Cyclists in high visibility jackets (usually abbreviated to 'hi-vis') are a common sight, especially after dusk, as riders try and make themselves more visible to other road users. As well as standing out, hi-vis jackets for cycling usually offer a degree of water-resistance and windproofing to make riding in the dark and cold more bearable.
While there are studies that suggest hi-vis clothing doesn’t always ensure you’re visible to other road users, most people have clearly decided a hi-vis jacket can’t do any harm. For that reason high-visibility jackets are hugely popular and there’s loads of choice, with prices starting from £25.
The best hi-vis jackets combine lots of reflective material with their bright yellow fabrics
Hi-vis jackets can be waterproof hardshells, lightweight windproofs or made from softshell fabrics for warmth
Most hi-vis jackets for cycling are aimed at commuting riders, but there are close-fitting versions for training in too
Some things to consider if you’re looking for a hi-vis jacket. Aside from the colour, not all high-visibility jackets are made the same. Some are constructed from waterproof fabrics, others are made from windproof and water resistant fabrics, with the different fabrics impacting such aspects as weight, breathability, fit and how compact the jacket is when rolled up. The fabric also impacts the price, with branded fabrics typically commanding a premium.
Classic bright yellow hi-vis jackets are really only effective during daylight hours, so to ensure you stand out at night you want to look for a jacket with lots of reflective details and panels to help you stand out in the dark. Manufacturers are making much more effort to increase the reflectivity of high-visibility jackets, and we've even seen whole jackets made from reflective material, like the Proviz Reflect 360 Jacket.
Fit and shape are important, so it’s always worth trying one on before you buy, but you need to decide what. Some hi-vis cycling jackets are made from very lightweight material which means they can easily be folded away when not needed, making them ideal for touring and commuting where space is at a premium. Some hi-vis jackets have a much more generous shape with lots of space for layers underneath, and some can easily be worn over regular clothes. Some are proper performance fit if you’re choosing a high-visibility jacket for training rides.
We've scoured the online retailers to find some good deals on high-visibility cycling jackets. Here's what we found:
If you’ve decided you want to invest in a new high-visibility cycling jacket, here's a range of options priced from £24.99 up to £280.
The Showers Pass Transit CC is available as a hi-vis jacket as well as in more subdued colours. It's "a super-practical commuting hardshell, packed with clever details" according to tester Simon Smythe.
He adds: "To enhance low-light visibility there's loads of reflective trim front and rear, and the foul-weather pièce de résistance is a dropdown tail that is completely covered in reflective fabric and features integrated removable button-sized flashing red lights."
The Van Rysel Women's Sportive Cold Weather Jacket is a very good value winter hi-vis jacket with some water repellency, windproofing, and lots of pockets. Van Rysel claims some windproofing and water-repellency, and the inside is a waffle style fleece for warmth. Riding for 2-4hrs in temperatures of 10°C and below, and pairing the jacket with a merino T-shirt baselayer, I was very comfortable.
Very light rain just about beads off, but anything heavier and the fabric does absorb water; in heavy persistent rain you do eventually get wet to the skin.
The 7mesh Rebellion is an excellent bike-specific hi-vis jacket that offers Gore-Tex Active waterproof protection, a slim fit and easy packability. It's unarguably the super-luxury option but if you want a superb waterproof that's also Bright Yellow, well here it is.
The Rebellion comes in a race cut, which is to say that it's of the slim and, most importantly, non-flappy variety. I like that a lot because, well, flapping does my head in. I also like the fact that the sleeves are long enough that your wrists are always well covered when you're stretched out on the bike and the front isn't so long that it forms countless waves when you lean forward.
If being seen on the road is your ultimate safety concern then the new version of Proviz's Nightrider high-visibility jacket really couldn't do much more to help. It's made from two types of material: super-loud yellow hi-vis and Proviz's REFLECT360 fabric at the shoulders and tail. Which means, whether you're cycling in daylight or darkness, as long as a source of light bounces off the jacket from somewhere, you'll be seen.
The effect of Proviz's high-vis yellow material is clear for all to see in daylight (the women's version uses an equally lurid pink), but it's the performance of the REFLECT360 material at night that is so impressive.
To my eyes, that seems to have taken a step forward since Proviz's original REFLECT360 products and it really does need only the faintest light, not even hitting the fabric surface directly, to glow like a loved-up phantom. It's very impressive.
Pearl Izumi's Elite Pursuit Hybrid jacket represents a really nice blend of performance fit, water resistance and windproofing, with welcome high-visibility features too. It's not quite your Castelli Perfetto or Santini Beta Rain jacket, but then it doesn't cost nearly as much as those all-round garments either.
The Elite Pursuit Hybrid jacket isn't a do-it-all, cool-weather, all-in-one outer garment like the Sportful Fiandre Light Wind jacket. It's better described as a lightweight outer layer that adds a little weatherproofing to your layering system.
Ostensibly, it's a beefier version of the lighter PRO Barrier Lite jacket. Still relatively packable (this weighs 27g more), it's supposed to be a slightly more resilient version of the Barrier Lite that you might be tempted to rely on as an all-ride outer layer rather than a whip-on, whip-off as needed option.
If you don’t want a bulky and sweaty waterproof jacket, the lightweight fabrics used in this Sportful Reflex jacket might just be right for you. The fabric is windproof and water- repellent, so it’ll be fine in showers, and it can be folded away very small to fit inside a jersey or backpack pocket. There’s 360-degree visibility with lots of reflective prints.
Made from a three-layer waterproof fabriv with fully taped seals and lots of 3M Scotchlite prints and logos, this dhb Flashlight Force should keep you both dry and visible on the roads. The use of a Teflon water repellent finish on the outer fabric face provides enhanced protection in the rain. You get two storage pockets, adjustable cuffs, a dropped tail and a fleece-lined collar.
British company Madison has been expanding its clothing range over the years and the Protec Waterproof jacket is fit for regular commuting cycling. It’s made from a fully taped fabric that is waterproof and windproof, and has vents for extra cooling on warmer days. A tailored fit with articulated arms increases the fit comfort and there is lots of reflective print.
A staple of Scottish clothing brand Endura’s commuting range for a few years, the latest round-town incarnation of the Luminite uses a 2.5 layer waterproof fabric with fully taped seams. It’s generous cut so you can get some layers underneath for extra insulation. You get a smattering of pockets, loads of reflective stripes and logos. It’s available in a men and women’s version and a choice of colours if you don’t want yellow.
Gore-Tex is often held up as the benchmark waterproof fabric, and this one is feature-packed with a stow-away hood in the collar, chest pocket, adjustable cuffs and waist hem, and lots of reflective detailing. It's cut to a casual fit—more a jacket than a race cape—so you can fit civilian clothes under it. If you want something sportier, check out the £164.99 Gore Wear C7 Gore-Tex Active.
Altura uses waterproof fabric with trim that provides reflectivity to ensure you stand out at all times. The two-layer fabric has a soft touch and it’s breathable so you shouldn’t overheat. There are put and yoke draft vents to help remove any excess heat buildup. A hi-vis jacket that also repels sparkly vampires. Or something.
Rapha’s jacket range includes the Commuter Jacket, showing that even the high priests of coffee shop cool are prepared to be the king of hi-vis when necessary. It’s a waterproof jacket aimed at city cyclists and commuters that want a top that will keep them dry or stop the wind, while also being able to pack down into a pocket, so it can live in a rucksack without taking up much space or adding weight, so it’s always ready for when you need it. And if you've had enough of yellow, it's also available in hi-vis pink, among others.
Saving the most expensive for last, this Castelli Raddoppia jacket has a performance focused fit and shape and is made from Gore Windstopper X-Fast material, which is windproof and water resistant; it’ll keep you dry in a shower but not a prolonged downpour. This is a jacket for keeping you warm rather than dry and Castelli says the insulation level is similar to its excellent Espresso jacket. There are two big reflective panels across the front and back with reflective sleeve logos.
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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.