Stay Safe At Night With Reflective Running Gear

A busy schedule at work can often leave you wondering when to go for a run, and it is an easy option just to not bother at all, especially when the winter arrives and the days are short. But to keep a grip on your levels of fitness all year round, it is best to equip yourself with a few items that will enable you do exercise at night. Just like one of my previous articles about winter running gear, it pays dividends to buy some reflective running gear also. This post will give you some ideas, many of them very cheap to implement, which should make sure you are safe and seen while out running at night. I’m also going to make the assumption that you are going to run in reasonably urban areas, where you will need to avoid traffic, but importantly, where there is some light from street lighting and buildings. For the really hardcore night runners who prefer to hit the trails in the pitch black, you will need some other equipment, which I’ll cover in a future article.

Reflective Tape With Regular Running Clothing

One of the most cost-effective ways of getting your hands on some reflective gear, either for running or cycling, is to buy some reflective tape. There are several types available, from soft iron-on tape for clothing, to the adhesive Scotchlite reflective tape which you can stick onto your bike frame and seat post, or you can even use this around the sleeves of your running jacket so that you will be visible to road users when you swing your arms while jogging.

You can also get regular silver tape or pre-cut shapes from a company called Lightweights, so you can attach reflective stripes to one of your old running shirts or jackets, or onto your backpack or the sides of your shorts. These types of fixes are great if you already have a ton of running gear, and do not want to buy extras just for the reflective safety features.

Reflective Armbands And Other Accessories

When I go running at dusk, I always wear a snapband – or reflective armband – around my wrist so that car drivers can see its movement as I swing my arms. The vast majority of technical running shirts will have at least a few features to help you show up when the light is fading. Even if it means wearing a brightly colored top instead of a black one, it all helps to secure your safety. Having a pair of pop bands on your wrists just provides that extra bit of confidence that you can be seen.

There is always more that can be done though, and if you are in a running club, often they will insist that you wear something a bit more substantial that shows up bright and clear. So, although most running accessories are available in bright visible colors – for example, gloves and running beanies with reflective flashes – it is sometimes better to invest in a reflective vest which you can wear over the top of your usual shirt or jacket.

Reflective Vests And Jackets

A reflective vest or bib is an extremely cheap way of staying seen at night. Price should not be the main factor, obviously, as we are talking about safety equipment, and it is critical that whatever you wear actually does its job properly. I wear a simple lightweight high visibility vest which costs around $10. Underneath it, I wear whatever I need to suit the weather, either my running shirt or a lightweight breathable jacket.

It is a good idea to solve two problems with a single garment, as that can often be better value for money. So if – like me – you are getting some new kit together for cold winter weather running, why not make sure this new gear is also made from high visibility fabrics. Most good brands will offer a selection of running jackets for winter, which will keep you warm – and regulate your temperature while running – and some of them will also either have reflective patterns on them which light up when a car’s headlights shine on them. All the big manufacturers have realized that this is a very important aspect to consider, and so you should look for the Ronhill Vizion range, and Saucony Vizipro, Adidas Adiviz (UK), Brooks NightLife and New Balance Hi Viz ranges. They all offer high visibility clothing that you can wear all through the dark nights of winter, to retain your fitness for the following spring season.

It is important to understand that all of this clothing is ideal if you go running in town at night, with streetlights and plenty of traffic. If you need to run on the road itself, always run facing the traffic so you can take evasive action if necessary. The last thing you would want is to be smacked from behind by a car with no way to react in time.

Since all the apparel mentioned here is reflective, that means it does not provide any light of its own; it merely reflects the ambient light provided by cars and buildings. For trail running, you will need to buy your own personal lighting systems, of which there are many. Just don’t think you can get a high viz jacket and go running in the wilderness at night.

If you have any special kit you wear for safety in the dark, drop your ideas into the comments section, so others can benfit from your experience. Stay safe!


Neil (nickname Ironman) is an avid runner and sports fan, who writes about all things triathlon-related, especially running and cycling. He also writes about sports injuries and regaining fitness - mainly from personal experience rather than academic knowledge - although he does study that too!

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