How to choose your hi-viz kit
Cycling at night or in low light doesn’t have to be scary or unsafe. In fact, pick the right kit and you might be even more noticeable than in broad daylight.
Be seen, be safe is a classic piece of road safety advice and while it’s true that it is every driver or rider’s responsibility to constantly be on the look out for other road users giving your fellow road users some extra help to spot you can’t do any harm – especially in dark or gloomy conditions.
Luckily there’s a vast amount of hi-viz or reflective kit designed to help you stand out against the gloom even more effectively than wearing normal clothing on a sunny day. So what will help you achieve this? Read on because we have the answers.
Hi-viz or reflective? (Or both?)
First, let’s understand the difference between hi-viz and reflective kit. Although many products and garments incorporate both Hi-vis and reflective elements and they are designed to achieve the same goal – keeping you visible, they are not the same thing, one is designed to be effective in low light conditions while the other works best in the dark.
Hi-viz is short for ‘high visibility’ and products that provide this use bright – most often yellow, green or pink – colours to make the kit stand out. These products are particularly good at getting cyclists noticed in good to low light, but in really dark conditions they offer less benefit.
That’s where reflective kit comes into play. This kind of clothing or equipment utilises areas of material that reflect direct light – such as car headlights or sometimes even any nearby illumination - to really make the rider ‘shine’ (albeit with second-hand light!). As we mentioned, products that provide both hi-viz and reflectivity offer the the ultimate in all-round visibility.
Jackets and Gilets
With those basic concepts in mind, where should you start? The first product most riders think about when it comes to making themselves noticeable is a jacket. This is a particularly good choice as your torso forms the biggest ‘block’ presented to other road users.
If you just need enhanced visibility and road presence, a hi-viz and reflective gilet is a great option. These can be lightweight, easily storable, inexpensive and our simplest commuter model comes in a range of colours. If you’re looking for something a bit more race orientated, our Van Rysel RC500 gilet offers weatherproofing, breathability and pocket storage.
Indeed, hi-viz kit doesn’t have to be chosen for its visibility benefits alone - some fantastic rain and winter jackets just also happen to be great for making your road presence more prominent. For example, our Triban Men’s RC500 jacket is a highly technical, breathable wind proof and water proof winter jacket that is also available in a hi-viz colour scheme with extensive reflective highlights.
While jackets are obvious ways to heighten your visibility, for commuters especially, rucksacks can really get in the way. If you use a rucksack with no hi-viz or reflective provisions, it can seriously impede the effectiveness of your jacket, especially to road users approaching you from behind.
The obvious answer, then, is to use a rucksack that does have hi-viz and reflective details. Products such as Oxford Aqua B-25 rucksack are as functional as anything else on the market, featuring a tough, waterproof construction and enough capacity to carry your laptop, but all wrapped in a bright exterior with extensive reflectivity.
Of course, you may not want to splash out on a whole new rucksack, and there are solutions for that, too. The very handy B’Twin visibility strip is designed especially for rucksacks, while hi-viz covers, such as our B’Twin backpack cover can be used to enhance visibility and even provide added waterproofing.
We even have a hi-viz cover for another important accessory - your helmet. The bright yellow Wowow helmet cover uses reflective highlights to make sure you can be visible, literally from your head downwards.
Legs, feet and hands
While your torso and back may be offer the largest blocks of colour and reflectivity, there are other areas that can be particularly effective. Moving areas of reflectivity have been proven to be especially noticeable, so highlighting the parts of your body involved in the pedalling action is a simple but very useful approach. As a general aid, a snap-on arm or leg band is a great option.
Being more specific, reflective trouser clips have been and remain an inexpensive favourite among commuters. We also have slightly more modern Velcro trouser clips that will accept our lightweight B’Twin USB lights for added illumination.
As we mentioned with jackets, your hi-viz kit doesn’t have to be a one-job wonder. Our fab B’Twin 900 waterproof cycling trousers combine weather-beating performance with reflective highlights and ultra-noticeable lime green calf sections (which can also be enhanced with our USB lights).
To really make the most of your moving limbs, you could go straight for the areas that have the widest and fastest motion: your feet. Hi-viz overshoes are the simplest option and also offer extra insulation and weatherproofing. However, our awesome Triban Reflective shoes are fantastic water-repellent, SPD cycling shoes that feature truly unique all-over enhanced reflectivity.
Finally, don’t forget your hands, which might not move much when settled on the handlebar and cruising, but you’ll want them to be noticeable when it comes to indicating. Hi-hiz and brightly coloured gloves such as our Rockrider 900s will help.
The areas we’ve highlighted so far are probably the most effective places to focus on your visibility, but the truth is that everything you do to incorporate high-viz or reflective kit into your ride set-up will help.
One simple way to give yourself just a little more presence is to find accessories with enhanced reflectivity, such as our B’Twin 500 Reflective saddle bag, which is made from reflective material and is even compatible with our USB lights.
So the task of maximising your visibility on the road doesn’t have to just stop with hi-viz jackets or even just clothing. Approach the challenge with a bit of creativity and we’ve got the products to turn any bright idea into reality.