Best Reflective Clothing For Safety Reviewed
Some people really love to work out in the dark, whether it be running, cycling or something else. There are many reasons to work out when the night falls - you may have more time during the night, after you’ve come home from work, or maybe you like the tranquillity of the evening and prefer to exercise when there aren’t as many people out, and when no one can see what you’re doing. But, it’s important that someone still sees you in pitch dark surroundings!
The best way to remain visible in the darkness is to wear reflective clothing. Any article of clothing, or accessory, can be made to be reflective. Usually, a reflective strip runs alongside the item, or it’s reserved just for the logo. No matter where this reflective material is, make sure you wear it at night in order to avoid accidents!
In a Hurry? The test winner after 7 hrs of research
Padded Heels And Toes
Compression In The Arches
Top 10 Picks
1. Rockay Accelerate
Padded Heels And Toes
Compression In The Arches
Shrinks When Washed
Have you ever thought about adorning yourself with reflective socks? Give the Accelerate a chance, we’re sure you won’t regret it! These socks are made in Europe, out of organic merino wool coming from South America. This is the highest quality wool out there, with many great properties to keep your feet satisfied. The little Rockay logo near the ankles is reflective, shining gently while you walk.Read more
If you struggle with blisters when you run, these socks could then be the ideal solution for you. The toes and heels have paddings, guarding you against your sneakers and preventing chafing. The socks have compression in the arches, and a tight elastic at the top to prevent dirt from getting in. This reduces the chances of irritation and infection! Besides having merino wool threads, they also have ventilation zones allowing you to enjoy very breathable and long-lasting socks!
2. Proviz Reflect 360
Great Air Circulation
Seam Sealed Main Zip
Large Lower Back Pocket
Not For Spring And Fall
This jacket was the very first one to be designed with a completely reflective surface. During the day, this jacket looks just like any old regular jacket does, a modest gray color and a simple logo. At night, the jacket transforms you into a beacon of (reflected) light, guarding you against harm like no other!Read more
The Reflect360 has air vents around the shoulders, stretching to your back, and under your arms. These vents make it simple to regulate the temperature as you heat up, allowing you to adjust to the conditions outdoors. When you open up the front vents via zippers, you achieve optimal airflow that cools you down and exits through the shoulder flaps.
Don’t fret, no rain can enter through, only air! As an additional protective measure, the main storm zip is seam sealed and has a protective storm flap. The two exterior chest pocket zips are seam sealed as well. The jacket has interior pockets too, but they are secured with velcro for extra comfort. The large lower back pocket serves as extra space for you to store even more necessities, like extra layers, or a map.
3. Endura Thermolite
High-Performance DWR Treatment
Easy Zip Access
Double Layers Over Knees
High-performance tights are always a great find, and these will convince you that there’s no better thing to work out in. They are perfect for cold weather since the thick material keeps you safe from the harsh winter and chilly fall.Read more
The high-performance DWR treatment keeps them going forever and a day, while gently hugging your legs for absolute comfort. They also repel water, keeping you dry in the heaviest downpours. The ankles have zip for easy access with a snap-down puller. The paneling is ergonomic, for a great fit and high compression rate. Some seams are fully flatlocked for comfort and skin safe from chafing. The knees have double layers over them to keep them toasty when you cycle. A silicone hem gripper keeps them in place so you have one less thing to think about!
4. Proviz Cycling Gloves
Silicone Web Grip
Internal PU Layer
Not Too Bright
If you want to go one step further, you can even protect your hands with reflective gloves to achieve maximum shine! The gloves have a 100% reflective outer shell for that extra shiny grip. The underside has a silicone web grip, so if you cycle your hands won’t slip from the handles, especially when it rains.Read more
The palms are padded, for enhanced comfort. Underneath the reflective surface, an internal PU layer made from Korean Hipora scares water away. Korean Hipora is a silicone coating structure, made out of three porous layers. The first layer keeps most of the water away, the second one is honeycomb shaped that lets the moisture in, which is then expelled through the first layer. The third layer is super dense and gives even more protection from water. The gloves are touchscreen compatible, so if you need to call someone there’s no need to take them off! The cuff has a velcro strip, making them fully adjustable.
5. Asics Lite-Show
360 Degrees of Reflectivity
If you need to be warm and protected when you sweat out in the dark, then slide into this cozy long sleeve top. It’s made out of polyester, and it comes in three colors - black, grey and cordovan. You may think a long sleeve is too heavy for working out, but the lightweight construction tells a different story.Read more
Usually, when you exercise in long sleeves, the underarm area can be troublesome. It can tighten around your pits, constricting the blood flow and impacting your exercise. But this long sleeve has a gusset there, so you never have to worry about numb arms again. The branding is reflective, along with strips around your chest, arms and two strips on the back. This creates 360 degrees of reflectivity, so you’re pretty much visible all the time. This fabric is also moisture-wicking and quick-drying, meaning you won’t catch a cold when you run or cycle!
6. Uglyfrog Cycling Shorts
Customizable Reflective Pattern
3D Coolmax Pad
Slips From Shoulders
Cycling is a very great supportive sport, and as such, it demands proper clothing. These cycling shorts can make your experience much more enjoyable. They are 90% lycra an 10% polyester, meaning they will stretch as much as you need them to, and won’t impact your exercise.Read more
These shorts are not your regular biking shorts - they stretch out over your shoulders, with supporters preventing the shorts from sliding down your hips and down your legs. The fabric is very resilient, so prepare to have a long friendship with these shorts! They are quick drying and promote airflow so you don’t sweat as much. If you want to, you can customize the design you see on them, so you can have a very unique piece of clothing. The patterns are reflective, so as your legs move up and down to cycle you will reflect all the light that meets them. A 3D Coolmax Pad rests between the legs for a comfier and drier time!
7. U Hyoptik Compression Tights
Flat, Wide Waistband
Flat Lock Seams
Tight Around Ankles
A good pair of tights can do wonders for your range of motion. They are not s constricting as jeans or pants are, and they are not too loose like sweatpants are, so you get a perfect piece of clothing to work out in. And these are compression tights, which is even better! They compress your legs gradually, not all at once, so you’ll have enough time to get used to the sensation. This compression improves your blood circulation, making your recovery much easier while reducing muscle stiffness after you finish working out.Read more
The compression also protects you to a degree, since they are thick and tight (like the name suggests). They’ve got compression logos as well, and those big X letters also gleam in the night, protecting you from harm. The waistband is flat, wide and has a handy drawstring so you can adjust it to your liking. You might worry about the seams chafing your skin as you move, but these have a flatlock to keep the chafing at bay. The material is PWX flex, with lycra weaved through for stretchiness, and high filament yarns for dryness and all of that has antibacterial properties! It also protects you from the harmful rays of the Sun, if you want to use them during the day!
8. Tracer360 Vest
Highly Adjustable Vest
Six Super Bright Colors
Flexible Fiber Optic Cables
Slim, Minimalist Design
Makes Clothes Ride Up
Not Easy To Clean
This vest takes visibility to a whole new level! Besides having reflective tape around the waist, this vest has LED lights that make you shine when no light is present, so you are always visible. The design is comfortable and rain-proof, so you can wear it safely when it’s raining outside.Read more
It’s very adjustable, and you can wear it over your favorite shirt or jacket, and everything else in between. Although it appears to be flimsy, it lasts for a long time and you don’t need to worry about replacing it as soon as you get it. The vest has two powerful CREE LEDs. There are five dynamic illumination modes, that are software controlled and combine different light patterns - flashing lights, strobing lights, and blinking lights. This combined with the six colors available makes you a very visible target.
9. New Balance Tempo Singlet
Antibacterial And Moisture Wicking
Inset Side Panels
Reflective Flying Logo
Rolled Forward Shoulders
Not So Reflective
This singlet is great for a whole range of exercises since it helps you cool down easier thanks to the exposed skin, and there’s no material to constrict your arms. It’s completely made out of polyester. Now, don’t worry about breathability, because like we said, a good part of your skin is exposed, so you’ll cool down with ease. And it wicks away moisture, so sweat won’t be a problem for you!Read more
The material has antibacterial properties too, and it will keep infection and bad odors where they belong. The fit type is athletic, with inset side panels. The flying logo on the front is reflective, and the piping inset into the front side seam is too. This doesn’t make the shirt too reflective, so you should probably pair it up with more reflective clothing.
10. Zensah Leg Sleeves
Micro-ribbing On Back
Reflective Stripes Come Off
Painful calves after exercise? Sounds like you need leg sleeves, and why not get reflective ones! They have increased reflectivity, making you an even more visible target in the dark. They were specifically designed by athletes to combat shin splints.Read more
Made out of remarkable Zensah fabric, anti-odor and breathable. The V-shaped chevron ribbing on the front works the same way a kinesiology tape does, but you don’t have to struggle to place the tape correctly anymore - just pull on the sleeves and you’re good to go. The sleeves are not heavy, and they will not tire you down even more. They also wick away moisture, keeping you dry and odor-free. Micro-ribbing on the back keeps them in place and supports the calves. It reduces swelling and muscle tearing, keeping you safe from pain and aching!
Criteria Used for Evaluation
You’ve probably seen reflective material in action before, but have you ever wondered when was it invented, and what exactly makes it shine so bright? This material has seen the light of day (or the dark of night) back in the 1930s, but it wasn’t used for clothing. Instead, it was first used for stop signs and asphalt, making driving in the dark easier. But this material wasn’t perfect - it had durability issues, and its reflectiveness would stop working fast, which prevented it from being rolled out for commercial use at first. It was only in the 1970s, after years and years of research and testing, a company called 3M launched a “High Intensity” material.
This material reflected about 16% of the light shining from a source, like headlights. This number does sound insignificant, but its predecessor reflected only about 8%! So this High Visibility material became a standard for traffic signs, and it was a standard for almost 30 years because it was so helpful. In the 1990s, people started to incorporate it into uniforms of workers who work in potentially dangerous environments. Meaning, people that worked on roads, highways, and even people that worked as school guards. It also started to roll out for military uses, but not for the battlefield - instead, it was given to them for when they exercise in the night. And finally, in the 2000s, the material was perfected, with nearly 100% reflective quality, and it was available to the masses!
Now let’s see what makes it so reflective. This material is made with a bunch of tiny glass beads, half the size of a human hair. But the glass used here is not your regular old glass, instead, it’s optical-grade, so the reflection rate is very high. These marvelous little spheres are perfect, with a coating of aluminum on one side. Then, the aluminum side is placed down on the material, leaving the top of the sphere open to the outside light. This is what creates that reflective surface because the light simply bounces back to its source! No matter what angle the light comes from, the wearer will always be seen and illuminated! Now you know what the material is made out of, which will help you understand it better!
We should also mention how this material works, or in other words, what makes it so visible. First things first, we will briefly explain the laws of reflection to make you understand the subject better, and so that you realize how incredible this material truly is. The creators of hi-vis material had three types of rays to worry about - the incident ray (one between you and a reflective surface, say a mirror), the reflected ray and the normal, which is just a point where these rays meet. Now, when the light hits a reflective surface, it will bounce off at the same angle it struck the surface. This is the gist of it, we won’t bother you with the more technical stuff - this is enough for you to understand why this material is so great.
We already mentioned what the material is made out of; tiny spherical glass beads coated with aluminum on the down-facing side. All these beads act as tiny mirrors, and there are millions of them scattered all over your fabric. If you were to look at yourself at the like you would at a regular mirror, you would see nothing. That is because of the rough threads connecting the beads, and rough surfaces will never show you a perfect image. Only smooth surfaces make clear images, like still lakes, or your bathroom mirror.
This fabric has a million little mirrors all facing different directions, causing the rays to scatter everywhere, making the image blurry. But we do not want to see ourselves in this material, instead, we really need that scattering of rays, since we’re not looking for a mirror to save us in the night. Say you’re driving your car in the night, and your headlights meet with a cyclist's reflective surface, 100 yards away.
It hits his hi-vis clothing, and the microscopic mirrors reflect the rays and scatter them everywhere. Still, the majority of the rays will bounce back to your direction, making the biker very visible. Although the biker is 100 yards away, the light has to travel the 100 yards to the biker, and then the 100 yards back to you, so the total distance it traveled is doubled! Lucky for us, light travels, well, at the speed of light!
Ease of Use
Reflective clothing has a very important role to fulfill, and that role is the protection of the health and lives of its wearers. Lucky for us, it’s quite easy to use it! Reflective clothing comes in many shapes and sizes. It’s usually jackets, sweatpantss or shoes that feature these shiny strips of fabric, at least when it comes to sporty garments.
At first, it was hard hats and vests, featuring the bright orange or yellow color, adorned with a bunch of these reflective strips, making them much easier to be seen. But this type of clothing is not only reserved for the people working in perilous environments. You need to make sure you are properly dressed even when you do regular chores outdoors!
It’s as simple as putting any other type of clothing on - just pop it on yourself and you are protected! If you feel like you need to protect yourself, even more, you can always ad LED lights or anything else of that sort. But you should know that you can never be 100% safe, especially on busy roads, since it can be quite confusing to spot a single reflective logo in the vast sea of lights!
When you rely on your clothing to protect you, you must wonder how long will that protection last. Surprisingly enough, reflective clothing does have a shelf life. When it comes to clothing workers use, it really won’t last that long, since they do work in conditions that can easily affect their clothes. But you are not a worker, you are a sports enthusiast, but your reflective clothing also won’t last forever, and you should learn to recognize the signs of damage so you can replace the item of clothing.
If any part of the reflective material is damaged, you should know that it’s already not considered safe and that you should replace it as soon as you can. You can prolong this period if you have a jacket completely made out of the material, and one little dull spot won’t affect your protection that much. If your piece is worn down or torn, you must buy a new one, since your protection is then compromised. Also, the way you wash your reflective garments can shorten their life. As a thumb rule, you should wash your clothes in a machine, but wash them alone.
You will spend more water and detergent on maybe 2-3 clothing pieces, but if you wash them with jeans or something else that is rough, the material can tear off the little glass beads and you’ll end up with a regular piece of clothing, not a reflective one. If you can, wash the garment inside out. This protects the reflective surface, and then you can maybe even throw them in the machine with the rest of your clothes. You should never, ever use a fabric softener when washing reflective clothes, since it can damage the material very easily!
Do not dry the clothes in a dryer, since heat can ruin the reflectivity too. Instead, line dries them, and they’ll last much longer. Some garments also bleed color, and that color can bleed onto the glass beads, coloring them and rendering them useless. You should still wash the clothes you work out in unless you want to be smelly and dirty! A delicate cycle, set to low tumble, with cold water usually does the trick, without endangering your reflective surfaces.
We’ve talked about how these clothes protect you, but now we should mention just how effective these clothes really are. There isn’t that much evidence out there supporting the protective properties of fluorescent clothing. There was a trial in Denmark, that involved 6793 cyclists. If the cyclists were wearing hi-vis clothing, it was less likely for them to be hurt, since they were spotted faster, and the driver could react quickly. So yes, fluorescent clothing does work, but it has its flaws, of course.
If you rely only on the fluorescent colors to be seen, that could prove to be troublesome. Fluorescent colors work by converting UV light found in sunlight, into something we can spot a mile away. This, however, does not work in the dark, since streetlights and headlights do not give off that much UV. But, fluorescent clothing is almost always accompanied by reflective surfaces, and those always work.
No matter what kind of light is directed at the glass beads, they will reflect it, and you will be seen. The biggest problem with seeing runners or cyclists in the dark, besides dark clothing, is the fact that they are small. Wearing reflective, not fluorescent, clothing makes you a very visible target, and over 90% of times they are recognized immediately, and accidents do not occur. So be safe and wear reflective clothing!
Expert Interviews & Opinions
We all know humans wear reflective clothing, but did you know that reflective vests for chickens exist!? They also exist for dogs and cats too, but we think it’s incredible that someone thought about our feathery friends too. So why would a chicken need a reflective vest? To get to the other side!
Free roaming chickens usually walk around roads to find food, and they cross the roads in their search. In order to save their little lives, hi-vis vests for chickens were made, and they come in pink, yellow or orange. This helps them be seen, just like it helps us, which can save their fragile bodies from impact, and can also help you see them easier so you can stop before time!
Other Factors to Consider
One of the things that are a little bit more concerning when it comes to reflective clothing is their flammability. Usually, hi-vis clothes are made out of synthetic materials, like polyester. Many companies boast that their synthetics are not a fire hazard, but polyester is plastic, and plastic burns and melts easily. This is why it’s not recommended to wear synthetic reflective clothing when you work near something that can create a spark, say a saw. But as we already said, you are not a worker, you are here to work out while being visible. So, flammability is not such a big concern for you, but you should still probably avoid open flames, even if you have a full cotton shirt or jacket - the reflective strip is still synthetic, and it can catch on fire!
You’ve probably noticed before that reflective clothing is usually made to be very brightly colored. Usually, the colors used are yellow and orange, but pink and green can be used too. These colors can be fluorescent, and work in unison with the reflective surfaces to guard you. But which of these colors is the best? Pink and green fall out of the competition immediately, since orange and yellow simply do it better. But which one of these colors should you use then? When you look at them superficially, yellow appears to be brighter, and it is. There are many factors at play here though, not just how bright the color is.
One of the factors is conspicuity - the ability of an object to draw the attention from a bystander. It’s easy to understand why this is important, and this works because bright colors contrast the city backdrops we’re used to. But, we recognize orange as a color that means watch out! And that is because it’s used as traffic cones, road construction signs and so on. In other words, to determine which color works better, you must first think about your background.
If you are running or cycling in nature, orange will work better since it’s not a naturally occurring color (which is why hunters wear it). Yellow can’t be seen that well if the background is green, so it should be worn in urban environments for better results!
It’s very important that you stay protected when you work out in the dark, and now you know how to do exactly that. There are many different clothing pieces you can choose to commit too, and even the smallest strip of reflective surfaces can mean a difference between life and death. So you must be responsible and protect your life when you venture out to exercise in the night.
This way you will also protect the person that may fail to see you and then hit you as a result from mental trauma, or maybe they’ll even swerve to save you from themselves and then they will end up the ones being injured. So when you wear hi-vis clothing, you protect you and everyone else who may be out in the dark. We hope our guide has helped you find a new garment you won’t take off, and we believe you’ll enjoy wearing it!
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What do the different classes of reflective clothing mean?
As you may have already noticed, reflective clothes are sorted by classes. There are three classes a garment can be placed in - class 1, class 2 and class 3. Class one hi-vis clothing gives the lowest coverage, but you still become more visible in the dark. These clothes are usually harnessed, or stripes on the shoulders and around your waist. A shirt that is not reflective, but has stripes or bands made out of the material also falls into this category. Class 2 items give moderate coverage, but you will be very visible in the dark.
These clothes are fluorescent, colored in bright yellows, vivid oranges or other appropriate colors. And then we’ve got class 3 garments, that provide great coverage and the best possible visibility! They combine class 2 clothing with extra stripes around the legs and arms. Their specific configuration makes sure you are visible when the light shines from every direction (360 degrees visibility). When you exercise in the night, you can simply use class 1 garments without any issues, but if you want to be protected, even more, you can follow these guidelines and be super safe!
q: Can I simply wear a brightly colored item of clothing in the dark to be seen?
As we already mentioned, fluorescent clothes by themselves don’t work that great, since you need a source of UV light in order for them to work properly. But if you’re talking about wearing a simple, let’s say white or bright green shirt, in the dark, it probably won’t work. When a car spots you it’s already going to be too late for them to do something, so your best bet is to wear something that is reflective!
q: How can I repair reflective clothing?
When you exercise in the outdoors, it’s possible your clothes get torn or snagged by something. You shouldn’t throw away your clothes if there’s no serious damage to them, because you can probably fix them by yourself. All you have to do is sew the holes as you would with any regular clothing item, and it will be good for at least a few more uses. If you worry about losing the protective property, you can simply buy reflective tape and stick it over the stitch, and there you have it - a reflective garment once again!
q: Can I just use reflective tape on my regular clothes?
Technically speaking you can. Reflective tape does the same job, and you can stick it wherever you want with ease. You can buy thinner or wider ones, and they will adhere to a lot of surfaces. There are even sew-in tapes, so you don’t have to worry about the tape ungluing itself. They will do the very same job regular reflective clothing does, but you must place the tape on places that will be illuminated in order to be seen! If you don’t know how to do this, you can always leave it to the professionals, and buy clothing that is already reflective. After all, they know how to protect us in the best way possible!
q: Does stylish reflective clothing exist?
You’ve probably seen construction workers looking chunky and blocky, and you don’t wish to suffer the same fate they do. So you might have wondered, do nice looking reflective clothes exist? They do, in fact, exist, and many companies such as Nike have made great look reflective clothes. But fashion is not your primary concern, and it never should be when you are faced with dangerous situations! You’ll be in the dark anyway, and there’s no way anyone will see what you look like before they shine a light on you!