Beginner’s guide to running safely in the dark

reflective running vest and ankle bands

If you work a nine to five, chances are you’re running in the dark November through February thanks to the end of Daylights Savings Time. That means cars, scooters, skater bros, and other mindlessly motoring around people have a much harder time seeing you. Fortunately, there are plenty of budget-friendly options for reflective gear to keep you safe while you’re out there crushing it.

Reflective Vests

You’ll get the most bang for your buck with a reflective vest, however, not all vests are created equal. There’s the “singlet” style, which is eerily similar to the safety patrol belt you may or may not have worn in elementary school. I wasn’t chosen as a safety patrol. Scarring childhood memories aside, a vest or singlet is up to your personal preference.

I wanted something with pockets or storage, so that ruled out singlets for me. I also didn’t want to spend much, so I opted for the Amphipod Full-Visibility Vest.

I liked it because, as the name suggested, it has a ton of reflective material on it. You’re about as close to glow-in-the-dark as you can get. Plus, it has a zipper pouch in the front, which is awesome since lady’s running tights don’t usually have pockets larger than a pinky nail. I’ve kept keys, my ID, an extra ear warmer, snacks, and more in that pouch. It’s super handy and surprisingly roomy.

It goes over your head and adjusts with straps that wrap around your waist. There are two sizes, Small/Medium and Large/XL. I’m typically an extra small or small in shirts, so I opted for the Small/Medium. It’s a little big on me even when I’m bundled up. If you’re small and want a super snug fit, you may need a different vest that comes with more size options. I can’t speak to how the sizing is for anyone larger, so if you have feedback for that or suggestions for a more size-inclusive option please let me know so I can update this post!

reflective gear for beginner runners 1 reflective vest reflective leg bands night running safety
Looks fly…
reflective running gear
…and they weren’t lying when they called it full visibility!

Reflective Arm or Leg Bands

What are those snazzy pink bands in the photo? If you grew up in the 90s, you should know. For some unknown reason, Nathan (a company, not a random man) decided to use the glorious technology of snap bracelets for reflective gear. My 90s nostalgia initially attracted me to them, plus they come in lots of fun colors and are just over $10.

I do like that they fit around my ankles, because I feel like there’s a greater chance of a car’s headlights catching my moving feet instead of my wrists. I got used to having something around my ankles pretty quickly, but make sure to wear them over your leggings or sleeves. I found that they made me a little bit itchy once I got really sweaty if I wore them right on my skin. Here is another option with better reviews, but I haven’t personally tried them.

reflective gear for beginner runners 3
I wore the darkest clothes possible to demonstrate safe nighttime running. It’s a good thing I’ve got all this reflective gear.

The bottom line

I wear both the vest and the anklets because my neighborhood is poorly lit and drivers here have a very loose interpretation of what red lights and stop signs mean. The entire get-up is not too ridiculous looking, and the entire set-up will run you about $40.

No matter whether you’re running around the block, live in the city, or are out in the ‘burbs, wearing reflective gear is the easiest way to stay safe when you’re getting those winter walk-runs/jogs/runs in. Stay safe out there and happy running!

Published by Laura Cardon

Laura Cardon moved to Colorado as an adult and quickly realized how difficult it was to get started exploring the outdoors in a state full of experts. She founded Outdoor Beginner in 2014 to fill the gap in beginner-friendly content for camping, hiking, skiing, and other outdoor activities. In addition to Outdoor Beginner, she coaches beginner trail runners and works at Runners Roost in Golden, Colorado, where she lives with her spouse and toddler.

4 thoughts on “Beginner’s guide to running safely in the dark

  1. I am so not looking forward to these kind of days! Right now, if I wake up too early to run I might have to worry about my visibility. Luckily our streets all have sidewalks and the path is well lit in such a big city. But I’m surprised this is so cheap! That’s awesome!

    Unrelated: I’m going to Denver in March and I might want to talk to you about where I can get my snowshoe on. I remember a post about that from earlier this year. 🙂

    1. Yes, absolutely! I am hoping to get on some more level trails than the one I tried out last winter. Happy to give you any advice 🙂 And yes, that’s the only thing I hate about winter…it’s dark when I wake up to work out now!

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