Lightweight and comfortable to carry, the Proviz Reflect360 Touring Backpack delivers a lot more than just high-visibility for cycling adventures and commuting.
Proviz's USP is its 'Reflect360' material, which it incorporates lavishly into its extensive range of clothing for cycling, running and more. My immediate suspicion is always that form and function will come a poor second to the all-embracing aim of getting you seen on the roads. Fortunately, Proviz seems wise to the importance of its products being good kit in all respects.
Reflect360 uses microscopic glass beads to create a highly reflective fabric which is still soft and flexible enough to incorporate into garments. In this case it forms most of the outer pocket on the pack and lights up like some demon owl when you turn a beam on it. That's great for night-time riding and, if you commute through the winter, is enough in itself to recommend it. In dull conditions, though, it turns a sort of dove-grey colour that's not especially eye-catching.
The first impression I got on picking up this backpack was of its remarkably low weight. This is mainly down to the lightweight nylon used in construction. This is thin and rustly and I was suspicious that it might not be up to anything more than light duties. On the road that's not an issue – it's more than robust enough for commuting and touring duties. However, as I also found out, it survived some rough-and-tumble in the woods and heather on a few mountain bike outings with no ill-effect. The longer I used this bag, the more I came to trust it.
The fabric is also quite water-resistant (Proviz claims waterproof) but the zips are not; so while it will shrug off showers, in persistent rain it's as well to fit the supplied rain cover. This is of the usual 'large shower cap' variety and lives in its own zipped pocket at the outside bottom of the bag for easy access. Once in place, of course, it covers up all that reflective fabric. Proviz also makes reflective covers which you could buy separately, priced from £19.99.
The main compartment is rectangular with an enormously long zip that comes three-quarters of the way down each side, which makes it easy to empty quickly – maybe a bit too easy, mind your valuables don't fall out, especially as there are no zipped pockets inside.
It carries plenty of gear: I was able to fit in tools, a waterproof jacket and a lightweight down jacket with room to spare.
That extra space can be used to hold a water bladder, which slips into its own pocket at the back of the main compartment. This worked well with my Camelbak 2 litre bladder. There's a Velcro loop to put through the bladder hook and keep everything stable. The hose exits through a hole at the top which is well covered to prevent rain leaking in but a bit of a tight squeeze for the right-angled valve to go through. It did, though.
The outer pocket is half-length and sits high up, which could upset the stability a bit if filled with heavy items, but why would you? There are two mesh pockets and a full-width nylon inner pocket for food, wallet and the like, while the outer pocket itself has ample space for gloves, hats and so on. It doesn't have expansion panels at the side, so once filled it tends to encroach a bit into the space of the main compartment. Even so, there's plenty of room for all manner of day-rides or as supplementary carrying capacity for touring or adventure riding.
There are compression straps at the shoulders, sides and bottom of the pack to snug everything down and these have strap tidies to prevent unwanted flappage. The waist strap does not, unfortunately, so a couple of stray ends of dangle there, though I didn't notice them in use.
The waist strap incorporates two zipped pockets, a handy feature I've seen on some Osprey packs and a good place to stick the car keys if you forget to put them away before you put the rucksack on, which I always do. The bag is supplied with a separate pouch for mobile phones or cameras which attaches to the shoulder strap. I didn't get one so I can't report on how that worked, but it certainly adds to the excellent value of the product.
Also at the sides, we find bottle pockets which make this a good walking pack too. I found these a tight fit for a standard cycling bottle and taller ones tend not to sit very deep, but the side compression straps help to make it secure. Up top, there's a grab handle that you'll find surprisingly useful.
Once on, the pack can be easily adjusted using the shoulder, waist and chest straps. This only needed doing the first time really. I was able to get this to sit just 'so', even on my 6ft 3in frame. The chest strap is elasticated, which is just as well as it's quite short. If you are barrel-chested, check there's enough for your requirements.
On the bike, I was really impressed with the fit and stability of the Proviz. It hugs the back very well and never moved, whether I was in the drops or rattling over some roots on the mountain bike. Although the shoulder straps are only lightly padded, they never cut in. In fact, more than once I had to check that I actually had the thing on. That's always a good metric.
The pack is stiffened with a flexible internal board, backed with foam pad that's cut with ventilation holes. Despite this, I found I had a clammy back at the end of rides. That's not really a major issue as I find this even with packs designed to sit away from the back with a nylon mesh for ventilation. Sweating is a part of cycling.
Despite its lightweight construction, Proviz seems confident that this pack is up to the real outdoors. Why else would it incorporate a rescue whistle in the chest strap clip?
You can buy cheaper rucksacks, but I think the Proviz is great value for what you get – Rivelo's Coombe Dry, with its reflective patches front and rear, is twice the price at £100, and the Osprey Escapist 18 is £85. The Deuter Race X is lighter at 550g, but heavier on the pocket at £64.99.
I like the Proviz, it's a really good backpack for a variety of uses. The construction and finish is nothing fancy but it certainly seems strong, which is the main thing, as I like any plastic product I buy these days to have a long life.
For cycle commuting to touring, walking or even a little off-road action, this bag performs well above its weight
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Proviz Reflect360 Touring Backpack
Size tested: 20 litres
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Proviz was lyrical on its website: "The new REFLECT360 Touring Backpack is a true multi-purpose 20 litre day sack that includes a spacious main and secondary compartments and multiple internal and external pockets to provide you with an extensive amount of storage for all of your gear. It also has all of the extras you'd expect on a backpack that is as suitable for commuting to work or spending the day in the mountains.
Chest and waist straps keep the bag stable in tandem with a fully breathable, ergonomically designed back support so it sits snuggly on your back. To get the perfect fit the backpack has multiple straps to adjust exactly how you wish the bag to sit on your back.
This backpack is made from high quality, very lightweight, anti-tear 600D Nylon. The material is waterproof to help keep your items dry if you get caught in a shower. Should you get caught in a downpour or are out in constant rain then a fully waterproof rain cover is housed in the easily accessible outer rain cover pocket that will ensure no water gets through the zipped areas and in to the bag.
As with all Proviz gear we have incorporated a huge amount of our highly reflective REFLECT360 material (main compartment, side tabs and front straps) to the backpack so that you are much more easily identifiable when out on the roads when it is dark. Or, in the worst scenario it can be used as a reflective beacon if you were to get lost on a hike as the reflective material reflects light back to the light source ie torch lights from a search party."
That's a very good summary of what this pack offers, in my opinion
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
20 litre capacity / Dimensions: 50 x 27 x 19cm
Incorporates our REFLECT360 reflective material
Waterproof rain cover included
2 main compartments with multiple interior pockets for wallet, keys, tablet etc
External mesh side pockets
Waist strap with two side pockets
Detachable Mobile phone bag on front strap
Ventilated ergonomic back support
Top grab handle
Adjustable front, side and top straps to get the perfect fit
Suitable for all outdoor activities including, cycling, running camping, climbing, hiking and more!
Hydration bladder compatible – internal Velcro attachment and front strap attachment
The construction is unglamorous, but certainly seems solid enough.
Compared to Proviz's listed aims, the rucksack performs very well. Only the slightly sweaty back came up short.
I was worried that the light fabric would be easy to damage but it's stood up well to some quite hard use including a bit of mountain bike use in the woods.
The fit and security are excellent. I kept forgetting I was using it.
It's a great price for a product that performs like this, and compares really well against the likes of Osprey and Deuter.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The Reflect360 offers a lot more than the reflectivity. It's a well-thought-out pack that's easy to live with, carries all you need for commuting, a day ride or a bit of light adventure.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fit and comfort are really good. It's generally well thought out.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The side pockets are a little shallow and tight for a water bottle. I would like a zip on one of the internal pockets and maybe a key clip inside one of the compartments.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's excellent. For comparative reflectivity, the Rivelo Coombe Dry is £100. Another lightweight option is the Deuter Race X, which is only 550g, and costs £64.99.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
First impressions of a rather flimsy item were quickly dispelled by the excellent performance and in fact this pack has turned out to be quite a tough piece. For commuting through to some rigorous off-road riding, it's proven stable and comfortable.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale CAAD10 My best bike is: Tomassini Prestige
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,