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Cafe Fashions: The Simplest Way to Be Seen

Pro Viz 360 shining bright at night

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Pro Viz reflect 360

What Is It? The PROVIZ Reflect 360, A cycling (or running, I guess) rain jacket designed especially for nighttime riders.

Linkage: Voila (UK); US customers go here

What’s Special About It? The full-on reflection capability

What’s the Downside? Not as slick as more race-friendly designs

Verdict: Positive... read on.

I’ve tried out a lot of rain jackets over the years, and what I’ve come to understand is that they are a lot like the bikes themselves. They can try to do everything pretty well, or even really well if you pay enough. Or they can specialize and just rock the purpose for which they are made. I don’t have an opinion as to which approach is better; I’m fine with having four different jackets, since they’ll all either last longer or get swiped by my distance-running wife, or both. I also have a lot of different ways in which I ride, from winter commuting in total darkness and cold to distance rides on warm spring days and all the rain that promises, or not. For the latter I want a jacket that is tailored carefully so I don’t feel like a flag flapping in the breeze, and I also want to tuck it away on the off chance that grey cloud over the Olympic Mountains decides to hang on to its contents.

But for the former, I don’t care about any of those things. I want to make it home in one piece, preferably warm and dry. That’s where the PROVIZ Reflect 360 jacket comes in. Those are its three super powers, and in terms of carving out a niche, well, it’s an actual one. I’ve been wearing the Reflect 360 since early November, when the time changed over and my evening ride switched to total darkness. And it excels in all three areas.

To be honest, the most I can say from personal experience about the reflective qualities is that I haven’t been run over (furiously knocks on wood), but I can say I’ve managed to make the material flash. Here’s a terrible quality photo as evidence.

me in pro viz

That ghostly glow is what the jacket looks like illuminated. Here’s what it looks like in daylight, for comparison:

Proviz 360

Any of these videos will confirm the ability of the jacket to illuminate when hit by light. It is really, really bright! Plenty of jackets out there offer reflective capability, but mostly in the form of little bits or strips of reflective material. This is different. Every square millimeter of the jacket reflects to a high degree, thanks to microscopic glass beads embedded in the fabric. Since they’re microscopic it’s a little hard to picture, but this is what the company offers as an explanation:

proviz tech

As the videos show, when light hits you, the jacket lights up all over. Obviously when headlights shine on you, you will be seen. It’s not as clear to me what happens when the lights aren’t on you. Does ambient street light reflect? Sure, in a certain direction, but you only get the full glow from the same angle as the source. So be-seen lights are still a good idea for those cars who haven’t shined their lights on you yet but are planning a turn into your pathway. No jacket can solve all of your visibility problems at night, but the PRO VIZ Reflect 360 takes it about as far as possible.

pit zips

On the comfort scale, this is once again an ideal jacket for winter wear. There is fleece around the neck, which feels warm to the touch and does a reasonable job of holding heat in. The material itself feels heavy — and at 500 grams (approximately), it’s on the heavier end of the scale — so in warmer months that might be unpleasant. This time of year, that weight is an asset. I doubt the material processes oxygen as efficiently as those that emphasize breathability, but again, sometimes breathability isn’t the priority. If it is, the PRO VIZ Reflect 360 probably isn’t the choice.

I have been riding in weather from 30-45 degrees and it’s been nice and toasty. There are pit zips and a back flap for basic ventilation, but it’s otherwise short on clever vent options. The interior is lined with a light cotton mesh to keep the outer material off your skin. If you work out hard enough, you’ll probably sweat in this some. On my mellow commute, that hasn’t happened.

Sleeve adjust strap

What has happened is a lot of rain, and there the Reflect 360 worked especially well — as you’d expect for a product made in the U.K. The low cut in the back makes for a solid spray shield. The rubber straps on the sleeves (shown above) make it easy to tighten in the slop, and the zippers are up to the latest standards for an effective rain seal. There are internal pockets for basic storage, so it isn’t hard to get armored for a wet ride. From there, the waterproofing does the rest. I’d say this is as dry a jacket as I have. Again, not with all the other features of a lightweight, breathable dry coat, and I have some of those too. But it does the task of warding off moisture very well.

What it doesn’t do are things it doesn’t pretend to try to do. The shape of the jacket is a bit wide, unlike those tailored more closely for lack of wind drag. The stitching isn’t anything special and the details aren’t as refined as a more expensive, all-round coat. You probably wouldn’t ever try to race in it. Like I said above, I doubt it would shed body heat as quickly as jackets designed for that.

But at 130GBP (about $162 US right now), this is a warm, dry, and supremely safety-oriented commuter jacket, at a price that reflects the niche it seeks to fill. PRO VIZ shouldn’t apologize for not making a race coat. For the millions (and growing!) of year-round bike commuters dealing with darkness, cold, and rain, this is a pretty ideal and affordable two-plus season coat.