Run in the Dark? 11 Reflective Running Gear Picks to Stand Out

If you run in the dark, do you wear reflective running gear to stand out?

Kind of sounds like we're about to lecture you like a concerned parent, right?

Here's the thing...

  • It's still dark outside whether you run early in the morning or at night.
  • In mid-January, there's still months of pitch black mornings and evenings ahead of us. 
  • And there's just no telling what might happen if a distracted driver, wildlife, cyclist, or even another person doesn't see you.

If you want to stand out in the dark, check out these top reflective running gear picks.

The trouble with running in the dark...

It’s not easy to keep training through the changing of the seasons.

Our circadian rhythms fight us every step of the way, begging runners to put aside their ambition for a while and stay in bed.

But runners don’t tend to be the type to heed Mother Nature.

Rain, snow, sleet, violent wind…we’ll brave it all for the sake of getting our miles in. We’re nothing if not tough.

So what’s a little darkness got against us?

A lot, as it turns out. The dark poses more of a threat to everyday runners than nearly anything else in this sport. 

  • It’s hard to both see and be seen. 
  • A reliable headlamp can help, but mostly just on your side of the equation. 
  • One bobbing orb of light isn’t necessarily enough to ward off tired drivers and wandering wildlife. 
  • It doesn’t matter how well you can tell what’s ahead if they can’t immediately pick you out of the shadows. You’re fast, but they’re faster. 

The best way to stay safe while running in the dark...

...is to adopt an entirely new sense of fitness fashion and deck yourself out in reflective running gear.

The name says it all: 

  • Reflective fabrics catch the light in your environment and reflect it back toward the source. 
  • Reflectivity is the perfect safety tool for runners because it’s discreet until it’s not. 
  • You won’t feel weighed down or have to run around shining like a Rockefeller Christmas tree, but you’ll light up the night as soon as a car’s headlights cross your path. 

Build your own reflective running outfit.

There’s something on this list for every runner in any climate, so you won’t ever slip under the radar.

(Plus...we all love a good excuse to get more gear…so treat yourself—for safety’s sake.)

1. Best Reflective Gloves: Nathan HyperNight Reflective Convertible Mitt

I don’t know about you, but my hands are the very first thing to get cold on a run.

That’s why the Nathan HyperNight Reflective Convertible Mitts were a no-brainer for me.

Running in the dark makes gloves a must anyway, so why not pick a pair with added benefits?

  • They’re good for anything from brisk mornings to light snowfall, thanks to the optional mitt cover for extra warmth—which rolls into a tiny pocket on the back of the hand when not in use. No flapping around with every step! Details like that make a real difference late into a long run when every little thing becomes an annoyance. 
  • The reflective patterning makes your hands stand out well in the dark as your arms pump back and forth. 
  • Wicking and weather-resistant fabric on the mitt prevents chaffing from sweat as well as dry skin and rashes from the wind. 
  • And for my favorite little feature: a chamois patch on the thumb for wiping away the dribbles streaming from your nose in the cold air. Don't lie—we all do it. 
2. Best Reflective Jacket: Brooks Run Visible Convertible Jacket

For another convertible wonder, the Run Visible jacket from Brooks takes “hands-free” to a new level. 

I usually just tie my jacket around my waist as I start to heat up during a run, but I’ll inevitably whine about it coming undone or getting tangled in my legs. 

I guess I’m not alone in that gripe, because Brooks thought of this ingenious jacket that transforms into an ultralight vest when you’re ready to strip down. 

  • Reflective patches on the chest, hem, arms, and back make sure you’re visible no matter which way you’re wearing it. 
  • The bright white and neon yellow colorway adds even more visibility. 
  • At the very least, this jacket’s fluorescent details will wake you right up during those groggy early morning jogs. 
3. Best Reflective Safety Vest: Noxgear Tracer 2 Vest

Okay, so this one’s more than just reflective—but it still belongs on this list.

The Noxgear Tracer 2 Vest combines LED fiber optics with reflective details for a look that’s impossible to miss in the dark. 

It might feel like you’re headed to a rave rather than out on a run at first…but hey, you could probably use a little extra pep in your step anyway. 

  • This vest promises 360 degree visibility from up to a quarter mile away. 
  • It’s waterproof, bounce-free, rechargeable, and offers eight different color options so you can light up the night your way. 
  • This one’s for the runner’s who don’t want to take any chances in the dark. 
4. Best Reflective Hydration Vest: Salomon Active Skin 4 Photo credit: @days_on_the_trails

But, for those long runs that start before dawn, you might need a vest that you can actually carry things in.

The Salomon Active Skin 4 is a fan-favorite among runners because of its: 

  • Intuitive design
  • Accessible pockets, and...
  • Easy cinches that keep everything under wraps when you’re bounding down the trail. 
  • The reflective tabs on the back, side, and shoulders are subtle but effective. 

I wouldn’t want this to be the only piece of reflective gear I’m wearing, just because the tabs aren’t quite large enough to go solo,

But it’s a great addition to the getup when you need a pack anyway.

5. Best Reflective Shorts: Reflect360 Running Shorts Photo credit: @runner__green

There are two types of runners when it comes to shorts: 

  1. Shorts fiends
  2. Leggings lovers

I’m of the first camp. I don’t care if it’s blizzarding outside—my legs just want to feel free! So even when it’s cold and dark, I’ll break out the shorts nine times out of ten.

This pair from Proviz Reflect360 Running Shorts makes me feel less crazy for doing so.

  • Big reflective patches down the sides and along the back make sure I’m visible (if my bright red, shivering thighs don’t call me out first). 
  • These are the largest, most obvious reflective patches I’ve ever seen on any type of running gear. 
  • Plus, they’re comfortable enough that I’ll sometimes still choose them even in the middle of the day. 
  • Snag ‘em in all four colors for an everyday option! 
6. Best Reflective Tights: ASICS Lite-Show Tight
7. Best Reflective Hat: Headsweats Reflective Running Hat Photo credit: @headsweats

If you’ve never tried a Headsweats hat, you don’t know what you’re missing. 

I personally hate wearing most hats while running. 

  • My scalp gets itchy.
  • My forehead gets sweaty.
  • And the whole thing just feels like a bulky mess. 

Not these. Headsweats fit like a glove and feel light as a feather, no weird air pockets or hot spots to be found. 

  • This reflective model is no different. 
  • Choose from 12 different colors.
  • Each with reflective piping wrapped around the base and brim. 
  • Protect your noggin from the elements and passersby. 
8. Best Reflective Road Running Shoes: Brooks Run Visible Glycerin 20 Photo credit: Brooks

Stride it out with comfort and confidence in the hi-vis version of this crowd-pleaser shoe from Brooks.

Everyone and their mother has heard of the Glycerin, and for good reason.

  • It’s one of the best go-to daily trainers on the market for runners in need of max cushion underfoot. 
  • Reflective details are then woven into the design on the sides and back of the shoe, right where cars can spot them as you run along the road.
9. Best Reflective Trail Running Shoes: adidas Terrex Speed Ultra Photo credit: adidas

You probably won’t encounter any cars on the trail, but there are other hazards waiting for you there. 

Reflectivity can:

  • Ward off any wildlife wandering around in the dark
  • Let your fellow trail users know that they’re not alone so you don’t scare them half to death as you pass by. 

The adidas adidas Terrex Speed Ultras are speedy shoes that feature three bold reflective stripes integrated into the classic adidas logo.
 
Lace them up on early mornings when the pre-dawn chill motivates you to move fast on your feet. 

10. Best Reflective Dog Gear: Kurgo Journey Air Dog Harness and Quantum Leash Photo credit: Kurgo

Good company makes for the best runs.

Don’t be afraid to bring along your furry friend during your darkest runs, because they’re in good hands now too!

The Kurgo Journey Air Dog Harness will let them charge ahead to their heart’s content without getting out of control.

  • It’s minimal and ultralight in most places.
  • Thoughtfully padded in the chest to cut down on strain when they reach the end of their rope on of the Quantum Leash.

Either way, you won’t be fighting your pup to keep this harness on. They’ll barely remember it’s there. 

Reflective trim makes anytime a good time to run together. 

11. Best Reflective Tape: Gear Aid Reflective Tenacious Tape Photo credit: Gear Aid

If you’re the DIY type, pick up a roll of Gear Aid Reflective Tenacious Tape and add your own racing stripes wherever you’d like. 

You don’t have to be a seamstress to put these to good use. Just peel and stick them on your:

  • Shoes
  • Jacket
  • Vest
  • Hat
  • Or anywhere that needs an extra dose of visibility. 

Choose from different shapes and designs that’ll blend right in with your gear. 

You’d never know it wasn’t there to begin with. 

Do you run in the dark?

What reflective running gear do you recommend? Tell us about it in the comments.

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366
Lucie Hanes
Ambassador
Eagle, CO

Ultrarunner, rock climber, occasional artist, fond of good wordplay. Small human on big adventures with big goals and big feelings.

Comments

Kristin Kramer Great tips! I still need to stock up on more reflective/light-up gear for those dark nights. A friend and I ended up moving our Thursday nights inside for the winter - because our favorite trail was getting pretty dark and spooky (even with head lamps!) For reflective leggings, I like my Black Reflective Pocket Light n Tights from Zyia. They have a kind of all-over splatter paint pattern that really glows. I've gotten compliments on them on the trail because they're so unexpected. Love Her has some similar reflective options, too, but I haven't tried them out yet.

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