Wondering whether the REFLECT360 Plus Cycling Jacket is for you? Read Susie's in-depth review to get to know this Proviz best seller a bit better...
Susie is a busy mum to seven-year-old Peter and four-year-old Isabelle and is based in the North Cotswolds, near Chipping Norton. She is a part-time bid writer and a more-than-full-time activity junkie, attending Pilates, going running and swimming, walking her Vizsla, Bertie, and doing regular exercise classes, as well as going out cycling on a weekly basis.
Susie has successfully completed several triathlons and enjoys competing in running races, both locally and internationally. Fitting all the exercise she loves around the many life commitments that come with being a wife, mum, daughter, sister, friend and writer is never easy, but it gets even harder during the autumn and winter, when daylight hours are at a premium.
However, having worked hard to regain her pre-pregnancy fitness two times over, Susie is not prepared to let everything slide for six months just because the changing seasons make everything more of a challenge. Running in the late evenings (with a decent headtorch to light the way and a good friend to chat to and make you feel safer in the dark) and getting up early to fit in an online exercise class before the kids wake up become standard practice in the autumn and winter months.
The only concession she is prepared to make whilst training between September and March is to invest in purpose-made kit for all those outdoor activities. Well-made kit for running, walking and cycling in the cold, dark and wet can help to keep you safe and comfortable on the roads and trails, allowing you to maintain your fitness levels all year round, despite the reduced hours of daylight and the sometimes terrible weather. If you can talk yourself into running in the dark, cycling in the wind and rain and doing bootcamp on a frosty playing field, you don’t have to face the weeks of fitness regain in the spring, which means you are race-ready before everyone who has been in hibernation.
In preparation for those colder months ahead, Susie has spent recent weeks road testing our REFLECT360 Plus Cycling Jacket and this is her detailed analysis of our best-selling cycling jacket:
- What were your first impressions of the REFLECT360 Cycling Jacket when you opened the parcel?
It seems like really durable, high-quality material and very well made. I was keen to put it on and get out on the bike and put it through its paces (and get one of those pictures of it in the dark where everything else disappears and all you can see is a floating coat).
- Tell us about the fit and feel of the REFLECT360 Plus Cycling Jacket when you tried it on for the first time?
The REFLECT360 Plus Cycling Jacket is true to size in the body and isn’t too snug around the upper arms, which should mean that the jacket can accommodate thicker clothing underneath when I am wearing it for chillier rides during the winter months. It is light and comfortable to wear and is a good length for keeping my lower back warm on the bike.
- What do you normally need to carry with you during a typical cycle ride? Are there sufficient pockets in the REFLECT360 Plus Cycling Jacket for your requirements?
The REFLECT360 Plus Cycling Jacket has loads of pockets! There is plenty of space in the rear pocket for a large smartphone and snacks. All the fastenings seem good, so everything feels safe and secure. There are handy chest pockets for anything that you may need to access quickly when you are out and about.
- Did you know that Proviz uses Repreve (a high-performance mesh fabric manufactured from recycled plastic) for the lining of the REFLECT360 Plus Cycling Jacket, so that each jacket recycles between 7 and 9 plastic bottles? Do a brand’s eco credentials have an impact on your consumer decisions? Is there anything else that you think Proviz could be doing to lessen its impact on the environment?
I would not call myself an eco-warrior but, where possible, I do prefer to buy products from brands that seem to be trying to do something positive for the environment and/or give something back to the community. I think it’s great news about the recycled content in the jacket and I like that they take back worn out products for recycling too (and give you a discount on your next purchase for taking the time to organise the return, rather than throwing the old clothes in the bin). Their support of World Bicycle Relief seems entirely appropriate for their industry and it is nice to think that our purchases are having a positive effect on people for whom cycling is a lifeline and not just a fun leisure activity or healthy commuting option, as it is for most Proviz customers.
Perhaps Proviz could work towards using 100% recyclable packaging and labelling in the future too.
- Have you worn your REFLECT360 Plus Cycling Jacket in the rain? If so, how did it perform?
I haven’t tested my jacket in the rain yet, as the weather has been unusually kind for all my bike rides so far this autumn! It was very good at blocking a chilly wind on a blustery October ride though. The technical cotton mesh lining, the fleece-lined collar and the adjustable cuffs suggest it will be excellent for keeping me warm in low temperatures.
- Have you worn your REFLECT360 Plus Cycling Jacket for cycling at night? Did the highly reflective material make you feel safer on the roads?
I do the vast majority of my cycling in daylight hours (when the kids are at school). This jacket would be perfect for commuting during the winter though, if I didn’t work from home!
- What kit would you team this jacket with during the day in order to enhance your visibility to other road users?
I use daytime running lights on my bike to ensure I’m always seen by other road users. Hi-vis socks and gloves are great too. I am thinking of buying a flashing light for the back of my helmet, as I’ve seen these worn by other cyclists and they really stand out.
- Do you think this jacket could multitask for other activities, such as walking, hiking or running?
I was hoping I could use my REFLECT360 Plus Cycling Jacket for running in the dark, as I often run early or late in the day when light levels are low. Unfortunately the material is not ‘quiet’ enough for running. It is quite a bit thicker than jackets that are purpose made for running and this makes it rustle a lot when I move. I think this additional noise would be quite annoying on a run, though it would disguise the sound of my heavy breathing during evening hill efforts, so maybe that would be a totally bad thing :-)
- Does the REFLECT360 Plus Cycling Jacket get the balance right between keeping the elements out and letting heat and moisture escape?
I am not sure I am in the best position to answer this question yet, as I have not had a chance to test how it performs in persistent rain. I did find that I got a bit too warm inside on a sunny day, but I didn’t have the underarm vents unzipped and this would probably have helped. It has been unseasonably warm so far this autumn and I often find I am dressing for lower temperatures than we are actually experiencing, so I imagine I am not the only cyclist getting too warm on cycle rides at the moment!
I have worn my REFLECT360 Plus Cycling Jacket on windy days and I found that it kept the cold wind out really well, which I really appreciated.
- How do you rate the wind-proofing properties of the REFLECT360 Plus Cycling Jacket?
- What do you like best about the REFLECT360 Plus Cycling Jacket?
Given that I will most likely be wearing my jacket during the day, I think the thing I will appreciate most about it is how lightweight it is. It seems mad that you can spend so long working out which cycling kit you should buy, only to realise that the best garments are ones that are so comfortable and lightweight you can forget you’re wearing them.
I think if I was regularly cycling in the early morning or late at night, I would really appreciate the total reflectivity of this jacket. I know that the majority of cycling accidents happen in towns and cities, but at least in urban environments drivers are more likely to be on the alert for pedestrians and cyclists (and are often travelling at slower speeds than on quieter rural roads). Out in the countryside, a cyclist, horse-rider or pedestrian on a winding, single track road needs to work really hard to grab a driver’s attention before it’s too late. Anyone who failed to notice this jacket shining in the beam of their car headlights probably shouldn’t be on the road!
- What would you improve about the REFLECT360 Plus Cycling Jacket?
The collar comes up too high at the front for me (I do have a short torso) and the material is very stiff, so I could not zip the neck up fully (it dug into my chin).
- What are the main obstacles to your enjoyment of cycling (e.g. condition of local roads, aggressive drivers, lack of time to fit cycling into your schedule, lack of decent kit on the market to keep you safe and comfortable, British weather, etc)?
Potholes! The road surfaces in Oxfordshire leave a lot to be desired, and I recently had an accident due to a pothole. Luckily I am able to choose very quiet routes and the countryside is beautiful. I try to keep riding all year, only torrential rain or ice/snow stops me.
- What three items of autumn/winter cycling kit could you not live without?
Thermal bib tights, thick cycling gloves, a good windproof jacket!
- What tips would you give to anyone thinking of buying the REFLECT360 Plus Cycling Jacket this autumn/winter?
It’s perfect for commuting as there is space for normal clothes underneath, and you will definitely be seen in the dark. Go for a coloured option if you do more cycling in daylight.
We’d like to say a big thank you to Susie for taking the time to be interrogated about her experience of the REFLECT360 Plus Women's Cycling Jacket.