The British cycling stazi will have you believe that riding in black kit is somewhat akin to treason, that having a preference for black as base colour makes you some sort of johnny-cum-lately, fly-by-night chancer who has no regard for self preservation – The cycling equivalent of the Milk Tray Man, likely to steal their wife and trample on their carefully tended rose bushes.
Now whilst riding under dimly lit flyovers at night in a ninja outfit might not be the safest possible way to cycle, looking like a waste recycling plant manager with a string of Christmas tree lights stapled to himself is equally less than ideal.
Those of us who do appreciate the stylistic merits of a good black-based kit have often found it difficult to reconcile the need for sartorial elegance alongside the desire to stay alive, particularly when placed in close proximity to drivers with less than a passing regard for our long-term respiratory aspirations.
Thanks to a Kickstarter campaign that has just successfully met its target, the conflict between style and safety may about to be much less of an issue.
RA Reflective, a designer and manufacturer of ‘retro-reflective’ apparel is aiming to bring to market a range of hyper reflective backpacks and beanies that under normal light conditions appear less than conspicuous, but when introduced to a light source at night can be seen from up to 140 metres.
According to the company the ‘retro-reflective’ material bounces light directly back towards its source, very much like a construction worker’s reflective safety vest.
The Reflect | Pack is described as “a classic book bag with practical functionality crafted using specialised Matte Reflective Fabric.”
The main compartment includes a separate padded laptop sleeve as well as a zippered pocket for small items. The side panels include quick access pockets and adjustable utility straps to carry locks or other small items.
- Padded laptop sleeve for up to a 15″ device
- Zipped interior pocket
- 2 quick access side pockets
- 2 side utility straps
- Sternum strap for additional stability
- Water resistant matte reflective fabric
While some of you may already be rushing to locate the bunting and throw a street party, don’t rush to distribute the party poppers just yet. The company does carry as disclaimer on its Kickstarter website highlighting the reduced functionality of its reflective fabric in wet conditions – *Cue a collective groan from the UK.
“The fabric is still highly resistant to water, however without the silicon coating, water will not bead and repel from the surface of the fabric as they do in our reflective garments.”
The company already manufactures a successful range of reflective sportswear on its website: http://rareflective.com that is impervious to rain, however in order to make the backpack as affordable as possible the brand took the decision not to add the coating, which will no doubt impact on any potential sales within the UK.
There seems to be a bright future (pardon the pun) for well-designed and crafted reflective cycle wear that bridges the gap between form and function, RA Reflective amongst others are already showing the way. I’m sure in time that a coated version of the backpack will make its way onto the market for us meteorologically less blessed – price is less of a deterrent when safety is concerned as the brand may think.
We will definitely be keeping tabs on how the project develops and will bring you more news as and when we hear it.