Road Testing the REFLECT360 Explorer Running Jacket
Road Tester Profile
Location: Warwickshire (but the jacket came with me on holiday to Ireland too)
Favourite Running Quote: “It pains me to continue but it hurts much worse to stop.”
Most Bizarre Running Event: In September 2016 I ran a half marathon in Ústí nad Labem in the Czech Republic. It was a very rainy, grey day and the route took us through the grounds of a less-than-picturesque chemical factory. In context of the rest of the weekend – spent exploring the sights and foods of Usti and Prague and laughing a lot with one of my best friends - it was one of my favourite ever races, but in isolation it was extremely strange, very soggy and not that pretty!
Why do you run? I have run regularly for around 12 years. I enjoy the freedom that comes with running and the huge endorphin high at the end of a workout. I live in a beautiful part of the world and I love to run around its roads and trails, both alone and with my local running buddies, but I also love discovering new places by booking races in different international locations. Having said that, I am not someone who insists on the great outdoors for their running – I am pretty happy sweating on my treadmill for 5K, while my sons eat snacks around me, if it’s that or no run at all!
I am still trying to find my running form again after having kids and I don’t think I will ever be as time-focused as I used to be before my boys were born, but I don’t think I will ever stop pushing myself, as tenacity with my running seems to help me work harder in all areas of my life and make me a generally happier person.
Finding the Perfect Running Jacket
As a UK-based year-round runner, a running jacket is an essential bit of kit for me, but knowing I need one and finding the right one are two very different things! Here is my running jacket checklist, in priority order, and a note underneath each point to explain how the Proviz REFLECT360 Women’s Explorer Running Jacket fared in each category when I tested it.
It needs to be reflective and/or hi-viz – I am most likely to be running in the evening or early morning in the autumn and winter, so I need a top layer that is working to keep me visible to other road users while I am concentrating hard on not tripping up the curb, stumbling on a tree root or getting thwacked in the face by any overhanging foliage.
REFLECT360 Women’s Explorer Running Jacket for Night-time Visibility
I love this jacket for running after dark! The rainbow reflectivity on the arms and hoods is such a refreshing change from the reflective kit that runners usually wear to stay safe on the roads at night. I used to wear a hi-viz yellow tabard with reflective stripes that I got free with the race pack for the Dublin Marathon in 2013. It definitely did the job it was meant to do, but I often felt I would have looked more at home mending the roads than running on them. I would recommend teaming the black version of this jacket with bright, reflective leggings to enhance your visibility during the day.
It needs to be breathable – There is nothing worse than a jacket that traps heat and moisture inside it as you train. It’s uncomfortable when you are on the go and it makes you really cold as soon as you stop, as all the sweat-saturated layers underneath your jacket draw your body temperature down as they cool. If I can’t have a breathable running jacket, I’d rather run without one.
Is the REFLECT360 Explorer Women’s Running Jacket breathable? The lightweight shell and rear ventilation did a great job of helping heat and moisture to escape whilst I was running. I didn’t feel much sweatier at the end of my training sessions that I do when I ditch the jacket and just wear a long sleeve running top, so I definitely rate this jacket for breathability.
It needs to be quiet! – I hate jackets that make a lot of noise when you move your arms. I don’t mind a bit of fabric-on-fabric rustling, but excessively loud swishing noise that interferes with your ability to hear traffic (or the gossip your friend is telling you from a recent hen weekend) is at best off putting and at worst unsafe.
Is the REFLECT360 Explorer Women’s Running Jacket quiet? Yes. It’s not silent, but it is quiet enough not to be distracting or irritating.
It needs to be layer-friendly – Running jackets don’t tend to be warm, but they do need to allow you a bit of space underneath to layer up, just in case someone has persuaded you to do a long trail run in sub-zero temperatures. If you find a running jacket that looks great but is customer reviewed as being snug fitting or running on the small side, you should size up to allow comfortable layering up underneath. That said, I don’t want my running jacket to look like a tent either. I need room for a long sleeved top and thermals underneath, not a chunky knit fisherman’s jumper!
Is the REFLECT360 Explorer Women’s Running Jacket layer-friendly? Yes. I don’t like to wear thick layers while running, but I used the REFLECT360 Explorer Running Jacket as an easy-to-carry windbreak and showerproof top layer on walks around Glengarriff Forest, Barley Lake and Gougane Barra in West Cork whilst I was on holiday in January and it comfortably layered over a long-sleeve running top and hoody. It was equally comfortable and flattering when worn with just a running top underneath when I was taking on the trails in the forest park, so the additional space for extra layers does not equate to bagginess or discomfort if you have decided not to bother with them.
It needs to be windproof – wind chill is a significant factor when running. You are moving faster than a walking pace (or really hope to be!) and generating more moisture by sweating, so a cold wind can really chill your bones. A windproof running jacket will protect you from cold air, which will ultimately keep you warmer while you run.
Is the REFLECT360 Explorer Women’s Running Jacket windproof? Yes. I wore this jacket on a windy evening run in my local town and as a windproof top layer on a windy walk whilst on holiday. It performed well as a wind breaker on both occasions and didn’t flap about in the wind like a sail, which was a bonus!
It needs to be showerproof – If a running jacket exists that can keep the heaviest ran from infiltrating, whilst also wicking away your sweat effectively, I would pay good money for it! With most running jackets, the outer material is treated with a water-resistant coating, but it doesn’t stand up to more than persistent light drizzle. You tend to compromise comprehensive waterproofing for moisture wicking breathability and that’s fine with me, as I’d rather be drenched in a heavy downpour than saturated with my own trapped perspiration. Also, a fully waterproof jacket would only gather the water and drip it onto your legs, so you’d still end up getting wet.
Is the REFLECT360 Explorer Women’s Running Jacket showerproof? This jacket is definitely showerproof and not waterproof. In heavy downpours water will probably get in at the main zip and the pocket zips and at the seams eventually. However, it will keep you dry in the drizzle for a fair few miles, which is all I need most of the time.
It needs to be easy to put on and take off on the go - The thing about running in the UK is that the weather can change pretty quickly, so it is good to be able to whip out your favourite running jacket from an easily accessible pocket in your running backpack and throw it on with a moment’s notice. Jackets that are hard to do up on the go mean you could lose valuable race time stopping to carefully align the zip or get wet in a shower whilst putting it on. I also think tough zips are a tell-tale sign of a bad jacket.
Is the REFLECT360 Explorer Women’s Running Jacket easy to put on and take off?
I found it fairly easy to put this jacket on and take it off again whilst running, but the zip did catch in the lining a couple of times, which was a bit annoying. In future I would consider storing it in my backpack with the zip done up ¾ of the way and pulling it on over my head (like a jumper) when I am on the go, to avoid this inconvenience.
It needs to be flattering – I have left this one until last because I think comfort and performance are ultimately more important than the look of a running jacket, especially when you are regularly going to look sweaty, windswept, red in the face or mud-splattered (and sometimes all of the above) when wearing it. However, it is nice to feel like your jacket is making at least a token attempt to distract people from your glowing, ruddy face, so a flattering fit is a bonus!
Is REFLECT360 Explorer Women’s Running Jacket flattering? Yes. There is space for layering up underneath, so it’s not figure-hugging but neither is it unshapely. The reflective detailing is super cool when it is illuminated at night and flatteringly subtle during the daytime.
Stats For The Proviz REFLECT360 Explorer Women’s Running Jacket
Sizing – Available in UK sizes 6-20. I am a UK size 10 and feel that it runs true to size, leaving enough space to layer up a bit underneath if it’s cold without being so roomy that it’s unflattering or flappy.
Colours – The REFLECT360 Explorer Women’s Running Jacket is available in black, hi-viz pink or hi-viz yellow. The black tones in well with the REFLECT360 material during the day and when it isn’t being illuminated at night, while the pink and yellow are great if you also want to improve your daytime visibility.
- Lightweight soft touch polyester shell
- REFLECT360 rainbow reflective polyester on the sleeves, hood and neck.
- Back-brushed polyester lining on the front and across the upper back
Care Instructions – it is a sad fact that I am now a little bit obsessed with laundry. As the mum of two small boys, I spend a lot of time removing various suspicious stains from small person clothing and the success or failure of this almost daily enterprise has a knock on effect on the rest of the day.
I was therefore very keen to find out from Bob (Proviz co-owner and expert in all things related to the Proviz range) exactly how you should wash an Explorer Running Jacket, as I didn’t want to wash all the divine rainbow reflectivity off it or shrink it to a size too small to even repurpose as a jacket for my 4 year old. To preserve the rainbow reflective coating, the Explorer Jacket should be:
- Placed inside a pillowcase or laundry bag
- Machine-washed on a cool cycle (30 degrees should be fine).
- Hung up to dry naturally
Additional features of the Proviz REFLECT360 Explorer Women’s Running Jacket
Zip Side Pockets – Great for storing keys, energy gels, emergency Jelly Babies etc.
Fully Reflective Hood – Perfect for protecting your head (especially cold ears) before or after a run, but the absence of a toggled drawstring to adjust the fit meant that I struggled to keep the hood up while I was running.
Lightweight – This jacket folds down small and only weighs 200g, so it is easy to fold it up small and carry with you when the weather is being kind.
I loved the look and feel of this jacket and it will definitely be my go-to for runs around our local town after dark. The rainbow reflective bits are so darned cool. If you get one, get someone to stand behind you with a powerful torch and film you running away, because you cannot appreciate how awesome you look when you are wearing it (and standing in front of a mirror taking a selfie with the flash on makes you instantly less cool).
I am delighted that this jacket is layer-friendly enough to be teamed with a hoody, so that it can double as a lightweight top layer for walking when the temperature isn’t too low. I would like to see it feature an adjustable hood that stays in place whilst I'm running to protect my head and neck from the elements, but apart from that I wouldn’t change a thing.
Over All Score - 9/10