The BTR Cycling High Visibility Jacket is certainly eye-catching – at least under headlights and streetlamps. However, the retroreflective fabric is neither waterproof or breathable, and anything past a short and slow commute renders it uncomfortable.
Polyester is the default choice on budget jackets, so no surprise to learn that's precisely what the BTR is fashioned from.
The BTR uses a relatively thin reflective shell. Vents beneath the armpits, down the sides and across the upper back allow some air in and moisture out, and the panel stitching is neat and uniform throughout.
There are four pockets – two hip, a breast pocket and one inside – and the breast pocket is just large enough for a wallet and/or 6-inch smart phone. The sleeves are elasticated and the hem features a drawstring so you can tailor the fit to suit.
Though cut relatively long, there's no drop tail to protect you from rain and spray. The overall cut is roomy without feeling baggy.
In terms of visibility, it doesn't match the prowess of the Proviz Reflect360 Men's Cycling Jacket, but the reflectivity will certainly get you noticed under lights. Friends reckon 200 metres, from all angles.
With temperatures in the mid to high teens, the fabric can't keep up with moderate efforts and after 10 miles or so I felt like a ready meal boiled in the proverbial bag.
Entry level technical jackets with waterproofing and breathability ratings around the 10,000gsm mark (such as the ETC Arid Force 10 or the Altura Nevis III perform far better, and are also a good bit lighter (437g and 380g respectively).
Stitched construction and no seam welds means water is going to get inside, though it can fend off light rain for around 20 minutes. Once sodden, it takes a few hours at room temperature to dry.
The stitching is uniformly good, though, as are the zips. I've stuck to thirty-degree washes and found no ill effects.
At £44.95, there's not much to rival it, like for like. However, if you're willing to forgo the retro-reflective prowess the neon yellow BTWIN 100 Cycling Rain Jacket is a better bet at £29.99. For £59.99 there's the Altura Nevis which balances bike-friendly cut and performance with civilian practicalities well.
For very short commutes at a gentle pace, the BTR works well, especially in low light. For serious cycling or even meaningful commutes, however, it lacks the breathability or weatherproofing to actually shine.
Very bright under lights, but poor breathability and lack of waterproofing leave it uncomfortable
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road.cc test report
Make and model: BTR Cycling High Visibility Jacket
Size tested: Large
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?
BTR says: "This jacket is designed to give you glow in the dark total reflection & a comfortable & adjustable fit without the high vis day time bright colour."
My feelings: Very effective as a safety aid, but lack of waterproofing and breathability limits the appeal to very short commutes at a slow pace.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Reflective Material- silver material reflects headlights straight back to the driver. Be highly visible low light conditions to help keep you safe
Pockets – 1 external chest fleece lined pocket & 2 side pockets– help to keep your essentials handy
Stretchy Black Side & Under Arm Panels– helps you get air to your underarms & also the jacket stretches with you!
Mesh Lined– if you are working up a sweat don't be sticking to it!
Back Vent– whilst the Silver Be Totally Reflective material isn't breathable the back vent helps you get some ventilation"
Stitching and materials are neatly joined and show no obvious weakspots. Think cheap and cheerful, rather than cheap and nasty.
Okay for a few slow miles, but uncomfortable for anything more.
No obvious signs of weakness in the fabric, stitching or zippers.
BTR says it's not waterproof, but it will resist showery rain for twenty minutes or so. Persistent rain sneaks through the stitching.
Vented panels let some heat out, and it's OK for 2-3 miles at 10-12mph, but can't cope with anything more.
Lack of breathability and waterproofing take a meaningful toll.
The retro-reflective fabric stands out a mile under headlamps and street lights, so safety is great, but its technical performance is very poor.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Easily wiped clean, plus ours responded well to machine washing at 30/40 degrees.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
If you're looking for safety on gentle commutes and the like, then quite well. For keen cyclists it works poorly.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Very bright with decent pockets.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Not waterproof, or breathable to the standards of most budget technical jackets.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
At £44.95, there's not much to rival it, like for like. However, if you're willing to forgo the retro-reflective prowess, the neon yellow BTWIN 100 Cycling Rain Jacket is a better bet at £29.99.
For £59.99 there's the Altura Nevis which balances bike-friendly cut and performance with civilian practicalities well.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Indifferent
Would you consider buying the jacket? No
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your overall score
This is cheaper than most technical jackets and okay for very short commutes – and very bright – but otherwise it's blown away by most budget options. It's not really suitable for cycling, and below average.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb 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, mtb,
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)