11 Best Running Lights – 2021 Buying Guide
Not only do these little devices help to keep you aware of your surroundings, but they also make you visible to motorists or other runners on the trails.
We've tested and reviewed the top lights for runners, so stay safe on those roads & trails.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
A good band should be able to stay in place, even when engaging in HIIT training.
While the brightness is important, we wanted to select designs that opted for bands that are comfortable and stay in place while you train. When selecting headlamp designs, there are a few things to take into consideration.
First of all, be sure to select bands that offer additional pads that work to evenly distribute the weight evenly on your head. This will reduce the change of rubbing and chaffing, and it will also keep the lamp securely in place on your head.
Designs such as the Petzl Iko Core are made from strong and stretchy materials that contour to the shape of your head. Bands that utilize materials such as nylon and spandex will ensure that the lamp stays securely in place and won’t bounce around with every step of your gait. This design also boasts additional pads on the back of your head to evenly balance out the weight of the lamp on the front.
Weather resistance is another feature to keep in mind. We made sure to select bands that are waterproof and dustproof so that they work to wick away sweat and dirt. When you start to build up a sweat, moisture-resistant bands work to wick sweat away from your head where it quickly evaporates on the surface. This will help reduce rubbing and chafing on long runs in the evening.
When it comes to weight, it’s crucial where on your body you want to put the lights.
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.
It's important to select a design that is built to withstand sweat, rain, cold, and heat.
There are a few things that we looked at to ensure that the designs that we selected are built to last. Running isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, which is why we stuck to brands that are considered to be waterproof and dustproof. This allows the runners to train in wind, rain, and snow without the fear their gear will break on them in the middle of a dark and spooky trail!
The best way to check how well as design performs on the trails is to look at previous user reviews. We combed through hundreds of reviews to see how well each design tested out there on the field. If we found that there was an overwhelming number of users that found that the light didn’t quite make it to the end of their run, we simply omitted that product.
It was also important that we selected designs that had batteries that are able to hold up in cold temperatures. Colder temperatures have a way of zapping a battery dry, which is why we stuck to designs that house the batteries in tough and cold-resistant shells so that you aren’t left in the dark when the temperatures drop.
Color isn't just a matter of style, it's also a matter of safety.
There are two things to take into consideration when it comes to the color of your running lights. The first thing to look at is the color of the band. Staying safe is your ultimate goal, which is why brightly colored bands are just another line of defense in keeping you seen while out there on the road. We also love designs that include a strip of reflective material in the band which helps you stay noticed in addition to the lamp on your head.
We also took into consideration the color of the lamp. Many designs opt for a cool LED bulb that makes you stand out from a sea of warm yellow headlights. A warmer LED light is ideal because it also helps to clearly illuminate the road ahead of you so that you don’t trip on tree roots or uneven sidewalks.
Some designs out there on the market even opt for different colored bulbs. If you are in a high trafficked area where you need the drivers on the road to see you more than ever, a flashing red or orange light is bound to draw their attention over basic cool white LED bulbs. Take into consideration where you run in the evening, and buy a design that accommodates your specific running conditions.
When light conditions are low, you need a design that is easy to use.
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.
You should be able to adjust the brightness of your bulb with the simple press of a button that doesn't require taking off your band. Designs from Black Diamond, for example, allow the user to simply tap the lamp casing to turn the brightness up or down. Other designs on our list have large buttons that are easy to detect with just your fingers that allow you to adjust the brightness quickly and easily.
It is important that you also test your bulb before taking it out on a run. 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 they break.
Additional features work to keep you safe.
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. However, sound can also help up stay safe. This is something that may not be obvious for 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 a special sound built in to make our life easier.
A special siren will attract the 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. 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.
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.
There are multiple power source options out there on the market, and it's important that you pick the option that is right for you.
There are a few different power sources to select from, and each option has its various advantages and disadvantages. Below, we wanted to get into a little bit of detail about the various styles of batteries so you can find the design that works best for you.
Rechargeable batteries are a great option for those that don’t like the hassle of replacing batteries. Many of the rechargeable designs on our list include a convenient USB charging cable that charges up the battery quickly. The only downside to rechargeable options is that they often have limited battery life when out on the trails.
Replaceable batteries may seem like a real hassle, but they often are more powerful and last quite a bit longer than their rechargeable counterparts. We prefer designs that opt for basic AAA batteries because they are lighter, more cost-effective, and pretty simple to replace when needed.
11 Best Running Lights
1. Black Diamond Storm 375
It’s hard to go wrong with a Black Diamond option. This design is made from quality materials that hold up quite well, no matter what weather you are training in. If you are hardcore about your night runs and don’t let a little rain and darkness stand in your way, the Strong 375 design from Black Diamond is well worth the slightly higher price point.Read more
Smart and adaptive features are what makes the Storm 375 stand out from the pack. Users can easily adjust the brightness of the lamp by simply tapping the head of the lamp. This means that you won’t need to fish around on the top of your head feeling around for an adjustment button. Plus, various brightness settings allow you to make it as bright or as dim as needed.
What we also like about this design is that it boasts a super lightweight and comfortable fit. The lamp is small and compact and requires the use of just 3 AAA batteries. The lamp is also waterproof and dustproof, which means training in all types of conditions won’t affect the performance of your headgear!
If you are in the market for something that is built to last, this design from Black Diamond is a great choice. It is important to note that it comes in at a price point that is slightly higher than some of the other designs we have seen, but feel that it is well worth the extra cost for something that is built to last.
2. Knuckle Lights Advanced
Knuckle Lights Advanced is a simple and ergonomic option to handheld running lights. They have a full spectrum set up of ultra-bright lumens that shine in all directions, eliminating light bounce even with arm movement.Read more
Offering two lights per package, Knuckle Lights Advanced slide onto the hands and secure into the palm for an ergonomic and comfortable fit that won't interfere with hand or arm movement while keeping you visible. The silicone adjustable straps fit most hand sizes and do not cause discomfort and they can even be used over running gloves.
These come equipped with 280 lumens in total and offer 3 light settings: low, high, and blinking, which are crafted to replicate a floodlight. The lights surround the entire casing to make sure there are no blind spots or bounce even as you move the arms and hands with your stride.
They offer an IPX-6 Waterproofing that Knuckle Lights back with a 5-year guarantee.
The Knuckle Lights Advanced system comes with a charging dock that can be used after each use to ensure you are always visible when need be. Depending on which light setting you prefer to use depends on battery life. Blinking lights offer over 12 hours of visibility whereas high only offers 4 and low beam 8 hours.
These offer convenience and affordability. They aren't the cheapest on the list but they aren't the most expensive either. You get a great pair of high-viz shoe accessories that you can count on keeping you safe, no matter the weather. We prefer versatility and dependability to cost when our safety is involved, and these offer that at a great price.
The design of the lamp features the battery pack at the back. This is very useful as the weight is more balanced. This makes the product relatively more lightweight and comfortable for wearing.Read more
The strap helps to stabilize the whole lamp. There’s a USB port, so you recharge your lamp any time you want. It only takes two hours and then you’re ready to run. Lovers of very long runs will be happy when they discover that the lamp can work around 100 hours on one charge. The lamp has 280 lumens and it also features SOS mode and a special emergency whistle.
It will work well for more demanding weather conditions like heavy rain. Users praised the durability of the product; even after dropping it on the ground, it still worked. It is also one of the more comfortable headlamps available with a durable yet great designed strap system that keeps everything in place.
The price may be a bit of a turn-off for some beginners; however, it is built to last and will keep you safe out on your runs, no matter the time of day or night!
4. Petzl Iko Core
If you are worried about comfort on your long-distance night runs, this unique design from Petzl is worth checking out. While it may look a little peculiar, this design is made to reduce pressure points on your head so you forget that you are wearing anything at all!Read more
The most notable feature of this design is that it is made from stretch and versatile materials that attach to almost any surface. Users can wear it directly on their head, or it can also fit over a helmet. Some users like to wear it around their neck or affix it to extra gear such as bicycle handlebars.
The Airfit headband reduces compression and evenly distributes the weight of the lamp so that it doesn’t dig into certain parts of your head. It is made from super-lightweight materials that stretch for a snug and secure fit, making it a great option for late-night HIIT training.
If you are on the market for something that is incredibly comfortable and versatile, you can’t go wrong with this unique design from Petzl. While it may cost quite a bit more than some of the other designs that we have seen, the versatility of this well-built lamp makes it well worth the higher price tag in our option.
5. Black Diamond Sprinter
Shine a light no matter where you are running and keep yourself and others safe with this easy to wear headlamp from Black Diamond Sprinter. You can't go wrong with the quality and comfort provided here.Read more
The consensus is in. When it comes to headlamps, the Black Diamond Sprinter is one of the best. There is no one feature that blows you away with the Sprinter, rather it’s a combination of rock-solid fundamentals.
It's 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.
Runners need to stay safe when out running in low visibility conditions- night, early morning, fog, and rain. A wearable light set up like this is a smart way to keep the lights shining brightly the entire time.
It will keep you and others safe while you are out for your runs. It's a smart investment that many are choosing to make.
6. Night Runner LED Shoe Lights
Night Runner LED Shoe Lights are in a league of their own with their comfortable and convenient shoe clip design. Lighting your way up to 30 feet ahead, LED Shoe Lights also have high impact, waterproof casing so you won't have to worry about the road or rain sneaking up on you and causing extra running interference.Read more
Night Runner LED Shoe Lights are a multi-directional and secure wing design clipping system that attaches directly to your laces. This specific style also offers a tail light, keeping you illuminated front to back.
They are only 1.5 oz each and come with a travel bag and charging cord to make sure you are always prepared for low-light running no matter where the road takes you. The charging cord is a micro USB design and the Li-ion battery keeps you visible for 3 to 5 hours depending on how high you keep the beam.
Stacked with 150 lumens total, Night Runner LED Shoe Lights offer a high-viz white light that keeps the road in front of you illuminating up to 20 meters or 30 feet. It offers low and high beam settings as well as a flashing setting to draw more attention to yourself when needed.
The Red rear light is also accompanied by a red and blue flashing light on top to make sure you are getting all the visibility you need to keep you safe and others aware of your presence in low-light situations.
Although the LED Shoe lights are marketed for the feet, they do come with armbands for those that prefer to wear their gear a bit higher. The light has the option to be tilted in any direction up to 60 degrees as well. This gives a more customized light direction depending on the way you run or need your light to shine.
Comparably, these are a little higher in cost but they offer more in quality and feature. They are easy to use and make running at night or early morning less hazardous.
7. Nathan Zephyr Fire 300
With this adjustable and easy to wear head light set up, you can illuminate your path and see as well as be seen when you are out for your night or early morning runs.Read more
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.
Safety is key when you are running in low visibility conditions and investing in a quality running light is something you cannot put off or avoid. This headlight is a great option for beginner runners and professionals alike.
8. Bushnell PRO Rechargeable
If you don’t like the idea of replacing batteries, this option from Bushnell is worth checking out. What runners love most about this design is that it comes from a trusted brand, doesn’t require the use of batteries, and comes in at a price point that won’t break the bank. Plus, it is designed to be worn in less than ideal weather conditions.Read more
The very first thing that we noticed about this design is that it is able to be quickly recharged via a USB charging cable as needed. According to previous users, this little unit charges up quickly, and can even be charged in your car on your way to your destination.
While many rechargeable designs often aren’t as bright as their battery-powered counterparts, this LED light offers users an impressive 400 lumens of light. It offered three different intensity levels of light, and large buttons on the top of the lamp make adjusting the light level super easy while on the go.
If you are in the market for something that comes from a trusted brand and is super easy to use, this option from Bushnell is a great choice. Users love that it charges up quickly, and boasts a lightweight design that is incredibly comfortable on long runs in low light conditions.
9. Apace Vision
Hate the idea of big and bulky lights that weigh your down or feel uncomfortable? What users love most about this small yet mighty lamp is that it clips just about anywhere and comes in at a super affordable price point. Despite its small size, this little lamp is able to put off some serious light, which makes it worth checking out.Read more
What makes this design unique lies in its versatility. The set comes with a pair of two lights, and also includes a set of velcro bands as well. You can simply clip this design onto your pants or the collar of your shirt. The velcro bands also allow you to wear them on your wrist or arms, and some users even pop them onto their dog’s collar!
We also love that this set is incredibly lightweight. It requires the use of two CR2032 batteries, which are a little fiddly to replace. However, users found that these batteries last for hours of continuous use before they need to be replaced, and Apace Vision includes two extra sets of batteries.
If you want something that is small and compact that also boasts a small and compact price tag, this design from Apace Vision is worth checking out. We love that these lights affix pretty much anywhere you need a little bit of extra light, and they are so lightweight you will forget you are even wearing them!
10. NoxGear Tracer360
A wearable back light that helps you see and be seen when you are out running in the dark or in low light conditions that require added safety and concern.Read more
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 that are based on visual science and designed to catch the attention of today’s distracted driver. It's comfortable, durable and completely adjustable to boot.
Although the price runs a bit higher, can you really put a price on safety? This is a great accessory for any runner and if it helps you avoid one accident or injury then it has more than paid for itself!
11. Petzl Tikka
This headlamp was loved by many of our reviewers because of the one particular feature - reactive lighting technology.Read more
It adjusts the amount of light that is appropriate, you don’t need to switch anything. With this technology, you can also save some battery. The band is comfortable to wear and there’s no skin irritation, even after many washes.
This lamp has 170 lumens. It is definitely one of the brightest lights on our list. There are modes to choose from and a special integrated emergency whistle. Besides the white light, there’s also a red one.
It's simple and easy to use and is a great product for any runner to have on hand to ensure they always have light to run, no matter how dark it might get. Considering the technology used in this headlamp, the price tag is very fair. This is a very competitive price, great quality and durability with modern technology.