A little while ago Susie Chan gave us her top tips for run-commuting
. We thought we’d take a little look at some useful key bits of kit to make your run-commute safe and comfortable, especially now the weather is (hopefully) looking a little more conducive to it!
Proviz Reflect 360 jacket Reflect 360 £84.99
Review by Ben Pine
When the editor asked me to review this jacket, she already had some idea of my opinions on jackets, having been exposed to them for much of a 20 mile run around Stonehenge in January.
I've purchased a couple of top of the range running jackets for ultras. Partly to satisfy kit requirements and partly to have something genuinely useful. Both of the jackets in question have been awe inspiring. Attractive, waterproof and incredibly light, with various features to improve your experience in the elements. Both have had taped seams - the requirement for the races I've done. Both have failed after 6 months. The tape peels off. I think it's because I'm one of the sweatiest runners I've ever encountered, and the tape glue just can't handle it. Next race I will just buy the cheapest jacket available with no expectation of it lasting any better. I hope race directors stop asking for taped seams though, I'd rather get a jacket which lets a bit of water in but lasts a couple of years. Seriously I haven't had this problem with any other kit.
The jacket I was asked to review was fortunately aimed at a different market.
I am a dedicated run commuter. And bike commuter. And occasionally bus and train commuter. My route to work is mainly off road for running, but still has bits of road with nasty cars and buses on it. My winter cycling route is almost all road.
For this reason I agreed to review a high visibility jacket from Proviz.
This jacket was sent back from the future to kill Sarah Connor. The material is light grey and the manufacturing is very high quality. There are mesh panels under the arms and at the back to allow you to perspire gracefully, like a cyborg assassin at an evening cocktail soiree.
The style is simple and low key. There are no pockets, which is not an issue for me as I always run with a waist pack but seems a bit of an oversight. This only enhances, however, the sleek, designed to be worn by half man, half machine dreadnoughts on missions of destruction, style of the garment.
How comfortable? How well does it fit?
The jacket is very comfortable. It fits well but goes large so a medium will fit a generously proportioned older gentleman runner who could stand to lose a few pounds. As the jacket breaths via mesh panels at the back, this is not best worn with a rucksack, which may detract from its usefulness as a run-commuting item. I leave a set of clothes at work mostly, so only need the aforementioned belt. At first I strapped the belt around the jacket but this seemed to interfere with airflow down the back, so I swapped it under and then things were fine. After a couple of weeks of wear it did pong a bit, but I rinsed it off in the shower and it’s been fine since.
The jacket is not waterproof, though it would cope fine with a shower.
I wore it for cycling as well, and found it extremely comfortable.
Do you harbour a secret desire to glow like a badly rendered ghost? Do you wish to impress others with your proximity to transcending corporeal existence? Do you like to be highly visible to other road users in the dark? This jacket is for you my friend. Seriously. When I first got it, I left it on top of my dresser. I then saw it in the darkened bedroom absorbing and emitting light from the lounge. It was a glorious sight. The jacket is insanely reflective. You are not aware of this when wearing it as it appears just a slightly dull metallic grey when nearby. However onlookers are treated to the kind of light show that TRON tantalised an aging generation of geeks with.
I mainly run to work on footpaths and bridleways, often wearing sandals. I can only imagine what the birds, rabbits and deer I encountered witnessed as the first rays of the rising sun illuminated me like some running messiah figure glowing with the strength of my faith. My wife and daughter were obviously just embarrassed but you can't win everything.
Would I buy it?
This jacket does one thing outstandingly and uncompromisingly well. Which is to reflect light and look amazing while doing so. Wearing it makes you much more visible at night. The jacket is well made and comfortable. I don't yet know how it will hold up to months of sweaty running, I'll have to let you know. It doesn't go terribly well with a backpack, doesn't have pockets and isn't waterproof, but despite that I would buy it. Running or cycling at night the principle purpose of my garments is to make me more visible. And this jacket achieves that beyond anything I've encountered before. And I've seen attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.
I will still have to purchase a waterproof with taped seams for ultra checklists, but that's ok.
Find out more about the Proviz Reflex 360 jacket here
Saucony Sonic Reflex Jacket £95
Review by Lucy Gettins
Women's (left) with asymmetric style and men's (right)
The ultimate in visible protection provides 360° of high reflectivity when the lights are shining on you, but looks completely stealth in daylight
DWR-coated for wind and water resistance, with extra back length for coverage to keep you warm and dry
Zippered front hand pockets and back right hip
Extra-large mesh panels under arms for added breathability and mobility
Dropped hem with cordlock for enhanced coverage and personalized fit
This jacket is bright white, with fluorescent visibility stripes and an interesting asymmetric style. The body fabric is slightly stiffer and more wind-proof than the sleeves, but there doesn't seem to be an increase in rustling noise over my North Face pertex jacket. In the ladies medium size the longer back seems to dip quite low on my 5ft 4inches and is fairly snug for my 36-inch chest (I have big shoulders), and the neck zip didn't quite do up. The two side pockets are a useful size and zip up. You could also tuck bigger things like papers inside the jacket in the pocket lining.
In use on the coldest night in February I thought the thicker body fabric kept the cold out quite well. I forgot I was wearing it except for a slight flapping of the open neck on the right hand side. The contents of the two side pockets didn't jog around too much.
Running in traffic in the dark the jacket's fluorescence was not as bright as the bib I was also wearing, but was quite obvious to an observer. When the jacket has the zip down it doesn't slip down the shoulders like my centre-zip one - so that's the reason for the asymmetric style! It also crumples up quite well to stow under my crop-top. It needed its first wash after 4 runs and came up like new. I probably would not buy this particular model because of the sizing but I would recommend it as a useful and well-made garment.
Find out more about the Saucony Sonic Reflex jacket here
dhb Slice 15L Rucksack £23.99
dhb has been making forays into the running market for a little while now, with budget-priced but quality kit. This backpack is a great new addition.
Review by Pip Haylett
Well made, great looking backpack for those with not too much stuff. Nice design with reflective trim, lots of pockets, and some good attention to detail makes this backpack appealing for those commuting without loads of kit! Excellent value for money at £23.99
This is a great little pack, with some nice touches thrown in. The pack itself is made of durable material, and feels well-made and robust. The zips are all YKK, and feel like they will last, and there are some nice touches – like the zip draws, that are nicely moulded and big enough to make them easy to grab and the zips easy to open with cold or gloved hands.
There is a top pocket which is lovely and soft inside, so phones etc won’t get scratched, and a pocket on the back with some fixers for small bits of kit, pens, gels etc. Side pockets mean you can carry water bottles that are easily accessible, and there are straps at the sides too, so you can pull the pack in and compress it if it is not full. A waist and chest strap give the pack a comfortable allow close fitting and good adjustment options. The chest strap has a nice slider which moves easily enough when adjusting, but holds well enough when in use.
Despite being predominantly black, the pack has high viz, reflective decal on the back, making the wearer visible to headlights from behind, and in low light conditions.
Unfortunately, I am not a minimalist commuter, and I need to carry a laptop with me, which does not fit in this bag. As I also carry a full set of clothes, shoes etc. back and forth with me, the pack was pretty rammed every time I took it out. As a result, it had a tendency to roll around my back, and this in turn loosened the shoulder straps, which made the rolling effect worse!
Travelling lighter, and able to use the pockets and compression straps properly, stopped this issue and the pack works well for lighter weights and smaller loads.
Find out more about the dhb Slice 15L here