Best Reflective Running Gear of 2024

Here are the iRunFar team’s picks for the best reflective running gear to help you be seen while you run at night.

By on January 9, 2024 | Comments
Best Reflective Running Gear - testing Brooks jacket for visibility while running at night

Hallie Taylor tests a Brooks jacket for visibility while running at night. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Often, runners struggle to find enough time in the daylight to fit in their workouts; other times, we just love to run in the dark — and either case is where the best reflective running gear can help you out. Running before sunrise or after sunset brings on a different set of challenges — and joys! — than running in the daylight.

Visibility is key when choosing gear for night running, and most runners opt for having a strong light source and wearing reflective clothing. When considering gear for pre-dawn or post-dusk adventures, runners should choose items that maximize their visibility for motorists, cyclists, and other runners. There are many options for adding reflectivity from head to toe but making your torso as reflective as possible is important. Having a light source can also help you be seen in addition to lighting the route in front of you.

In this guide, we’ve included many options for you to consider based on your preferences. We have offered our recommendations for the top items. Our team loved the Noxgear Tracer2 reflective vest, the WildSpark Reflective Short-Sleeve Running Shirt for warm runs in the dark, and the Amphipod Micro-Light Flashing Arm and Ankle Bands for easy additional light to help you be seen.

Check out our selections for the best running reflective gear and make selections that best suit your needs to be safe on the roads and trails in the darkness.

For more background information, please see our buying advicetesting methodology, safety tips, and frequently asked questions below the picks.

Best Reflective Running Gear

Best Reflective Running Gear - a red light will help you stay visible while running at night

A red light will help you stay visible while running at night. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Best Reflective Vest With Included Light: Noxgear Tracer2 ($84)

Best Reflective Running Gear - Noxgear Tracer2 - product photo


  • Comfortable and lightweight
  • Multiple options for illumination
  • A good option for cyclists
  • Long battery life


  • It may be too expensive for some

The Noxgear Tracer2 is an exceptional option when you want to make sure that you’re seen in the dark. Weighing only seven ounces, it provides exceptional visibility at a very reasonable weight and is comfortable to wear. It offers various options for illumination and can change between eight colors while flashing or remaining solid. All options are very visible. The vest sits comfortably on the runner’s torso and will ensure they’re seen by motorists or cyclists approaching from any direction.

While this vest is excellent for runners, we also see it as a solid option when runners get on their bikes for an early-morning or late-night cross-training ride. The impossible-to-miss lights on your back are an excellent safety measure for traffic approaching behind you.

The battery will last up to 20 hours and can be recharged with the provided USB-C charging cable.

Shop the Noxgear Tracer2

Best Reflective Minimalist Vest: Amphipod Xinglet Reflective Vest ($35)

Best Reflective Running Gear - Amphipod Xinglet Reflective Vest - product photo


  • Easy on, easy off
  • Lightweight
  • Adapts to a T-shirt or multiple layers seamlessly


  • Would need another light source to see the road ahead

The Amphipod Xinglet Reflective Vest is a good solution for runners looking for an inexpensive option for being seen during nighttime runs. The vest is easily adjustable to fit any size runner and can easily fit over a single shirt or multiple layers.

The clips on the front make it easy to put on or take off the vest, a simple yet effective distinction from similar vests in this category. This vest comes in four reflective colors that provide visibility from all directions and has extra reflective material on the front and back. The weight and compactness of this vest make it easy to put into a pack after the sun has come up and you don’t need it anymore.

Shop the Amphipod Xinglet Reflective Vest

Best Reflective Pack: Nathan QuickStart 2.0 6 Liter Hydration Pack ($100)

Best Reflective Running Gear - Nathan QuickStart 2.0 6 Liter Hydration Pack - product photo


  • Good reflectivity
  • Plenty of storage space
  • Multiple options for hydration


  • Cumbersome to clean inside bladder

The Nathan QuickStart 2.0 6 Liter Hydration Pack fits the bill precisely for runners’ needs during longer pre-dawn or post-dusk runs. It is reflective without being an eyesore, with reflective material placed strategically around the pack to keep you visible from all directions.

There are several different hydration options, and a variety of pockets make it easy to carry whatever you need for your run. Two back storage pockets are ideal for extra clothing layers or nutrition, and a separate zippered pocket can securely stash a phone. The pack comes with a 1.5-liter water bladder and front pockets to carry soft flasks to accommodate any hydration system.

The moisture-wicking fabric and breathable mesh shoulder straps make it comfortable in all conditions, and runners who select this vest for their night runs might find it so useful that it becomes their go-to vest for any time of day.

Shop the Nathan QuickStart 2.0 6 Liter Hydration Pack

Best Reflective Jacket: L.L.Bean Bean Bright Multisport Jacket ($100)


  • Highly visible
  • Suitable for cooler weather
  • Plenty of pockets, including one for a phone


  • Sleeves are long

While there are many options for reflective jackets on the market, the L.L.Bean Bean Bright Multisport Jacket stood out from the rest that we tested for this guide with its exceptional reflectivity. The jacket lives up to its name and works well for those wanting to be seen at night.

While most comparable jackets just use reflective trim or highlights to increase their visibility, this one goes all in with its completely yellow reflective shell and 14 points of reflective trim strategically placed around the jacket for maximum visibility. The combination of the two optimizes the overall low-light visibility of the jacket.

This wind and moisture-resistant jacket can keep you warm on chilly morning and evening runs. A back vent allows for airflow and can help manage sweat and body temperature. With plenty of pockets, including a zippered one for your phone, this jacket covers all the bases and more.

Our only gripe was that since this jacket is designed for cycling, the sleeves are slightly longer than we’d like. But it’s a small price to pay for a jacket that ticks so many other boxes.

Shop the Men's L.L.Bean Bean Bright Multisport JacketShop the Women's L.L.Bean Bean Bright Multisport Jacket

Best Reflective Short-Sleeve Shirt: WildSpark Reflective Short-Sleeve Running Shirt ($40)Best Reflective Running Gear - Wildspark Reflective Short Sleeve Running Shirt - product photo


  • The discreet reflective pattern makes it a good daytime shirt as well
  • UPF 50+ rating
  • It feels like a typical running shirt, in a good way
  • Good price


  • If it’s cold out (when people mostly run with no light), you’ll need to layer quite a bit underneath

When it comes to staying visible in low-light conditions during the warmer months of the year, the WildSpark Reflective Short-Sleeve Running Shirt will ensure you’re lit up by any passing car headlights on the road or headlamps on the trail. Made of polyester fabric, this shirt wears comfortably with a fairly standard cut — it basically feels like any other running t-shirt, in a good way. The black base fabric is covered in reflective hits that light up in the dark. In the daylight, they look like just another pattern. This design allows the shirt to be reasonably stylish during daylight hours while doing its job once the sun sets. The large area covered by the reflectivity increases the chances of you being seen.

In addition to being visible at night, this shirt has a UPF 50+ rating,  so it’ll protect you from the sun’s rays when running during the day. We found the fabric to be quite moisture-wicking, and the mesh underarms help with temperature regulation and venting when it is hot out. The fabric is treated with an antimicrobial coating to help prevent stink, a common problem with polyester shirts.

Shop the WildSpark Reflective Short-Sleeve Running Shirt

Best Reflective Short-Sleeve Shirt – Runner-Up: Proviz Reflect360 Short Sleeve Top ($50/men’s, $60/women’s)

Best Reflective Running Gear - Reflect360 Short Sleeve Top - product photo


  • Well-placed striping for reflectivity
  • Comfortable
  • Good value for the price


  • Lots of color options

The Proviz Reflect360 Short Sleeve Top comes in an array of color options, all with reflective striping to keep you safe and visible in low light.

The reflective striping incorporated on the shirt’s arms, hips, collar, and chest are placed to maximize the chances that they’ll catch a car’s headlamp rays. The material has multidirectional reflectivity and shines when highlighted by headlights, street lamps, or another runner’s light source. Additionally, the reflective logos add increased visibility.

The fabric is highly wicking and quick drying, making this top a comfortable option for running in the dark during the hotter months of the year.

Shop the Men's Proviz Reflect360 Short Sleeve TopShop the Women's Proviz Reflect360 Short Sleeve Top

Best Reflective Long-Sleeve Shirt: WildSpark Reflective Long-Sleeve Running Shirt ($44)

Best Reflective Running Gear - WildSpark Reflective Long Sleeve Running Shirt - product photo


  • Casual appearance even in daylight
  • High UPF rating for sun protection
  • Good price


  • Not super warm

The WildSpark Reflective Long Sleeve Running Shirt is a perfect option for chilly morning or evening runs where you need a little extra warmth and visibility. Like the short-sleeved version of this shirt reviewed above, this one has a discreet, reflective design that can be worn in full-light conditions without it being an obviously reflective shirt. The UPF 50+ fabric protects from the sun, so this shirt could be used as a sunshirt and a low-visibility running shirt.

The polyester material is treated with an antimicrobial coating that helps repel odors and stays free from wrinkles. It is also resistant to snags, so you can safely run through overgrown trails with it without worrying about ripping the sleeves. The lightweight fabric doesn’t retain heat, making this shirt an excellent option for those slightly chilly but not cold runs.

Shop the WildSpark Reflective Long-Sleeve Running Shirt

Best Reflective Long-Sleeve Shirt – Runner-Up: Illuminite Long Sleeve Reflective Men’s Warm-Up Tee ($59)

Best Reflective Running Gear - Illuminite Long Sleeve Reflective Mens Warm Up Tee - product photo


  • Competitive price point
  • Colorful options
  • Thumbhole keeps sleeves in place


  • Depending on the climate, shirts won’t be an option for parts of the year

The Illuminite Long Sleeve Reflective Men’s Warm-Up Tee is a great long-sleeve tee for a very reasonable price. The shirt comes in three different color options, including bright neon yellow. It is breathable and wicking to help you manage your sweat during a run, and the sleeves have large reflective stripes from neck to wrist. Since the human eye is drawn to movement, by highlighting the movement of the arms of a runner, a relatively small amount of reflective material can make a big difference in visibility.

Similar to Illuminite’s short-sleeve version of this shirt, which we tested but did not include in this guide, the long-sleeve shirt’s reflective arms can be seen well from the front, back, and both sides. In testing, we found the short-sleeve shirt to be uncomfortable around the shoulders, while the long-sleeve shirt had a good fit and was comfortable, which earned it a spot in this guide.

Designed for running in cooler temperatures, the shirt has an extended sleeve and thumb hole. The polyester-spandex blend wicks sweat well.

Shop the Men's Illuminite Long Sleeve Reflective Men's Warm Up Tee

Best Reflective Gloves: Reflectoes High Visibility Reflective Running Gloves ($25)

Best Reflective Running Gear -ReflecToes High Visibility Reflective Running Gloves - Product photo


  • Brightness
  • Very affordable
  • Comfortable


  • It is not meant for sub-freezing temperatures

The Reflectoes High Visibility Reflective Running Gloves are an excellent option for those on a tight budget or who do not want to break the bank for reflective running gloves. While these gloves aren’t as warm as some of the others we tested, their visibility in the dark was second to none. Their bright color will keep a runner visible in low-light conditions, and the reflective material will light up brightly in the headlights of a car or oncoming runner.

These running gloves slide off and on easily and have capacitive-touch technology, so you can use your phone without taking them off. We found the reinforced lining of these gloves to be perfect for warding off chilly temperatures, but they weren’t warm enough when temperatures dropped below freezing.

Shop the Reflectoes High Visibility Reflective Running Gloves

Best Reflective Hat: Nathan Reflective Quick Stash Run Hat ($30)

Best Reflective Running Gear - Nathan Reflective Quick Stash Run Hat - product photo


  • Fun, reflective styling
  • Stylish
  • Stash pockets


  • Brim won’t block sun

The Nathan Reflective Quick Stash Run Hat is an excellent option for runners who may shy away from wearing obviously reflective gear in daylight because of its questionable appearance. This hat is made of a plain black material with stylish reflective outlines and doesn’t stand out as anything special during the daytime.

The reflective pattern is sneakily subtle, barely perceptible until light shines upon it in the dark. Runners can certainly look good in the hat during dark or well-lit runs. But before dawn or after dusk, it provides a decent reflective cast to warn others of your presence.

Another hidden gem of the hat is the stash pocket on each side. These can hold essentials such as keys, cards, I.D.s, or gels. And when it’s hot out, the lightweight wicking material protects from the sun. Additionally, the mesh sides of this hat will keep you cool. This running hat is so comfortable that it barely feels like wearing a hat, even after hours out on the trails. The brim is quite short, and it didn’t do a great job blocking the sun, but this is probably a non-issue for a hat designed to be worn in mostly low-light conditions.

Shop the Nathan Reflective Quick Stash Run Hat

Best Headlamp: Black Diamond Sprinter 500 Headlamp ($80)

Best Reflective Running Gear - Black Diamond Sprinter 500 Headlamp - product photo


  • 500 lumens light up the trail or road
  • Super comfortable
  • Flashing red light in the back signals presence to those behind you


  • It doesn’t work on a bike helmet

Headlamps are an important piece of equipment for running in low light or total darkness, and the Black Diamond Sprinter 500 Headlamp provides light both in the front and the back.

This headlamp stood out with its unique design, with a regular light source in the front and a flashing red light on the back. The dual lights help a runner be seen from multiple directions, keeping them visible to both oncoming traffic and cars coming from the rear.

The headlamp is comfortable, easy to adjust, and will provide increased security while you are getting in the early morning miles on the trails or roads. With 500 lumens, you can see far in the darkest conditions. This headlamp can run on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery or regular AAA batteries.

Shop the Black Diamond Sprinter 500 Headlamp

Best Waistlight: UltrAspire Lumen 600 4.0 Waist Light ($160)

Best Reflective Running Gear - UltrAspire Lumen 600 4.0 Waist Light - product photo


  • Comfortable fit
  • Lots of light


  • Heavy and bulky

Whether you’re looking to maximize your visibility to others, have extra light to see while running in the dark, or don’t like wearing headlamps as a light source, the UltrAspire Lumen 600 4.0 Waist Light can serve multiple purposes. We named the predecessor to this light our top pick for waist lights in the iRunFar best running headlamps guide for good reason, and this new version only improves on the previous.

The 600 lumens are incredibly bright, keeping you visible and illuminating the trail or the road ahead. Waist lights are great for reducing shadows on trails, especially when used in tandem with a headlamp. We found the waistband of this light to be quite comfortable, and it didn’t cause any abdominal distress, even during long night runs. It’s easy to adjust the light’s angle while you run to optimize the beam direction for uphills, downhills, and flats. The powerful battery is easy to swap out and charges with a USB-C cord. There’s a removable pocket on the belt that we use to store snacks and other small items.

This waist light isn’t going to be the lightest weight item in your running kit, and it may not appeal to those who count grams obsessively and want the lightest of light options for low-light visibility.

You can read our full review of the UltrAspire Lumen 600 3.0 Waist Light.

Shop the UltrAspire Lumen 600 4.0 Waist Light

Best Strobe Light: Avanto Lifestyle Clip-On Light Pro ($30)

Best Reflective Running Gear - Avanto Lifestyle Clip-On Light Pro - product photo


  • Easy to transport
  • Adaptable, can clip on a wide range of objects
  • Charges via standard USB cable


  • Not a primary light source

The Avanto Lifestyle Clip-On Light Pro is a unique option for those who want extra light and visibility in addition to their headlamps. This light uses a magnet to attach to any thin piece of clothing you wear and can easily be used with running shorts, tights, a pack, or even your hat. At just 300 lumens, this light doesn’t provide as much light as most headlamps or waist lights, but it’s a great secondary light source to help others see you. It is USB-chargeable and is small and light enough to throw into a running pack if there’s a chance that the sun will set before you get home.

Shop the Avanto Lifestyle Clip-On Light Pro

Best Reflective Bands: Amphipod Micro-Light Flashing Arm and Ankle Bands ($16)

Best Reflective Running Gear - Amphipod Micro-Light Flashing Arm and Ankle Bands - product photo


  • Inexpensive
  • Easily transportable
  • Simple to put on and take off


  • Will need additional reflective gear and light sources


The Amphipod Micro-Light Flashing Arm and Ankle Bands are good supplemental options for runners or cyclists to wear at zero dark thirty. The bands put off enough light to allow a runner to be seen in low-light conditions and come in three colors. Because they are small and light, they can easily be stowed in a pack for runs that may have gone just a little bit long.

These bands aren’t bright enough to be your sole source of reflective gear, but they are a valuable accessory to have on you in high-traffic areas to warn others of your presence.

They are easy and comfortable to strap on an ankle or wrist, and at just $16, they are a good value for those looking for a little extra safety on a run or bike ride.

Shop the Amphipod Micro-Light Flashing Arm and Ankle Bands

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Reflective Running Gear

Reflective Clothing

There are several important factors to consider when choosing the best reflective running gear for your needs. Your running locations will help inform the type of clothing needed to keep you seen.

On roads, you will want to ensure that your gear will ensure you are visible to drivers whose ability to see may be compromised due to the time of day. On trails, especially during hunting season, you will want gear that makes it 100% clear you are a human and not a deer, elk, or bear. Focus on reflective garments on your torso, like the Illuminite Long Sleeve Reflective Men’s Warm-Up Tee — this is the best way for the reflective properties of clothing to show you as a human on the move.

As with any running clothes, consider the temperatures you wish to run in these outfits. A comfortable, moisture-wicking, highly reflective T-shirt, like the Proviz Reflect360 Short Sleeve Top, may be perfect until temperatures plummet. Similarly, a long-sleeve reflective shirt could be the ideal solution during cooler early-morning or late-night runs but would be too warm during some parts of the year. A reflective jacket like the L.L.Bean Bean Bright Multisport Jacket is excellent for cold-weather runs.

Reflective Running Gear You Wear Over Your Regular Running Kit

Plenty of options are available for runners who prefer to strap on a reflective material or a light source rather than rely on their outer garments for safety and visibility. When choosing a light source, consider whether you want it to be battery-powered or rechargeable via a USB port. Some runners may prefer a lightweight vest, like the Amphipod Xinglet Reflective Vest, whose sole purpose is to be reflective. Others may want one with flashing lights, like those on the Noxgear Tracer2, for an extra measure of security.

For longer outings, runners may want to consider a vest or pack that is not only reflective but allows them to carry their nutrition, hydration, and other supplies like backup batteries. The iRunFar recommendation for a running vest for longer outings in the dark is the Nathan QuickStart 2.0 6 Liter Hydration Pack. It not only allows a runner to bring along all the necessary gear but also provides supplemental reflectivity.


Don’t forget that you want to be seen in the dark and need a source to lighten the path in front of you. There are several options for light sources, the most popular being the headlamp. The Black Diamond Sprinter 500 Headlamp is the best we have tested, providing both lighting in front of the runner and a red light in the rear to keep a runner seen by traffic approaching from the rear. Other options to consider include waist lights, like the UltrAspire Lumen 600 4.0 Waist Light, or a handheld flashlight.

The Right Amount of Reflectivity to Be Seen

When determining the proper amount of reflectivity to be seen, iRunFar recommends erring on the side of caution. Wearing an extra reflective device is better than having an issue due to your presence not being recognized by a driver, animal, or passerby. To determine the right amount of reflectivity for your outing, factors to consider include the amount of natural light available, the presence of street lights if road-running, the amount of projected traffic, and the frequency of which you expect to be crossing paths with potential dangers. The lights of the Noxgear Tracer2 will keep you seen, but they may be overkill in some situations. A lightweight reflective vest like the Amphipod Xinglet Reflective Vest can provide a high level of safety in a compact and lightweight package.

Best Reflective Running Gear - testing reflective running gear at night

Jeff Rome wears a reflective Brooks jacket. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Visibility Gear for the Roads

When running on the road, runners should be aware that potential danger can come from a variety of angles and choose the best reflective running gear to be seen from any side. A runner may be in a motorist’s blind spot or obstructed from view. In addition to the challenges associated with having to drive in the dark, some drivers may also be sleepy, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or consumed with their phones. Whether alert or distracted, human response times can be much slower at night than during normal waking hours.

As runners, the best preventive measure is to be extra cautious and ensure they are seen as early as possible. That may include having gear beyond a headlamp and a reflective shirt. A vest with flashing lights, such as our pick for the best reflective vest, the Noxgear Tracer2, will help alert passing motorists to your presence.

Additionally, there are other items, such as the Amphipod Micro-Light Flashing Arm and Ankle Bands, which are simple yet effective in reflecting eye-catching light to signal the runner’s presence to those nearby.

Visibility Gear for the Trails

Trail runners don’t have to worry about motorized vehicles invading their space when out on trails. They do, however, need to ensure they communicate their presence to others enjoying the area, and the best reflective running gear makes it easy to do so. A combination of a good light source and reflective materials on your person is recommended to do this effectively. The Black Diamond Sprinter 500 Headlamp is the best option to illuminate your path and signal your presence to those around you. While a headlamp will light your way, reflective gear will communicate that you are a human in movement. Effective reflective gear can include a vest, shirt, or hat, like the Nathan Reflective Quick Stash Run Hat, ankle and wrist bracelets, and more.

Why You Should Trust Us

The iRunFar team is composed of road runners, trail runners, and ultrarunners with a collective 150-plus years of running experience. We run at all times of the day before the sun rises in the morning and after it sets at night, and we know our audience is getting in their workouts around the clock. That’s why we created this reflective running gear guide. We tested dozens of items in low-light and dark conditions, from headlamps to strap-on ankle bracelets to vests to shorts, gloves, and more, to offer advice about the best reflective running gear. We also wore the clothing during the day to see how it performed in full light.

We evaluated each item based, first and foremost, on its ability to keep the runner safe. We continually asked ourselves whether a product’s reflective quality would ensure an approaching motorist, fellow runner, or animal would see the runner.

For gear that illuminates the road ahead, we wanted to determine which items provided the best light. For all items, we also considered the comfort, ease of use, weight, and price to come up with our recommendations.

Safety Tips for Running in the Dark

Many runners pound out their miles before sunrise or after sunset, especially during the winter months when days are short. When light is limited, runners face two issues that are more challenging than they would be during the day.

The first is the ability to be seen. Whether you are a road runner who encounters traffic or a trail runner who shares space with wild animals and other trail users, it is critically important for your presence not to surprise others. A combination of reflective clothing, like the WildSpark Reflective Long Sleeve Running Shirt, and lights on the torso, such as the Noxgear Tracer2, can help others see you.

Secondly, and just as importantly, runners need to ensure they can see where they are going. Besides being dark, a runner is likely to be more tired than usual when running early in the morning or at night. This combination of dark and fatigue can lead to the runner having more difficulty navigating, failing to see things in their path, and responding more slowly to obstacles. This could lead to falls or getting lost.

Here are some safety tips to consider before going out, whether before dawn or after dusk, on roads, trails, or a combination of both.

  1. Bring a buddy, or at least let a loved one know where you will be and when to expect you to return. These are good recommendations to follow at any time, especially when conditions are more dangerous.
  2. Even when running in a well-lit area, bring your own light source, like the Black Diamond Sprinter 500 Headlamp.
  3. Bring an extra set of batteries for your headlamp for long runs, just in case you need a backup.
  4. Dress to be seen. Plenty of reflective options are outlined in this guide, including shirts, shorts, jackets, and other gear items. Everyone has their own preferences of what to wear to ensure they are seen in dark conditions. Choose wisely and prioritize your torso since it has a large surface area and is at eye level for many motorists, making it easier to see. A shirt like the WildSpark Reflective Short Sleeve Running Shirt is a great way to increase your overall visibility. For added visibility, ankle or wrist bracelets, a reflective hat, and other supplemental pieces of reflective gear are wise additions.
  5. Bring additional nutrition and hydration in case you get lost or are out longer than anticipated. For example, if you plan a two-hour run, consider bringing enough food and hydration to get you through at least four hours.
  6. Bring extra clothing layers. While pre-dawn runners should experience increasing temperatures, those heading out at night are likelier to encounter falling temperatures. And, especially in the mountains, a thunderstorm can emerge at any time. Extra layers will protect you against the elements should you need them.

Best Reflective Running Gear - Running on sidewalk at night

Visibility is important when running at night on roads and trails. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Frequently Asked Questions About the Best Reflective Running Gear

What should I wear running at night?

When choosing items to use in low-light or dark conditions, focus on wearing reflective gear, like the Proviz Reflect360 Short Sleeve Top, and bringing a reliable light source, like the Black Diamond Sprinter 500 Headlamp. You will want to get a good idea of how the temperature may change during your run so that you can be prepared to shed a layer, add one, or even change into rain gear if there is a storm. A jacket, like the L.L.Bean Bean Bright Multisport Jacket, is a great outer layer option.

If temperatures are cool, the basics don’t deviate from daylight runs — shorts or tights, shirt, jacket, sneakers, and running socks. What is different, however, is the need for your clothing of choice to be reflective, ideally focusing the reflectivity around your torso to improve your chances of being seen.

This guide offers detailed suggestions in more than a dozen categories to help you decide what will work best for you as you navigate the roads and trails in the dark.

How can I be seen running at night?

There are two broad categories in which runners can improve their chances of being seen at night. The first is to have a light source like a headlamp, like the Black Diamond Sprinter 500 Headlamp, or a waist light like the UltrAspire Lumen 600 4.0 Waist Light or flashlight. The second is to wear reflective gear that can identify you as a runner to oncoming traffic, other runners, cyclists, hikers, and even animals on the trails.

How do runners stay safe in the dark?

In addition to reflective gear and having a good light source, there are some measures runners can take to be safe — at any time of day or night. Having a couple of the Amphipod Micro-Light Flashing Arm and Ankle Bands can make a big difference if you get caught unexpectedly.

Letting a loved one know where you will be and when to expect you back is always a good idea.

Additionally, some additional items you can use in an emergency are recommended. Those include a charged cellphone, whistle, and backup light source. Depending on where and how long you will be running, you also may want bear spray, a water filtration system, an emergency blanket, a lighter, and an extra layer of clothing.

Additionally, knowing your surroundings before you head out is highly advisable. Not only will previous knowledge of the route minimize your chances of getting lost, but it will also help you navigate the trail or road. Regardless of whether a run in the dark is on a familiar route or you’re exploring a place for the first time, adjust your pace accordingly. This is not the time to set a land-speed record. Safety first!

Are reflective items essential if I have a strong light source?

Yes, absolutely. A strong light source is an excellent start. However, even the best light source may lose battery power, have a technical issue, or otherwise fail when you need it the most. A lone headlamp may also not be recognized as a runner by a passing motorist, while a lit or reflective vest, such as the Amphipod Xinglet Reflective Vest, will convey the human shape.

A light vest or reflective clothing can also help you be seen from behind. That’s important, as other runners, cyclists, or motorists may be coming from different directions.

Best Reflective Running Gear - staying reflective and visible while running at night

We recommend choosing gear that allows you to stay reflective and visible while running at night. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

How do I choose the best light source for running at night — headlamp, waistlight, or other options?

When considering a headlamp or waistlight to purchase, look for one with many lumens; 600 lumens or more is preferred. Light sources come in a variety of options. Some are powered with disposable batteries, and others are rechargeable, typically with a standard USB cable. If you tend to go on long excursions, a battery option may be more practical since you can carry extra batteries and replace dead ones if necessary. Our testers named the Black Diamond Sprinter 500 Headlamp their favorite for running at night.

Also, consider your personal preference for comfort. When possible, try on the headlamp or waist lamp. Keep in mind you will be wearing the device for hours. They are adjustable, of course, but if you don’t like how it feels on your body for a few minutes at the store, it may be a distraction — or worse — when you run for hours in the dark.

I often run on roads in the dark. What special considerations should I make?

Not only do runners experience slower response times during nighttime hours, but motorists do too. The longer it takes a driver to see a runner in the dark, the less time they have to react to their presence. Even if runners follow proper protocols, such as running against traffic, inattentive drivers can jeopardize your safety. Therefore, doing as much as possible to be seen is important. In addition to a proper headlamp, a lighted vest to draw attention to yourself will maximize your chances of being seen. Being lit up by the Noxgear Tracer2 can help a driver see you from far away and avoid you.

I often run on trails in the dark. What special considerations should I make?

Focus your preparations on two key areas: make sure you can see the trail in front of you with a reliable light source, and ensure others can see you by wearing a lighted vest or reflective gear.

A powerful light source is the top priority, and we recommend the Black Diamond Sprinter 500 Headlamp and the UltrAspire Lumen 600 4.0 Waist Light. You will want the device to cast a wide glow to illuminate as much of your surroundings as possible. Be sure to test the device before going on a dark trail for a long run. A short run around your dark neighborhood would be ideal. That way, you can get a feel for the settings, their fit, and more in a low-stress environment instead of experimenting as you go deep into the dark woods.

Beyond that, it is still important to be seen. Even if dangerous animals are not a concern, there may be other runners, mountain bikers, and hikers out there, too. Wear a vest with flashing lights or reflective gear to alert others to your presence. Light vests are preferred as they will make you more visible and can serve as a makeshift backup light source in case your primary light source goes kaput.

Can I wear too much reflective clothing?

There’s no such thing as being too visible when running in the dark, especially in high-traffic areas. While too much light or reflective clothing could be considered distracting to others if you’re running on trails, don’t worry about overdoing it on streets when there are cars and other motor vehicles around. Wearing a reflective jacket, like the L.L. Bean Bean Bright Multisport Jacket, paired with the Noxgear Tracer2, can increase your visibility. On trails, a reflective vest like the Amphipod Xinglet Reflective Vest paired with a Black Diamond Sprinter 500 Headlamp could be plenty. Having the best reflective gear for running can make a big difference in safety in any condition.

Call for Comments

  • Calling all runners who get their miles in well before the sun comes up — or goes down. What are your tricks for making sure others see you?
  • Let us know how you approach training when your runs take place in the dark. Is this intended training for overnight races? Or is it a matter of fitting in your workout due to family, work, and other obligations?
  • Add your favorite reflective and visibility gear to the comments section.
Henry Howard
Henry Howard finds joy as an ultrarunner, running coach, and writer who has combined those passions into his RunSpirited website.