Precision Hydration's Customer Service Manager, James Phillips, knows his running gear. He's a keen ultra-runner and is never short of an opinion on kit, so he's the perfect man to review the Proviz REFLECT360 running jacket...
The importance of reflective kit
When the opportunity came up to spend the winter running in one of the new ProViz running jackets, I jumped at the opportunity.
I’d known of ProViz for a while, primarily for their cycling apparel and had seen many a brightly lit rider (including PH’s very own Supply Chain and Logistics Manager, Sam, during his daily commute).
Having run in the jacket for the last four months I thought it was time to put my honest thoughts down on paper.
I’ve spent most of my life running in the New Forest and along its dimly lit pavements and street light-free country lanes, so I know all too well the importance of being seen by traffic.
On all of my evening runs I’ll head out with a headtorch, primarily so I can see the ~1-2m of the road ahead (I’ve tried running in the dark without one but there’s so much free-roaming cattle here that I’ve literally got within inches of running straight into a cow and I’m honestly not sure who got more spooked!).
Ultimately, head torches are great for your own vision but, unless you’ve got a car headlamp strapped to your forehead, they’re not great for actually being seen.
Which is where the importance of quality kit comes in.
Like most runners, I’ve accrued an assortment of ‘fluro’ gear - most of us have a wrist/ankle band, maybe a shoulder ‘sling’ or a pull-over vest in a drawer somewhere.
Some of us may have even purchased a dull yellow tee or pullover, but if we're honest they give us a false sense of security - you feel better because you think you’re doing all you can, but in reality by the time a moving vehicle has figured out what that vague patch of reflected light is it could be too late.
Testing the Proviz REFLECT360 running jacket
Identifying a gap in the market, Proviz have been manufacturing highly reflective apparel since 2008 and the most recent iteration - REFLECT360 - boasts a 100% reflective material made from tiny, reflective glass beads.
I’ve been wearing a men's medium (I’m 173cm tall and weigh ~67kg, pre-lockdown...) the fit is loose, especially around the shoulders, body, and arms, but pulls in nicely at the wrists and waist, so there’s plenty of room to layer up should the temperature really drop.
There are two waist pockets for your phone or keys, and the jacket is separated out in panels with a fully reflective front-body and mesh panelling down and under the arms, as well as across the back to improve ventilation.
When I was out running with the rest of the PH team before the National Running Show in the dark (and very cold) mornings of January, everyone commented on how visible I was and how reflective the jacket was. Praise indeed!
The pros and cons of the Proviz REFLECT360
“This is the best jacket for being seen, you light up like a Christmas tree, but you’re going to sweat in it, a lot…”
I’ve got to admit that after any runs over about 45 minutes, regardless of the different layering options I tried, I was a hot, sweaty mess and even occasionally experienced pooling of sweat at the wrists if I'd been running particularly hard.
It's worth noting here that I'm a VERY sweaty man though and it's very rare that any kit I wear for a sustained period of exercise doesn't come back absolutely soaked.
For a heavy sweater like me, I still think the benefits of wearing the comfortable and exceptionally reflective REFLECT360 outweighs the relatively minor (and seemingly inevitable for me at least) cost of being sweaty.
Regardless of the lack of breathability, this has become, and will continue to be, a staple part of my winter running kit.
I don't mind being hot if it means I'm more visible and ultimately safer.