10 Best Running Lights Compared and Tested

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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
Nathan Zephyr Fire 300
  • Nathan Zephyr Fire 300
  • 4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Has emergency siren
  • Price: See Here
Black Diamond Sprinter
  • Black Diamond Sprinter
  • 4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • TriplePower LED
  • Price: See Here

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 makes you much calmer than ever but it is dangerous at the same time.This is why we have prerapred 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 easuly judge whether it works for you or it doesn’t.

10 Best Running Lights

 

 


1. Tracer360 – Revolutionary Illuminated and Reflective Vest

1. Tracer360 – Revolutionary Illuminated and Reflective Vest
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

2. Nathan Zephyr Fire 300 Hand Torch
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

3. Black Diamond Sprinter Headlamp
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

4. GoMotion Corelite Waist Light, 100 Lumen CREE LED
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

5. Fenix PD32 Flashlight
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

6. InnoGear 5000 Lumen Bright Headlight Headlamp Flashlight Torch 3
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

7. GoMotion Synergy Reflective Hydration LightVest
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

8. BSeen  LED Slap Band, Glow bracelet, armband
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

9. Athlights Magnetic Flashing Safety Lights for Running
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

10. Nathan Light Spur
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 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 light are the perfect way to make us visible for 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 for 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 for 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.

Weight

Wearing the lights must provide you safety but still can’t have 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 the on the wrist. This is because you youse 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.

Durability

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 the 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 no more. 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 are the most important thing and many runners become more aware of how important running light are. 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 to many lights, it’s also not good for your visibility. You can wear good light on the wrist and that is enough for 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 slower 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 do 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 many running light, you can adjust the brightness to your needs. If you want light to shine stronger or you won’t 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 and 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 bright.

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 river sees you, the faster he breaks.

Additional sound

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 to 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.

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 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 comes 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, any 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 are 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 forgot about charging.

You must be aware that there are different types of batteries and they have really different lifespan. This is why we would recommend to check 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 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 to 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. 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 brother with it. However, sometimes it is really worth to place a complain. We know that running lights are made in big factories and there is a possibility that your product may have some damages that wasn’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.

Price

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 other 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 more safe. 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 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 investment for years. As we have said before, there are many options for those who don’t want to spend a very bog amount of money for running lights but we still wouldn’t recommend to buy 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 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.

 

Trail running etiquette

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.

 

FAQ

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.

QWhat 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 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. 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 apriciate our work as we’re working really hard to provde the best products. Let us know if you have the running lights and have you used them. Leave the answers in the comments below!


 

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