You have a training plan, a nutrition plan, and a race strategy. But do you have a safety plan? Being seen and staying visible in the dark is a must for runners. To help you, we’ve picked out the best reflective running gear available now.
The more reflective gear you wear, including reflective jackets, the better off you’ll be. Running reflective vests are the most common accessory. Clip-on LEDs and armbands add extra visibility. Headlamps and flashlights help you see as well as be seen by drivers.
We’ve reviewed over 50 types of reflective gear. Here are our favorites…
Top 5 Best and Favorites
Amphipod Xinglet Optic Beam USB Rechargeable Vest
Nathan Hyperbrite RX Strobe Rechargeable LED Clip Light
Nathan LightSpur RX
Black Diamond Spot 350
Nathan Terra Fire 400 RX
Reflective Running Vests
A running vest is the best, most economical way to be safe and visible when running in the dark. A good reflective vest covers a large portion of your body without being heavy or bulky.
Going beyond just being reflective, the best vests also have LED or other types of lights for enhanced visibility.
1. Amphipod Xinglet Lite Reflective Running Vest
The original and best-selling reflective running vest. This lightweight, minimal vest provides 360-degree visibility. It’s adjustable to fit over even heavy jackets.
The material keeps you chafe-free and lets you move freely. One feature that makes it stand out from cheaper imitations is the silver reflective patches on the front and back of the vest. These provide a big reflective element in the center of your torso.
2. Amphipod Xinglet Optic Beam USB Rechargeable Vest
The Amphipod Xinglet Optic Beam reflective vest features a very small piece of reflective material on the chest and back. But the true feature of this vest is a brightly colored optical beam that can be seen from miles away.
It illuminates you front and back, allowing vehicles approaching from any direction to see you coming or going. You can choose from solid or flashing modes, depending on your preference and your situation.
There’s no heavy battery pack to carry with you, as the vest is rechargeable by USB. 1.5 hours of charging will allow for around 5 hours of wearing time on flashing mode or 3 hours on solid mode.
It features a zip-on, easy to use design and it’s also moisture-resistant so you don’t have to worry about sweating while you’re wearing it.
The design is fully adjustable to fit runners from size extra small to extra large. It’s also so lightweight that you’ll hardly feel it on you. Weighing under 3 ounces, it won’t weigh you down at all on the road.
3. Nathan Streak Reflective Vest
The lightweight, mesh Nathan vest offers 360-degree visibility. An adjustable design allows for the perfect fit.
Big points of reflective elements ensure you’ll be seen on the road. For extra visibility, the vest has spots to clip on additional LED lights and other types of reflective elements. There is also a small, zippered pocket for storing small items.
4. Nox Gear Tracer 360
For the ultimate in visibility, the Tracer 360 reflective vest offers 360 degrees of visibility using multi-color fiber optic LED lights. Choose changing color schemes or a single solid color. What’s great about these lights is drivers can see you without headlights shining directly on you.
It runs on 3 AAA batteries and lasts up to 40 hours. In addition, reflective detailing adds more visibility to this vest. The vest is weather and sweatproof. Its minimal design can be worn over t-shirts or heavier clothing.
LED Clip-on Lights
An easy and inexpensive way to add visibility is with small clip-on LED lights. These can be attached on sleeves, waists, caps – pretty much anywhere. Ideally, you should wear these with a reflective vest. A few vests even have spots to add clip-on lights.
6. UltrAspire Lumen Clip 180
If you’re looking for a little more reflectivity than you already have, this clip is the ideal solution. It’s not large—about the size of a belt buckle—but it comes in two bright settings, 180 and 115 lumens.
A powerful magnetic clip allows it to stick to magnetic surfaces, and it’s designed in a fold-over design that you can flip over your waistband, a strap, or your collar.
You’ll get a micro-USB charging cable when you purchase it, and one charge allows for up to 8 hours of light. There are four lighting modes to choose from—high, medium, low, blinking—and each one varies in its battery life.
It has large buttons that are easy to press whether you’re wearing gloves or have sore or cold fingers. The Widebeam light illuminates everything within your path, so you can see freely and easily.
It also has an IPX4 waterproof rating, which means if you get caught in the rain while you’re running, you don’t have to worry about damage.
7. Nathan Strobe Light
This is Nathan’s version of the Vizlet. The main difference is there are three LED lights instead of one. But these LEDs aren’t surrounded by reflective details like the Vizlet. Because it has three LEDs, it is brighter, allowing you to be seen from further away.
Even better, there are two LED options: completely on, or strobe. Strobe makes the two coin batteries last about twice as long, but doesn’t provide the same level of visibility.
8. Nathan Hyperbrite RX Strobe Rechargeable LED Clip Light
The RX Strobe clips on like the Nathan Strobe, but this light has 4 bulbs with bright 16 lumens plus, it is rechargeable.
Beyond full-on and strobe, this version also includes pulse, burst, and RUN. Charging is fast and once fully charged, the RX Strobe light lasts 4-30 hours (depending on mode).
For bad weather, this light is water-resistant and can easily manage in the rain.
Arm and Ankle Bands
Like clip-on lights, arm and ankle bands offer reflective detail along with LED lighting. Wearing them on your sleeve or leg is a great way to increase the movement of the lights, making you more visible to drivers.
11. Nathan LightSpur RX Light
This rechargeable band clips on your shoes for maximum movement/visibility. It has three color options: red, green, and blue. There are three lighting modes: continuously on, and two types of strobes. Charge time for the LightSpur RX is three hours. Once fully charged, it lasts 8-16 hours per charge.
Headlamps serve two purposes. They allow you to see the road, as well as letting drivers see you out there on the road. The downside is that drivers coming up behind you won’t see the headlamp (but you’re running against traffic, right? Right?). So these should also be worn in conjunction with a reflective vest or jacket.
12. Black Diamond Spot 350
Our all-time favorite headlamp, the Spot by Black Diamond is bright, lightweight, and at $40 is one of the best deals around.
The Spot Headlamp emits a powerful 350 lumens, ensuring you’ll see and be seen in the darkness. It dims to 6 lumens to save battery power and can be set on the strobe to further save the batteries.
The latest version is smaller and lighter than older models – it even gets a touch brighter.
The headlamp runs on 3 AAA batteries and is waterproof up to 80 meters. Powertap Technology allows a quick transition from the brightest to a dimmer setting with a single tap.
13. Nathan Neutron Fire RX
The run-specific Neutron Fire RX pumps out 200 lumens to light your way, plus extra reflective details so drivers can better see you on the road. Side strobe strips on either side of the main light offer three colors that provide additional driver visibility. Even the head strap offers reflective trim.
Unlike the Black Diamond Spot, this headlamp is rechargeable and lasts up to 25 hours per charge.
14. Petzl Nao Headlamp
This is by no means the cheapest headlamp out there, but it’s by far the brightest and most energy efficient, minimizing the chances that you’ll leave on your run without light.
The bright 700 (!) lumen light features exclusive Petz technology called Reactive Lighting. This automatically adjusts the headlamp to your activity, ensuring you’ll have the right type of lighting at the right time. Reactive lighting means that a wide, bright beam is on when you are running. But if you tilt your head up to scan farther ahead, the light brightens automatically.
Like the Neutron Fire, this headlamp is rechargeable and lasts between 1.5 and 15 hours between charges, depending on use.
You can also sync the light to a phone app to create custom lighting profiles. Adjust the beam width and brightness to suit your personal needs. You’ll also have an accurate assessment of the remaining battery power with the smartphone app.
Like headlamps, flashlights help you see and be seen. If you don’t mind holding one in your hand during your whole run, they offer a better way to aim the light. And we find it’s always good to aim a flashlight up as cars near you to ensure you’re seen.
15. Nathan Terra Fire 400 RX
By far our favorite running flashlight, this powerful light is rechargeable and offers 3 brightness levels. For visibility and to save the battery, there is a strobe option.
The best part of this flashlight is the adjustable hand strap. Once secured, the light sits firmly in your hand but doesn’t require you to grip it. Run with your normal gait and the flashlight stays in your hand.
For added comfort, the light is angled down 24 degrees to offer the best lighting as you run.
The 400-lumen flashlight lasts 5-6 hours per charge in flashlight mode, and up to 12 in strobe mode.
16. UltrAspire Lumen 200 Waist Light Belt
Want hands-free light but don’t like wearing a headlamp? The UltrAspire Waist Light offers a powerful light as it sits around your waist instead of your head.
Adjust the light up or down depending on where you want the light to shine. The light runs on 3 AAA batteries and sits in a breathable, mesh housing. The strap adjusts to waist sizes up to 42″.
17. Nathan Reflective Headband
This headband is super comfortable and includes a fleece lining for those cold winter runs. You’ll feel like you could wear it all day without any discomfort. In addition, you’ll appreciate that the reflective graphic runs around the entire graphic for 360 degrees of reflectivity.
The women’s headband is also very stylish and doesn’t move around when you’re running. However, we discovered that it’s less reflective than other reflective gear that we had. It’s definitely a great addition to your winter headgear, but you’ll want there to be at least a little light.
The headband comes in a men’s option that has more coverage than the women’s version.
Safety Tips for Running in the Dark
If you’re running at night, it’s important to make sure that you stay safe. Knowing what to wear in order to be seen and be able to see where you are stepping can make all the difference in having a great run in the dark.
What to Wear to Be Seen
Obviously, since it’s at night, people are not going to be able to see you as well. The more lights and reflective gear you have on, the better.
You should put reflective gear on your torso at the very least. For extra safety, add gear to other parts of your body that move, such as ankles, elbows, knees, and wrists.
Don’t forget that LEDs and light-up gear are better than reflective panels on your clothing.
What to Use to See in the Dark
Similarly, you need to make sure that you can see at night. Headlamps have a dual function: not only do they make you visible to motorists, they also allow you to see where you are going. This is especially important if you are running on imperfect sidewalks or trails. Thus, the brighter the better for headlamps, especially if you’re running in more isolated areas.
Other good options include knuckle lights, shoe lights, and torso lights. All provide additional illumination for you to see the road in front of you. Clearly, the greater the amount of light you can attach to your body, the better.
Other Safety Tips
While running with lights and reflective gear is perhaps the most important concern for running at night, it’s also important to keep other factors in mind. You should run in well-lit areas with minimal car traffic. Don’t forget to tell someone where and how far you are going. And always bring ID and phone for safety.