The temperature has started to drop in Boston and you could say the change indicates that . . . winter is coming. It has not been what I would describe as frigid yet, however it is definitely jacket weather. It just so happens that the drop in the mercury coincided with a timely product review request. It is nice when a product is designed to meet multiple purposes, and the PROVIZ Reflect360 CRS Cycling Jacket is designed for both protection from the elements and safety. The following text is from the PROVIZ web site:
Utilising millions of highly reflective tiny glass beads the REFLECT360 CRS jacket’s appearance is almost ghostly in a driver’s headlights! This is a unique coloured reflective material, exclusive to Proviz. The material has exceptional waterproofing (5,000mm) capability on those rainy days. The inner seams are taped so not a drop of water gets through the sewing lines.
When asked to perform the review I requested the black version because I figured black hides dirt and grime the best, and I already have a red jacket and a yellow jacket. When the package arrived I opened it and discovered the company had decided to send me a blue jacket (both of the pictures below are from their web site).
At first I was a little bummed with the color, but I have to admit that during the short time I have worn the jacket, the color has grown on me and I like it. Here is the tag that came with the jacket –
And right after opening the package, I took a picture with no flash and then with a flash. The material definitely picks up the light. Most jackets I have had have reflective strips of some sort, but this jacket is different in that the fabric on the whole jacket is designed to be reflective.
Here is a picture from their website, where they have obviously flooded the people with light to display the safety feature of the fabric.
The first thing I noticed when wearing the jacket on a ride was that the fabric does not breathe well. If asked to describe the fabric, I would say it is “plasticky”. It is definitely not soft, but it wears just fine. Fabrics that do not breathe well have good and bad elements. The good thing is fabric that does not breathe will likely keep water out. The bad thing is, heat can build up while in use, leading to perspiration.
On the good side, I have not had the chance to ride in the rain, but I performed a water test of my own and the fabric performed well. I placed the jacket flat on a counter and poured some water on it. I let the water sit on the jacket for 30 minutes and when I picked up the jacket, the water drained off and there was no sign of wetness on the interior side.
On the bad side, well with this jacket the design does an excellent job of dealing with the perspiration problem because there are vents galore, along with a mesh lining that provides some separation from the outer shell. There are zip vents under each arm, there are two Napoleon pockets on the front which can act as vents, and there is a vent on top of the backside of the jacket. I am huge fan of the Napoleon pocket and having two of them is great. There is also a Velcro pocket on the inside/left chest. So if you do get hot, you have lots of options in terms of letting air in. And there is a rear zip storage pocket as well.
As far as fit, the jacket definitely is “cut” for cycling. The front is cut shorter than the back, so as you ride you have good coverage when leaning forward. This is shown in this additional photo I took, in a dark room with the flash enabled.
There are also Velcro straps on the cuffs and a draw string around the waist. I have only worn the jacket for a short time, but I like it a lot. It fits well, I particularly like the two Napoleon pockets, and if I do start to get hot, I have lots of venting options. As noted, I have not ridden in the rain yet, but based upon my water test the jacket will keep me dry. I will have to see how the fabric performs over time and report back, but I will say that a Gore jacket I bought has been a bit of a disappointment in terms of performance in the rain.
The Gore jacket is made of what is described as a Gore-Tex Active Shell and Gore-Tex Membrane, and although water beaded up on the fabric initially, over time the claim of an “absolute dry cycling experience” that came with the jacket has not held up. On particularly rainy days, water now penetrates the Gore jacket. I got the jacket at REI and have considered riding directly to their store on a rainy day to show them how water comes through the fabric to see what they say.
Which gets me to price. I paid a healthy sum of money for my Gore jacket – as I remember it was just a shade under $300. I assume the steep price had to do with paying for the Gore-Tex name. The PROVIZ jacket is priced at 129.99 British Pounds, which on this date converts to $162 USD. I have only worn the PROVIZ jacket for a week now, but if it holds up I will say that it appears to me to be a heck of deal as compared to the Gore jacket I bought. The PROVIZ is $100 less but has more pockets and vents, and the reflective feature of the fabric is a major bonus. The Gore jacket only has a few stripes of what I assume is a 3M reflective product.
So at the time of this writing, a highly recommend the PROVIZ jacket. I will continue to wear the jacket and will report back on performance as I deal with commuting in the Boston winter.