Winter can be a drag for runners, especially those of us living up north (or south for those in the southern hemisphere). As an avid runner (now) living in Canada, I only have around 8 daylight hours to fit in my work, running, and everything else in the colder months. Safety lights for running have become a non-negotiable here.
Not only can you see where you’re going with the right running lights, but cars and bikes can see you too. They might just save your life. For those of you who also don’t have enough daylight hours in the day, you simply need some running lights to stay on track with your mileage goals. Considering that most safety lights for running cost less than $30, they’re a staple item in any runner’s kit. Here are the best running lights on the market for 2020.
Safety Lights – A Running Flashlight
If you’re looking for an upgrade and you already know what you’re looking for, skip down to the 5 best safety lights for running. As someone who’s from a sub-tropical climate, running lights were not something that I considered before moving up north. Here’s what you need to know about running lights if you’re in the same boat.
How Bright Are Safety Lights?
All runners like a different style of light. Some prefer more ambient lighting, while others want a flashy strobe light. Question your needs. If you live in the country with no street lights, a higher intensity light will be more appropriate. For the city-dwellers, you’ll be able to get away with dimmer lights. I like a bright light because I feel vulnerable as a female running alone at night. Bright lights help me feel safer when I’m not able to run with someone during dark hours.
How Long Do Safety Lights Last?
Every evening runner’s nightmare often includes running lights that fail mid-run. It’s similar to your headphones running out of battery when you still have a few miles to go. All of the lights on the list have enough cells to last a marathon’s distance without failing mid-session. Before purchasing, it’s essential to take into account the time that you spend running.
What Style Safety Light Is Best?
We’ve provided a few different options on this list. It’ll be purely personal preference to which style of light works best for you. We’ve included headlamps and belt lights to cover our bases. I like a headlamp because it doubles as a camping light. But many people find them frustrating and itchy on the skin.
The 5 Best Safety Lights for Running 2020
We’ve provided the 5 best safety running lights in 2020 based on different needs. Carefully consider which type of light is best for you based on your environment (pre-dawn or dusk mileage), and personal preferences.
The Best Headlamp For Runners
The Snap Princeton Tec is the best safety light for runners who don’t mind a headlamp. We really like this style because it’s adjustable for camping and biking. Simply snap the light onto your bike (or your tent) for those seeking more adventure. Don’t skip this one if you’re looking for a multi-purpose headlamp.
The maximum lumen count is 200, which is bright enough for most runners, but it’s dimmable to suit anyone’s needs. The battery isn’t rechargeable, but it’ll last between 40 and 130 hours, depending on how bright you like it. Keep some AAA batteries at home to keep this one going. I like this light best because I camp a lot and need something more versatile. Other users love that it’s American made and the adjustable light settings. At a reasonable mid-range price, it’s the best choice in 2020 for headlamp runners.
The Best Running Light Belt
While we typically love to include some underdog/up and comer brands, we simply couldn’t find a light belt on the market better than the most popular choice, Illumiseen. Illumiseen is a wildly popular choice in the running and adventure community, and their signature LED reflective belt is no exception.
Light belts are best for runners who get sweaty and find the headlamp itchy and frustrating after a while. The LED belt is ultra-lightweight at 4.5 ounces, and Illumiseen claims it’s 100 times safer than a reflective vest with 360 degrees of visibility. It’s appropriate for men, women, and children of all sizes. The belt is adjustable, and you can secure it at the waist, hip, or over your shoulder.
What I like about this belt is the rechargeable mechanism. While most lights are still using AA or AAA batteries, this brand’s kept with the current times with a USB charging function. It lasts for 20 hours, and you won’t have to hassle with buying extra batteries. If you’ve been cursing headlamps, you can’t go wrong with Illumiseen’s Reflective Belt. It’s not only in a low price range, but they also provide a lifetime guarantee with no strings attached.
The Brightest Light For Running
Bright lights aren’t for everyone. Considering high powered devices often use up a lot of battery, the brightest settings are best used only when absolutely necessary. If you’re in one of those situations (when the brightest running lights are not only essential but necessary), the WOWTAC A2S LED Headlamp is our favorite. It doubles as a flashlight/headlight and is among the brightest on the market with the highest setting at 1050 lumens.
With a beam distance of 909ft, the highest setting is perfect for an emergency (or even just looking for something you’ve lost around the house). You can also adjust the lighting to a super-dim 0.9 lumens as needed. Amazon reviewers often describe the 3400mA battery as insanely good. It is USB rechargeable, so no matter how bright you like it, you can charge it right back up without worrying about purchasing new batteries. It’s another reasonably priced product, and as such the value is undeniable.
The Best Light For Marathon and Ultra Runners
Have you ever wondered why airlines ask passengers to keep their window shades open for take-off and landing? This is to ensure that everyone’s eyes are used to the light or dark outside the aircraft in case of an emergency. While this may seem like a random bit of trivia info, the Petzl Tikka Headlamp’s tech prepares users in case they face a similar situation. This lamp is best for serious night runners who need their preserve their nocturnal awareness even after running long distances in the dark. After all, you don’t want to impair your vision in the name of a solid pre-dawn run.
The red light will protect long-distance night runners with a strobe and static function. The battery life is equally impressive, with 60 hours of solid red light and 400 hours on a strobe. Of course, there’s a white light option too for those who are missing their traditional lighting. Ultra-bright 300 lumens will last a short 2 hours, the medium 100 lumens setting for 9 hours, and if you’d prefer some mood-lighting, the lowest 6-lumen setting lasts 120 hours.
The running headlamp comes with batteries, and you’re able to replace them with CORE rechargeable batteries if desired. My partner in crime swears by the Petzl for running and camping. Considering he tends to sweat more than most, that’s saying a lot for a headlamp style. If the features aren’t enough to seal the deal, this light certainly won’t break the bank (at a mid-range price) for the long-distance runners looking for a headlamp upgrade that lasts.
The Most Budget-Friendly Safety Light
The SmarterLife Headlamp is among the best safety lights available at an affordable price. If you’re a beginner, or if you’re not quite sure how much you’ll use a running light, this budget-friendly model is definitely worth a look. It comes in 4 different colors for fashion-conscious runners, and the battery life is impressive while boasting six different lighting settings.
The replaceable AA batteries will last anywhere from 8 to 60 hours, which is more than enough time, no matter how bright you like it. You also have the ability to squeeze out some more battery life (and simultaneously make yourself even more visible) by utilizing the strobe setting on the headlamp. While this unit won’t light up an entire roadway, the maximum 115 lumens is more than strong enough for the beginner or neighborhood runner. We highly recommend the SmarterLife Headlamp for runners new to safety lights or city-dwellers, in particular.
The Bottom Line
If you’re a pre-dawn or evening runner, a safety light for running is essential. These are the best lights for running in the dark that you can get your hands on in 2020. Ensure you return home safely every time with the perfect running companion.