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Fully reflective jackets are unbeatable for being seen at night, but with the odd exception the reflective fabric tends to be pretty bulky and not very breathable. A reflective gilet is a happy halfway house: you still light up when cars approach, but you're less likely to boil. The ETC Arid Unisex Reflective Gilet is a pretty good option for less aggressive riding.
Made fully from reflective fabric, the Arid gilet has a solid front panel to keep the wind and rain out and a perforated back panel to let some air escape. There's a fleece-lined collar, which is welcome, and a mesh liner which it doesn't really need – you're never wearing it next to your skin, after all, and it adds to the bulk.
Reflective fabric isn't lightweight and you'll struggle to roll this up into a jersey pocket – it's more one to commit to for a ride or to stuff in a saddlebag or pannier.
There's a chest pocket that'll swallow a phone, and two side pockets for general stuff.
The back is dropped in a way that suggests more upright riding is the target market here.
ETC describes this as a unisex item, which here just means it's not an especially close cut. The size L fitted me (1.89m, 93kg) fine; I can't really tell you whether it's suited to female riders, but the chest isn't especially generous and the fabric certainly isn't very stretchy, so bear that in mind.
Out on the road the gilet performed pretty well: it's fully windproof and it shrugs off some pretty heavy rain. The fabric isn't really breathable but there's enough room for air to circulate and make it out of the perforated back, so even going quite hard it didn't get uncomfortably warm. And it's certainly hugely effective in terms of its reflective ability. It's a useful extra layer on dark winter mornings or on rides that carry on into (or through) the night, and there's room to wear it over a couple of fairly thick layers if it's bitter out.
Overall it's pretty good for £50. If you want to light up after dark then a gilet like this is a more versatile option than a jacket that will end up being too warm for a greater proportion of the time.
It's more expensive than something like the BTR gilet we tested recently, but also a lot more bike-specific. In terms of performance it's not dissimilar to the Proviz Reflect360 Plus gilet, for £10 less. And you can pay a lot more than that if you want.
I'd recommend it for more casual riding, into audax and touring; if you want something more sport-orientated then the Lusso Nitelife is probably a better bet.
Good quality reflective gilet for commuting, audax and touring
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road.cc test report
Make and model: ETC Arid Unisex Reflective Cycling Gilet
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the product is for
ETC says, 'Designed to keep the worst of the Elements at bay. Combining Style, Practicality, and Reflectivity, the ETC Arid Jacket range has been conceived with Riders' comfort and safety in mind.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
* Weatherproof and Fully Reflective
* Deep Tail Splashguard Protection
* Fleece Lined Inner Collar
* Inside, Side and Chest Pockets
* Machine Washable
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
It's fine in a cool wash.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Very reflective. Cut is good for slower riding.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Bulky pack size. Not really breathable.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's pretty good, comparable with the Proviz Reflect360 which is the most direct competitor.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Good overall: not the most exciting or technical garment ever to come through the doors, but it does what it's designed to do and it's a useful addition to the wardrobe.
About the tester
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR, Merida Scultura, Dward Design fixed
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.