The Best Lights for Running

Disclaimer: This article includes affiliate links. If you choose to purchase any of the products we’ve discussed in this article, we may receive a small commission.

Early morning or late night running can be an amazingly relaxing experience. But when it’s dark, running on the side of the road or crossing a street can put you in danger of an accident. It’s best to let others know you’re there by wearing quality running lights and reflective gear.

Finding the right product can be difficult. How much light do you need? How should you wear it? How long will the battery last? These are only a few of the important questions.

We’ve compiled a handy guide for you, so you’ll know what to look for. We’ve also made a list of the best lights, so you don’t have to look any further.

The Best Running Lights reviewed:

Buyer’s Guide

The variety of running lights is impressive these days. From vests to belts and shoe lights, you can get any kind of protective illumination to carry on your body. It’s essential to think about which placement is most suitable for you.

These are some considerations before buying:

Use

What kind of use are you planning to give your portable light? Are you a runner, a walker, or a construction worker? Are you looking for a light to attach to your dog’s leash or one to carry in your hand?

If you’re a runner, what kind of surface will you be running on? The position and angle of the light can have a significant impact on your comfort. If you’re mostly running on pavement, you can probably cope with a low power light. If you’re a hardcore trail runner, you could need something more potent.

Placement

The placement of the light can make a huge difference in how well you see ahead and how well others will see you. These are the main types available on the market.

  • Headlamp: The most traditional running light is the headlamp. It’s versatile for many activities and terrains, and the high angle of the light helps you map your surroundings well. 
  • Chest lamp: These lamps are easy to carry around, and you can forget you’re wearing them. They are usually big and give you a nice angle to see everything around you.
  • Handheld lights: Holding a flashlight may seem strange at first, but you’ll quickly get used to it. The great thing about them is that you’ll be able to move the light around as needed.
  • Shoe lights: Shoe lights are small and lightweight, and you’ll quickly forget you’re even wearing them. The lower angle of the light makes it harder to have a 3D vision of the terrain, but they’re usually enough for paved roads.
  • Vests: They created reflective vests to help you be seen. They often have lights on them to give your security a boost.
  • Versatile: You can move these lights around freely and attach them to your clothes. They’re a great option for people who need different angles in varied settings.

Being Seen vs. Seeing

This is a crucial decision to make before your purchase. Are you looking for a light that will make you visible to cars to increase your safety? Consider products with lots of reflective surfaces or that have a light on the front and the back.

Do you run on pitch-black country roads or trails? You may need a wide, potent light that helps you see all the rocks and roots around you.

Most of the models on our list also have a flashing or strobe mode that helps you be seen easier. This is a great feature in case of an emergency or to make you visible to drivers.

Weight

Thanks to the development of LED technology, they now develop lights in super small sizes and featherweight. For runners, this is a key feature.

A running light obviously should be more lightweight than a regular flashlight. The position of the light on your body will make a big difference in what weight is the right amount.

A headlamp, for example, will need to be lighter, to avoid it from slipping down or even giving you neck and back pains. A running vest or a light that’s strapped around your chest distributes the weight more evenly around your upper body. These kinds of lights can be slightly heavier, as long as they don’t move around.

Running belts are a good option. You can handle more weight around your waist, but it will bounce if you don’t strap it on tight.

Battery 

With a bigger size, you’ll often get more battery life. It’s harder to power a ton of lumens on a small battery, so many tiny lights might not run long on a single charge.

Another vital thing to consider with the battery is whether it’s rechargeable, especially if you run a lot with a high-lumen light. Having to buy batteries to keep your light working might make you abandon your new lamp altogether.

Many of the models included in this list are rechargeable, and the ones that are not, use basic, easy-to-find batteries.

Learn everything you need to know about Batteries with our Ultimate Guide to Batteries!

Weatherproofing

If you live in Southern California, you probably don’t have to consider the probability of a surprise shower you when you’re running. Most of us do, however, have to run through some occasional bad weather. 

Most of the models included in our list are water-resistant, being able to handle fog, rain or even storms without a problem.

How durable is it? What does IPX6 mean? Read our Ultimate Guide to the ANSI/PLATO FL1 Standard symbols!

Fit

The fit is especially important for products like vests and belts. If the device is too big, you’ll have a harder time adjusting it to make sure it doesn’t move. If it’s too small, you’ll feel uncomfortable and constrained—something you don’t want hindering your performance.

Brightness

Energy-efficient LED lights express the brightness of the bulb in lumens, not watts, like with older flashlights. Lumens are the unit of measurement of artificial light, so look for them when buying.

The higher the number of lumens on your running light, the brighter it is.

Different Modes

Many running lights have adjustable settings for higher or lower lumens. They might also have a flashing or strobe mode, or even different velocities for pulsing light.

These kinds of lights also often have a dimmer red light as an emergency option or to make yourself more visible on the road.

The Best Running Lights 

We’ve gone through dozens of products to find the best running lights in every shape and form. There are different options for every type of runner, every taste and budget, from belts to headlights and vests.

Best Armband Light for Running 

Emmabin LED Armband

If what you’re looking for is being seen, these slap bands are a nice option. Apart from running, they’re great for keeping you or your loved ones safe. You can attach them to your child’s backpacks or your dog’s leash, or wear them on your wrists when you go for a run.

Each pack contains four bands, in orange, green, pink and blue. The bands are elastic to fit all sizes.

The lights use one replaceable CR2032 lithium button battery, which lasts about 50 to 70 hours. The lights have a flashing and a continuous mode.

The bands are a little over an inch and a half in width, and 13.8 inches long. They’re suitable for a wrist or an ankle, but not long enough for most people’s upper arms. Especially if you want to have a light running jacket on with them, the band will probably slide off.

These bands mostly make you visible to others, but won’t help you see the terrain as effectively as other lights.

Pros:

  • Four armbands in each pack.
  • The colors are a nice addition.
  • Affordable.
  • Different light settings.

Cons:

  • The band is short.
  • Bright enough to be seen, but not to guide you.

Best Belt Light for Running 

Lightwalker Night Running Light Belt

A running belt is a great option if you’re looking for a device that lets you see any irregularities on the road. This one’s a quality rechargeable option in that category.

This light is dazzling, with 250 lumens of output. That’s enough to illuminate the entire road ahead of you. It will also last an incredible 4-5 hours, even on the highest setting.

You can use the different settings to dim the light or to put on the flashing mode. This is a nice security addition, especially for the light in the back to help you be seen.

The belt is water-resistant, so you can use it on a rainy day. You can also adjust it from 28 to 40 inches. Its 5.9 ounces is a decent weight that doesn’t bother you while running.

Pros:

  • You can change the angle of the light.
  • Amazing brightness.
  • Good battery life.
  • Light in the front and back.

Cons:

  • The belt is not fully adjustable for smaller waists.
  • The back light is of poor quality.

Best LED Vest for Running 

ShineU LED Reflective Safety Vest

A shiny LED vest is another lightweight product for runners who want to be seen in the dark. This one is a nice option that’s reflective and has small LED lights along the straps. It weighs 7.4 ounces, and it distributes equally the weight over your upper body.

The vest is a reliable safety addition for different activities, not only running. Dog walkers, hikers and people who work on the side of the road like construction workers will find this product useful.

It’s rechargeable, and you’ll get five to seven hours on one charge. It’s also adjustable for different sizes. You can adjust the waistband to go from 27 to 41 inches.

Pros:

  • Lightweight.
  • Adjustable.
  • Great for outdoor work.

Cons:

  • The quality is not great.
  • Some charging problems.

Best Belt Pouch Light for Running

Sport2People LED Reflective Running Belt Pouch

If you’re looking for a light that doubles as a pouch for carrying around your personal belongings, this could be just the thing. The belt is rechargeable, and you can get up to 12 hours of battery life on one charge.

You can adjust the light to slow flashing, faster pulses or a steady mode. The belt only has a light in the front, and it’s quite dim. It will help you to be seen by passing cars, but will not guide your stride very well.

The look and the bright neon color of the belt are nice. The light, though, will move with your steps, especially if you have heavy items in the pouch. It can be a little hard to get used to the bouncing, but you can reduce it by adjusting the belt tightly.

The pouch pocket is a smart addition to this product. At 8.3 inches long, it’s big enough to fit most phones. It will also help you carry your keys or some emergency cash on your runs.

Pros:

  • The pouch keeps everything handy.
  • Looks nice.
  • Rechargeable.

Cons:

  • Battery life could be better.
  • The light is quite dim.

Best Chest Light for Running 

RODH Running LED Safety Lights

This vest-type light with three straps is super bright and helps illuminate your way when running in the dark. The brand reports a maximum of 500 lumens of output in the front light, which is a little unbelievable. It also has a red LED light in the back to keep you safe.

The light weighs 5.6 ounces, and it distributes the weight along your upper body so you won’t feel it. The three straps also guarantee good adjustability for minimum movement when you’re running. They’re adjustable and flexible, so you won’t feel it holding you back.

It’s easy and comfortable to use. A simple press of a button will switch between the different modes, from high to low and strobe mode.

This light is rechargeable, so you won’t have to replace the batteries continuously. It’s water-resistant so that you can take the light with you even in the rain.

Pros:

  • Light on both sides.
  • Comfortable straps.
  • Dazzlingly bright.
  • Great quality.

Cons:

  • The straps can be a little tight.
  • The angle is not adjustable.

Best Clip-On Lights for Running 

Ultraspire Lumen 115 Clip Light

This light works with a magnetic clip-on mechanism that you can attach to any belt or even the waistband of your running shorts. It’s lightweight enough at 1.6 ounces, so it shouldn’t drag your shorts down.

You can adjust the brightness of this model from seven to 44 or 115 lumens of output. You can also check out the advanced option for 180 lumens.

If you’re running on trails, this light may not be sufficient. Usually, 115 lumens would be enough for any terrain, but the light seems dimmer than the stated output. You may have trouble seeing rocks or roots.

The battery life on this model is fair, with up to 60 hours of light in the low setting and eight in high. It uses one standard AA battery, which is easy to find in any supermarket.

Pros:

  • Featherlight.
  • The clip.on mechanism is solid and secure.
  • Battery life.
  • Water-resistant.

Cons:

  • Not bright enough for trails.
  • Hard to adjust the angle.

Best Flashlight for Running 

Nathan Zephyr Fire 100

A handheld flashlight is ideal if you want to move the light quickly in any direction. This one also attaches to your wrist so you won’t have to hold it when you run.

The attaching mechanism is easy and comfortable. The 108 lumens worth of output are enough, but the light is a narrow spotlight type. This might make it less suitable for runners.

Some of the best things about this product are its extra features. The eight lumens of red light in the back make sure you’ll be seen from both sides. There’s a flashing strobe option for extra safety, and it even includes an emergency siren.

Pros:

  • Rechargeable.
  • Extra safety features.
  • Comfortable, no-grip straps.
  • Great quality.

Cons:

  • A slightly higher price range.
  • Handheld flashlights need some getting used to.

Best Headlamp for Running 

Black Diamond Sprinter Rechargeable Headlamp

If you’re a fan of a good headlamp, this 200-lumen light could be your best option. It has a powerful LED light in the front and a red light in the back. The beam is oval-shaped and long to give you a wider view of your surroundings.

The light is rechargeable with a basic micro USB charger. It also resists water and even stormier circumstances.

It’s a bit heavy at 6.4 ounces, but it balances the weight between the front and back of the lamp. You can still easily adjust the lamp so that it doesn’t move around.

Pros: 

  • Adjustable angle.
  • The light is dazzlingly bright.
  • Wide beam.
  • Red security light in the back.

Cons:

  • Pricey option.
  • A little heavy.

Best Knuckle Lights Running 

Knuckle Lights Advanced

Knuckle lights are another favorite of many runners. It takes some getting used to them and the movement of the light, but you’ll get the hang of it after a couple of miles.

This comes with two lights in each pack, with a top output of 140 lumens each. The straps are silicone and adjustable, and they have three light settings. There’s also a flashing mode in the back to help keep you safe. The beam is wide, which is key when you’re running, and your hands are moving from front to back.

This product is weather-resistant and usable in cold conditions. The battery will last you a full four hours on the highest setting, which should get you through most runs.

The charging dock is a nice addition. Leave it strategically positioned, somewhere close to the door, and directly put the lights in to charge when you come home.

Pros:

  • Sturdy build.
  • Charging dock.
  • Bright light.
  • Wide beam.

Cons:

  • You have to grip the light, which can be uncomfortable.
  • Pricey.

Best Light Package for Running

Runners Goal Reflective Running Gear Set

Sometimes, especially on dark, country roads, it’s not enough to just carry one light in your hand. The more light and reflective gear you use, the safer you’ll be on your runs.

Therefore, it’s good to have a complete set of running light gear to position all over your body. The best one we found comprises a vest, a headlamp, a strobe light set and reflective armbands.

Runners Goal has thoughtfully assembled the package to cover all your needs. The headlamp will help you see your step, and the strobe lights and reflective gear make you visible to cars from far away.

Pros:

  • Complete package for more protection.
  • You can attach the strobe lights wherever you want.
  • The headlamp is dazzlingly bright.

Cons:

  • The vest may have some quality issues.

Best Shoe Lights for Running 

Night Runner 270 Shoe Lights

Shoe lights are another great innovation permitted by lightweight LED technology. The Night Runner is the original shoe light featured on Shark Tank, and it’s easy to see why it’s so popular.

Your feet need to be as free as possible of excess weight to make sure you don’t get tired too fast. Dragging your feet can also affect your gait. That’s why a shoe light needs to be featherlight. This model weighs only 0.32 ounces, exceeding all the expectations.

The Night Runner lights have a sturdy clip-on mechanism that guarantees you won’t lose them on the way. The standard, flashing and low light modes help you see and avoid irregularities and potholes and be seen by cars. You can leave them clipped on to your shoes, so you won’t forget to keep them with you.

However, these lights are best when used on pavement — the low position is not the best for trail running. You won’t have the angle to see small rocks or roots as clearly as you can with a higher light.

Pros:

  • Incredibly lightweight.
  • Sturdy quality.
  • Comfort, not keeping lights in your hands or head.

Cons:

  • The battery life is not the best on these lights.
  • Angle not the best for trail running.

Best Headlamp for Trail Running 

Klarus HR1 Plus

If you’re looking for a headlamp that you can take on the toughest training in outdoor terrain, you should check out this Klarus HR1 Plus. It’s a lightweight and sleek headlight that won’t bounce or move around in the middle of your run.

There are three different output settings, for 30, 150, and an incredible 600 lumens. The battery can take four hours of use with the highest setting.

You can adjust the beam from a spotlight to a wide floodlight or a dimmer red light. This headlamp is ideal for any terrain. It’s also waterproof against rain and sweat.

The headband is comfortable but tight enough so it won’t immediately stretch out. This is especially important since this model doesn’t have the usual band going over the head to hold the lamp still. At 1.62 ounces, it’s also a nice weight and won’t move around on your head when you run.

It’s more expensive than your basic lights, but not too much for a product of this value.

Pros:

  • Amazing brightness.
  • Adjustable beam.
  • Three varied output settings.
  • Attractive.
  • Water-resistant.

Cons:

  • Higher price point.

Best Value Chest Light for Running 

The Ultra Runner X96 Chest Light

A good chest lamp makes it easier to forget you’re wearing an additional light, but the position is still high enough for you to see everything. The straps are reflective, providing you extra visibility.

With a maximum output of 96 lumens, this product will provide enough light for most runners’ needs. The low mode of 46 lumens and flashing strobe mode makes it versatile for different safety needs.

This product uses three AAA batteries, which you’ll find in most supermarkets. You’ll get about 3.5 hours of battery light on the top setting. 

Chest lamps are more comfortable for many users than headlamps, but they can take some getting used to. They tend to bounce a bit if you’re not able to adjust the straps tight enough. This model’s straps are flexible, so you can adjust them pretty tightly around your chest for more comfort when running.

Pros:

  • Affordable.
  • Comfortable, flexible and reflective straps.
  • Solid product and bright light.
  • Versatile output settings.

Cons:

  • The beam is narrow.
  • Can’t adjust the angle.

Best Value Headlamp for Running

Olympia EX080 Lightweight Water Resistant LED Headlamp

For a quality, affordable headlamp, this is a great option. It’s not the brightest, but a maximum output of 80 lumens is enough for most runners, especially for pavement and more even surfaces. The lamp also has three different output settings that make it versatile enough.

This lamp works with three AAA batteries that are easy to locate pretty much everywhere. The max runtime on the high setting is about eight hours.

This model is waterproof and impact-resistant for a drop of about three feet. It has the strap on top of your head, which might feel uncomfortable at first but helps the lamp stay still.

The coolest and most useful feature of this lamp is the sensory activation mode. You can turn the light on and off by waving your hand in front of the infrared sensor. It’s a great addition if you’re running in a colder climate with gloves on.

Pros:

  • Affordable and sturdy for the price.
  • Sensory activation.
  • Decent battery life.
  • Water and impact-resistant.

Cons:

  • A little heavy for a headlamp.
  • Not rechargeable.

Conclusion

This list includes high-quality products that are many nighttime runners’ favorites. However, some are above the rest.

The Nathan Zephyr Fire 100 is the best running flashlight and overall the best product we found to review. It’s comfortable and versatile, and the strap holds the light on tight so you won’t have to grip it. The extra features include an emergency siren for added security.

If you want to add a headlamp to the mix, try the Black Diamond Sprinter Rechargeable Headlamp. It’s bright, wide beam allows you to see perfectly, not only your next step but also your surroundings. There’s also a red security light that will enable you to be seen from the back.

Share on email
Share on print