Yellow v orange high-vis: which provides the best protection?

High-vis clothing can help make workforces and members of the public safer. You’ve probably noticed in recent years that orange high-visibility clothing has become as ubiquitous as yellow, but which one actually does a better job of making people visible?

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Why do we need high-visibility clothing?

To get to the bottom of which is the better colour, we need to consider why we use this clothing in the first place. High-vis clothing helps people to be conspicuous, so they stand out and can be easily seen by those around them. For example, those working by the side of a busy road need to stand out so that drivers can see them amongst the many other moving and bright objects that may be around.

Contrast definition

The greater the contrast with the background, the better the person wearing high-vis apparel will stand out to the human eye. In terms of visibility, colours on the yellow-green spectrum stand out to human eye more than orange-red. Although yellow is a brighter colour, orange sometimes offers more contrast against certain backgrounds, especially in the daytime, where it offers more of a contrast in sunny weather. At night, yellow is generally a better choice.


A key argument for purchasing high-vis jackets in a traditional colour is that it is familiar. Those looking for help know to look out for someone in yellow at an event, for example. Once upon a time, yellow was the main colour for high-vis clothing and therefore the most familiar and recognisable.

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In recent years, however, orange has become equally popular, and both are now familiar choices. Often, one colour is more commonly associated with a certain job or hobby. For example, refuse collectors often wear orange, whilst cyclists choose yellow. Both are now available in a wide range of designs and styles (

Other uses for high visibility colours

It’s not just clothing that features high-vis colours. Safety vehicles make use of these shades so motorists and members of the public can easily spot them. Chapter 8 Chevrons, for example, sell a choice of both yellow and orange chevrons for vehicles at

Whichever colour you choose, make sure you purchase high-vis clothing that also features reflective strips, which make the wearer even more conspicuous and therefore more safe.

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