Running outdoors can carry a number of benefits for athletes, including varying terrains, fresh air and potentially more calorie-burning opportunities. Unfortunately, however, the chances for outdoor running begin to dwindle, especially around the end of Daylight Savings Time. Additionally, if you already have a packed schedule throughout your day with work, family and other responsibilities, finding time to hit the road or trail can quickly turn into a challenge you'd rather not take on.
While we'd all like to log our miles under the sun, the beauty of running is that progress isn't limited to daylight hours. You're more than capable of trekking through moonlight to bolster your fitness progress and stay glued into your training passions. Running at night can also provide ample opportunities to see your environment in a, ahem, new light, as you make the most of your 24 hours with high-functioning productivity and continued workouts regardless of the ticking clock.
Nighttime running naturally requires a little more preparation, though, both for your safety and others. The easiest way to differentiate running at night as opposed to normal daytime jogs is through the gear required, and before we outline the best nighttime running essentials, there are a few factors to think about.
BEST NIGHTTIME RUNNING JACKETBrooks Run Visible Convertible Jacket Read More
BEST NIGHTTIME RUNNING LONG SLEEVELululemon SenseKnit Running Long Sleeve Read More
BEST NIGHTTIME RUNNING BOTTOMS2XU Light Speed Compression Tights Read More
BEST NIGHTTIME RUNNING CAPCiele GoCap Read More
BEST NIGHTTIME RUNNING SHOEAsics Gel-Nimbus 24 Lite Show AT Read More
What to Consider When Choosing Nighttime Running Gear
When you decide to take your treks into the twilight, personal safety becomes an absolute necessity. After all, your running conditions change drastically under the stars thanks to a lack of natural lighting, a break from normal running hours and a sense of confusion when running your typical routes — it's much more difficult to remember your surroundings in the dimly lit evening than it is in the more visible hours of the day. because of these factors, it's important to understand how nighttime running gear differs from your typical running garb.
One of the most important features of any proper nighttime running get-up is an enhanced focus on visibility. To keep yourself safe from passing cars, errant pedestrians and other structures, you want to keep your profile as visible as possible if you decide to log your routes under the light of the moon. This means employing lighting systems or high-visibility apparel that features some form of reflectivity. In terms of lighting, though, not just any flashlight or phone app will suffice.
“Lights should be seen 360 degrees around you when you run at night, so just a headlamp is not enough,” Paul Ronto, competitive runner and content director at RunRepeat.com, says. “Even with a headlamp, pedestrians are really hard to see from a vehicle.”
When looking at visibility setups, it's best to keep your head, torso and your feet in clear view. Running-specific headlamps can house both front- and rear-facing lights to keep your path lit and your profile visible, while high-vis apparel typically features reflective materials around the shoulders and torso for improved awareness. There are also plenty of clip-on light structures, like some featured in this roundup to help you stand out against the darkness.
When you run at night, you're less likely to work up a sweat from the non-existent sun above. Also, nighttime temperatures are typically chillier than those in the daytime, so it helps to run with some sense of layering when it comes to your apparel picks. I'd recommend opting for a lightweight long sleeve or jacket and some well-fitting compression tights to help combat those slightly frigid weather forecasts.
Your wardrobe doesn't have to be completely winterized, but understanding the differences in temperatures between moonlit and sunlit conditions can go a long way in making the most of every midnight jaunt.
As with any running ensemble, you want to make every step and stride as comfortable as the last, and that rings doubly true for nighttime running. Because of the added gear, you want to ensure your get-up is more cozy than cumbersome. Try and find reflective apparel that suits your needs, as well as lighting options that aren't as intrusive to your gait and running style. You also want to pay attention to any harsh corners or seams, as any abrasive patches can quickly throw off your pace and leave you wondering why you didn't simply schedule your day better for more well-lit running conditions.
How We Tested
Over the course of a month, I retimed my normal jogs and running sessions, taking to the streets under the streetlights and stars above. I made note of how comfortable and reflective each apparel pick was in reference to my surroundings, as well as how bright the lighting options made my silhouette against the darkened backdrop. I also tested a handful of accessory pieces, highlighting their convenience, safety features and more. My routes typically featured well-established, well-known twist and turns, but on a few occasions, I went exploring and took on new directions to see how safe and confident I felt when out on the road, as well.
Now, let's light the flame of a newfound discipline and shine a light on the best nighttime running essentials.
Apparel and Footwear
One of the easiest ways to help you stay safe and confident during your nighttime jogs is through proper apparel and footwear options. The below picks feature highly visible components designed to keep you comfortable and visible to any passersby as you chase down your fitness goals.
Brooks Run Visible Convertible Jacket
This lightweight outerwear from Brooks is one of my go-to’s for any evening excursion. The Brooks Run Visible Convertible Jacket provides ample reflectivity, ideal for running through urban, crowded streets. I also love the fact that when I begin to work up a sweat, I can fold the jacket into itself and transform it into a wearable pack while still maintaining that high-vis silhouette. While it’s not the best coat for colder midnight jogs — I recommend adding a layer or two in these scenarios — it’s become rather difficult to leave the house for an evening route without this impressive jacket draped across my shoulders.
Lululemon SenseKnit Running Long Sleeve
As stated before, nighttime running is not the warmest endeavor, so long-sleeved tops are my preferred pick for this discipline. I’ve really enjoyed the sleek yet comfortable fit of the Lululemon SenseKnit Collection which provides just enough compression without feeling too restrictive. This long sleeve offering delivers on breathability as well, perfect for when logging multiple miles throughout the night. According to the brand, there are also reflective notes along the shoulders for added visibility, but I wouldn’t rely on these as your sole indicator on the road. The highlights aren’t as visible under light as other picks in this roundup, so I’d recommend using this apparel option as a base layer or accessory piece to other, more high-vis wearables.
2XU Light Speed Compression Tights
For bottoms, I prefer to pair a quality pair of running shorts with a good pair of compression tights when running at night, and 2XU has quickly become the gold standard for these needs, in my opinion. The targeted compression areas provide just the right amount of support to aid in security while also allowing for a full range of motion. Additionally, the 2XU Light Speed Compression Tights also boast built-in reflectivity for added safety when out on a nighttime route. I will note, however, that you should be careful about washing these bottoms with your normal dirty laundry, as the seams can begin to falter if not cared for correctly.
One of our favorite running caps is also ideal for any nighttime running adventure. Ciele’s GoCap lineup boasts plenty of colorways and styles that are great for matching your personality to your running attire. I’ve also admired the large, reflective logo across the crown that stands out when running in low-light conditions. The COOLwick fabric profile also provides plenty of lightweight comfort as well, and the lack of plastic or cardboard components makes the GoCap easily storable. I wouldn’t recommend crumpling up this running cap too much, however, in order to preserve that signature bill as much as possible.
Asics Gel-Nimbus 24 Lite Show
This workhorse of a cushioned running shoe is also one of my favorites for midnight mileage thanks to the special Lite Show colorway. With an emphasis on visibility showcased in the vibrant yellow palette and reflective hints, the Gel-Nimbus 24 is a great shoe for tackling any nighttime training session. Outside of the visibility features, I also enjoy the plush Flytefoam Blast+ midsole that’s ideal for covering both short and long-distance routes. While the electric yellow might not be the best to pair with your normal wardrobe, for nighttime workouts, this is the kick to consider.
Shining a light on your pathway can not only make maneuvering through your nighttime running workouts easier for yourself but can also heighten your visibility to passing cars and other pedestrians on the street. Below are some key picks to help bring your after-hours training into the light, for your sake and other less enthused individuals.
BioLite HeadLamp 325
The BioLite Headlamp 325 throws an exceptional amount of light across your pathway perfect for striding through your evening routes. I also like how this headlamp is rechargeable, so you can save on replacement batteries. In fact, both the power and light source are kept at the front of this single-band silhouette, which makes for a well-balanced, comfortable fit. While the HeadLamp 325 could be enhanced with a rear-facing light structure for full 360-degree visibility, I really like the simplicity baked into this wearable and would be more than confident taking on both new and old routes with this impressive nighttime running essential.
Knog Plus Free Twinpack
Think of these pieces as the perfect taillight or headlight for your running silhouette. Boasting up to 40 hours of runtime with an integrated USB charging system, Knog’s Plus Free Twinpack is the perfect addition to any nighttime running get-up. I really like the simple toggle button that allows you to choose between the varying light patterns from steady to strobe, pulse, eco flash and more, while the lightweight frame makes these accessories practically disappear wherever you place them across your wardrobe. Be mindful, though, that the built-in clip does have a bit of space within its frame, so these might be best for clipping to thicker materials like an outer layer, waistband or shoelace.
Night Ize SlapLit Rechargeable LED Slap Wrap
Want that nostalgic feeling of slap wraps while also giving your nighttime running wardrobe an added dose of safety? This convenient and effective accessory from Nite Ize hits all those points and then some. I enjoyed how simple it was to add the SlapLit to any evening outfit, and toggling through the various light modes was a breeze, too. I will say, though, that the wrap’s length might be better suited for those with skinnier arms. I was unable to get a full wrap around my bicep, and while I never felt the device lost security, I did feel more secure when I used the SlapLit around my forearm, wrist or even my ankle.
Nathan Light Spur
No, these aren’t some futuristic addition to a cowboy costume. Nathan’s LightSpur LED Foot Lights allow you to stay visible from behind with a convenient heel-wrapping design that stays stable throughout your entire run. I was impressed by how secure the clip design felt across my shoe, even when traversing my normal hilly routes throughout Pittsburgh, PA. The three available colorways also gave this lighting accessory some personalization, which was great when light conditions changed across the incumbent fall weather forecasts. The only caveat with the Nathan LightSpur is you need to purchase two if you’d like the complete dual-spur setup, as these lights are only sold individually. Still, for less than $50 in total, it’s worth adding two to your cart.
BSeen Rechargeable LED Running Waist Belt
If you don’t like dawning light structures across your dome or over your shoes, then why not around your waist? This rechargeable LED waist belt from BSeen features a rainproof silhouette and two light modes for a variety of visibility functions. The elastic structure is comfortable across the midsection, and I especially appreciate the one-click function of the toggles. While the slim fixed buckle can be a bit irritating against exposed skin, this can be a great addition overtop your outer layer for improved safety and security as you maneuver through your favorite nighttime routes.
Other Nighttime Running Accessories
Like any other running adventure, your experience can be enhanced through the thoughtful employment of a few key accessories. Here are a handful of said add-ons to help you get the most of your routes under the stars.
Amphipod Xinglet Reflective Vest
Don’t want to spend a good chunk of change on high-vis apparel? No problem. The reflective Xinglet from Amphipod can provide plenty of reflectivity without breaking the bank. I enjoyed how easy it was to strap into this thoughtful accessory, turning any top into a well-lit pick perfect for nighttime runs. Plus, the reflective Xinglet is available in four different palettes to help you fine-tune your visibility to your normal light conditions. While not as visible as, say, the Convertible Jacket from Brooks, this can be the perfect companion to turn your normal running attire into a get-up ready for the midnight air.
Nathan Run Laces
Look, when the clock bleeds into the evening hours, the last thing you want is to spend minutes lacing into and out of your running shoes. These performance laces from Nathan alleviate that strain all while adding some much-appreciated visibility to your footwear. I really enjoy how simple the fastening system is, making hitting the road — and eventually getting out of my workout attire — a thoughtless endeavor. Plus, once you set up these laces to your liking, they mostly retain their positioning, perfect for finding that perfect lockdown feel time after time. Just make sure the extra fabric is well-secured before takeoff, as I did notice it can jostle and hang over your upper, leading to potential missteps down the road.
Sabre 2-in-1 Pepper Gel with LED Armband
This is the type of add-on that’s great to have, but hopefully, you never have to use it. Especially for female athletes taking to the streets after dusk, this 2-in-1 Pepper Gel package from Sabre can provide the peace of mind you need when trekking through less memorable routes and roadways. The canister carries a 12-foot range, able to dispel any unwanted passersby from a safe distance, and the included armband features high-vis notes to keep you noticeable along your paths. While the band might not fit some biceps for convenient storage, if you’re nervous about nighttime running, the Sabre 2-in-1 Pepper Gel package is one accessory you don’t want to leave the house without.
Spibelt Reflective Running Belt
When on a nighttime run, it helps to carry some identification, as well as your smartphone for emergencies. Unfortunately, carrying these items on your person can be cumbersome, especially when decked out in proper running attire. I’ve been a fan of SPIbelt’s offerings for a while, and this reflective running belt is great for midnight jogs thanks to its spacious pouch and bounce-free design. The reflective finish across the storage compartment provides just the right amount of reflectivity, too. I can’t say this fits all smartphones or thicker, overpacked wallets, but if you need to carry a few essentials, look no further.
Swiftwick Aspire Four High-Vis Running Socks
Running socks can be the exclamation point to any athletic wardrobe, and these highly visible yellow Aspire Fours from Swiftwick have quickly become a go-to for my nighttime training sessions. The high-vis yellow fabric makes standing out a breeze, and I especially enjoyed the fine-tuned compression across the midfoot that creates a firm yet responsive fit. I will say, though, that the visibility enhancement is only due to the yellow colorway, as there’s no reflective material built into the construction. I’d say these are great accessory pieces to other more visible pieces outlined above, but if you really want to stand out at night, consider these footwear accessories, for sure.