10 best hi-vis cycling jackets 2022 | road.cc

2022-04-24 09:12:04 By : Mr. jianlong zhang

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Cyclists in high visibility jackets (usually abbreviated to 'hi-vis') are a common sight, especially after dusk, as riders try and make themselves more visible to other road users. We've spent thousands of hours riding in the dark and cold to find out which high-visibility jackets work best. These are the best high-visibility cycling jackets you can buy.

As well as standing out, hi-vis jackets for cycling usually offer a degree of water-resistance and windproofing to make riding in the dark and cold more bearable.

While there are studies that suggest hi-vis clothing doesn’t always ensure you’re visible to other road users, most people have clearly decided a hi-vis jacket can’t do any harm. For that reason high-visibility jackets are hugely popular and there’s loads of choice, with prices starting from £30.

>> Read more: The best waterproof cycling jackets

The best hi-vis jackets combine lots of reflective material with their bright yellow fabrics. Hi-vis jackets can be waterproof hardshells, lightweight windproofs or made from softshell fabrics for warmth

Most hi-vis jackets for cycling are aimed at commuting riders, but there are close-fitting versions for training in too.

If being seen on the road is your ultimate safety concern then the new version of Proviz's Nightrider high-visibility jacket really couldn't do much more to help. It's made from two types of material: super-loud yellow hi-vis and Proviz's REFLECT360 fabric at the shoulders and tail. Which means, whether you're cycling in daylight or darkness, as long as a source of light bounces off the jacket from somewhere, you'll be seen.

The effect of Proviz's high-vis yellow material is clear for all to see in daylight (the women's version uses an equally lurid pink), but it's the performance of the REFLECT360 material at night that is so impressive.

To my eyes, that seems to have taken a step forward since Proviz's original REFLECT360 products and it really does need only the faintest light, not even hitting the fabric surface directly, to glow like a loved-up phantom. It's very impressive.

There's a women's version too.

Read our review of the Proviz Nightrider 2.0

Tester Iwein writes: “The Pactimo Men's Torrent Stretch Waterproof Cape is described as being 'completely waterproof, lightweight, form-fitting and extremely breathable.' While such claims are hardly unusual, here they're justified – I totally agree. The Torrent scores in all those areas very well indeed, and though the price is high the performance is higher still.

“Pactimo claims a 20,000mm waterproof rating and a 37,000mm moisture transfer rate; that second number in particular is pretty impressive. It seems to work too; I was less sweaty — and therefore less cold — on a ride stop after several hours of rain. All seams are sealed, and you get a decent, waterproof main YKK zip.

“In short, this is easily the best waterproof jacket I have tried.” We tested a black version, but you can also get it in ‘Manic Yellow’ as shown above.

Read our review of the Pactimo Men’s Torrent Stretch Waterproof Cape

The Showers Pass Elite 2.1 is in the round the lightest, most waterproof and windproof triple-layer jacket the company makes. It has legions of adoring fans, and it's clear why. It's as close to perfect a jacket as we've ever worn, for going far, fast and hard in the most awful of weather.

It's also adorned with plenty of reflective material. As well as the stripes on the arms and the log you can see in the above picture, there's a big stripe across the back. You could argue that the egg-yolk yellow here isn't quite the classic fluoro we've come to expect of hi-vis, but when the rest of the jacket is this good, we'll give it a pass for that.

Read our review of the Showers Pass Elite 2.1 jacket

Bright yellow jackets don’t get much more affordable than this one from giant sports superstore Decathlon. It’s made from a fully waterproof material with seamed seals, to prevent water sneaking in at the edges of the various panels the jacket is constructed from, and there are reflective patches on the front and back of the body and on the arms, wrists, neck and shoulders.

Altura's Nightvision Storm Waterproof Jacket is a great addition to a regular commuter's wardrobe. It offers good protection against the wind and rain without causing excessive overheating, and the reflective detailing and storage options are well thought out, practical and functional.

Tester Emma writes: “The Nightvision Storm is a home-to-workplace practical bit of kit that performs well and looks good both on and off the bike. I've used it for commuting, shopping trips, general errands and meeting up with friends. I've struggled to fault it from this perspective, both on and off the bike.

“The reflective detailing is exceptionally striking under headlights and has been placed well: shoulders, arms and sides... basically, the parts that won't be covered by a rucksack but will be most exposed when you are in a riding position. While it's effective at night, the detailing is not overstated. The jacket certainly doesn't scream cyclist and I've had as much use out of it off the bike as I have on.”

Read our review of the Altura Nightvision Storm Women’s Waterproof Jacket Find an Altura dealer

Read our review of the Altura Nightvision Storm Men's Waterproof Jacket Find an Altura dealer

The Gore Torrent Men's Jacket is designed for riding in adverse weather and delivers in every respect, if you're looking for a figure hugging, wind cheating and highly packable model with some nice feature. However, though there's plenty of give, scrutinise the sizing chart properly, as the fit is snug.

Tester Shaun writes: “I've worn this in several hours of steady, wintry rain with no hint of it creeping through the fleece-lined collar or anywhere else, and it all blocks icy blasts too. Water visibly beads up and rolls away. The zippers are easily operated in gloves, too, and the size-access rear pocket is particularly handy. The subtle retro-reflective detailing around the sleeves adds some additional presence, and I was pleased to discover a generous zippered rear pocket.”

“As you can see, the ‘fireball red’ colour offered isn’t a conventional high-vis hue, but it’s plenty visible. I've been really impressed by the Gore Torrent's performance and, though pricey, it's an investment that should pay for itself in happy, comfortable miles.”

Read our review of the Gore Torrent Men’s Jacket Find a Gore dealer

The Rapha Classic Winter Gore-Tex Jacket is an exceptional cycling jacket for a range of winter rides. The fit is relaxed for easy layering over thermal long sleeve jerseys, and the lightweight design provides a surprisingly good amount of warmth.

Tester Liam writes: “My first ride in this jacket was a muddy mountain bike adventure in some incredibly heavy rain. That, combined with the rather sloppy trail, made for challenging conditions for the jacket. It came through this test without being fazed at all. Whatever Rapha is saying about the Classic Winter Jacket just being water-resistant, the rain and wheel spray that it fended off leads me to think it rather out-performed those claims. Which was nice, because I didn't get wet.

“Rapha has included a number of reflective elements and panels on the jacket that, along with this lovely bright colour, made me feel about as visible as possible on gloomy days. This is a high-priced product that backs it up with brilliant performance. The fit and cut are both great, the outer fabric is very water-resistant, while the inner fabric provides a surprising amount of warmth.”

Our female testers are big fans of the Rapha Women’s Classic Winter Gore-Tex Jacket, which will also set you back £270.

Read our review of the Rapha Women’s Classic Winter Gore-Tex Jacket

Read our review of the Rapha Men’s Classic Winter Gore-Tex Jacket Find a Rapha dealer

The Showers Pass Transit CC is available as a hi-vis jacket as well as in more subdued colours. It's "a super-practical commuting hardshell, packed with clever details" according to tester Simon Smythe.

He adds: "To enhance low-light visibility there's loads of reflective trim front and rear, and the foul-weather pièce de résistance is a dropdown tail that is completely covered in reflective fabric and features integrated removable button-sized flashing red lights."

Read our review of the Showers Pass Transit CC

The Van Rysel Women's Sportive Cold Weather Jacket is a very good value winter hi-vis jacket with some water repellency, windproofing, and lots of pockets. Van Rysel claims some windproofing and water-repellency, and the inside is a waffle style fleece for warmth. Riding for 2-4hrs in temperatures of 10°C and below, and pairing the jacket with a merino T-shirt baselayer, I was very comfortable.

Very light rain just about beads off, but anything heavier and the fabric does absorb water; in heavy persistent rain you do eventually get wet to the skin.

The men's version is the £59.99 Van Rysel Racer Cold Weather Jacket.

Read our review of the Van Rysel Women’s Sportive Cold Weather Jacket

Bioracer's Kaaiman jacket is a great option when you want to ride quickly and it's properly filthy out. The Kaaiman is Bioracer's take on a classic winter hard shell jacket. It's a full membrane fabric with a waffle-texture internal facing that feels good next to the skin if it's warm enough to wear this jacket without a long-sleeve layer underneath.

Tester dave writes: “The Kaaiman’s nicely made, with ultrasonic bonded seams, a storm flap, tight silicone-edged cuffs and a waterproof zip. All those things together make the Kaaiman just about the most waterproof outer layer I've used. I've worn this jacket on some properly biblical days and it's shrugged off everything. It's not a particularly thick jacket but the waffle textured inside fabric traps a bit of air and helps to keep the windchill off you.

“Finishing on the Kaaiman is good, with enough reflective to make a difference after dark. Overall, it's an impressively waterproof jacket for road riding that's well cut, and it's been front of the wardrobe for days when it's grim out.”

Read our review of the Bioracer Kaaiman Jacket

The Castelli Alpha RoS 2 Jacket is an exceptionally good windproof for cold weather with a few tricks up its sleeve – literally, in one case – that add to the performance.

Tester Mat writes: “It’s made from Gore-Tex Infinium Windstopper 150 which, as the name suggests, prevents cold air from blowing in. It's also highly breathable so you don't get that boil in a bag effect when you hit the climbs.And while Gore doesn't call it waterproof, Infinium Windstopper 150 is way more water-resistant than you might expect, a durable water repellent (DWR) coating helping out the internal membrane in this respect. The Alpha RoS does a great job of keeping road spray and short showers out. You can't dispense with a waterproof shell if heavy rain is forecast, but I've stayed perfectly dry in changeable conditions.”

“Overall, the Alpha RoS is a great design. The premium-quality fabrics and double-layer construction mean you can stay comfortable across a range of winter temperatures – even freezing and below – without getting too sweaty when you hit the climbs. It'll keep you dry through showers too, meaning that you don't need to mess around with a waterproof shell unless you encounter heavy rain. The all-round performance really is something special.”

Read our review of the Castelli Alpha RoS 2 Jacket Men’s Find a Castelli dealer

Tester Stu writes: “The C5 Gore-Tex Infinium Thermo Jacket is a soft shell that boasts full windproofing along with water resistance and a high-performance fit. After five weeks of testing, I'm pretty sure this jacket will cover about 90% of my winter riding – it's that good! With a long-sleeve baselayer underneath I've ridden at 2°C and was lovely and warm, so I reckon I could go a touch under freezing in this. I do run quite warm and rarely need to run a jacket over the top of a soft shell, though, even as the temperature drops past -5°C.

“Gore has included reflective panels either side of the pockets. They're pretty much invisible by day, but effective once the lights come on. There's a similar arrangement on the cuffs, which can help to show up your indications, although in reality they'll probably be tucked inside your gloves.

“I really like the Gore C5 Infinium Thermo Jacket. It's one of those Swiss army knife products that covers an awful lot of bases. The close fit keeps your body well covered and comfortable too, so to be honest you can just forget about the thing and enjoy your ride.”

Read our review of the Gore C5 Gore-Tex Infinium Thermo jacket Find a Gore dealer

The aim of dhb's All Winter Softshell is to offer one jacket that can take you all the way through a winter season that can see temperatures range from below zero to double figures in the UK, and with additional layering for the worst conditions it has succeeded in meeting its goal.

Tester Paul writes: “Made using a fleecy, grid-back softshell material, the All Winter manages to retain warmth with less bulk than you might expect, which of course aids all-important breathability. Where extra protection is needed across the chest and sleeves – the bits of your body that face the wind directly – that is provided by the use of warmer panels, while lighter weight, more breathable panels are placed under the arms to prevent overheating. This construction works well, hitting a sweet spot of warmth, breathability and comfort that dealt with the 2-12-degree temperature range that dhb was aiming for. I found the underarm panels particularly useful in preventing overheating: there's not much need for weather protection here and it is an area of the body that generates a lot of heat. I'll never understand jackets and jerseys that don't employ a lighter fabric here.

“The pockets feature reflective trim across the top and in the two outer, lower corners, plus there are reflective chevrons on the lower arms to aid side-on visibility. As this jacket is designed to be worn in what are likely to be low-light conditions, it's good to see dhb making the effort on visibility. This is a fine winter jacket at a good price that balances everything a cyclist needs outside of the summer months – warmth, breathability, flexibility, visibility and, yes, style – to make a versatile package. From the looks of the construction and the way it has responded to washing, it will take you through several off-season cycles before it ever needs replacing, too.”

Read our review of the dhb Aeron All Winter Softshell Jacket

Bargain klaxon:  £107.97 from Go Outdoors in M and L

The Gore Gore-Tex Paclite Jacket is great. It's light and scrunches easily into a jersey pocket, fits over winter layers and breathes well enough that you never boil inside. There's nothing to seriously criticise – though if you're slim, you can happily size down.

Tester Steve writes: “Though easily packable, the Paclite is breathable enough to wear for entire 60-90-minute rides without becoming uncomfortable. I did find it ends up a bit wet inside when you do, but I never felt too hot or wanted to take it off while riding, even in mild winter weather. All colours have reflective logos as well as that strip on the rear pocket, and further reflective strips on the side of your wrists.”

“With the single meaningful caveat that a slim(ish) road rider can easily size down and still enjoy a great fit, it's a perfectly judged, very comfortable and very effective waterproof that's light enough to be there, in your pocket, whenever you need it.”

Read our review of the Gore Gore-Tex Paclite Jacket Find a Gore dealer

Rocking Infinium windstopper fabric and a DWR treatment against showers, the Gore Tempest Jacket Women’s is designed for day-to-day winter riding in all but the wettest conditions.

Tester Janine writes: “The first thing to note is just how cosy it is. Its focus on keeping out wind becomes instantly apparent when zipping up – on a bitter day it feels a bit like shutting a fridge door – and while its not designed for serious rain, if you do get caught in a shower the DWR coating does a great job of beading water away.

“In my opinion the neon yellow is by far the best choice for murky commutes and solo winter training rides (despite reflective arm bands on all options). The super-effective wind protection and attractive design of this jacket is easy to love. The fleeced inner is so plush that it serves up that bit of extra motivation for those cold, dark commutes – exactly what you want from a winter cycling jacket.”

Read our review of the Gore Tempest Jacket Women's Find a Gore dealer

The Donda Torrential Jacket is a very likeable, useful outer shell for cold and wet rides. Though only 'water resistant' rather than waterproof – and lacking any DWR treatment – it keeps you comfortable in persistent rain, and breathes well enough to keep you happy on dry rides too.

Tester Steve writes: “Finding jackets that aren't just either blend-with-the-hedges black or please-don't-kill-me fluoro yellow can be a bit of a mission, so I love this one: for me the orange and black is both stylish and noticeable. The large silver logos and stripes look cool while being highly reflective, too.

“Donda's 'water resistant' (not waterproof) claim is fair and it feels comfortable and protective even when rain gets in. Also, the inner pocket fabric has an almost mesh-like weave which is exposed to your body heat and moisture, but somehow seems to keep things pretty dry. I can only assume the fast-wicking, breathable and quick-drying nature of the main fabric is behind this – the humidity isn't hanging around and building up. The Torrential is not without flaws – and arguably for truly torrential rain you'd want an actual waterproof. Its performance and versatility are impressive, and the price is good.”

Read our review of the Donda Torrential Jacket Orange

The B'Twin Warm Reversible Urban Cycling Jacket is a really versatile option for keeping warm in cooler temperatures, either on or off the bike thanks to its reversible shell. It's ridiculously visible in bike mode, good looking in pub mode, and offers some weather protection. It feels great to wear, though the fitment at the waist is a bit odd.

Tester Hollis writes: “In eye-grabbing mode, you get loads of reflective material where you need it most – that is, one along the front of the zip, around the back of the waist, and, crucially, along the back of each arm, which is exactly what you want when you're indicating and you want a motorist from behind to clearly see what you're doing at night. These high-vis strips aren't playing either – they're safety vest-like super-wide, which is brilliant for getting you noticed, either during the day or at night.

“I'd really recommend the B'Twin jacket as it does everything so well, and the price tag of £49.99 makes it an excellent purchase if you do a lot of urban riding and want to be seen night and day.”

Read our review of the BTwin Warm Reversible Urban Cycling Jacket Find a BTwin dealer

We've scoured the online retailers to find some good deals on high-visibility cycling jackets. Here's what we found:

Some things to consider if you’re looking for a hi-vis jacket. Aside from the colour, not all high-visibility jackets are made the same. Some are constructed from waterproof fabrics, others are made from windproof and water resistant fabrics, with the different fabrics impacting such aspects as weight, breathability, fit and how compact the jacket is when rolled up. The fabric also impacts the price, with branded fabrics typically commanding a premium.

- Buyer's guide: the best reflective cycling clothing & accessories

Classic bright yellow hi-vis jackets are really only effective during daylight hours, so to ensure you stand out at night you want to look for a jacket with lots of reflective details and panels to help you stand out in the dark. Manufacturers are making much more effort to increase the reflectivity of high-visibility jackets, and we've even seen whole jackets made from reflective material, like the Proviz Reflect 360 Jacket.

- Essential wet weather cycle clothing and gear

Fit and shape are important, so it’s always worth trying one on before you buy, but you need to decide what. Some hi-vis cycling jackets are made from very lightweight material which means they can easily be folded away when not needed, making them ideal for touring and commuting where space is at a premium. Some hi-vis jackets have a much more generous shape with lots of space for layers underneath, and some can easily be worn over regular clothes. Some are proper performance fit if you’re choosing a high-visibility jacket for training rides.

Surprisingly few cycling jackets meet the various standards for high-visibility garments, which mandate acceptable colours and shades of material, and the amount of reflective material to bounce light back from car headlights.

The lowest standard is EN 17353:2020, which covers medium-risk situations. That standard was only published in September 2020 however, so the standard it replaced, BS EN 1150:1999 is the one you'll find in cycling garments.

These are standards for non-professional situations. High-risk situations — workplaces like motorway roadworks — are covered by EN ISO 20471 which mandates large sections of reflective tape to give workers a chance of being seen by drivers.

Given that riding a bike on the road can involve lengthy exposure to the risks posed by motor vehicle drivers without any of the control measures you'd find in roadworks, you might think ISO 20471 garments should be available for cycling too, but as far as we can tell nobody yet makes a cycling jacket to that standard.

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Road.cc buyer's guides are maintained and updated by John Stevenson. Email John with comments, corrections or queries.

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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