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The Proviz Reflect360 Plus Gilet has been given a sportier makeover. It's one in a wider series of retro-reflective clothing, aimed at cyclists and runners. Slate grey under normal, daylight conditions, it turns brilliant white when graced by vehicle or street lighting.
The retro-reflective component is achieved by impregnating the fabric with millions of tiny glass beads and is incredibly effective.
Obviously, there's some trade-off if you're wearing a rucksack or messenger bag, but otherwise the design is pretty extrovert, especially good for junctions and roundabouts. Around town, I seemed to register on most drivers' radars at 150m or so; along unlit lanes, friends reckoned they could spot me at 250 metres – further on a crystal clear night and combined with a high power headlight and blinkies.
The main material is our old friend polyester. It's technical enough to keep you temperate under exertion, resisting wind and rain (to 10,000mm per hour), and features a perforated rear panel so moisture can also escape.
Performance is generally good across the board. As a technical, training garment, the shell does an excellent job of blocking chill, and a slimmer cut for this new version rules out opportunity for wind and rain to sneak inside.
Like most polyesters, the fabric takes a little while before wicking starts. Hammer along at 20mph for 20 minutes or so and in milder temperatures that familiar, misty warmth becomes very palpable.
This is particularly apparent when wearing a rucksack, so if commuting forms part of your training diet, choose a design that sits away for improved airflow. Eviction proceedings are typical of garments with a breathability rating of 10,000. I've never felt unduly moist when the mercury's been creeping into 13-14°C territory; mind you, at this point, I was dropping the zipper quarter way.
The tag is designed with full-finger gloves in mind, and I had no problems commanding it wearing my early season favourites, even at the close of a long ride with caffeine being eclipsed by fatigue.
As mentioned, this new version has a slimmer 'racing snakes' cut than the previous incarnation, better suited to training and other performance-orientated riding, though still offering some commuter-friendly practicalities.
While the looser fit of the previous version was better suited to commuting in street clothing, or for general outdoor use, there was some trade-off in terms of flutter when hunkered low and hammering. This season's 360 is still roomy enough for a baselayer and relatively thick long-sleeve jersey, but looks a bit sharper.
Somewhat oddly, the back doesn't feature a traditional drop tail to protect the lower back and vital organs from wet and chill, and I was surprised to find some jersey peeking out. The elastic gripper does its thing pretty well, though, and I've had no problems with incremental creep during the course of a ride, even with some notoriously slippery Lycra.
A proportionate fleece-lined collar continues the weather-cheating theme while remaining unobtrusive.
Proviz has tended to be quite generous size-wise, but thanks in part to the racier cut our medium was perfect for my frame. (I'm proportionally much longer in the legs and shorter in the torso than typical of men of comparable height.) Proviz offers gender-specific versions, which maximises the chances of a flattering fit.
Two generous hip pockets are great for parking hands when mooching around, and are roomy enough for swallowing 5in smartphones, keys and the like. Personally I'd have liked a chest pocket too, but it's hardly a deal breaker.
Hip pockets can be a double edged sword: load 'em up and chances are your knees will catch the contents every few revolutions. Thankfully, here, this wasn't an issue.
Some riders suggested an elasticated LED loop would have been a nice touch, but although I can see where they're going with that – especially if it's your only gilet and on gloomy mornings – on balance, bikes should be fitted with a rear light so I wasn't too concerned by its omission.
The fabric resists light grime, the sort following a roadside mechanical, and I've machine washed ours at 30 degrees with excellent results. Bargain on 45 minutes' drying time at room temperature, 20 or so on the line with a decent breeze.
Overall, the Reflect360 Plus Gilet is literally brilliant in one respect, competent in others. There aren't many designs that can eclipse it in the retro-reflective sense, but there are faster-wicking options with removable LED tech – such as Visijax's Gilet with LEDs – that might be better choices for longer rides. These also fold more compactly, which could be another draw.
I would also appreciate greater length at the back, although I can't say I ever achieved the dreaded racoon stripe, even with shorter clip-on guards.
Very effective safety gilet, but breathability and a relatively short back may alienate some
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Proviz Reflect360 Plus Gilet
Size tested: Medium
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?
Proviz says: "The Proviz REFLECT360 Plus Gilet is the more 'technical' version of the highly successful Original Version launched in 2014. The new material is designed by us and used in the REFLECT360 Plus gilet to give added breathability and waterproofing and is more lightweight than the original version which will aid cyclists and runners wanting a higher performing garment but not wishing to lose any of the reflective capability of our unique, upgraded reflective material (CE EN 20471 certified) that made the original version of this gilet so successful.
"The REFLECT360 Plus Gilet has a more tailored fit to give you a more streamlined look. The gilet will keep the wind out and your body dry should you encounter any rain showers.
"About the fabric: The fabric used for the REFLECT360 Plus range is designed by Proviz and is highly technical. A special film is used to achieve the increased breathability and waterproofing required which is then sealed to our special reflective material. During daylight it is a modest grey colour. At night, when the fabric picks up an external light source, eg vehicle headlights, it gives 'astonishing reflectivity' (quote: Cycling Active Magazine). The material is CE EN 20471 certified."
I'd say it's better cut than the original and hard to beat in the retro-reflective sense, though I was surprised the back wasn't longer.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
From Proviz: "Utilising millions of tiny, highly reflective glass beads, the innovative material used for the REFLECT360 Plus Cycling Gilet is highly breathable (10,000gm/24hr) and exceptionally waterproof (10,000mm), with taped inner seams to prevent water getting in at sewing lines."
Excellent as a visibility aid, but good rather than great in the breathability stakes.
Greatly improved compared with the original.
Generally very good, though the back is comparatively short.
Blocks rain and chill well but breathability is more pedestrian, though not out of the ordinary for garments with a 10,000mm rating.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Easy to care for; machine wash with minimal detergent.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, I've been quite impressed by the 360 gilet, which is hard to beat in terms of presence, though the back could be longer, and breathability is good rather than great, especially with a messenger bag/rucksack on board. Pocket provision is good.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Presence, cut, pockets and cool weather comfort.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not the fastest-wicking, and could be longer at the back.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Generally speaking, yes.
Use this box to explain your score
It's a decent gilet with some great touches, but breathability is good rather than excellent.
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)