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The Altura Nightvision Storm Thermal Gilet is a rugged, waterproof and very cosy outer layer, but it's pricier than the competition and not as visible as the name might suggest.
The Nightvision name will be familar to many cycling commuters. You will likely have seen Altura's Nightvision jackets and bib tights reflecting back at you on many a commute over the last decade and the company could be said to be one of the pioneers of reflectives on cycle clothing with its Tron-style reflective strips.
The Nightvision Storm Thermal Gilet has a 10k rating for both waterproofing and breathability, and as the British weather has started to take a turn for the worse, I was hoping it would not only stand up to the weather, but also make me stand out on the roads. Interestingly, rather than Tron-style reflective patches, the Nightvision gilet has panels covered in small dots on the chest and down the sides, though none on the back.
It's a nicely constructed gilet. The panels are well stiched together, and the material feels rugged and stands up to snagging on brambles or wearing a rucksack. Being fairly thick material, it's not packable into a jersey pocket.
The chunky double zips feel strong and include toggles for ease of use while wearing gloves. This front zip unzips from the bottom as well as the top, allowing access to pockets in clothing underneath. There is also a single large pocket on the back, again with a zip toggle.
Washing it's easy – a sports wash at 30 degrees – and the reflective logos and dots have stayed intact.
I tested an XL, and with a 42-inch chest and 34 waist I found it a good fit for autumn/winter weather. There's still enough room to fit a thick jersey or softshell underneath, with full pockets, without any excessive flappy material.
It fits well across the shoulders and back, and the elasticated arm holes enable enough movement without letting wind and rain get into the gilet.
The fleece lining is comfortable and cosy. It runs around the inner collar area, the sides of the gilet and the front panels; only the very back panel is not fleece-lined.
I found the Nightvision Gilet very comfortable in bad weather. I tested it on the mucky, narrow lanes surrounding Bath and got caught out in some torrential October downpours, including Storm Aiden. Apart from a bit of ingress around the arm holes, my torso was dry underneath.
Temperature-wise, I thought it worked best at 13 degrees and below; any warmer than this and I would say it starts to get a bit boil-in-the-bag, unless you're cycling slowly. The high collar keeps the wind off your chest well.
I didn't find the rear pocket particulary user friendly; the zip is hidden under a storm flap and tricky to undo while on the go. I'm right-handed and struggled to undo it while cycling; I had to stop completely to get into it – as would left-handers, I'd imagine.
Being able to unzip the front of the gilet from the bottom means you can access jersey pockets fairly quickly, although I found this tricky to do while riding, preferring to stop. Also, for the time you have it undone, it quickly lets the chill onto your torso. I'd prefer a couple of traditional top-down pockets for on-the-go rummaging.
The front chest pocket, again zip-toggled, is a good size for a few keys, credit cards or a work-pass.
There is a small loop for affixing a light, off to the right-hand side, so a good shout for cycling in the UK, possibly making you appear more in the middle of the lane than you really are, so drivers might give you more space. Not so useful in countries where you drive on the right, though.
My main issue with the Nightvision Gilet is its, well, night vision, which puts quite a downer on what is otherwise quite a decent, very weatherproof gilet.
I didn't find the dot pattern particularly reflective; testing it with my cycling chums on the Sunday group ride, they were surprised that it didn't jump out at them when shining lights onto it. Also trying car headlights on the gilet, again, they don't really reflect back very well. It's not like the old Nightvision Tron patterns of old that I recall seeing on my commutes.
The dot pattern is only on the upper chest and sides of the gilet, not the rear, where headlights would be shining; there is only a very small triangular Altura logo that is reflective, but no high-vis stripes or banding that jump out back at the light source.
With this particular gilet being a dark slate grey as well, it is pretty much the same colour as tarmac, and I felt that wearing it in gloomy, rainy weather actually made my visibility to road traffic worse than if I didn't have it on. In busy traffic I didn't feel that safe wearing it.
The dot pattern is definitely apparent when flash photos are taken, so I found it odd that it doesn't show up so much with bike or car lights. I feel it could really do with additional, much more visible patches or stripes that make it obvious there is a cyclist on the road. The gilet is also available in Hi-Viz Yellow, which looks like the better option for visibility.
The Nightvision is up against some bright – and keenly priced – competition. The ETC Arid Gilet comes in at almost a tenner less (it's gone up to £51.50 since Dave tested it last year), and is also suitable for commmuting or casual touring, and is fully reflective all over.
I tested the Proviz Classic Gilet last year. For a fiver less, it's more breathable than the Nightvision, with 20k fabric, and very visible indeed. With its high collar it's also useful in colder weather, and comes with handy pockets. It's also light enough to be just about packable, too.
The BTwin Visibility Reversible Gilet was felt to be very versatile on and off the bike, very visible, and comes with an assortment of useful pockets and large reflective strips – for £20 less than the Altura Nightvision.
I really wanted to like the Altura Nightvision more, as its weatherproofing is really good, and it's very comfortable to wear in bad weather. However, it's just not as visible as some of its cheaper rivals, and doesn't really live up to its name. The rear pocket could be better too. Balancing it out, it's quite good, but could be better.
Good weatherproofing and a cosy, fleecy lining, but fiddly rear pocket and not as reflective as the competition
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Altura Nightvision Storm Thermal Gilet
Size tested: XL
Tell us what the product is for
The Altura Nightvision Storm Thermal Gilet is a three-season design with a 10K waterproof outer layer; it's a looser fit intended for commuting and casual riding.
Altura says, 'A three season thermal gilet perfect for cool early mornings and chilly evening commutes
'The Urban Thermal Gilet is a welcome addition to our Nightvision range, it is perfect to pop on for added warmth over a jersey on those early morning and evening commutes when temperatures can be cooler. The 10K / 10K waterproof outer layer is also highly breathable and encases the snug layer of thermal grid fabric across the chest and sides which keeps the chill off. The reflective print panels and light loop allow you to stay visible to other road users when the light is low in the early morning and dusk. There is plenty of storage for your essentials with a chest pocket and lower back pocket. With this easy, relaxed feature-packed style what more could you ask for?'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- 10k / 10k Waterproof and breathable outer fabric
- Thermal lined inner front and side panels and collar
- Reflective print detail
- Rear light loop
- Zippered chest pocket and rear pocket
- Two-way waterproof front zip
- Silicone rear hem gripper [NB: there is no silicone gripper]
- Relaxed fit
The Nightvision Gilet is nicely constructed; it's got a bit of weight to it, and should last well. The fleece lining is comfortable and cosy in bad weather, and runs around the collar area, the sides of the gilet and the front panels. The double zip on the front is waterproof and can be unzipped from the bottom, allowing access to pockets in clothing underneath. Although Altura says it has, there is no silicone rear hem gripper.
The Nightvision Storm lives up to the Storm part of the name well: it's great in bad weather. I welcomed the snug, fleecy lining and high collar on cold morning and evening rides. The zip has extra weatherproofing with a rubberised outer later and it really keeps the wind off your chest. I found it best for days under about 13°C; above this I found it could get too hot inside, because so much of the lining is fleecy. But it's a good gilet for cold and rainy days. I was caught in an absolute downpour for about 45 minutes and was pretty dry underneath when I got home, apart from a few bits of ingress around the arm area.
However, it doesn't live up as well to the Nightvision promise in the name. It didn't really seem to reflect back to the light source at all. I tried it with my teenage son wearing it in front of the car headlights and it really doesn't stand out much. Even then the dot pattern is only on the chest and sides, and not on the back of the gilet where car headlights will be mainly shining. In the slate grey colour option I tested, my cycle buddies commented that it was the same colour as the tarmac and had made me almost camouflaged on the road, so I didn't very safe wearing it.
On top of that, the rear pocket zip access is fiddly and biased to right-handers, and even then it's not easy to access.
The panels are well stitched together, and the material feels rugged and stands up to snagging on brambles or wearing a rucksack. The zips feel nice and strong too.
I tested an XL, and with a 42 inch chest and 34 waist, I found it a good fit for autumn/winter weather. There's still enough room to fit a thick jersey or softshell underneath, with full pockets, and there is no excess flappy material in the wind. It fits well across the shoulders and back, and the elasticated arm holes enable enough movement without letting wind and rain get inside.
There's a bit of heft to it at 282g, but it's a well-constructed garment for commuting, and is about right for this type of material. This does mean it's not possible to stuff it into a jersey pocket, though it will go into a rucksack fine.
It's very comfortable in the right temperatures, which I would say need to be 13°C or below; above this, it is probably too warm.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
30 degrees wash, and its dry in an hour. Came up like new.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
For keeping out bad weather and keeping me warm it's great, but for visibility it's not so good.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The snug feeling in bad weather – the soft material on the inside is very welcome in cold and wet weather.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The reflectiveness – this was my biggest issue with the Nightvision and I felt it didn't live up to the name. I really didn't find it that visible compared to past Nightvision products I've used which have reflected light straight back to the source.
The dot pattern is only on the upper chest and sides of the gilet, and really doesn't "jump out" in the dark. The small Altura logos do reflect but are quite small. Also, in the Slate Grey colour tested here it's pretty much the colour of a UK road (it's also available in 'Hi-Viz Yellow').
The rear pocket is also hard to access as the zip access is on the right hand side. As a right-hander I found it tricky to undo on the go, I think a left-handed person would struggle even more.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's up against some keenly priced competition. The ETC Arid Gilet comes in at almost a tenner less, and is also suitable for commuting or casual touring, and is fully reflective all over.
I tested the Proviz Classic Gilet last year. It's the same price as the Nightvision, more breathable, with 20k fabric, and is very visible indeed. With its high collar it's also useful in colder weather, and comes with handy pockets. And it's light enough to be just about packable.
The BTwin Visibility Reversible Gilet was also felt to be very versatile on and off the bike, very visible, and comes with an assortment of useful pockets and large reflective strips – for £20 less than the Altura Nightvision.
Did you enjoy using the product? In bad weather yes, but not on busy roads.
Would you consider buying the product? No, I'd probably go for something more visble and with easier-to-access pockets.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Probably not.
Use this box to explain your overall score
Although it's a very rugged gilet, which does a very good job of keep out the wind and rain, the lack of reflectivity and fiddly pocket design knock the overall score back as it's not living up to its name. It's 'quite good' rather than full-on good, in my opinion.
About the tester
I usually ride: GT Grade My best bike is: Boardman ASR 8.9
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb, Zwifting