10 Best Running Lights Compared and Tested
Keep your run a safe one. Check out our complete review of the best running lights that will take some of the risks out of running in the dark.
The price of a running light might save you from serious injury.
Running in low light conditions can pose danger unexpected risks and the risk varies depending on your running location. If your running in a city, town or suburbia there will be street lights and if your wearing reflective clothing and/or a running light your chances of being seen by car and motorbikes are good. A moving vehicle at night will use its headlights but these lights can create momentary shadows and your form can blend into these shadows, this means for a second or microsecond you are not so visible to a driver unless you also have a light ( or reflective gear) to ensure you are seen.
It only takes a microsecond for a distracted driver to hit you and cause a serious debilitating injury which ends your running enjoyment or even death.
If you are running a road which does not have street lights, you are less visible and the risk is much higher.
Thousands of people are very badly injured or killed on the roads in the USA, UK, and Canada every year, the statistics are disturbingly high and none of us want to become a road accident statistic.
Be safe, it’s not worth taking risks, enjoy our review and select a light which will protect you.
Our Top 3 Picks
- Tracer360 Illuminated Vest
- Visible at long distance
- Nathan Zephyr Fire 300
- Has emergency siren
- Black Diamond Sprinter
- TriplePower LED
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. We know that running is the dark is really nice as it can make you much calmer than ever but it is dangerous at the same time.This is why we have prepared ten products that we picked from many products available on the market. We hope that it will be easier for you to choose the best one.If you don’t have time for searching for running lights, we have a surprise for you. We have prepared the pros and cons of every product and you can easily judge whether it works for you or it doesn’t.
10 Best Running Lights
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
This will ensure you are seen at night and traffic will be certain to see you. Ideal for runners, or bikers and even when taking a walk.
A very bright red light (LED) with three light modes, flashing, pulsing or constantly on, stay hands-free because of this light which securely and comfortably clips to any belt/strap, vest or even to a cap/hat.
This is a value for money bargain, a low cost with a high performance.
Check it out and see if you're dazzlingly impressed.
Water-proof, so you can still wear it during the rainy season.
The clip system gives very good grip and you can clip it to a hat/cap, belt, vest or any convenient place.
A very bright red effect with three functions, pulse, stay-on or flash.
Perfect for night or dark early morning running.
Durable strong protective case.
Low cost, good performance, and durability.
Clip it to a hat/cap, belt, vest or any convenient place
Three functional setting, flashing, constant light or pulsing.
Some runners are not keen on a red light.
The Criteria We Used When Choosing The Best Running Lights
Here are the criteria that helped us to decide whether the product is good or not. It’s obvious that you don’t need to read everything, you can only pick the point that you want but we really recommend reading it all.
Where do you want to put your lights?
Running lights are the perfect way to make us visible to the drivers. The more visible we are, the safer we are. The thing that you need to consider is where on your body you want to wear the lights. Many runners choose to wear the light on the wrist. This is a good idea because this part of the body is moving all the time while running. When you choose the wrist to wear the light on it, you must remember that when you run in the same direction that the cars drive, you need to put the lights on the wrist from the side of the car( left wrist).
The next popular option is to put the lights on your head. Wearing the light on your head makes you much more visible to the driver. The other advantage of putting the lights on the head is that this is the highest point of the body, a driver is able to see you from a long distance. The most uncommon option but still growing in popularity is to wear the light on your back/ torso. This is a solution for runners who don’t like to wear lights on the head as it may be very uncomfortable. While wearing the product on the back, you start to be really visible to the driver. The surface that light cover is much bigger than on the wrist. However, you must remember that you must run in the same direction the driver do so they can see your back. Choosing the place to put the light is crucial and you need to consider it carefully.
Wearing the lights must provide you safety but still can’t have a bad impact on your running performance. This is why you need to check if the weight of the product is good for you. When you wear the lights on the head, the weight is very crucial as even the lightweight thing seems to be heavy for the runner. What is more, it’s obvious that you don’t want to carry massive light with you because it would have a bad impact on your performance.
When it comes to weight, it’s crucial where on your body you want to put the lights. You must be aware that the larger area the lights cover, the bigger they are. When you buy the lights to put them at the back, they probably will weight a little but this burden won’t be very noticeable. The funny fact is that many runners complain about running lights being too heavy when they wear them on the wrist. This is because you use your arm in the running very much and there is also wind resistance that makes you feel like your arm is becoming harder and harder. If you also wearing the watch on your hand, it’s an additional burden.
While searching for the best products, we encounter many excellent products. The problem is that even if the product looks extra good and we think that it will be the best product for us, we can’t be sure one thing- durability. This is something that comes with time. We aren’t able to check the durability the same as we check the price. Of course, some manufacturers may give the estimated lifetime of the product but most of them don’t do it. Why? At first, because durability depends on many factors and in most cases, we aren’t able to predict how long will the product last. It really depends on the user. Some runners use light in very hard to manage conditions and the light may be less durable when you use it in these conditions.
You must be also aware that every product sooner or later will end and you will have to buy a new one. It’s also a very common situation that when you purchase the product, at first it works very well. But after 3 or 4 usages, something bad happens to it and you can’t use it anymore. This is why you should really test your product and then decide whether it is durable or not. We really recommend reading comments on the sites of Amazon, eBay or any other online shop. Buyers tend to leave the comments about the durability of the product and if this particular product isn’t very durable, it is very probable that they will write it in their comments. Unfortunately, this is the only way that you can check the durability, you can’t do it before purchasing the product.
Color options and flashing mode
When it comes to being visible on the road, light is the most important thing and many runners become more aware of how important running light is. Manufacturers try to provide the lights that will give us the highest level of safety. At the beginning, you must be aware that if you wear too many lights, it’s also not good for your visibility. You can wear good light on the wrist and that is enough for a driver to see you. There are many options that you can choose when it comes to colors. To be honest, the full range of colors from white to blue is available on the market. The color of the light may be important as not everybody wants to use this normal white light. It’s good to choose the color that makes us really visible- the color that can’t be found in any other place on the road.
It is said that red flashy light or those very white are the best ones. They draw the attention of the driver and he or she knows that we are near. If we had the choice, we wouldn’t choose very dark colors as they are harder to remark. The next convenience that makes our running easier is a possibility to change the flashing modes. When we run, we can make our light to blink very fast or slow and it also makes us more visible to the driver as we move. The blinking lights may be very effective when there aren’t any other lights on the road. You need to choose the best option for you and remember to use the colors that aren’t too dark.
From what distance you want to be visible?
This is one of the most important questions that you need to ask yourself before purchasing the product. Choosing how much brightness do you need is very crucial. This factor depends on where do you plan to run. In streetlamp running light, you can adjust the brightness to your needs. If you want a light to shine stronger or you want to lower the power of brightness, it’s usually just a case of settings in the running lights. This shouldn’t be very complicated and in most cases, you should be able to do this without any difficulties. When you run on the paths that are lighted by the lighting pole, it still advisable to wear the lights, but they don’t need to shine so brightly.
If you plan running on the roads where there aren’t any lights, you should really invest in good running lights which have a lot of power. The one thing that some runners do and it’s very dangerous and lower the level of the safety is when they get too much brightness. It’s usually in this most advanced running lights- we mean the most powerful when the light cover a big area of the body and they are very unpleasant for the driver. Adjusting the brightness is very important and should be done carefully. You must remember that producers offer different levels of brightness and some running lights may not be strong enough to give you enough protection.
This is why you should always check the parameters as the power of the bulb and etc. Be sure that you use an appropriate level of brightness- you can check it easily. Put on the light and ask your friend to drive a car. He will be able to see from what distance you will be visible and then you will be able to correct this brightness. The time of the containment of the car really depends on the speed of the car. The faster the driver sees you, the faster he breaks.
When we were searching for our products, we weren’t aware that there is also one more way to protect ourselves on the roads. When we talk in general about running protection, we talk about lights or pepper sprays. The one thing that we forget about is that sound can also let us survive. This is something that may not be obvious for the most of us, but using a sound, especially on the very dangerous section of the roads can even save our lives. On the market, there are running lights with special sound built in to make our life easier.
A special siren will attract driver’s attention and he will be more careful. This is a very nice option for those who run on the roads with very dangerous turnings. You must be somehow aware that this sound won’t be as loud as this used by the police. It will be much more silent that only people near you will be able to hear it. You need to check how noisy it is in producer’s description. Of course, there are many options to boost the volume as buying an additional device. However, we wouldn’t recommend it as it is not allowed in some areas to use very noisy sounds. What’s more, we think that using very noisy sound won’t be very comfortable during running.
A combination of lights and sound may be very useful also when it comes to the areas where there are no houses. This is good because it makes it easier for sound to spread. Purchasing running lights with the siren is an additional option and it’s not for every runner. Many runners don’t like the other sound beyond this from their mp3s and this is why you should really consider whether you need it.
The battery life
This factor is one that runners really care about. You run on the different kind of roads, tracks, and etc. You may also like to run in the forest and you want to feel safe all the time. This is why you purchase the running lights. They make you more confident as you feel safer. Then come the moments when the shine of the light isn’t so strong it used to be. Suddenly, your running lights don’t give any light and glow. This is the moment when you need to change the batteries. The battery life is very crucial for many users.
First, you can find running lights with batteries that are rechargeable or running lights with normal batteries that need to be bought. In our opinion, the rechargeable is the best ones because you don’t need to buy the batteries on and on. Charging the battery doesn’t take a lot of time and it’s very easy to do it. You need to make sure whether you need to buy this charger on your own or maybe it comes with the lights. The batteries that you can’t be charged aren’t the bad idea for those who are likely to forget about charging.
You must be aware that there are different types of batteries and they have a really different lifespan. This is why we would recommend checking what is the power of the batteries and it is better to invest in more durable and high-quality batteries because the cheap ones won’t last very long. Sometimes the charger and batteries come in a package with the lights but it’s rather rare. This is important when you take part in marathons during the night and the battery must work all night long.
Resistance to weather conditions
We know that not everybody lives in the area where the sun is shining all the time and there are no extreme weather conditions. Of course, we don’t talk here about tornadoes but there are also many runners that run in the rain and that is growing in popularity. Rain may be an extreme weather condition for not so durable products. We know that not every runner consider rain as a very harsh time to run but the lights aren’t very hard material.
Many producers forget that many runners actually love running in the rain, and as a result, products don’t work well in those particular conditions. This is why it is worth to search for the running lights who are water- resistant. The other problem that runners encounter many times is very common in areas when it’s hot. Have you ever had a problem with the lights getting too hot? This is a problem that is very popular and in most cases, it’s not the fault of the weather. It’s sometimes like this that poor quality lights get hot so much that it’s hard to wear it, it is at least very uncomfortable.
Other Important Factors To Think About While Shopping Around
Guarantee and money back
Here comes the favorite factor of those who are very demanding when it comes to buying the product. If a Cheap product was delivered to your house and you don’t want it- no problem, we will give your money back or replace with the new product. This is the slogan that many companies use but in reality, it is much more complicated. It’s not so easy to give back the product as you need a good evidence that the product doesn’t work, you aren’t able to use it or it is damaged and of course not because of your fault.
Filling the documents and all this staff connected with returning the product may be really long and many runners don’t want to bother with it. However, sometimes it is really worth to place a complaint. We know that running lights are made in big factories and there is a possibility that your product may have some damages that weren’t detected while the creation process. This may happen to everyone but it’s not the reason to keep the not working products. It is good when you shop online and when your package is delivered to quickly test the product in the presence of the delivery man.
It’s much better to make it because if something doesn’t work, you already know. It may be very also hard to prove that it wasn’t you who damaged the lights. If the lights come with batteries, it will be much harder to prove that they don’t work. You should also check the package carefully. This is because your package may not be complete. We mean that for example you have bought running lights with batteries and charger and it the package, there is no charger.
The price is the factor that many buyers consider as the most important. This is not true. We know that paying 60 or 70 dollars for the running lights may be too much for your budget. However, you should consider it in another way. At first, we want to tell you that we’re working very hard while searching for the products because we want also the less rich people to purchase the running lights in order to be safer. On our list, there are products that cost even 30 dollars so it’s twice less than those for 60 or 70. The next thing you really should think about is your safety. Isn’t this the most important for you. Is it really worth to save on running light which literally can save your life?
We don’t think so. We know that the prices are high but trying to save money and buying cheap products will only have the bad impact on your level of safety because you will be thinking that you will be protected but in reality, you won’t be. What you can do is to search for the products on sales.
Running lights will simply become the must-have for a running in the night. With our list, you will be able to choose from the products that are rather durable and it can be an investment for years. As we have said before, there are many options for those who don’t want to spend a very big amount of money for running lights but we still wouldn’t recommend buying cheap bracelets on the wrist because they probably won’t give enough light to make you safe.
Shopping online or in the store
This is a good question that you really need to ask yourself. To be clear, it’s not a big difference for us to buy in the store or online. We usually can’t see the products in a store because they are packed however we can ask a shop assistant to present the product- yes, there is such a possibility in some stores. On the other side, looking for the products online may also have its advantages. The first one is that it is more probable that you will find something on sale. The other good aspect of searching things online is that you don’t need to move from your home. The choice is yours, choose this what is better for you.
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. Therefore the accountability is for 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 nighttime 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.
We’ve got here some questions that are very curious and you may not know all the answers. Check if you want to know more about running lights and safety.
Q. What level of performance from batteries can we expect?
A: Years ago batteries were an unreliable option but innovation in battery design and capability has come forward a lot. You can expect a lot of life from the current batteries which are available. It is a good idea to buy a battery charging device and rechargeable batteries so that you can ensure that you always have a good reliable source of power for your running light.
Q. What about using a running light with other reflective gear, is that too bright?
A: It not a bad idea to combine a running light with some reflective clothing. Reflective armbands, ankle bands, belts, hats will all add to ensuring that you are seen while running during a dark night. A running light is best worn high on the body so that it can be seen from more angles but if you wear a light for example on a belt, then, other light reflective techs strategically placed around your body will add to you being visible to traffic.
Q. What is a Lumen?
A.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.
Q. What is LED?
A.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.
Q. 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 cell phone 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. We hope that with our list we have made it easier for you to choose the best running lights. If you are still confused, get back to our criteria and evaluate everything one more time. We hope that you will appreciate our work as we’re working really hard to provide the best products. Let us know if you have the running lights and have you used them. Leave the answers in the comments below!
Take a look at some of the sources we used:
Further sources: Richard Haberkost.
- rockcreekrunner.comnight-running in the dark Ultimate Guide. 2015-16
- gorunlites.com Safety Light for Runners, Cyclists & Athletes.
- techlicious.com guide 6-ways-to-light-up-your-late-night-early-morning-jog. Van Allen on May 27, 2016
- bestproducts.com RUNNING LIGHTS FOR A BRIGHTER, SAFER NIGHTTIME RUN. ANDREW BETTLACH FEB 22, 2017
- gorunlites.com Safety for Night & Low-Light Activities. 2017
- flipbelt.com A LED Light for Runners
- knucklelights.com Knuckle Lights running gear accessories for running at night