Which reflective safety vests are best?

Working outside on construction sites or out on the open road can be dangerous enough, but add being in the dark and not visible to the drivers of passing cars to the mix, and it can be a deadly combination.  

Crossing guards, police officers, first responders, security guards, TSA employees and more can benefit from wearing a safety vest on the job. It’s also a good idea to purchase a vest if you’re outside exercising or walking after the sun goes down. It doesn’t hurt to keep a reflective vest in the trunk of your car in case you ever have to change a tire in the middle of the night. 

Overall, reflective vests are relatively inexpensive, and our top pick is the JKSafety Class 2 High Visibility Safety Vest, because it’s convenient and ideal for everyday use. 

What to know before you buy reflective safety vests

Fluorescent colors 

It’s the fluorescent colors that make the vest easier to see because the shades are brighter and can’t help but be noticed by the human eye. However, even fluorescent colors aren’t visible in the dark. They need light reflected either from the sun or another source of ultraviolet light. 

Yellow and orange are the most common fluorescent colors found on vests, but some models are also available in pink and blue, though these might not comply with some worksite regulations.

Reflective tape

Reflective tape is different in that it’s also not visible in the dark, but it can reflect a light source back, such as the headlights of an approaching car. 

When it comes to reflective tape, there are typically two types: glass bead and micro prismatic. Glass bead tape is silver and has actual glass beads on the surface. It’s common and easy to produce. Micro prismatic tape is more durable, effective, and costly because it’s made up of prisms. 

What to look for when buying reflective safety vests 

Size

Keep in mind that a reflective vest is meant to be worn over your clothes. If you’ll be wearing your vest outside in the winter, that means it will have to fit over a jacket, so it’s a good idea to opt for a larger size. 

Durability

These vests are often worn outside and on job sites, so they will undergo a certain amount of wear and tear. Thinner mesh material might not last as long as stronger polyester material, so take that into consideration when selecting a model. 

Pockets

What tends to set some of the higher quality vests apart from the rest are pockets that allow you easily hold and access a variety of items. This is ideal for those who will be wearing their vest while on the job or even on a late-night walk around the neighborhood.

If you’re looking for something that serves the same function, but is a little more comfortable and casual than a reflective vest, try a reflective shirt and refer to the buying guide for best reflective shirts at Best Reviews. 

How much you can expect to spend on reflective safety vests

An inexpensive reflective safety vest can cost under $10. These vests are usually made from a thin mesh material, so they aren’t as durable. A higher-quality vest made for more rugged outdoor work will run you about $15. These tend to have additional benefits such as zippers and pockets.

Reflective safety vest FAQ 

How do I clean my reflective safety vest?

A. A reflective safety vest should be cleaned often, as the dirt can reduce the efficiency of the fluorescent and reflective parts. The vest should never be dry cleaned. It should be washed on the cold setting or in the cold water and either hung to dry or dried on low heat. Never iron a reflective vest.

Should I wear a reflective safety vest during the day? 

A. Yes. A vest with reflective colors and reflective tape can make you more noticeable and visible during the day. However, those fluorescent colors and reflective tape are only visible in the dark when light is directly shined on them. 

What are the best reflective safety vests to buy?

Top reflective safety vest

JKSafety Class 2 High Visibility Safety Vest

JKSafety Class 2 High Visibility Safety Vest

What you need to know: An ideal vest for all types of workers.  

What you’ll love: This vest is compliant with industry standards, making it perfect for workers. It also has nine different pockets, perfect for storing your phone and other work equipment while on the job. Made from polyester and machine-washable, this vest is both durable and easy to clean. It also makes you visible in even low light. 

What you should consider: It’s the best, which is why it’s one of the more expensive models on the market. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top reflective safety vest for money

Neiko High Visibility Safety Vest

Neiko High Visibility Safety Vest

What you need to know: An inexpensive vest that’s of great quality for the price and highly reflective. 

What you’ll love: This safety vest features two horizontal and vertical reflective strips on both the front and back. It’s extremely lightweight and breathable and is available in multiple sizes, all the way up to XXXL. 

What you should consider: It’s durable, but the material can get uncomfortable, especially when outside in the sun or when the weather is warm. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

GripGlo Reflective Safety Vest

GripGlo Reflective Safety Vest

What you need to know: A high-visibility neon lime safety vest that’s comfortable and easy to take on and off. 

What you’ll love: Fully compliant with worksite regulations, this vest has double vertical and horizontal reflective stripes on the front and back that are outlined in neon orange. It’s machine-washable, light enough for daily wear, and meets industry standards.

What you should consider: This is one of the heavier vests on the market, so it might not be ideal for everyone. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Ryan Dempsey writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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