on 17 May 2015
I go out on long hard hikes, usually on Cornish coast path, hitch-hiking out from Exeter to get to my various starting points, and back in the evening from my finishing points (search online for Philip Goddard favourite great hikes), and for a few years had been using a Ronhill high-visibility jacket. That had done its job quite well, but it had two main issues - no pocket in a position that I could readily access, and a very flimsy front zip that always snagged on the external flaps of the material on both sides. Unsurprisingly, that zip finally broke, in the middle of a difficult hitch-hike in perishing cold conditions a little earlier this year, and I wasn't very pleased about that!
So, does this jacket equal or better the old Ronhill one? - Yes, it actually significantly betters it for my own purposes, BUT other potential purchasers need to bear in mind a functional difference, which would make it useless for some people.
First, the front zip. Yippee, this has a much more robust zip, and there are no silly front flaps for it to snag on! Instead, it has a larger ('storm') flap behind the zip, but because it is larger it would not nearly so readily get caught by the zip. So, a longer lifespan can be expected in that respect, as well as much less fiddling around when out in the sticks, fighting with the zip to get it to work properly!
As for pockets, this has a few that are accessible, though I do have to say that their positions are still not intuitive and so I'm not all that inclined to use them.
Now for the material. The colour's great, just the same as the old Ronhill, but whereas the Ronhill was reasonably windproof (albeit with under-arm ventilation mesh), this jacket's emphasis is altogether on ventilation and keeping cool. In other words, it is not windproof - at least, in any serious sense. That is NOT a criticism at all, but simply a matter of one's requirements. In my case, the windproofness of the Ronhill was useful, BUT in warmer weather it was unworkable for me to use it except when it was dusk or dark, whereas really it would have been better for me to use it for ALL hitch-hikes, to attract motorists' attention and make them more likely to stop for me. In fact the lack of windproofness doesn't really matter for me in colder / more windy conditions, because I have a few extremely thin, light and efficient Montane windproof jackets, and so when I do need windproofing I simply put on at least one of those first, and the high-visibility jacket on top.
I do have to say, though, that it isn't quite as simple as that, because without wind, for standing around, this jacket is actually a little warmer than the Ronhill, because the material is a bit more insulating. Nonetheless, the signs so far are that I can use this jacket for my hitch-hikes in a much wider range of temperature / wind conditions than with the Ronhill, provided I have the additional windproofing available in case of need.
I don't go running myself, but I'd have thought that in most weather conditions this jacket would be preferable to the vast majority of other high-visibility running or cycling jackets that I've seen listed here on Amazon, because they claim to be showerproof, which would mean pretty minimal with regard to ventilation. Would you prefer your run to become a sweat bath or to be a more refreshing affair? :-)
One silly little down-side for me with this jacket is that I usually find it very confusing to orient for putting it on. It has no lining (just as well!), and the pockets are not anchored to anything except their openings, so they are all flapping around when you're trying to orient the jacket. Then there are the ventilation openings across the upper back, which confuse things more, and also this model doesn't have a hood rolled up in the collar as the Ronhill jacket had, and there's nothing to draw one's attention to it. This leaves it very confusing to find the top of the jacket so that I can put it on. On my hitch-hikes I'm often wanting to put things on very quickly, for every lost second can mean a missed potential lift offer, so this is a real practical disadvantage, albeit a small one. A better design would make the inside of the collar a different, indeed darker, colour (a warm grey would work well), and would not detract from its functioning at all.
Overall, then, a great jacket, but not for you if you want one that is showerproof / windproof.