The Visijax Highlight Jacket is aimed at cyclists, horse-riders and walkers, and it has a lot of potential. Performance is generally good, and the LED technology is user-friendly and seemingly durable. The jacket has come down in price from an original RRP of £89.99, and is only available in limited sizes, but the paucity of pockets will alienate some.
The Highlight is made from 100% polyester, boasting a genre-typical 10,000mm waterproof rating. It's thinner than I've come to expect, with a strong, synthetic odour that fades after the first week or so's use. There's a fluoro yellow version but I much prefer this red, which is still quite striking on overcast days. (A hooded version is available too, with an RRP of £85.99.)
Big bold Scotchlite strips along the body and sleeves give plenty of presence along dark roads and town centres, and accentuate hand signals. Velcro cuffs and a decent zipper tag allow easy regulation of airflow, while these and taped seams keep blustery wind and rain firmly outside.
A thin-pile fleece collar continues the weather-cheating theme. At the other extreme, vented panels situated at the chest and back do a reasonable job of diffusing rider-generated heat.
Aside from the lithium-ion battery pouch, pockets are limited to two: the traditional large 'poacher' at the rear that will manage a medium sized mini-pump, tube, multi-tool and keys, and an internal 'phone' pocket. The latter would benefit from the security of a Velcro closure – not that I've lost a compact camera or 5-inch smartphone to a lumpy lane, but I was concerned a sharp jolt might launch them.
Sizing is generous; medium fitted me perfectly, although I would have preferred a fraction more length in the tail, since it had a tendency to gather. Draw cords help accommodate layers underneath, and even when I've been battling serious headwinds, there's been no annoying, energy-sapping flutter.
There are 11 LEDs in total: two sets of three located diagonally, just below the collar bones, and another five laid horizontally across the tail. These are fuelled by a fairly boxy but user-friendly lithium-ion battery-cum-switch that is a doddle to operate in winter weight gloves and discreet enough for workplace refuelling. There are four modes, including constant, pulsing and flashing.
Charging takes a few hours, three hours zero to hero from the mains, and I've managed 23 minutes past the 20 hours cited as the run-time in flashing. Plus it gives a nagging, intermittent flash long before powering down.
Constant has returned 10 hours, defaulting to pulsing 40 minutes before reserves are completely depleted. Spares/replacements are available for £19.95 (£15.95 at the moment) should you/your significant other bundle it into the wash, although it's pretty hard to miss and easily disconnected.
The Visijax range also includes ICE technology (In Case of Emergency), programmable tech that stores your details, including those of a nominated contact and any significant medical info. This data can be summoned up by holding a smartphone over the zipper tag. Hopefully none of us will ever need it, though this could be a lifesaver in the event of an accident. It's pretty straightforward to set up, but even so Visijax has included an almost foolproof video on its site.
Overall performance has been much better than I was expecting. It's held up well in heavy, persistent rain and sleet, and despite my reservations about the tail length I've remained dry after two hours in persistently heavy rain. The fibres also do an excellent job of blocking chill; with long-sleeve baselayers beneath, I've felt fully temperate between -2 and +12 degrees.
Much beyond 12°C and at 18-23mph tempo, its wicking prowess is more pedestrian – things have felt quite clammy at the close of an hour's blast, but having removed it, I've remained pretty dry. At a more moderate 15-18mph, I've arrived at my destinations looking and feeling pretty fresh.
I'm not so sure how materials would fare in a spill and I've been reluctant to take scenic routes via bridlepath and overgrown no-man's-land. That said, canal towpath shortcuts haven't worried me or the fabric, which also washes pretty well at 30 degrees with minimal detergent.
The integrated lighting has been another pleasant surprise and produces a decent arc of light in all four modes. Visijax reckons visibility is up to 400m, closer to 300m along unlit roads by my reckoning, but still very impressive. Even allowing for bike-mounted lighting, I've felt reassuringly conspicuous round town and when tackling larger roundabouts, especially at rush hour.
Given the specification, the Highlight represents good value for money, but competition is very fierce. Taking the electronic technology out of the equation, there are plenty of jackets boasting better properties and more pockets – but if you want the extra safety the LEDs bring, the Highlight is well worth a look.
Practical outdoor shell, but cut and middling breathability might be dealbreakers for faster/longer distance commuting
road.cc test report
Make and model: Visijax Highlight Jacket with LEDs
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?
Visijax says: "Our entry level Highlight jacket is ideal for hiking, cycling and equestrian and many more activities. This striking jacket balances rainproof with breathability for a refreshing al fresco experience.
"But that's not the whole story. We want you to be safe and seen when enjoying the outdoors. To help you feel secure, the unisex, machine-washable Highlight jacket features 11 high intensity LEDs. Simply recharge the provided USB battery and enjoy up to 20 hours of your flashing jacket with minimal maintenance and absolutely no fuss!"
It's not cycling specific, nor on paper does breathability match that of other brands' commuter models, but there's a fair bit of useful tech and I've felt surprisingly temperate, even on longer commutes.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Visijax lists these features:
Highlight – 11 LEDs
Outer: Polyester Jacquard Pongee
Lining: 100% Polyester
Waterproof tested to ISO 811:1981
Front and Rear High Intensity LEDs
Zipped pouch on tail
USB Rechargeable Battery
Red or Hi-Vis Yellow
Relatively thin but seemingly durable fabric. LED tech and replaceable li-ion cell is a definite plus.
Surprisingly good, given the design brief. Taking electrics out of the equation, many cycling-specific designs at this end of the market are better choices on the fit and breathability fronts.
Easily washed and seemingly durable.
Good, and certainly on par with others at this price point.
It's not cycling-specific and had a slight tendency to gather at the back, which is more annoying than uncomfortable and didn't lead to a wet or cold lower back, even without mudguards.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very straightforward – just remember to remove the battery-cum-switch before popping it on a low temperature machine wash.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, and allowing for some trade-off in terms of cut and climate control, the Highlight is a surprisingly capable commuter jacket. LEDs can be something of a gimmick but these are durable, easy to use and very effective in all modes and contexts. The ICE (In Case Emergency) technology, though something none of us would hope necessary, could be a lifesaver and adds further value.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
LED technology is well engineered and very effective. Overall performance in terms of breathability is better than figures would suggest too.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Cut could have been better, though this may be less of an issue for riders wanting a short to middle distance commuter jacket that will also lend itself to walking and other outdoor pursuits. Though nothing ejected, I would have preferred a Velcro/similar closure on the inside pocket.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? On balance, no.
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Worth a closer look if they wanted a commuter jacket with additional safety features.
Use this box to explain your score
One of the best-thought-out LED-impregnated designs tech-wise, but the cut and breathability are a compromise for faster commuting.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough stuff tourer based around 4130 Univega mountain bike frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)