For many of us, running has become part of life – more than just a way to stay fit. If I asked you what the most important consideration is about your running, what would your answer be?
How about your safety? Chances are it’s not on the top of your list. But maybe it should be.
The best running self-defense products are something every runner should have in their stash of gear.
We’re not just talking about wearing a reflective vest so cars can see you (although that’s also important!). We’re talking about products that help you fight off attackers and dogs, and get attention quickly when you need help.
Nothing can ruin running for life more than having a dangerous experience on the road. If you haven’t already got some kind of self-defense product (or you don’t know jiu jitsu), then browse through these items and pick what would be best for you!
Top 3 Best and Favorites
SABRE Red Pepper Gel
SABRE Personal Alarm with Clip and LED Light
Best Pepper Spray
1. SABRE Red Pepper Gel
While none of us wants to even think about the possibility of a person or dog attacking us while we run, it’s a very real worry. Carrying pepper spray with you on the road can, literally, save your life.
We’ve chosen the Sabre Red Pepper Gel as the best overall. It’s a tactical product used by law enforcement. It works quickly, effectively, and with as little collateral damage as possible.
There’s no wild spray with this gel. It goes directly where you aim it, with no blowback or drifting spray that might hit an innocent bystander. It has a great range, too (18 feet), so you don’t need to get too up-close-and-personal with would-be attackers in order for it to be effective.
The gel is formulated in-house and incorporates UV marking dye that helps identify suspects down the line. It has a four-year shelf life, and can fire off 18 long bursts or 35 short bursts of gel.
When you buy, you’ll get a belt holster to keep it within reach at all times and a hand strap if you want to hold it and run. A flip-top mechanism prevents accidental spraying.
A touch we can appreciate is that you get a link to free video training on the packaging, so you can learn how to use it most effectively and safely.
Just double-check when buying. Some state laws prohibit the shipment of this product into the state.
- No potentially dangerous blow-back
- 18-foot spray range
- Adjustable hand strap
- Four-year shelf life
- State laws prohibit shipment to: AK, DC, HI, MA, NJ, NY, and SC
Best Wrist Held Pepper Spray
2. Wrist Saver Pepper Spray for Runners
If you prefer keeping your pepper spray as close to your hand as possible in case you need it, this wristband holster spray could be the right thing for you.
It’s actually a very handy safety product if you’re happy wearing something around your wrist. The neoprene Velcro band is lightweight and comes in small or large sizes (small, wrist size up to 7 ½ inches; large, wrist size larger than 7 ½ inches).
There’s a small space for a personal identification and information document, so if something does happen, a passer-by can help you. An LED light and reflective trim are other useful features.
A small can of pepper spray fits snugly into the small side strap of the wrist band. The canister has a spray range of up to 12 feet, and is police-grade. It has a twist lock-top for extra safety so it isn’t accidentally discharged.
It gets a big thumbs-up for offering $1 pepper spray replacements for life when you buy this wristband!
We recommend choosing this if you’re worried you won’t be able to get to your spray in time if it’s on a belt.
- LED light and personal info card
- Neoprene wrist band
- 12-foot spray range
- Police-grade pepper spray
- If you’re a vigorous runner, the pepper spray has a chance of falling out of the holster
Best Against Dogs
3. Sabre Red Protector Dog Spray
Most of us feel better about spraying a fellow human than a dog! After all, bad dogs are often a result of bad owners.
But a dog bite is still a dog bite. It can happen that you find yourself in a position where you need to fight off a vicious or unrestrained canine. If you like to run with your dog, you’re also more likely to attract the attention of other dogs, so this could be a good thing to have.
This pepper spray is specifically made for use against dogs. It’s effective at deterring them, but it’s also all-natural so it won’t cause any lasting damage to the animal.
The canister is small, at just 1.8 ounces, but it delivers up to 7 strong bursts that can reach 15 feet. It has a useful belt clip so it’s within easy reach at all times. It has a four-year shelf life, so you’ll be covered for a good long time.
The strength of this spray comes in at the maximum allowed by the EPA for dog sprays (1% major capsaicinoids).
- All-natural dog pepper spray
- Sprays up to 15 feet
- Belt clip for easy access
- Integrated safety lock
- May stain clothing and dogs’ faces orange
Signaling for Help
Best Personal Alarm
4. SABRE Personal Alarm with Clip and LED Light
If you’re averse to the idea of pepper spray, a personal alarm could be the next best thing. It serves the dual purpose of potentially scaring off an attacker, and alerting others that you need help.
You may wonder how an alarm tone can scare someone off if they’re intent on attacking you. Well, this isn’t just a wake-up alarm. It’s 120dB of piercing siren, which can be heard up to 1,300 feet away.
If this scream goes off in your attacker’s ear, you can bet they’ll get a shock. Be careful, though – your ears will take a beating too! Thankfully, once your attacker has gone, it’s easy to switch off again by pushing the same button.
As well as scaring off possible muggers and alerting nearby people to help, this personal alarm tool also contains an LED with three different lighting modes to keep you visible to motorists.
It’s weatherproof, sweatproof, compact, and non-distracting so you can carry it anywhere and everywhere with you. Attach it to your belt, bag, belt hook, or anywhere else that’s easy to grab at a moment’s notice.
SABRE also gives you access to free safety tips and training videos when you buy this product. Rather have it and not have to use it!
- 120dB alarm tone (audible up to 1300 feet)
- Built-in clip to keep in close reach
- Weatherproof and sweatproof design
- 3 different light modes
- May be hard on your ears
Best Safety Whistle
5. Coghlans 6 Function Whistle
A whistle could be easier than an alarm for a few reasons. One, you can stop and start it when you like. Two, it’s not as loud as a personal alarm, but it’s a very noticeable sound. Three, there are no batteries that may give out before you need to use them!
This tool has six separate functions, all of which are useful in some capacity. The whistle function is obviously what we’re focusing on for safety, and it’s a helpful thing to have with you.
You can get this whistle as a six-in-one or four-in-one tool, depending on what your needs and wants are.
The four-in-one tool consists of a whistle, a magnifier, a compass, and a thermometer. The six-in-one function tool adds an LED light and a signaling mirror.
Although many of these functions may not be entirely necessary if you’re just taking a jog around the block, you never know when they may come in handy. It’s an especially good safety option for trail runners. When far off-road, safety isn’t just about escaping assailants. It can also be about getting yourself found if you are lost, injured, or accosted by a large wild animal.
So this tool doubles up as a great camping or hiking accessory, thanks to those unique safety features.
Just be aware that if you’re planning on hanging this on a belt or pendant to run, it could flop around and annoy you, especially if you’re running quite intensely. It might be better kept on the strap of your hydration pack.
- Six-in-one or four-in-one function tool
- Comes with a lanyard and clip
- Comes in a kids’ version
- Makes a great camping accessory too
- May be heavy and annoying to run with if it’s hanging off a belt or around the neck
Best Running Belt With Alarm
6. Lamikala Running Belt With Personal Alarm
If you like to use a running belt, this one comes with a built-in alarm as a safety feature. It has all the functions of a normal running belt, like a weatherproof pouch for storing belongings, a media port in the pouch to run earphones through for easy listening, and a keyring holder.
The alarm unit is built into the fabric of the belt. It’s activated by pulling the keyring, and can be stopped by pushing the ring back into the unit.
The 120dB alarm is far from subtle. It can be heard up to 1,300 feet away, so there’s definitely a high chance of catching the attention of someone to help you.
The belt can be worn by men or women, and fits waist sizes of 30 to 50 inches. You can remove the alarm button to change batteries or to wash the belt.
- 120dB alarm
- Adjustable, elastic straps
- Media port for easy listening
- Weather-resistant pouch
- The buckle on this belt may be difficult to unfasten
Part of staying safe is not being a target. That’s where visibility products come in. They help you see, help cars see you, and make you less of a target for would-be bad guys!
7. PETZL ACTIK
Part of staying safe on the road is being visible to motorists and other runners. A headlamp is a great way to ensure that everyone sees you and can avoid collisions.
It takes far more light to see, than to be seen. At 350 lumens, you’ll be clearly visible from a way off with this on your head. You’ll also have enough light to find your way over trails or uneven sidewalks. The band is reflective, so you’ll be seen from all angles. You don’t need to worry about it feeling heavy on your head, as it weighs just 3 ounces.
You can choose from two different beam patterns, depending on what you need. Flood mode offers a floodlight effect, while mixed-mode is less drastic. Also, there are a few white light brightness levels, and a red-light night vision setting.
All the settings can be accessed from a single button. You can buy mounting accessories separately to attach them to a helmet or handlebars if you want to. A handy lock function makes sure it doesn’t accidentally get switched on in a gym bag or drawer.
The light is detachable from the headband so the band can be washed. The headlamp comes with three standard batteries, but can also be used with the CORE rechargeable battery, which you’ll need to buy separately.
- IPX4 protection rating
- 350 lumen brightness
- Multi-beam settings
- Runs up to 120 hours
- May not fit large heads
Best LED Vest
8. Amphipod Xinglet Optic Beam USB Rechargeable Vest
This is one of the best accessories if you need to be seen on the road. It’s available in a variety of colors, so you can match your favorite running outfit.
It’s super lightweight, and there’s hardly anything to it. As reflective vests go, it’s pretty much the most breathable option you’re going to find. Of course, that’s because it’s not really a reflective vest – it creates its own light. And it’s not even a vest – it’s just ultra-thin LED strips that nonetheless create a huge amount of visibility.
The colorful LED lights are visible from the front, back, and sides. You can set it to either solid light mode or flashing, depending on which you prefer. The battery lasts about 4 hours on solid mode, and 8 when flashing.
It’s resistant to moisture, so you can wear it in all weather. Simply plug it into a USB port to recharge when you need to.
- 360-degree LED lighting
- Resistant to moisture
- Charging-mode indicator
- USB rechargeable
- The on switch is at the back of the vest
Still wondering if you need one of the best running self-defense products? Here are some extra safety tips to pay attention to, whether or not you choose to invest in safety gear.
What Can You Do to Stay Safe During a Run?
The best way to stay safe during a run is to stick to busy public areas. We get it – sometimes too many people can ruin a good run. But it might be better to be around others, where the chances of someone taking advantage are less, than to be in a position where you’re enjoying a solitary run but you’re an easier target.
With this in mind, it’s also a good idea to try and stick to daylight conditions, and when the weather is good. Dark, hazy, or murky conditions can be a cover-up for would-be attackers.
If you can’t stick to these and you have to run in less traveled areas or in darker conditions, it’s definitely worth investing in some safety or self-defense products.
What Can You Do If You Are Approached?
Be alert and aware of other people during your run, even if you’re listening to music. If someone does come too close for comfort, be ready to take action if necessary. It cannot be stressed enough that acts of self-defense cannot be gentle, apologetic, or done in half-measures. If you are put in a position where you have to act, you must act decisively.
First and foremost, stay bold and hold eye contact with them. Nothing makes you more of a target than seeming like you’re unaware of what’s coming!
When you first feel threatened, take note of possible escape routes. See if there are people around who could possibly help, and if you can, run closer to them.
When someone encroaches on your personal space, speak loudly and clearly, telling them to back off. Make sure others in the area can hear you too. This is the time to use your alarm or whistle. If the person doesn’t listen and keeps coming, don’t be afraid to yell or scream.
Show the approacher that you have pepper spray or other legal defense item before using it (if you can – sometimes things happen too fast!).
Try to run away before using your weapon. If you can’t run and you’ve given the person fair warning, then go ahead and use your weapon as it’s intended to be used – with as much force as needed to stop the attack.