Nathan Magnetic LED Safety Light Review

The second item in iRunFar’s series on night safety is the Nathan Magnetic LED safety light. While Nathan makes some […]

By on January 22, 2009 | 2 comments

Nathan SportsThe second item in iRunFar’s series on night safety is the Nathan Magnetic LED safety light. While Nathan makes some of the best hydration systems on the market, an iRunFar reader found that Nathan’s magnetic safety light did not live up to company’s great reputation. Lynn from the blog I Swim Bike Run went so far as to say “the magnetic LED light is not an effective safety device.” Keep reading to find out why.

Nathan’s Magnetic LED Safety Light

Nathan highlights the following as features of Magnet LED safety light:

  • Magnetically attaches to reflective vests, clothing and bags
  • Up to 1,200 foot visibility
  • Illumination can last up to 60 hours
  • Blinking or solid lights
  • Reflective for added safety
  • Replaceable battery (CR2032 coin battery)

Operation and Use
Here’s what Lynn had to say about how to operate Nathan’s magnetic light.

My first challenge was trying to figure out how to activate the light. The instructions state to “remove small plastic ring around switch.” What plastic ring? Where’s the switch? I have no idea what those instructions mean. I finally figured out lightly pressing the middle of the triangular piece turns on the device on as a solid light. Press the triangle’s center again and the LEDs blink. Press the center of the device a third time to turn it off. Easy enough. The magnet is large and snaps into place easily. It stays in place even through a heavy sweatshirt and it’s practically weightless, so you can easily forget you’re even wearing it.

Visibility Testing
Here at iRunFar we love it when a reader takes a reviewing gig and “runs with it.” That’s exactly what Lynn did when he challenged Nathan’s claim that its “reflective products provide visibility at a minimum of 1,200 feet (roughly a quarter-mile). That’s the distance a driver moving at 60 mph needs to detect, react, and maneuver in time to avoid disaster.” In challenging Nathan, Lynn first offers the following commentary:

First of all, most people have no business running on a road at night with traffic moving at 60 mph (except in an endurance relay race). The problem with this product is that it is just too small to be noticeable. I usually wear bright colored clothing even when I run on the streets during the day. Drivers are never looking for runners on the road at night. You really need to make a statement to be noticeable at night, especially if cars are traveling at 60 mph.

Then he performed his own test of Nathan’s claim:

So I measured off 1,200 feet on the fairly well lit city street in my neighborhood and asked my wife to drive by at night as I was jogging with the light on my back attached to a reflective vest. I’ll assume any safety conscious runner would have the good sense to wear a light with a vest and other reflective gear. My wife and I also switched roles and I drove by as she wore the light and vest. At 1,200 feet, the light is entirely unnoticeable. At half that distance, it is barely discernable, while the reflective vest is quite visible at 600 feet. I’m sure the light is much more noticeable on a dark country road, but so is all the other reflective gear you should be wearing.

Price and Availability
Nathan LED Safety StrobeLynn found this product online priced anywhere from $11.99 – $15.99. Nathan also sells a clip-on Micro LED Strobe (light on the left), which the company claims to be visible from up to 2,500 feet and sells for less than $7 on Lynn suggests that for half the price of the magnetic LED and visibility at more than twice the distance, the strobe seems like the way to go if you’re looking for supplemental safety gear from Nathan.

Anyone used either of Nathan’s safety lights? If so, how did they work for you?

Bryon Powell

Bryon Powell is the Editor-in-Chief of iRunFar. He’s been writing about trail running, ultrarunning, and running gear for 15 years. Aside from iRunFar, he’s authored the books Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running, been a contributing editor at Trail Runner magazine, written for publications including Outside, Sierra, and Running Times, and coached ultrarunners of all abilities. Based in Silverton, Colorado, Bryon is an avid trail runner and ultrarunner who competes in events from the Hardrock 100 Mile just out his front door to races long and short around the world, that is, when he’s not fly fishing or tending to his garden.