The Top 10 Best Running Lights Compared and Reviewed

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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
Tracer360 Illuminated Vest
  • Tracer360 Illuminated Vest
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Visible at long distance
  • Price: See Here
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Nathan Zephyr Fire 300
  • Nathan Zephyr Fire 300
  • 4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Has emergency siren
  • Price: See Here
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Black Diamond Sprinter
  • Black Diamond Sprinter
  • 4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • TriplePower LED
  • Price: See Here
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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

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When it comes to being seen there aren’t many better strategies than simply strapping a light to your torso. With the Tracer360 this is essentially what you’re doing, and it is one of the most innovative and effective light vests on the market. If you want to go for the nuclear options so to speak, this is it. Reflective shoes, or a head lamp may catch some drivers attention but not all. The tracer360 has multi-color illumination modes which are based on visual science and designed to catch the attention of today’s distracted driver. Its comfortable, durable and completely adjustable to boot. Although the price runs a bit higher, can you really put a price on safety?
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Specs:

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
Pros
  • Surrounds the runner with visibility
  • Lightweight, durable construction
  • Multiple flashing mode to make sure you are noticed
  • Several colors
Cons
  • The design is not for everyone


2. Nathan Zephyr Fire 300 Hand Torch

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Another unique option for lighting yourself up is the Zephyr Fire 300 Torch from Nathan. This handheld light is ergonomically designed so you can easily light your path without getting a kink in your wrist. Nathan produces excellent handheld water bottles and they’ve applied the same concepts here, creating a shockingly comfortable and efficient light source that you can hold in the palm of your hand. If a kicker were needed there is a red LED rear light for extra safety along with a siren which is great for emergencies.
Pros
  • 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
Cons
  • Not very weather resistant


3. Black Diamond Sprinter Headlamp

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The consensus is in. When it comes to headlamps the Black Diamond Sprinter is one of the clear winners. There is no one feature that blows you away with the Sprinter, rather it’s a combination of rock solid fundamentals. Its very light, it fits like a glove, it’s got multi-colored LEDS, it’s sufficiently bright, easy to use and it won’t break the bank.
Pros

 

  • 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

 

Cons
  • Some aren't crazy about the charging design

4. GoMotion Corelite Waist Light, 100 Lumen CREE LED

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One of the coolests features of having a waist mounted light is that this helps illuminate the ground. Particularly important if you are running on uneven terrain such as a trail. Beyond that it’s simply another great visibility tool to make sure you show up in low light situations.
Pros

 

  • 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

 

Cons
  • Tends to bounce a lot during a run

5. Fenix PD32 Flashlight

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The Fenix PD32 is a great little LED flashlight. Its great for runners because it offers some versatility and can easy strap onto your wrist. With a battery life of around 8 hrs and a 2.2 oz weight and an easy on/off switch it’s a no brainer. It takes two CR123A batteries, and once these are spent they are easy to find and replace.
Pros
  • 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
Cons
  • Gets hot

6. InnoGear 5000 Lumen Bright Headlight Headlamp Flashlight Torch 3

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The InnoGear 5000 is not subtle. Its got three bulbs and gives off a 5000 lumen blast from its headlamp. It is not the trimmest model out there it’s true, but if you cinch it just right we’ve not found it to be an issue. And the payoff you get for a slight bit more weight is a extremely high powered light that ensures you’re seen on the road and don’t miss any potholes.
Pros
  • The rechargeable Lithium Ion batteries last quite a while
  • White light can be adjusted to High/Middle/Low/Flashing
  • Waterproof and heat resistant
Cons
  • There may some minor durability issues

7. GoMotion Synergy Reflective Hydration LightVest

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The GoMotion is a great product because it covers so many necessities for a runner. It offers a bit of storage it makes staying hydrated easier, and best of all built into its design is a lighting system. It has an LED light mounted at chest height. Due to this particular placement road and trail obstacles cast longer shadows, making them more noticeable. The lamp is powered by a battery back on the rear which also blinks red when initiated.
Pros
  • 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
Cons
  • May be difficult to find a hydration bladder the fit perfectly

8. BSeen LED Slap Band, Glow bracelet, armband

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Another great way to announce yourself to drivers in the dark is to slap on some Bseen Glow Bands. These bands are battery powered and ultra-high viz glow in the dark with an LED lightsource. They might look like you’re about to turn up at a rave but don’t underestimate their value. They have a regular and flashing mode, and when you combine flashing with the cadence of your body (light movement) it’s not hard to see why these bands make you impossible to miss.
Pros
  • Slap wrap application, extremely user friendly
  • Reflective printing, bonus safety feature
  • Simple battery replacement, spare battery included
  • 360 degree visibility. Seen from all angles
Cons
  • Works better on wrists than it does on ankles

9. Athlights Magnetic Flashing Safety Lights for Running

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These lights certainly won’t light your path in the way a good torch will, but what they will do is flash bright leaving motorists in no doubt whether you exist. The sporadic flashes of red and white are hard to miss. An additionally benefit of the Athlights is that they attach via a magnetic grip. The company reportedly had some negative feedback about the magnet strip and they’ve doubled down on its strength — so these should work well through thick clothing or in windy conditions. Overall a lightweight, safe, and sensible choice for nighttime safety.
Pros
  • Strong magnetic grip
  • Flashing LED designed to catch attention
  • Can be placed virtually anywhere
  • Extremely lightweight
Cons
  • The lights are a bit small for some

10. Nathan Light Spur

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Smart runners should always run facing traffic right? Well, the nice thing about the Light Spur is that it’s visible from a 360 degree angle. Looking straight out of Star Trek the Light Spur is a neon band of light that you can attach easily to your head, ankle or a shoe. Its small, compact but sheds off a highly visible beam making sure that you’re seen on the road.
Pros
  • Attaches quickly and securely
  • Unobtrusive, won’t weigh you down
  • Multiple settings, including a strobe option
  • Waterproof construction
  • Easy to use
Cons
  • 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.

 

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