“Light up, light up. As if you have a choice,” sang Snow Patrol. And it’s a good point. Unless your choice is to be splatted by a driver at a dimly-lit dropped kerb, smacked by a cyclist who has chosen the pavement over the road or bumped by a fellow pedestrian looking up two seconds too late from their smartphone – it doesn’t hurt to make yourself more visible when running.
True, it’s more important in winter when it’s darker longer. But even in daylight giving drivers more warning of where you are can only help avoid unpleasantness.
Both Silva’s visibility jacket and its visibility vest do a great job of making you more easily seen. Both tops are richly dyed and given a generous amount of luminous strips. The jacket boasts 3m of high-vis tape across the chest, back and along the sleeves. The vest has slightly less tape given that it lacks arms, but does comes in three colours – green, white and yellow, with the top I tested being the latter.
The tape seems pretty decent quality too. Other products I’ve tried have seen the strips slip off pretty quickly. But so far both tops have survived four spins through the washing machine without any noticeable wear. Both have a warning to wash separately for fear of excess dye leaking, but so far that’s not been a problem – although perhaps best not to take the risk with your Sunday best sharing the suds-filled drum.
With the better weather I didn’t get the chance to see how the tops stood up to the rain. Both were pretty light and so were pretty comfortable to wear at first. However, zipped up, the jacket quite quickly made me feel too hot while running. A good thing in chilly weather – but in more clement times it did begin to make me feel uncomfortable and slightly stressed. And while the top I was wearing under the jacket was made to wick away sweat I found that, with the jacket on, I seemed to be keeping a lot of moisture on me. It reminded me of that slightly damp feeling you can have waking up sleeping under the stars – or every morning if you are unlucky enough to spend part of your student days in a poorly-converted house in a seaside town.
This was much less of a problem with the vest. For a man who has shunned vest tops throughout his life – the comfort of this was a bit of revelation. Ventilation with the vest was helped not just by the lack of arms but also by the back being made up of breathable mesh. Compared with the jacket it was a good mix of high visibility and comfort, and had the bonus of boasting three mesh pockets. I’m not sure how long the zipped pockets would stand up to a set of keys bouncing around – but they were perfect for holding an MP3 player, a little bit of cash and a bus pass (you know just in case you fancy giving yourself a bit of a break one day).
I was disappointed by the main zips on both products. The jacket’s zipper came out of its runner the first time I did it up. It certainly took the shine of the garment – psychologically making it feel a bit tacky. This is a shame as the designers seemed to have put a lot of thought into making the zip comfortable such as fitting a chin protector to it to prevent irritation. The zips on the pockets seemed a much better quality, and the an internal fleece lining to protect batteries in the cold is a nice touch – and also helped keep a comfortable barrier between hard edges and my torso.
I can’t fault either tops for their visibility. Even Mr Magoo would have a hard time missing a runner wearing one in the dark. For its £59.99 price tag I’d expect a little bit more finish on the jacket’s zipper tan seemed to be evident. And while the jacket’s fit was very comfortable running for more than half-an-hour in it quickly became less enjoyable to wear – which probably suggests it’s only suitable for colder times of year. That’s not a massive drawback as that’s exactly when that extra visibility is most needed. Still the much more economical vest, at £39.99, is perfectly suitable for spring and summer running. It is light, well ventilated and its pockets are perfect for carrying little bits and pieces.
Price: £59.99 (jacket), £39.99 (vest)