The Top 10 Best Running Lights Compared and Reviewed
Keep your run a safe one. Check out our complete review of the best running lights that will take some of the risk out of running in the dark.
According to one set of figures 4,280 pedestrians were killed and around 70,000 were injured in the United States in 2011. Pedestrians are defined as: any person on foot, walking, jogging, running or hiking. So obviously a good number of these stats have little correlation to runners. But the truth is running entails risk. This risk takes a lot of different forms, but obviously the most serious (and potentially fatal) is being hit by a car.
Our Top 3 Picks
Many people start their morning with a run or blow off steam after work with a brisk jog. This means large numbers of runners are active during the times of the day when the visibility is low or even outright dark. Now factor in winter time (where there sometimes seems to be no light at all during the day), and it’s safe to say visibility is a key safety issue all runners must think about.
1. Tracer360 – Revolutionary Illuminated and Reflective Vest
7.0 oz in weight
360 degree fluorescent illumination
Lightweight, breathable, durable
5 different flashing modes, 6 color options
Should make you visible over ¼ mile in any direction
- Surrounds the runner with visibility
- Lightweight, durable construction
- Multiple flashing mode to make sure you are noticed
- Several colors
- The design is not for everyone
2. Nathan Zephyr Fire 300 Hand Torch
- Puts out 300 lumens of brightness
- Comfortable handheld torch mount/brace
- Ear splitting siren, a nice safety feature
- 3-5 hrs of battery life
- Li-Ion Rechargeable batteries USB port compatible
- Not very weather resistant
3. Black Diamond Sprinter Headlamp
- TriplePower LED with 130 lumens of brightness, projects an ovalized beam for maximum sight
- PowerTap Technology makes shifting modes a breeze
- IPX4 resists water
- Reasonably priced
- Some aren't crazy about the charging design
4. GoMotion Corelite Waist Light, 100 Lumen CREE LED
- Fully adjustable waist belt
- Customizable light intensity and run times
- Can change light stream from wide to narrow with an easy rotary dial
- Red LED lights on the rear of the belt for added safety
- Tends to bounce a lot during a run
5. Fenix PD32 Flashlight
- Compact design offers maximum output
- CREE XP-G white LED lights with 50,000-hour lifespan bulbs
- anti roll / anti slip design
- Carries a lifetime warranty
- Gets hot
6. InnoGear 5000 Lumen Bright Headlight Headlamp Flashlight Torch 3
- The rechargeable Lithium Ion batteries last quite a while
- White light can be adjusted to High/Middle/Low/Flashing
- Waterproof and heat resistant
- There may some minor durability issues
7. GoMotion Synergy Reflective Hydration LightVest
- Lightweight hex mesh backpack holds hydration bladder
- Variable light modes: High/Medium/Low (20/24/50+ hours, respectively)
- Reflective strips in various locations for added safety
- rotary dial on front light allows for easy adjustment as you run
- May be difficult to find a hydration bladder the fit perfectly
8. BSeen LED Slap Band, Glow bracelet, armband
- Slap wrap application, extremely user friendly
- Reflective printing, bonus safety feature
- Simple battery replacement, spare battery included
- 360 degree visibility. Seen from all angles
- Works better on wrists than it does on ankles
9. Athlights Magnetic Flashing Safety Lights for Running
- Strong magnetic grip
- Flashing LED designed to catch attention
- Can be placed virtually anywhere
- Extremely lightweight
- The lights are a bit small for some
10. Nathan Light Spur
- Attaches quickly and securely
- Unobtrusive, won’t weigh you down
- Multiple settings, including a strobe option
- Waterproof construction
- Easy to use
- Battery replacement is a bit of a hassle
The first place to start with safety is awareness. There’s a temptation to plug in your headphones hit the road and zone out. But this is asking for trouble. The approach we recommend is assuming the cars never can see you. Therefor the accountability is on you to remain alert and safe. Coming hand-in-hand with this responsibility is the need to get something to illuminate yourself. Reflective vests or clothing are great, but why not get some proper lighting as well?
The way each runner approaches gearing up is unique to that person, which is why we’ve tried to cover as much variety as possible. You may even think about wearing a headlamp on your night time or early morning runs. But if you’d like to experience another light such as a handheld one or a vest what you’ll see above is the best of what’s out there.
For a few FAQs about lighting and running in the dark please read on.
Frequently asked questions
What is a Lumen?
Lumens measure how much light you are getting out of a bulb, in short it means brightness. This is the most important metric with these type of lights, it’s essentially the volume.
What is LED?
The term LED stands for light-emitting diode(bulb). First developed in the 1960’s LEDs are composed of a semiconductor light source and the primary reason they’ve become more popular today is that they use less energy and last longer than traditional bulbs.
What are some tips for staying safe running in the dark?
- Never assume people see you
- Run against traffic
- Err on the side of caution, always yield
- Avoid wearing dark clothing
- Generally don’t run behind vehicles at intersections
- Keep your senses. Headphones will eliminate one of your best safety features, your ears
- For women: carry pepper spray, of course rarely if ever necessary but a good precaution to take
- Run with a partner
- Try to make eye contact with drivers before making any moves
- Bring a cellphone in case of emergencies
- Run a familiar route
And last of all be aware….nothing will protect your better than simply being aware of your surroundings.