There's no doubt that the Proviz Reflect360 Elite Men's Cycling Jacket leaves little excuse for a SMIDSY (sorry mate, I didn't see you) and the performance is good in many other ways, but for the price I expected a bit more.
- Pros: Great night-time visibility, good fit and weather resistance
- Cons: Very expensive and, once the sun rises, quite ordinary to look at
There's a whole debate going on around the degree of importance accorded to cyclists making themselves visible compared to the importance of drivers looking where they are going. We won't go into that here, but if you do accept that more visibility equates to better survival chances, the Proviz Reflect360 is one way of achieving a lot of it. It isn't too shabby in performance terms either, with good weather-resistance for a lightweight garment and a well-considered, stretchy fit.
Let's start with Proviz's central philosophy, which is, as the name suggests, all about visibility. We've already reviewed its subtly differently named but entirely different Men's Reflect 360Plus Cycling Jacket. The Reflect360 Elite is Proviz's way of bringing some of that reflectivity to a slimmer, more performance-orientated jacket. This time, instead of a waterproof fabric, the technology is incorporated into a four-way stretch fabric to give it the kind of fit and flexibility you would expect from a close-fitting race jersey.
The material incorporates glass beads which throw back a tremendous amount of light from car headlights and it's quite an achievement to incorporate this into a material with so much stretch and other good qualities such as wind and rain resistance. This is used to make the one-piece shoulder, upper chest and front upper arm panels and the exterior of the three pockets across the lower back. The design means you are clearly visible from front, side and behind.
However, this is only true so long as you don't need to put anything over the top of the jacket. Even a gilet will obscure most of the reflective material behind and in front. So this raises a question: how often and in what conditions can this jacket be worn on its own – especially at night when it is most effective?
The care label includes the following advice: 'For use in conditions that are neither exceptional nor extreme'. In County Durham in January, 'extreme' is rarely exceptional and so it was with some trepidation that I ventured out only in the Reflect360 and a baselayer (and bibs, of course; think of the children).
That northerly wind was enough to strip flesh from bone and gave me a headache in spite of my thermal cap, but I'm pleased to report that the Reflect360 Elite was a match for it. There was no evidence of any draughts. The reflective stretch material is clearly more windproof than the Hydro Alpine 290 GSM fabric used for the rest of the panels – you can tell just by trying to blow through the two fabrics – so its positioning on the upper chest and arms is ideal.
Having said that, the black fabric was not noticeably draughtier. As the wind blew sleet showers into the mix, both fabrics kept the wet at bay though I wouldn't have wanted to spend all day in those conditions without a waterproof outer.
The zip, a chunky YKK affair, is not provided with a baffle but even so kept the wind out. I would like somewhere to park the puller at the neck, or perhaps offset the zip to one side, as Bontrager has done with its Velocis S1 Softshell.
Proviz claims high breathability for both fabrics (15,000gm/24h). I wore the jacket on the turbo trainer over a short-sleeve base to test this in extreme conditions and found that, while the lightly fleece-lined black panels finished the session feeling humid but tolerable, the reflective panels were sopping. I think this is exacerbated by the lack of internal lining here; there's just the shiny fabric which collects moisture.
Cut and fit were both good for my long frame. While I tested a medium it was still a fair fit on my 6ft 2in, and in particular the massive sleeve length was a boon; I hate cold wrists. The Elite incorporates a bit of slack in the back of the upper arm which means the cuffs don't pull upwards as you lean forward. The cuffs themselves, though of basic design, are broad and incorporate plenty of stretch so they will fit over or under your gloves, as you prefer.
The back pockets are deep, stretchy and secure, and reflective. I did like the two hidden side pockets too, which are genuinely useful for holding small objects or for handwarming duties, though the tiny zip pullers are fiddly for cold or gloved fingers.
I've mentioned that the unlined reflective panels don't feel the most pleasant against the skin and there was another issue with them, where the upper and lower arms join at the elbow. Because the seam is not flatlock stitched it tends to stand up a bit inside the sleeve and is noticeable against the flesh. The problem goes away in combination with a long-sleeved baselayer or jersey (though I found wearing a jersey as well a bit like wearing a jersey under a jersey, because of the nature of the jacket).
A silicone gripper runs the full length of the waist, which was a good fit and pulled down well over the backside for more warmth.
And so to the price. I don't look at this until I come to write my reviews, so as not to cloud my opinion of the performance. A rude word fell from my lips when I saw how much this jacket is. Yes, it works well, the reflectivity is good – though that's only of value at night (in daylight it reverts to a dove grey) – and in many respects the Proviz is a good-to-very-good but not exceptional jersey-like jacket. For the money, I would really want a bit more.
Excellent reflectivity for night owls and good performance, though it's hard to see why the price is quite so high
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Proviz Reflect360 Elite Men's Cycling Jacket
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the jacket is for
Proviz says: "The REFLECT360 Elite cycling jacket is the latest jacket to be introduced to our best-selling REFLECT360 range. The jacket utilises unique four-way stretch reflective material to give you complete flexibility and comfort while having the added benefit of being fully reflective when caught in a vehicle's headlights. This new material, sourced in Italy, brings a new dimension to the REFLECT360 range.
"The jacket has a silicon powerband around the waist to give the perfect on-bike performance fit. It is also wind-resistant, water-resistant and completely breathable to give road cyclists a product they can use throughout the winter.
"We have designed the arms and body of the jacket using Hydro Alpine 260 GSM fabric that enables ultra-fast drying and through flow of air which helps to regulate your body temperature and gives great insulation on those cold winter days. The cuffs are double layered Lycra fabric. There is also a dropped tail to block wheel-spray and above the tail you have three pockets to house your extras and two hidden side zipped pockets for your essentials."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
About the fabric: The material has millions of tiny reflective beads embedded in the material so when a vehicle's headlights hit the jacket, the beads reflective the light back to the light source meaning the driver should be able to identify the cyclist further in advance than normal and manoeuvre appropriately . 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).
Decent enough, tidy double-stitch on most seams and flat-locked on some, though not around the join between upper and lower arm where the seam was distinctly noticeable against bare skin.
Surprisingly wind-and-weather-resistant for a non-softshell garment. This was warm and windproof enough for some pretty cold weather rides. The reflectivity is great, but only of benefit at night and in the day it reverts to being an ordinary jacket.
It's surviving the winter muck. The reflective fabric seems more than adequate in strength and abrasion resistance terms.
Proviz only describes this as "water resistant" and any fabric will allow water in if the seams are not taped. However, this jacket shrugged off rain and sleet surprisingly well.
Good in the black Hydro Alpine 290 GSM fabric used for the non-reflective panels. The reflectives got pretty wet when pushed hard.
One of the jacket's best features, in my opinion. If you have a long body you will like this.
Stockier riders may want to go smaller, though the fit is quite slim.
Heavier than you might imagine for a non-softshell garment, but of little consequence if comfort and warmth are your aims.
Generally very good but the zip could have been hidden at the neck and there's that sleeve seam I mentioned earlier.
The price is jaw-dropping for what seems, essentially, to be a standard-design winter jacket (and not a fully waterproof one); design and construction is nothing out of the ordinary, so it must be down to the high-tech reflective materials. The similarly-reflective Huez Starman Reflex Jacket is 'only' £160, but a slightly different beast... There are more expensive jackets out there, offering better waterproofing and breathability but not as impressive reflectivity.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Fine. The usual 30 degree wash, it dried quickly. I managed to catch one of the reflective panels in the zip which left a little mark, but that was probably clumsy handling.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The night reflectivity is excellent, though I would prefer it to be more on the sleeves than on the back where it could be obscured by a gilet. The wind and weather resistance were better than I expected from the look and design. Breathability was okay but better on the lined panels than the unlined reflective parts. Comfort was great, provided I wore it over a long-sleeved layer as I didn't like the feel of the seam near the inner elbow. The very long sleeve was perfect for me and the wide wrist band meant warmer wrists and hands.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
I liked the fit, which was long and slim like me. The cut of the upper sleeve meant there was plenty of material in reserve for leaning forward without pulling the cuffs up. Weather protection was good and the reflective material certainly works – though in daytime it's only average.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
The reflective material can obviously only do its job if you don't want to wear anything on top, and this problem is exacerbated by the fact that it is mostly on the back and shoulders so much of it is obscured if you wear a gilet, which I did on occasions, encouraged by the jacket's jersey-like feel.
The unlined reflective panels didn't feel particularly pleasant against bare skin. And the price is pretty high.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? No, too expensive for me.
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Maybe
Use this box to explain your overall score
A difficult one to judge because I liked this jacket in a lot of ways and it clearly does what it sets out to do. I just can't get past the idea of paying this much, even with the safety aspect; if you ride a lot at night, this might justify the cost to you.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale CAAD10 My best bike is: Tomassini Prestige
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking