Light It Up
The Winter Solstice Happened. Here’s Everything You Need for Running in the Dark
Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.
The end of Daylight Saving Time may have given us an extra hour of sleep, but it also means that the sun will now set an hour earlier. For most of us, it’ll be dark before it’s time to leave the office, but that’s no excuse to pack up the running shoes until springtime. However, it can be dangerous to go running at night, as you’re never quite as visible as you think. Before you go, you need gear that helps you stand out.
“Lights should be seen 360 degrees around you when you run at night, so just a headlamp is not enough,” Paul Ronto, competitive runner and content director at RunRepeat.com, says. “Even with a headlamp, pedestrians are really hard to see from a vehicle.”
To be extra safe, you should have a front light, rear strobe and at least one side light (usually on the side that’s closest to traffic). Reflective gear also helps increase visibility. “I would not advise only having lights or reflective gear, I think it’s crucial to have both,” Ronto says. “With drivers so distracted these days, it’s crucial to be hyper-visible.”
When picking out your clothes, opt for bright colors like white or yellow. Brighter colors are easier to spot than dark colors by car lights. And tall white socks are great to wear on night runs since drivers tend to pick up the motion before anything else. Your legs are what’s moving the most when you’re out on a run.
Lastly, stay on guard. Be extra cautious when crossing the street, do not expect drivers to stop for you as they would during the day (even if you are crossing at a crosswalk), and if you prefer to run with music, either listen with one headphone in or at a super low volume so you can stay aware of your surroundings. Pack your ID, phone and some cash; tell someone you’re heading out under the cloak of darkness and then hit the streets. There’s no reason to ditch your nightly runs if you enjoy them and they work with your schedule; just be sure to have the proper gear to stay visible — and alive.
Tracer360 Reflective Vest
Reflective vests can be an uncomfortable added layer, but the high-quality mesh and elastic in this one reduces the fabric-to-body contact so you can have a chafe-free experience. “With six fluorescent colors outlining this vest, your visibility will be at its highest, ensuring that you’re protected and seen by motorists and vehicles during your night run,” says Caleb Backe, CPT and wellness expert for Maple Holistics.
Nathan Reflective Convertible Glove/Mitt
Your hands might be the best place for an extra dash of visibility. As you crank your arms, gloves or mittens will catch any light that crosses your path and make drivers more aware of you with that movement. The reflective graphics that Nathan included here look good too, and the glove-mitten hybrid design makes these versatile across a range of cold temperatures.
These knuckle lights “will guide your way through those dimly lit streets and ensure that you see any potential obstacles in front of you to prevent injury,” says Backe. Thanks to adjustable silicone straps and wide flood beams, you’ll be comfortable and visible, too.
BioLite HeadLamp 330
Unlike most headlamps, BioLite’s HeadLamp 330 has its power source at the rear. That keeps the design minimal and makes for a low-profile light that doesn’t bounce, even during hard workouts in the dark. What’s more, the light has multiple modes and is fully integrated into the fabric strap, so you don’t have a chunk of plastic or any clips on your forehead while you put in the miles. It also charges via Micro-USB and has a reflective accent on the rear.
Nathan Zephyr Fire 100 Hand Torch LED Light
While a headlamp will keep you seen, and help you see, a flashlight adds another layer of protection. This one has a small harness, so you can illuminate the trail or flash it towards traffic easily without worrying about dropping it throughout your run.
“RoadID is a cheap option that prints your emergency contact info, blood type or any other information you think is important to share onto a small, lightweight bracelet,” Ronto says. If God forbid you get hurt out there, the RoadID will help medical personnel know all the critical things needed to properly assist you.
Nathan Reflective Ankle Band
Take reflective gear a step further by pairing your vest with ankle bands, a cheap, low-tech option to improve visibility. “The nice part about reflective gear is it takes no batteries, and as you move different areas reflect light at different times, making you hyper-visible,” says Ronto.
Nathan TrailMix Plus Insulated 2 Hydration Belt
“This insulated hydration belt is a convenient, lightweight solution that makes it easy to access your hydration and essential items,” says Ryan Raskin, triathlete, running coach and category director at RECREATIONiD.com. It’s important to carry an ID and cellphone in the event of an emergency, and this belt allows you to carry both without messing up your performance.
Petzl Bindi Headlamp
This compact and ultra-light rechargeable headlamp is ideal for night running. The thin headband adjusts easily and can also be worn around the neck. And there are three lighting modes: proximity, movement and distance, along with red lighting to preserve night vision while not blinding others during group runs.
SPIbeams LED Hat
Think of this hat as a more comfortable headlamp. It’s battery operated and has a convenient on/off switch, along with breathable material. It’s great for night runs in the heat as you’ll stay nice and cool as well as safe.
Ciele LRCap Night Right Allover
Don’t want bulbs in your brim? Ciele, the maker of some of our favorite running hats, has a full line of reflective caps that don’t skimp on style. Take this one, which uses reflectivity in a pattern to enhance its design rather than turn it into something that looks like safety gear.
KT Tape Pro
Maybe you already use KT Tape to support your muscles and joints during a run. If so, upgrade to the Pro roll, which features built-in reflectivity, for your dawn and dusk sessions for additional visibility. (And if you run with a backpack, you can slap cheaper 3M reflective tape on it for a quick DIY solution.)
Brooklyn Running Co. has been at the center of running culture since it opened. Here, the team shares their top running picks. Read the Story