Proviz recently updated their ultra high-visibility lineup for commuters with the new Reflect 360+ jacket, which aims to be a bit higher level of performance than the jacket that they debuted back in 2014. The new jacket claims increased breathability, while maintaining both the unparalleled reflectivity and resistance to cold and wet weather. We had tested the previous generation of the Reflect 360 getting around town, but were hoping for something that could do a bit more double duty crossing over to some winter road riding. Follow us past the break to see what we think of the jacket that is getting us through our winter commutes these days…
The first impression of the Reflect 360+ jacket, which was introduced last fall as an update to an earlier version that we reviewed as well, like its predecessor, is its almost unbelievable reflectivity. Without a light source hitting it, the fabric does have a fairly subdued gray look, and I could mostly get way with walking around town with it. With that purpose in mind the deep chest pockets were fine for stashing some gloves or a hat, but maybe would have been more convenient with hand-warmer pockets. The large, central rear pocket was quite useful, and happily portaged everything from burritos to more warm layers.
But with that old iridescent gray fabric it is easy to tell that something else is going on, and many people made some comment off of the bike. The pearl look to the fabric is the same effect you get with highly reflective accents like those from 3M, but on this scale it is much more noticeable. With just a bit of light shining on it, even during the day, the jacket lights up to a bright white. That could mean an office light or even the glow of a monitor. But we’ve been testing this version in a locale with mandatory daytime headlights, and even in broad daylight it seems to glow bright white, really popping out of the background.
Unfortunately the second thing that struck us after the bright light, was the loose cut of the jacket. Touting it as a more performance oriented jacket, we had hoped that Proviz would have given it a more closely cut fit. Instead it sticks with what they described to us as a commuter fit, designed to be worn over a fairly heavy sweater or insulating layer. What that means is that with a 100cm chest, our L size sample jacket (sized for a 100-105cm chest) has easily 10 or 15cm of extra fabric in the chest for a very loose fit that hung down. And since the waterproof, reflective fabric doesn’t stretch the sleeves are rather wide as well to make it easy to get on and off, for what doesn’t seem to be a very biking-friendly cut.
When it wasn’t too cold and we didn’t need many layers, the jacket hung loosely and caught the wind as I rode. Sitting upright like you would on more of a commuter bike, the fit seems comfortable if a bit relaxed, but the sleeve length and width works. In the drops on a road bike however, there is a lot of extra fabric in the chest hanging down/puffing out, while the upper back is fairly tight and again the fabric tightens up between shoulder and bicep, leaving the neck and shoulders loose. In that tuck the sleeves also tended to slide up a bit and are only just long enough. Sizing wise, with the tighter chest and just right arm length, it’s not likely that sizing down would actually give a better fit.
The last impression from my first rides with the Reflect 360+ was that it wasn’t as airy and breathable as I had hoped either. The jacket gets perforations across the entirety of its fabric, and while that does allow some moisture (and heat to escape) it still remains a jacket for colder, wet weather. The mesh liner does a good job at pulling heat and moisture away from the body, but it could only do so much. In cool to moderately warm weather(10-15°C), any extended effort like climbing a hill, overwhelmed the venting capabilities of the fabric and it started to feel clammy inside.
On the other hand, when the snow (and freezing rain) started to fall the 360+ did an excellent job of keeping the elements out, leaving me warm and dry. Riding in several winter rainstorms, I never got wet, and never felt under dressed.
Riding with the Reflect 360+ for a couple of months has led us to truly understand where it fits in a cyclists’ closet. When the weather gets cold (think around freezing), it really does shine. When it was just a few degrees above freezing we could still make it through commutes with pretty basic clothing on underneath (say a baselayer and long sleeve shirt.) Dropping down to and below freezing, there was plenty of space, and I would just add a merino sweater. Comfortable like that down to 10 degrees below freezing, I could tackle city climbs that would heat me up,and the jacket would release enough heat that I never arrived somewhere sweaty.
And no jacket we’ve used has anywhere near the visibility when you are sharing the roads with cars (with headlights on.) One of limitations of this type of jacket is the type of fabric needed to get that reflective quality. Highly reflective fabrics just cannot deal with stretching, so compromises need to be made to regarding a close-to-the-body fit, and the Reflect 360+ definitely leans toward the commuter side of the spectrum.
While we had looked to this jacket for winter road riding, the fit derailed that pretty quick (a review of another, more softshell-like reflective jacket from Proviz is in the works now to fill that gap.) In the end what we found is that this delivered a step up in performance from the previous version, and really excess as a deep winter commuting jacket, ideal for when the sunny days are shorter than the work day. We’ve taken to wearing it daily to ride in and out of the office, and as long as temps hover near (or threaten to dip back towards) the freezing point, it will get a lot of use and make sure I’m seen on my rides to and from the office, whatever time of day.