The Vulpine Cotton Visibility Gilet is a hi viz top for people who don't do hi viz. It'll help you get seen on the road without making you look like a lollipop man/lady.
Now, I've got nothing against lollipop people – they do a lot of good work for the community – but they wouldn't necessarily be who I'd look towards for my style cues, which is one reason why this gilet has a lot going for it.
The gilet is made from Epic Cotton, which sounds a bit grandiose. What it actually means is that the cotton is given a silicone coating before it's woven. That makes it surprisingly water resistant. If it rains hard you're going to want a long-sleeved waterproof anyway, but for misty air and road spray this copes absolutely fine.
That Epic Cotton extends right across the front, covers the shoulders, and it's used for the deep rear pockets too. It's wind resistant so it keeps quite a lot of your body warmth inside. I've been using it on morning and evening rides now that autumn has arrived, having found it too warm for much use over the summer.
The main fabric is breathable while the centre section of the rear is made from a mesh so moisture can escape easily back there. If you do get too warm you can, of course, just open up the front or take the gilet off. It doesn't pack down as small as some but it'll fit in a jersey pocket without a problem.
The full-length front zip is a metal one from YKK that looks like it's going to last while the piping that runs alongside it, like the binding around the armholes, is Scotchlite reflective. There's a lot more reflective fabric around the back, including a light loop, plus an red splash guard – a cover for your butt – which is magnetically held inside the gilet when you don't need it. On top of the vivid green main fabric, that adds up to a lot of visibility.
The neck closure is magnetic too. What's the advantage? It means the zip doesn't sit right up against your neck so there's no chance of scratching. It works well; it's easy to open or close and it didn't come undone of its own volition.
The Epic Cotton (I can't wait for Dangerous Polyester and Heroic Polypropylene) is fairly stain resistant, and it goes through the washing machine and tumble dryer fine.
When choosing your size, bear in mind that Vulpine clothing is cut, as they put it, 'sufficiently loose to be casual off the bike.' It's not a skinny sports fit. Use the size chart on their website to make sure you get it right. There's actually a little width-ways give in this gilet so you can afford to err on the smaller side if you're in doubt.
Water resistant hi viz gilet for people who don't do hi viz
road.cc test report
Make and model: Vulpine Cotton Visibility Gilet
Size tested: Medium, Green
Tell us what the product 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?
Vulpine say, "The Hi-Viz vest, surely the least attractive cycling garment yet invented. We have created a tailored, casual alternative that is form-fitting, practical but stylish.
Casual Epic Cotton
Water and stain-resistant
Reflective outer seams
A beautifully tailored alternative to the dreaded Hi-Viz Vest.
Made in bright, but contemporary Vulpine Green, lined with soft reflective fabric, with three rear pockets, this is a beautiful but practical solution for anyone who wants to be visible, but to feel good doing so."
Unlike a standard hi viz tabard, it's not just for getting you seen. It's a very good gilet in its own right that's highly visible on top of that.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The cotton is coated in silicon before weaving to make it water/stain resistant
The zip is often the first thing to go on a garment of this kind but the metal version here looks like it's built to last.
There's a little give in the fabric and the neck is comfortably lined.
It's more than most gilets although the fabrics and overall quality help explain that.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It does a good job of keeping the cool air off your torso and getting you seen.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The pockets in the back are handy - easier to use than having to reach your jersey pockets.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Takes up more space than many other gilets when stored in a jersey pocket.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
About the tester
Age: 41 Height: 190cm Weight: 75kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a youthful 45-year-old Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.