviest rain. Any light that hits the jacket is reflected straight back to the source so you will literally glow in the dark whenever street or car lights shine in your direction."
Ideal for commuters and night riders alike – the reflective properties are seriously impressive.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Photonic retro-reflective fabric
A new laser perforated outer shell and breathable membrane liner
Zipped vents under the arms
Open vent on the back
Zipped secure pocket on the rear
Waist draw cord
Velcro adjustable cuffs
The jacket appears extremely well made, with almost invisible stitching on the external surface and neat taping of the seams.
Low-light visibility is outstanding, waterproofing good in all but the heaviest downpours.
The material has retained its brightness and hasn't gone patchy like some reflective material can, the zips still work well and there is no deterioration in the stitching.
The jacket held up really well in light rain, snow and drizzle, only letting a bit of water in when I risked a ride out in a torrential, sustained downpour – and even then not much got in, and it was mainly around the wrists. Just make sure the side vents are zipped up when it's tipping down.
It performed very well here. The material itself is breathable, but can still get overly warm if you are layered up; a bit of experimenting with clothing once you have worn the jacket a couple of times will help you gauge what to wear underneath. The open vent on the back helps, as do the zipped vents on the sides.
Fit was just about right, not too tight or too baggy. I think it would benefit from a slightly longer tail to help keep the rain off your backside, and the sleeves were a little short for me – an inch longer would have been ideal, but then I do have long arms.
Conforming to UK standard sizing, the medium fitted me well, other than the slightly short sleeves. Sizing up would cure that but leave the jacket a little baggy elsewhere.
Light enough when wearing to not really notice it was a bonus, the lack of a thermal lining keeping weight down.
The cut works to your advantage when riding and nothing pinches or pulls. With the zip all the way up it isn't tight on your throat either.
The RRP is pretty good for the performance, although you can usually pick up Planet X kit with big savings. At the time of writing the jacket is on sale for £65, half the full retail price.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Fully machine washable, with instructions printed on the inside.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As a safety device and waterproof jacket it performed fantastically well, even in low light conditions, marking you out at a distance and lighting up at night. It also kept me dry in most wet conditions as well as any of my other waterproof jackets.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
The reflective material is amazing, it looks great too.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Slightly short sleeves, and the tail could be longer.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? Yes
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
It's a reasonably priced (even more so with a discount) jacket that performed well in all aspects of its design and purpose; slightly longer sleeves would make it even more appealing for me personally.
About the tester
I usually ride: Boardman AirPro Di2 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, sportives