Best Running Lights in 2024

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A running light is an essential piece of gear that performs two important safety functions: it makes you visible to motorists and lights your path to help you steer clear of obstacles.

If you plan on running in low-light conditions, we highly recommend investing in one of the best running lights on the market. We particularly like the Petzl SWIFT RL, which has a spectacular beam distance of 492 feet, has six different brightness settings, and runs on a powerful, rechargeable battery.

But there are plenty of other choices, including non-headlamp options. Read through our list to find the light that will keep you safe.

Top 5 Best and Favorites

 

Petzl SWIFT RL

 

  • Beam distance of 360 feet
  • Light sensor
  • Rechargeable battery
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Knuckle Lights Original

 

  • Three different power settings
  • Adjustable silicone straps
  • Wide beam of light
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Night Tech Gear Night Runner 270

 

  • Lightweight
  • Fit securely to your laces
  • Rechargeable battery
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Nathan Sports Polaris 400RX Runner’s Hand Torch

 

  • Wide beam of light
  • Adjustable soft hand strap
  • Maximum of 400 lumens
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Amphipod Xinglet Optic Beam USB Rechargeable Vest

 

  • 360° LED illumination
  • High-visibility color
  • Push button allows for easy on/off
Check Price

Best Overall

1. Petzl SWIFT RL

This headlamp is small, simple to use, and more powerful than it looks! It’s designed to be “High performance,” so expect it to be a worthwhile running companion in low-light situations.

What We Like

This small but mighty headlamp is a great hands-free option. The easy-adjust headband is wide enough to be comfortable against your head, with a handy split design at the back so you can position it comfortably and securely. Plus, it has good padding on the forehead for sweat absorption and comfort.

As for brightness, at its max setting, you’ll get an astounding 900 lumenst. But it only brings out the big guns on reactive mode—in standard settings, it downs the brightness to 550 lumens, which is still more than enough to illuminate your way and won’t burn through the battery.

You’ll be able to choose from three standard modes and three receive modes, which are dynamic settings in which the device adjusts the brightness on its own. This can help save battery, although in regular mode, you’ll get 2 hours of use at its brightest and 2 hours of “reserve” at 10 lumens.

You can set the beam to “high,” which stretches to almost 500 feet, giving you tons of light to see your way. On “low,” it stretches to about 40 feet. It’s also dual-focus, so you can switch between wide and focused depending on where you are running.

Other things we love include a waterproof rating of IPX4, a handy lock-switch to prevent accidental switching, the removable and washable headband, and the company’s 2-year guarantee.

Why We Like It

It’s compact, lightweight, and powerful! We love the many lighting modes it comes with and the fact that it’s got some serious lumens packed into a nice, small device.

What to Consider

Despite the many lighting modes, this headlamp doesn’t have a strobe or red light function. This may be a deal-breaker for some.

PROS:

  • Comes in a compact package and weighs just 3.5 ounces, so it won’t weigh you down or bounce while you’re running
  • Beam distance stretches to almost 500 feet so you can run confidently in low-light situations and places
  • 2 hours of battery life on its highest setting, 100 hours on the low setting, and recharges fully in 6 hours
  • Reactive light setting allows the torch to adjust to the ambient light automatically, which can also help save battery

CONS:

  • No strobe light or red light feature
 

Longest Battery Life

2. Black Diamond Sprinter 500

If battery life is your main concern, the Black Diamond Sprinter 500 is your top choice. Aside from a great battery life, you can choose between the included rechargeable or AAA batteries.

What We Like

While the battery life on this device is pretty decent—around 2 hours on high—it’s the ability to swap out the rechargeable battery with AAA batteries that really makes the difference. Carry some extra batteries with you on the run, and you’ll never be caught out.

Those batteries power 500 lumens of light, more than enough to see and be seen. Switch between 6 different power settings with ease, and as well as the front bright light, there’s also a rear red strobe for extra visibility.

We like that you can lock the device so you won’t accidentally change the light setting. The headlamp is well-balanced, with one strap going around your head and an extra one coming over for more stability.

It also has IPX4 rating so it should be able to stand up to the weather. Plus, it’s got a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty in case there are any defects.

Why We Like It

We like that this headlamp has a decent battery life, but it gets a big thumbs-up for the ability to switch between the rechargeable battery and AAA batteries. You can always carry spare AAAs to extend your battery life easily.

What to Consider

Might be susceptible to damage due to sweat. If you’re a heavy sweater, you might want to choose another one.

PROS:

  • Rechargeable battery lasts up to 2 hours on high, and you can replace with AAA batteries if necessary
  • 500 lumens maximum brightness is ideal for most low-light situations
  • Comes with multiple modes to control the brightness and includes a strobe function
  • Top strap provides a more secure fit, but can also be removed for comfort and convenience

CONS:

  • Sweat might damage the battery
 

Top No Bounce

3. BioLite HeadLamp 330

Headlamp bounce driving you crazy? The BioLite Headlamp 330 removes the bounce problem thanks to its sleek design, which doesn’t compromise on performance.

What We Like

The sleek design of this headlamp makes it bounce-free. It’s designed to sit against your forehead, with the lamp bulb integrated into the headband for a more secure fit. The band itself is light and moisture-wicking making it quite comfortable.

While the “330” in the name does refer to the lumens, it’s slightly misleading. You can switch between a 230-lumen white spotlight and a 100-lumen white/red floodlight. These still provide plenty of light, and the spotlight stretches to about 250 feet in front of you.

The battery can be recharged while you’re using the light, which is a bonus, as long as you’re willing to carry a power bank.

Why We Like It

This headlamp feels great to wear. It’s lightweight, well-balanced, and doesn’t bounce, which makes it super comfortable. It also packs a punch for such a small device.

What to Consider

The light and wires are integrated into the headband of this light, so it’s not possible to remove the headband and wash it.

PROS:

  • Lightweight design sits flush against your forehead and doesn’t bounce or move
  • Various lighting modes to choose from, including white floodlight, white spotlight, red floodlight, and white strobe SOS
  • Up to 230 lumens of light lasts around 3.5 hours, while you can get close to 40 hours on a less powerful setting
  • Can be used while charging with a power bank

CONS:

  • Can’t remove the band to wash it
 

Best Hand Lights

4. Knuckle Lights Original

These innovative little lights are convenient and provide a decent amount of light to illuminate your way as you run. They also come with batteries.

What We Like

Designed to be quick-grab-and-go, the Knuckle Lights Original are small but work well. They feature a 4-bulb lamp integrated with a soft, adjustable, silicone handle. Simply slip your hand into the strap, resting the light on your knuckles, and head out.

Although small, the two lights together give off 150 lumens, plenty to light your way. The up-and-down motion as you run is also easy for oncoming vehicles to see, adding to your safety.

The lights come in 2 in a pack, complete with two easy-to-install AAA batteries, which should last a good few months with regular use. Plus, they have a 5-year warranty!

Why We Like It

The Knuckle Lights Original are easy and convenient. They’re not the brightest, but their perks far outweigh their cons.

What to Consider

If you wear rings, you might not be able to use this light comfortably unless you take your rings off during your run. Also, the straps contain silicone, so some people might be allergic to them.

PROS:

  • Small, easy to use, and convenient to carry with you anywhere
  • 150 lumens brightness and three different brightness levels to choose from
  • Two AAA batteries are included in the pack and are easy to install
  • Fully adjustable soft straps that are surprisingly comfortable

CONS:

  • Might not work well for those who wear rings
  • Silicon strap might not be suitable for some
 

Top Shoe Lights

5. Night Tech Gear Night Runner 270

If you want to go hands-free but don’t like a headlamp, the Night Tech Gear Night Running 270 could be your new favorite. Designed to clip onto your shoes, it’s easy, convenient, and bright.

What We Like

These innovative little lamps clip right onto your shoelaces with a multi-position clip that you can adjust in various ways to get it right. Once you’ve secured it, you can move it up or down so it points up or down to your liking.

On maximum brightness, each 5-LED light is 150 lumens, decent enough to provide a good bit of light. However, the constant movement of your feet means the light isn’t constantly illuminating your path so it may be a better choice as a visibility light.

The LEDs can also be seen from the side, and there’s a red tail light so you can be seen from all angles. Choose from high (3 hours of battery life), low (4.5 hours), and strobe, which is great for catching attention if you need to be seen or need help.

They’re also waterproof, heat-proof, and designed to withstand even rough terrain.

Why We Like It

These shoelace lights are innovative and unique. We love that you have 260-degree visibility and don’t have to worry about holding a light or wearing one on your head.

What to Consider

While the lights and the accompanying motion make this a great tool for keeping you visible on the road, it’s not the best solution for lighting your way. The constant movement makes it hard for enough light to illuminate your path.

PROS:

  • Multi-position shoelace clips allow you to place these lights in a way that feels comfortable to you
  • 150 lumen front- and side-facingLED lights and rear-facing tail lights for all-round visibility
  • Long-lasting lithium-ion batteries keep you well-lit for 2 hours on high and 5 hours on standard
  • Comes with a handy carry pouch and a quick-start guide

CONS:

  • Not the best for seeing in front of you
 

Best Handheld Flashlight

6. Nathan Sports Polaris 400RX Runner’s Hand Torch

A modern twist on the classic flashlight, the Nathan Sports Polaris 400RX Runner’s Hand Torch is easy to use and surprisingly bright.

What We Like

This flashlight has some helpful features, making it much more runner-friendly than the average flashlight. First, the soft strap helps to hold the flashlight in your hand so you don’t have to actively grip it.

This serves multiple purposes: one, less hand fatigue, two, it makes it easy to direct the light as you need, and three, it’s pretty much impossible to lose. The flashlight head is angled downwards so it illuminates the road ahead and you can keep your hand in a normal, natural position.

A 400-lumen bulb offers a lot of light power, and we love that it also has a rear red light so you can be seen from behind. Even at full power, you should get close to 7 hours of use out of this light, which is impressive.

Why We Like It

This runners’ twist on a regular flashlight is easy and convenient. It’s easier to direct than a headlamp or clip-on light, so if you like some control over your light, this is the one for you!

What to Consider

Some users have reported that the instructions for using this light are quite sparse. You may need to do additional research to learn the ins and outs of the light.

PROS:

  • Handy grip-free design reduces hand fatigue and makes carrying this light easy
  • The light is angled at 24° downward, so you can run naturally, and it still illuminates the ground in front of you
  • 7+ hours of battery life on the highest setting beats the competition
  • Front white LED (400 lumens) and back red LED (8 lumens) for all-round visibility and vision

CONS:

  • Instructions are not clear
 

Top Chest Light

7. AVANTO Chest Light

The AVANTO Chest Light is a unique design that makes you stand out. You’ll hardly feel the lightweight device on you; it doesn’t bounce much when you run.

What We Like

This cool little wearable device helps you to stand out from front and back. In the center of the chest is an adjustable, 500-lumen light, with two modes—super bright and 50%. A bright red rear light also catches the attention of motorists behind you.

The battery is easy to recharge, and you can get up to 7 hours on the 50% setting. Aside from electronics, the strap itself is reflective, so you’ll be seen everywhere by everyone.

Plus, it’s IPX5 rated waterproof and weatherproof so that you can wear it in any weather with peace of mind.

Why We Like It

We love the convenience and effectiveness of this light. It’s easy to wear, easy to use, and does a good job of both lighting you up and showing you the way.

What to Consider

Some users mentioned that the straps loosen as they run, which causes the light to bounce slightly.

PROS:

  • Innovative design with bright white front light, rear red light, and reflective straps for extra visibility
  • 500-lumen light that can last between 3 and 7 hours on a single charge
  • IPX-5 rated and resistant to weather, so you can head out in all conditions and stay safe
  • Versatile fit for both men and women to wear comfortably

CONS:

  • The straps may come loose during running, leading to bounce
 

Best Waist Light

8. UltrAspire Lumen 400z 2.0 Waist Light

The UltrAspire Lumen 400z 2.0 is a belt-and-light combo, ideal for runners who like wearing a belt. It’s got a handy lamp and a sweat-proof pocket for easy storage.

What We Like

This waistband features a built-in lamp of 400 lumens, which has high, medium, low, and blinking modes. The light is adjustable by tilting up and down, and it can switch between floodlight and spotlight.

A Race Fit buckle system helps you to get a perfect fit, while a sizable sweatproof pocket gives you the perfect place to stash your keys, gels, or cell phone.

This little light is packed with a lot of technology. WideBeam keeps the light constant between lighter and darker areas; Steady Beam prevents the eyes from getting fatigued; AutoCool gets rid of heat; and PerfectAngle allows you to get it exactly as needed.

Why We Like It

A light-pocket combo is convenient and smart. It provides all the light you need in an easy-to-wear package, especially for those already used to belts.

What to Consider

Some runners expressed disappointment that the light was impossible to adjust for those without a flat stomach.

PROS:

  • 400-lumen light is highly adjustable with PerfectAngle technology to illuminate wherever you need it to
  • EnduraLight construction with aircraft-grade aluminum makes it tolerant to heat, cold, and bumps
  • AutoCool fins disperse heat and keep the light from overheating
  • Sweatproof pocket can hold a cell phone or other items safely

CONS:

  • Might be uncomfortable and less effective for those without a flat stomach
 

Top Safety Vest

9. Amphipod Xinglet Optic Beam USB Rechargeable Vest

This isn’t exactly a light, but you’ll be seen from far away! It’s one of the easiest and least intrusive options on this list.

What We Like

The Amphipod Xinglet Optic Beam vest looks cool. Available in various luminous colors, it’s a great safety device that makes you stand out in all directions. Aside from the glowing straps, it also has “visibility boost zones” on the front and back – these are large, reflective designs on the vest.

On solid mode, you can get about 3 hours of use. On flashing mode, which is more eye-catching—you can stretch that to about 5 hours. It’s easy to recharge with any USB cable.

The vest itself is fully adjustable and is made of moisture-resistant material for extended durability. It weighs less than 3 ounces, so you’ll hardly even notice it!

Why We Like It

It’s easy, it’s convenient, it’s barely there, and it comes in a bunch of different colors. You won’t be missed on the road in this!

What to Consider

If you’re running in the cold, you may find that the battery dies faster.

PROS:

  • 3 hours of battery life on “solid” mode, 6 hours on “flash” mode
  • Completely size-adjustable and suitable for both men and women
  • Front, back, and side reflectivity to keep you as safe as possible on the roads
  • Weighs less than 3 ounces, so it won’t weigh you down while you’re running

CONS:

  • The battery may die quicker in cold weather
 

Best Clip-On Lights

10. Nathan Sports Strobe Light LED Safety Light Clip

Clip this to your shirt, waistband, hat, or wherever you want. The Nahan Sports Strobe Light LED is a strobe light, but you should be easily seen with this light on you.

What We Like

This small light can easily be clipped onto a shirt, a hat, or even a waistband. It’s small and only has an 8 lumen bulb, but its strongest power is its strobe function.

It’s impossible not to see, and it can last 110+ hours on a charge in his mode. Change it to solid mode, and you’ll still get 50+ hours of use.

The light is also waterproof, so you can take it out in any weather. It comes in various colors to find something that suits your personality!

Why We Like It

There’s nothing fancy about this light, but it does the job. We like that it comes in a variety of colors, it’s waterproof, and it’s easy to clip to anything.

What to Consider

Replacing the batteries can be challenging as the device is so small.

PROS:

  • Strobe light with over 100 hours of battery life, 50+ hours on solid
  • Small back clip allows it to clip onto almost any piece of clothing
  • IPX4 weather-resistant so you can feel confident running in all conditions
  • Comes in multiple different colors

CONS:

  • Replacing the batteries can be difficult
 

Buyer’s Guide – Running Lights

Ready to find your perfect running light? Here’s how to find the right one for your needs.

Types of Running Lights

Some running lights serve a single purpose—to help others see you. Some have two purposes—to help you see and be seen. Decide which one you need before shopping.

To Help You See and Be Seen

Lights in this category include headlamps, handheld lights, and lights that you clip to your shirt, waistband, or shoes.

To Be Seen

Lights that help others see you but don’t light your way include clip-on lights and reflective vests.

Brightness

The brighter the light, the better it can illuminate your way. Choosing one with multiple adjustment options is also a good idea, so you can brighten or dim it as needed.

Brighter lights are generally better, but they also burn through the battery power quicker. So you need to find the balance that fits your runs.

Battery Life

Check user reviews for information on how long the battery lasts. You can get some guide from the manufacturer’s information, but it can be hard to tell how the battery might diminish over time.

Also, check if the light you like has replaceable or rechargeable batteries. Replaceable batteries might end up costing you more over time, but rechargeable batteries are convenient and cost-saving.

Light Modes

Many running lights come with multiple modes that generally refer to the beam. Some modes on a light include spotlight, strobe, and flashing modes.

Flashing can be handy for being seen from afar or attracting attention when you need help, whereas the others are more for illuminating your path.

Attachment

How do you wear the light? Is it held in your hand, on a headband, clipped onto something? Choose something that suits you and that you feel comfortable with.

Water Resistance

Will the light be able to withstand sweat and light rain? You want something durable enough that you won’t worry about taking it out in any weather. You might need to check user reviews to find accurate information here too.

Weight and Size

You don’t want a light that will weigh you down, bounce, or feel bulky and uncomfortable while running. Choose something easy to use and comfortable to wear, or the discomfort can affect your performance.

FAQs

Why is it important to run with lights?

Running with lights allows you to be seen from a distance, which reduces the risk of an accident. It also allows you to run trails or in areas where the light is low more confidently, as you can see where you’re going.

What features do lights have?

Depending on the type of light you want, the lumens will be different. The number of lumens indicates how bright the light is. It also indicates how wide and long the beam will be in front of you.

If you want to be able to see where you are going, look at light that range from 60 to 1200 lumens. Each light will have different modes, as well as different levels of brightness to choose from. Strobes and other lights meant only for safety will have significantly lower lumens.

You may want to find a light that has both a flood and spotlight. This allows you to adjust the beam to illuminate in front of you, or use the floodlight to light up the sides and help with your peripheral vision. Both options will illuminate without casting shadows.

Some lights will let you plug into a powerbank, which will help to keep the battery pack charged for longer runs – think overnight ultras. Other lights work with replaceable batteries and you may have to keep spare batteries on you if you’re going for a long run.

How many lumens  do I need?

If you’re running in urban or city areas where there’s some lighting already, then you’d be able to run confidently with 60 to 75 lumens.

If you do a combination of running trails at night and running in urban areas, then consider getting a light with a maximum of 500 lumens. This will allow you to see where you’re going without casting shadows on the trail.

Most lights will have various brightness levels and you can always use the lowest one in urban areas.

What light is best when I need to run all night?

Check to see that the battery life would be able to provide at least eight hours of consistent brightness. The last thing you want is to be running in the dark with a dim light or no light because your battery drained too quickly.

Some lights will allow you to use them continuously while they’re plugged into a powerbank, although you may not always be able to run with a powerbank in your pocket.

Take the light out for a test run before running an overnight race. You’d need to make sure that you can see at least 100 feet in front of you and that even on its lowest setting it’s bright enough for you to run safely without draining the battery.

You’d also need to take into consideration the type of battery you’re using. If you’re using a light that has replaceable batteries, they could drain more quickly than the built-in rechargeable battery.

Photo of author

AUTHOR

Ben is an avid road and trail runner, and has completed multiple marathons and ultras. A former running store owner, he now shares his knowledge and experience writing these articles.