With excellent reflectivity and helpful ventilation, the Craft Glow Vest makes it easy to increase your visibility, but its slightly relaxed fit and black/grey colourway won't appeal to everyone.
The Glow Vest is a lightweight, packable gilet designed to massively improve your night-time visibility on the roads. Far from the commonly small reflective piping or tapes that adorn too little of many road-going garments, Craft has made the entire top half of the gilet's front and the lower half of the rear completely reflective.
These panels use a reflective coating that looks grey in normal light, and turns bright white when direct light falls upon it. We've all seen this effect before, but the fabric usually exhibits next to no breathability, making for clammy clothing. The Glow Vest's reflective panels are roughly 50% perforations, and the fabric feels soft, supple but tough. It does allow some small amount of stretch too.
The remainder of the front and rear panels is a non-stretchy, lightweight polyester and polyamide fabric, and they're separated by a 65mm wide, stretchy mesh, which runs from waist to armpit.
The lower edge and arm holes are hemmed with a thin elastic, and there's a 55mm tall collar, comprising two layers of fabric, which is mostly reflective too. A full-length inner baffle keeps the zip away from your other clothing, and prevents additional draughts.
Road gilets are usually designed with the most windproof section covering the whole of the front, or at least the upper torso, with less coverage behind, and often mesh for ventilation. With the Glow Vest's shoulders and upper torso being ventilated, as is the lower half of the back, it initially provokes a question of how best to use it.
The perforations are quite effective at cooling, although you're always aware that you have a gilet on. On a cold day, I wouldn't rely on it to add significant warmth, and would dress for the conditions before adding the gilet, only expecting to gain 5-10% more warmth, at best.
If leaving in the dark, I'd wear it because its reflectiveness would always be a boon, but if cycling for a while before lighting up time I'd be more inclined to carry it, then put it on once vehicles had their headlights on full (if rolled up neatly, the Glow Vest doesn't fill a jersey pocket so it's no chore to carry). During daylight and dusk hours, I felt that adding a black gilet, even over a brightly coloured top with the sleeves showing, was unwise. If the reflective panels were paired with white, yellow or orange, for example, it would be a different story.
Size-wise, I'm a fairly average UK medium in most clothing, and the medium Glow Vest slipped on easily over a winter softshell jacket. Worn over a long or short sleeve jersey, it feels a little spacious for my taste, but the arm holes are snug without feeling tight, and it stays in position well and doesn't flap noticeably – or rustle when riding.
There are no zip garages, but I didn't experience any irritation from it, and the lockable zip pull always stayed where I left it. The collar is usefully tall, helping to fend off cold winds, and the arm holes don't impede movement.
The stretch from the rear perforated panel, and the mesh side panels, is pulled in by the elastic waist, and it's long enough to reach beneath your rear pockets, but if you want to access them on the move you'll need to hike the gilet up first.
At its £60 list price, the Glow Vest seems a little steep compared with others out there, such as BTwin's Men's Visibility PPE Certified Sleeveless Reversible Gilet 500 at £39.99, which offers black and fluoro yellow sides with good reflectivity, and the fully reflective ETC Arid Unisex Reflective Gilet at £50 is even more visible, though suffers from less breathability.
Other options offer weatherproofing, which the Craft doesn't, but can cost even more, such as Stolen Goat's Palace Bodyline Gilet at £65.
Overall, Craft's Glow Vest has a good fit, is comfortable on the bike, and has the ability to gain visibility in the dark without overheating. There are cheaper gilets out there, but its particular raft of features, and fairly wide operational window, means the Craft has a niche almost to itself. If you're someone who runs, then this gilet could just as ably help your night-time running visibility, when its light construction and ventilation could be even more useful.
A novel and effective way to be seen in the dark, without boiling in the bag
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Craft Glow Vest
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Craft says: "Lightweight vest with perforated, reflective fabric at chest and lower back.
"Make sure you stay visible, safe and cool on the road. Glow Vest features reflective, lightweight and perforated fabric at chest and lower back. In addition, stretchy ventilation panels at sweat zones ensure excellent freedom of movement and body-temperature management."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Craft lists these features:
* Reflective, lightweight and perforated fabric
* Stretchy ventilation panels at sweat zones
* 360 degrees reflective details
* Elastic edging at the bottom
* Shaped collar
Front Body/Back Body: 65% Polyester 35% Polyamide, Side Panels: 90% Polyamide 10% Elastane
Being lightweight, the stitching can be very minimal, and it is.
Great as a reflective garment, but not that visible before lighting up time.
It touches and covers all the right places.
It's on the relaxed side of a UK medium.
There's very little mass to worry about.
The combination of perforated and covered panels seems odd at first, but it works pretty well.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Care is straightforward, and so far it's coped well with washing.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Its bold reflective panels that still breathe.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Being black/grey, which compromises visibility at dusk, before vehicle headlights will have an effect on the reflective material.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's more expensive than BTwin's Men's Visibility PPE Certified Sleeveless Reversible Gilet 500 at £39.99, which offers black and fluoro yellow sides with good reflectivity, and the fully reflective ETC Arid Unisex Reflective Gilet at £50 is even more visible, though suffers from less breathability.
Stolen Goat's Palace Bodyline Gilet is more expensive at £65, but offers weatherproofing that the Craft doesn't.
Did you enjoy using the product? Mostly
Would you consider buying the product? I would if it was in a lighter colour.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Not in black.
Use this box to explain your overall score
In the dark, the gilet's large reflective panels are very effective, and the perforated and lightweight fabrics offer good ventilation. It's a little loose for slimmer riders, but comfortable, and will fit over several layers. Overall, I'd say it's a good option, but in a brighter colour it would be even better.
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL6 with Campagnolo Super Record 12s My best bike is: BMC SLR01
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, mtb, Riding with my children, using both a child seat and trailer bike