Does your busy schedule make you run at odd hours when the sun’s not shining? Running at night can have its advantages, but it can also be very dangerous. It’s important to get a running light so you can easily be seen by passing drivers. But there are tons of different running light options available and it can be overwhelming to determine which to choose.
After reviewing page after page of reviews, spec lists and feedback from real runners, we’ve made it easy for you to choose. Our top pick is the Knuckle Lights Advanced. These running lights give you a good mix of important features like 360-degree visibility, good battery life and light beam control.
Check out our full review of the Knuckle Lights Advanced and 10 other great options. We also give you some tips to choose the best type of running light where you’ll find some innovative options you never knew existed!
Best Types of Running Lights
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Knuckle Lights Advanced
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BSEEN LED Armband Light
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Night Runner 270
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Nathan Zephyr 300
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Benefits of Running Lights & Why Everyone Should Have One
Everyone who runs at night should have running lights, there’s no question about it. You’re literally risking your life by not using them. Running without a light makes it hard for passing cars to see you. It’s also harder for you to see any obstacles or holes that might be in your path.
While on your run, you want to concentrate on running, not on worrying whether drivers can see you or if you might twist your ankle because you didn’t see the pothole coming up. Having to worry about things like that will affect your pace, concentration and overall run quality.
If you’re not going to get running lights for yourself, do it for your loved ones. They’ll sleep much better knowing that you’re safe and visible while running at night.
Types and Styles of Running Lights
There are several different types of lights for running in the dark. They vary based on their position on your body, the type of light they provide and where it’s directed. Check out below the 6 best types of running lights along with our top picks for each.
Headlamps are the first choice for many runners. They strike a good balance between being able to control where the light is directed while still having hands-free operation. Headlamps usually have a bright and focused light that allows you to easily see what’s in the path ahead.
- Easy to see what’s in front of you
- Easy to direct the light by moving your head
- Might not be comfortable for some
Our Top Headlamp Pick: Foxelli Headlamp
Knuckle lights are nice if you’d prefer not to wear a headlamp, still want the control to direct your light where needed, but don’t want to risk your light falling out of your hands. These strap onto your knuckles so you won’t lose your grip and drop them. Because they’re on your hands, it’s easy to move your hands to shine the light where you want it
- Easy to put on
- Easy to control
- Light can be seen from all-around
- Might be awkward for some having these strapped on your fingers
Our Top Knuckle Light Pick: Knuckle Lights Advanced
Arm bands work really well to increase your visibility. In fact a lot of women like to wear their arm bans with their running watches. You can check out the watches they recommend here at the Stay on Trails blog. They can come in different colors and even with flashing lights to help you really stand out at night time. Although they don’t provide a lot of illumination on the path ahead of you, they usually have a much longer battery life which makes them great for longer runs in the dark
- Easy to see from all sides
- Longer Battery Life
- Does not light up the path in front of you
Our Top Arm Band Pick: BSEEN LED Armband Light
Try the Shoe Lights if you don’t want to have something strapped to your body or would prefer not to hold something in your hands. They’ll work well to illuminate not just the general area in front of you, but also the ground where your feet are landing. That’ll help you avoid getting injured by stepping on something you didn’t see.
- Easier to see where your feet are landing
- Good forward visibility
- Make sure you get a good pair so they don’t fall off your shoes
Our Top Shoe Light Pick: Night Runner 270
You’ll love a chest light if you’re looking for the best all-around visibility while not having to worry about something falling off. It’s worn like a vest and has LEDs in the front and back. That way no matter which direction a car is coming from, they can easily spot you. Some even come with an extra light on the front to help illuminate the area ahead.
- Good visibility from all sides
- Worn as a vest
- Some have bright lights on the front to illuminate the area in front of you
- Some may not adjust properly for your body type
Our Top Chest Light Pick: Tracer 360
Handheld running flashlights aren’t your normal flashlight with a slippery metal shaft. These are designed specifically to fit in your hand and be easy to hold even while moving. They provide maximum control of where you want your light to shine.
- Easy to control
- Better visibility of what’s in front
- Designed to not slip out of your hand
- Not hands-free
Our Top Handheld Flashlight Pick: Nathan Zephyr 300
Top Rated Running Lights on The Market
1. Knuckle Lights Advanced – Our Top Overall Pick
The Knuckle Lights Advanced have the best balance of all the features. Yes, they’re not “hands-free,” but they strap around your knuckles so you technically don’t have to hold them. The silicone adjustable straps fit nicely on most hand sizes and can even be used on those cold early-morning runs when you’re wearing gloves.
You don’t have to worry about fiddling with batteries since these come with an easy-to-use charging dock. Just place the lights on the dock and they’re ready and charged for your next run.
Are you a hardcore runner who runs at night even when it’s raining. The Knuckle Lights Advanced won’t let you down. They are IPX6 waterproof so they can be used in any type of weather.
One disadvantage of some running lights is how the light shakes and bounces as your body moves. The Knuckle Lights Advanced help prevent this with their ultra-wide light beams which shine in all directions and help provide a more steady light even when your arms are moving quickly.
Features: Simple to use, charging station, 3 light settings, wide-angle light shines in all directions
- Easy to use charging dock
- 280 Lumens
- Long battery life
- Not quite hands-free
2. Nathan Zephyr 300 – Best Handheld
If you want bright light you can easily control to light the path ahead of you, you’ll love the Nathan Zephyr 300. It provides a powerful 300-lumen beam directly ahead so you can easily see where you’re going. The Zephyr also has a red LED light on the back which makes you visible to any cars coming up behind you.
Although it’s a light you hold in your hand, the Zephyr has a comfortable and adjustable hand strap that makes it virtually impossible to drop. All you have to worry about is where to direct your light.
Charging is easy with a USB rechargeable battery. Just plug it into a USB port after your run and it will be ready for the next one.
Another great feature of this running light is the emergency siren. There’s a conveniently placed button built into the grip that you can press to sound an alarm if you’re feeling unsafe. If you’re using a handheld light and wanting water you may want to carry a running hydration pack you can see our recommendations here.
Features: Front and rear LCDs, IPX4 water-resistant, rechargeable batteries, emergency siren button, USB rechargeable battery
- 300 lumens
- 5hr battery life on the brightest mode
- Easy to carry
- Emergency siren if you get into trouble
- Not hands-free
3. Night Runner 270 – Best Shoe Light
The Night Runner 270s are great if you want to light up the ground in front of you without having to hold or strap something to your body. These easily strap to your shoes to provide a beam of light directed at the path ahead.
Being attached to your shoes, these will definitely get shaken around, but they can take it. These have been thoroughly tested in all types of conditions, so whether you are on the nighttime streets of LA or in the backwoods of Maine, these are rugged and ready.
Recharging is a breeze thanks to the micro USB charging port. Plug them in and soon they’re ready to give you up to 5 hours of light for your next run.
The Night Runner 270s made their big debut on Shark Tank as a first of their kind hands-free running light solution. These are the originals, so don’t waste your money on cheap imitations. Some runners like to use a shoe light and their running watch that provides a flash when running you can read more about them here.
Features: Standard, high, burst and flashing light modes, 360-degree visibility meters, fast-charging with micro USB
- Easy to strap onto your shoes
- Some prefer not to have anything extra strapped to their shoe
4. Foxelli Headlamp – Best Headlamp
If hands-free is your thing, then the Foxelli Headlamp is for you. It has some really nice features and all at an amazingly low price.
However you hold your head when running, you can be sure to shine your light where needed thanks to the 45-degree adjustable headlamp body. Adjust it accordingly and the 180-lumen focused beam can shine on objects up to 300 feet in front of you.
Never worry about running out of juice on a long run since the powerful lithium battery has a life of up to 40 hours! Just be sure to get the USB rechargeable version of this headlamp so you don’t have to deal with changing physical batteries. Just plug it in and let it charge.
Some headlamps tend to be a little bulky which can make them awkward when wearing, but the Foxelli headlamp is light and comfortable. It only weighs a little over 2 ounces. With its lightweight design and comfortable head strap, you might even forget to take it off at the end of your run (you’ll look weird walking into the office with this on).
Run in the rain, sweat profusely and spritz yourself with water, it won’t damage your headlamp. Its IPX5 water-resistant protection keeps it safe from splashing or spraying water.
Features: USB rechargeable, adjustable head angle, 120-day money-back guarantee, really good battery life
- Comfortable headband design
- Amazing battery life (up to 40hrs!)
- IPX5 waterproof
- Great price
- Not the brightest of our options
5. BSEEN LED Armband – Best Armband
BSEEN LED Armbands provide long-lasting visibility. These are great if you run somewhere that’s already partially lit, but you still want to be sure you are seen by drivers.
The bright LEDs provide 360-degree visibility from all sides. The solid beam, slow and fast flashing light modes can be customized to your favorite color.
The slap-band style adjusts easily to different arm sizes and also provides for a variety of uses. Getting tired of wearing them around your arms? Try them on your ankles. Want extra visibility on one side in particular? Wear them on an arm and ankle on the same side of your body. You may also like our guide on the best hydration belt guide here.
One potential disadvantage is the lack of rechargeable batteries. Fortunately, it uses a small lithium battery that you can easily buy in multi-packs and lasts between 50-70 hours a charge. That means that if you run 3 hours a week, the battery should last at least 4 months, so you won’t have to change it that often.
Features: High-visibility LED, up to 70hr battery life, 3 flashing modes
- Long battery life
- Easy to use (Can even be worn around the ankle)
- Good visibility
- No rechargeable batteries (But they’ll probably only need changed once every 4 months)
6. Tracer 360 – Best Chest Light
The Tracer 360 really helps you get noticed! Drivers will be able to see you from up to a quarter of a mile away thanks to the combination of the 360-degree LED lights and the 3M reflective bands.
The LED bands have a multi-color control and form an X pattern over your front and back, increasing the size of the visibility area. While running, you can switch between colors or modes easily with the push of a button. Adjust it to flash in a variety of colors to really stand-out or set it to stay lit in one solid color.
Running in the dead of winter? The Tracer 360 will fit over your winter coat or hoodie. 10K on a hot summer night? Adjust it down to snugly fit over a t-shirt or tank top. It’s made from a sports elastic mesh that eliminates chafing and makes it comfortable to wear in any situation.
Features: 6 different colors and 5 flashing modes, 360-degree visibility, additional reflective chest belts, fits over any clothing
- Highly adjustable
- Easy to control
- Up to 40hrs battery life
- No rechargeable batteries (Based on your use, you may have to change them once every 2-3 months)
7. Ikaama Headlamp – Super Bright!
With the Ikaama headlamp, you can run almost as if it were daytime. It packs 3 LED bulbs with a maximum brightness of 6000 lumens! That’s plenty to light up objects several hundred yards in front of you and give you a really clear view of everything immediately ahead.
That strong beam of light will surely get drivers’ attention, but just in case it has a red safety tail-light on the back to make sure you’re seen from behind.
The Ikaama headlamp comes with rechargeable batteries that will last for 6-9 hours on the brightest setting. That might not seem like much when comparing it to the Foxelli headlamp’s 40hr battery life, but remember – 6000 lumens! That extra brightness needs extra power. If you don’t plan on doing ultra-marathons at night, battery life won’t be a problem. Just put them on to charge after your run and you’ll have plenty of juice for the next run.
The extra LED lamps and larger battery size mean this is bulkier than other running headlamps, but with the adjustable straps and balanced weight distribution, many runners don’t mind.
Features: 6000 lumens, rechargeable batteries, 4 light modes, waterproof, adjustable head, 3 LED bulbs
- Very bright
- 90-degree adjustable head
- Comes with rechargeable batteries
- Bulkier than others
- Battery life is only 6-9 hours (because it’s so bright)
8. Glovion LED Armband – Rechargeable Armband
If you want an armband that’s rechargeable, the Glovion LED armband is a solid option. Its simple design makes it easy to use, put on and adjust to your arm size.
The LEDs provide 3 different lighting settings depending on how much you want to stand out and to make sure you get optimum battery life.
Plug it into a USB port to recharge and in 2hrs it’s ready for another run. With each charge, you’ll get up to 10hrs of battery life so you can be sure to have plenty of juice even for your longest nighttime runs.
Features: 3 different lighting settings, 5-10 hour battery life, USB charging
- Rechargeable through USB
- Enough battery life for several runs
- Constant, quick flash and slow flash options
- Only comes with one band (If you want two… make it a double order)
9. PETZEL Tikka – Bright Without the Bulk
The Petzel Tikka is a great option for a simple, compact and quality built headlamp. You can adjust three different lighting modes depending on if you want to see what’s in your proximity, directly ahead of you or at a distance. This is super easy to adjust while on the move simply by pressing its single button to move throughout the settings.
Not sure if you’ll need rechargeable batteries? Not a problem, the Tikka is compatible with normal AAA batteries or with Petzel’s CORE rechargeable battery that you can purchase separately.
Despite its simple and light design, it has great battery life with up to 120 hours on the low setting. Even on the maximum 300-lumen setting you’ll still get 2 hours of battery life which is enough for all but the longest runs.
Features: Quality construction, bright 300 lumens, up to 120 hours battery life on low setting
- Good battery life
- Bright LED
- Good quality construction
- Can be used with a rechargeable battery
- Rechargeable battery not included (but can also be used with AAAs)
10. SGODDE Chest Light – Hands-Free Illumination
The SGODDE chest light for running is an interesting combination of LEDs that provide good 360-degree visibility while at the same time lighting the road ahead of you.
The back has 8 red LED warning lights that make you easily visible for drivers coming from behind. On the front you get a bright, 500 lumen white LED on the chest strap that will light up a large area ahead of you so you can see any obstacles in your way.
Run in the heat, cold, rain or snow thanks to its IPX4 water resistance and the elastic bands that easily adjust depending on the size and type of your clothing.
The 3-5hrs of battery life isn’t as good as some of your other options, but unless you’re running long marathons at night, you shouldn’t have a problem. You may also be interested in our recent post on the best Garmin running watch guide here.
Features: Red LEDs on the back, Bright light on the front, USB rechargeable, water-resistant, rotating front lamp
- Good combination of visibility and illumination
- USB Rechargeable
- Easily adjustable strap
- Takes a long time to charge
11. GearLight S1 LED Shoe Light – Simple and Effective
The Gearlight S1 LED running light will give you simple, no-fuss protection. The red or green LED can easily be seen from several hundred feet away and do a great job of letting drivers know where you are.
These aren’t designed to completely light the path in front of you, so they’re best for when you’re running on city streets or other places that already have some night time illumination.
They don’t have the option of using rechargeable batteries but with up to 100hrs of battery life you’ll probably only need to change them once every couple of months, depending on how long your runs are. Here at Stay on Trails recommends investing in one of the best running watches, so you can keep track of your long runs.
You don’t have to keep them on your shoes, there are tons of cools uses for these. Strap them to your backpack while hiking, to your shirt while biking or even to the side of your boat while out on the lake. It’s hard to beat their versatility and low price point.
Features: 3 light modes, lightweight and versatile, up to 100hrs battery life
- 3 light modes (steady, flash and strobe)
- Simple operation
- Long battery life
- Small and lightweight
- No rechargeable battery (they last up to 100hrs so you may only have to change them once every couple of months)
What Are the Best Lights for Running at Night? – Final Thoughts
Our top overall pick is definitely the Knuckle Lights Advanced. These running lights give you a good mix of important features like 360-degree visibility, good battery life and light beam control.
There are few things more dangerous than running in the dark, and we want to make sure you know exactly what you need in order to equip yourself. No matter which of these running lights you choose, we know you will be safe and more easily seen by passing traffic. You can see more here.