A great running light should be an essential part of your running gear. They make you visible to motorists and also help light the way before you, making sure you don’t encounter obstacles you can’t see.
They contribute immensely to safety on the road, and if you’re planning on running in low light conditions it’s an important tool to have.
Our first choice is the Petzl SWIFT RL, which is powered by a 2350 mAh rechargeable battery, and has a beam distance of 360 feet for optimal illumination.
But keep reading to see our other top choices, especially if you want to use something other than a headlamp.
Top 5 Best and Favorites
Petzl SWIFT RL
Knuckle Lights Original
Night Tech Gear Night Runner 270
Nathan Terra Fire 300 R Hand Torch
Amphipod Xinglet Optic Beam USB Rechargeable Vest
1. Petzl SWIFT RL
If you’re looking for a light you can use to run technical trails confidently at night, the Petzl SWIFT RL would be a great addition to your running kit. Powered by a 2350 mAh lithium-ion rechargeable battery, it has a beam distance of 360 feet.
A light sensor adjusts the brightness, as well as helps conserve battery life while you’re running. The battery indicator lets you know when it’s time to recharge or swap out the battery.
Choose from two main settings:
- Reactive lighting
- Standard lighting
Both settings have three levels of lighting: Max Power, Standard and Max Burn.
If you’re using the reactive settings, you’ll have the following run time:
- Max burn at 100 lumens will burn for 10 to 50 hours
- Standard burn at 300 lumens for 5 to 40 hours
- Max brightness at 900 lumens for 2 to 30 hours
At Standard lighting, you’ll have the following run time:
- Max burn at 10 lumens will burn for up to 100 hours
- Standard burn at 200 lumens for up to 5 hours
- Max brightness at 550 lumens for up to 2 hours
If you’re running long distances where you need a light to burn for eight hours, this would be the light to have. On the medium reactive light setting of 300 lumens, the battery would last up to eight and half hours. This would be bright enough for you to run confidently and safely.
You’ll also find that the headband fits comfortably without applying pressure to your head, and that it remains stable throughout your run.
- Beam distance of 360 feet
- Light sensor
- Rechargeable battery
- Battery strength indicator
- The lockout switch can accidentally be bumped on in a gym bag and run the battery down
Longest Battery Life
2. Black Diamond Sprinter 500
This headlamp is all about convenience.
The straps are thin and unobtrusive. It uses Dual-Fuel technology, which means it can run off 3 AAA batteries or the rechargeable BD 1800 lithium-ion battery. The rechargeable battery is included with the purchase and is recharged using a micro-USB cable.
You can choose from 6 different settings depending on your needs for the run. On high, the battery will last for about 2 hours. On low, it can last for more than a day—28 hours.
This is impressive for the lumen output of this light, which is 500 lumens on its brightest setting, almost twice what the previous version had. The smooth single universal beam can reach up to 170 feet in distance.
An intuitive single-button design makes it easy to use. You can adjust the brightness quickly using PowerTap technology and then dim it further using the variable dimming function.
The red taillight strobe has a flashing row of red lights, so you’re able to be seen from behind as well. You can turn this off if you wish.
For convenience, the light features a digital lockout system that prevents you from accidentally turning it on and running the battery down while it’s not in use. The headlamp is also IPX4-rated, which means it can withstand storms quite easily and safely.
- Dual-Fuel design
- Brightest setting emits 500 lumens
- Flashing row of red taillights
- PowerTap Technology
- Some people may find the top strap to be slightly uncomfortable
Top No Bounce
3. BioLite HeadLamp 330
You’re able to choose from a spot beam with a length of 246 feet or a flood beam that illuminates up to 52 feet. The ergonomic design of this light has it resting flat on your forehead and it’s made from moisture-wicking fabric.
The light won’t slip or bounce while you’re running, and it’s balanced by the lightweight rechargeable battery at the back. The moisture-wicking fabric will help you keep dry and cool.
You’re able to adjust the light to four different angle options with the tilt-in-space that’ll remain steady after it’s been adjusted. It’s easy to adjust with one finger while running, and you won’t experience any pressure or change in weight on the forehead as you adjust it.
Choose one of the four beam modes:
- Red flood
- White spot
- White flood
- Stribe and white spot together
The white spot and flood can be dimmed, which helps conserve battery life. There’s a batter indicator on the bottom of the light. However, this is difficult to see while you’re running.
Some runners may find the power button to be small and that it gets in the way when you’re adjusting the light. This could lead to you accidentally turning it on and off.
- Ergonomic design
- Good balance
- Beam distance of 246 feet
- Power indicator
- Some may find the power button to be too small, or that it can get in the way when adjusting the light
Best Hand Lights
4. Knuckle Lights Original
Slip these onto your hands and adjust the soft silicone straps for a comfortable fit. Then choose from three power settings (bright, really bright, and flashing), and the wide flood beam will illuminate your path while you run.
Knuckle Lights are lightweight and won’t interrupt your running motion. They’ll provide a steady beam of light that won’t bounce. Even at its maximum 150 lumens, you should get at least 20 hours of battery life.
These are great for low-light or evening running with ambient light, and they’ll also ensure that you’re seen. They run off of two AAA batteries, and you have to replace these fairly frequently.
Some customers have said that the sweat from their hands or condensation has entered into the housing, which caused the light to stop working. Knuckle Lights does have a 5-year warranty against material defects. Should you find that your light stops working, contact them and they’ll tell you what the process is.
- Three different power settings
- Adjustable silicone straps
- Wide beam of light that doesn’t bounce
- Five-year warranty
- Some customers have mentioned that they have stopped working when they come into contact with moisture
Top Shoe Lights
5. Night Tech Gear Night Runner 270
Secure the Night Runner 270 to your upper shoelaces, turn them on, and head out the door. The LED lights will illuminate your path up to 30 feet as you run, which will help prevent you from tripping over rocks or paving.
Choose from three lighting modes:
Each unit has a rear-facing red light that alerts motorists or cyclists behind you that you’re ahead of them. You’ll have a run time of approximately 2.5 hours on high setting, or up to 5 hours on the standard setting. It would be wise to recharge the batteries after each run, so they won’t leave you in the dark.
This would be a great addition if you’re running in areas that have ambient lighting. However, with a beam length of only 30 feet, they may not provide enough lighting to run trails at night.
- Fit securely to your laces without any bounce
- Rechargeable battery
- Rear red light
- Beam length of 30 feet may not provide enough light to illuminate your run on trails
Best Hand Flashlight
6. Nathan Terra Fire 300 R Hand Torch
This hand torch has a soft adjustable hand strap for a snug and secure fit. It has a 24-degree downward projection angle, which allows you to run hands-free without worrying about holding the torch in position to light your path.
It also has an 8-lumen red rear light that allows you to be seen, and the wide front beam has a maximum brightness of 300 lumens. The hand strap is made from moisture-wicking material and helps draw sweat away from your hand while you’re running.
The Li-ion rechargeable battery will give you up to the following run times:
- 40 hours on Low / strobe
- 24 hours on medium
- 9 hours on high
It also has a built-in whistle that can be heard about a mile away. This will help to chase off any critters you may cross paths with, and alert people should you need assistance.
The wrist strap is designed as a one-size-fits-all. Some runners who have bigger hands or smaller wrists may find the positioning of the torch to be uncomfortable when they run.
- 24-degree downward projection angle
- Wide beam of light
- Adjustable soft hand strap
- Maximum of 300 lumens
- May not be a comfortable fit for all
Top Chest Light
7. AVANTO Chest Light
A chest light allows you to have a hands-free running light. It’s perfect if you’re not comfortable wearing a headlamp. The Avanto chest light comes with reflective straps and a rear red light to increase your visibility to motorists behind you.
Adjust the front light to point downward or upwards depending on your preference. It has two settings to choose from, with its brightest setting at a maximum of 500 lumens. The second setting shines at 50%, and gives you a run time of up to 10 hours.
With an IPX5 rating, you won’t have to worry if you get caught in the rain, as it’s water-resistant and weatherproof. The battery is protected by the housing at the back, and there’s also a battery indicator light.
- IPX5 rated
- Mounted on reflective straps
- Adjustable light beam
- You only have a choice of two light settings: 100% or 50%
Best 180 Degree Light
8. One80 H2 Headlamp
If you’re looking for a wider beam of light, take a look at the One80 H2 Headlamp. This versatile LED band can be removed from the headband and attached to the belt for use around your waist.
This headlamp provides 180-degree peripheral light, which can come in handy on trails where you need to see more of what’s on the sides of you than what’s ahead of you. It has a lightweight rechargeable battery pack, and you can choose from two brightness settings.
On the high setting, you’ll get a run time of three hours and up to seven hours on the low setting and flash mode. The elastic band is adjustable, and also holds the battery pack in place.
The light is a strip of LEDs, which prevents the light from bouncing while you run. Some feel the small strip doesn’t offer a sufficient range of light.
- IPX7 rated waterproof design
- Adjustable battery holder
- Rechargeable battery
- Some may find that this light isn’t bright enough and that it doesn’t cast a wide enough beam
Best Safety Vest
9. Amphipod Xinglet Optic Beam USB Rechargeable Vest
The Amphipod Xinglet Optic Beam USB Rechargeable vest uses a bright optical beam to make you extremely visible on the road. It’s also a versatile choice because it does use reflective material as well, so you don’t always have to have the lights on to be seen.
You can choose from two modes—solid and flashing—so drivers can see you coming from far away in any light conditions. The onboard battery is small and unobtrusive. Charging it with the included USB cable takes about 1.5 hours and will give you about 5 hours of run-time on a flashing light and 3 hours if you choose to use a solid light mode.
One of the best features of this vest is how lightweight and breathable it is. You won’t feel weighed down or overheated at all, thanks to the very open design. You just zip it on and head out on the road.
It fits runners of all sizes, being fully adjustable from extra small sizing to extra large sizing. It weighs less than 3 ounces.
The only potential problem is if you live in a rainy area, there’s a chance that the USB port may not be completely watertight.
- 360° LED illumination
- Push button allows for easy on/off
- Quick zip-on
- High-visibility color
- The charging port may not handle rainy weather
10. Nathan Strobe Lights
The Nathan Strobe Light is versatile and can be clipped onto virtually anything. While it’s compact and lightweight, it’s also bright for a strobe, at 8 lumens. If you go running in the daylight, motorists, cyclists and pedestrians will see you coming.
It uses CR2032 batteries which would have to be replaced between 57 and 110 hours. You’ll find that you get a longer battery life if you use the strobe light, which can run up to 110 hours. The steady light would give you a run time of up to 57 hours.
You’re able to use the Nathan Strobe lights in all weather, as they’re water resistant, but some individuals have found that they can switch off by themselves. This may have you checking to make sure that they’re still blinking while you run.
- Non-slip clip
- Long battery life
- At 8 lumens, it’s bright for a strobe
- Some individuals have said that the lights spontaneously stop working while they’re running
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.