Which reflective gear do you recommend for running at dusk / night?
March 12, 2010 10:00 AM   Subscribe

Runners: which reflective gear do you recommend for running at dusk / night?

I've started running at dusk and I've decided getting hit by a car might be bad for my health. Which reflective gear do you recommend?

I'm considering the Vedante Super Reflective Pop Bands (although I'm ambivalent about having something so tight on my arm) or a clip-on safety strobe, but I'd like to hear which gear worked best for you.
posted by sharkfu to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Haven't tried the pop bands, they've been sitting in my amazon cart for the better part of a year. If anyone has, I'd be just as interested as sharkfu to hear their opinion.

My magic formula to avoid being mowed down from behind is two Mars 3.0 flashers, one clipped to the back of each knee (I rollerblade, which for me means I wear pads). They're nigh-indestructible, waterproof, compact, provide some sideways visibility and can be very annoying attention-getting from behind. Excellent to begin with, they have since been updated with a tool-less battery compartment (which I haven't tested). They clip to waist bands, velcro bands, neck seams (doesn't work for me on account of ponytail). The bike mount is a nice bonus for me, but indispensable for others, and does work very well.
posted by tigrrrlily at 10:23 AM on March 12, 2010

I've been wearing Brooks Nightlife reflective clothing. It's a truly eye-scorching shade of reflective yellow and I feel like it is way more visible than the blinky lights I was wearing before. I have the VaporDry 3D jacket, which I find appropriate for late fall, winter, and early spring. If I find myself running before dawn when the weather warms up, I might also get the Nightlife short-sleeved shirt. I'm a woman with definite boobs and hips, and the women's cut and sizing is spot-on for me. A lot of my guy friends have jackets in the same line and they've been satisfied as well.

It's pricey gear, but you can find it on sale sometimes and it's definitely worth it. You don't have to worry about blinking lights falling off, running out of batteries, or banging annoyingly into your body as you run, you have giant reflective patches covering your entire torso, so right about eye level to a driver, and that reflective yellow is the most radioactive-looking and highly visible color I've ever encountered. It also works great on overcast days when a driver might not be looking for you, but there's too much ambient light for a small strobe to really get their attention.
posted by kataclysm at 10:32 AM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

I use a reflective vest and/or a reflective velcro wrist band with LED flashers.
I prefer not to replace reflective clothing - I have had the vest for five years and the wrist band for 3.
posted by smalls at 10:44 AM on March 12, 2010

oh. HERE is the one I have.
posted by smalls at 10:46 AM on March 12, 2010

I'd go with a fully (or mostly) reflective jacket. It says, "Hey, I'm joggin' here!" better than any fiddly little arm band that drivers might not notice.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:48 AM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

When I'm driving, the flashers register less to me as "jogger," and more as "wtf" for those critical first couple of seconds. I hardly ever run at night, but I'd go with a white shirt and judicious route planning. Those neon shirts look like the real deal to me.
posted by cmoj at 10:57 AM on March 12, 2010

I have this illumiNITE jacket, which I prefer to any sort of wrist or ankle or other body bands. They inevitably get itchy and sweaty.
posted by alynnk at 11:12 AM on March 12, 2010

Seconding the Brooks Nightlife clothing. I have the Nightlife jacket and you can see me coming from a long ways away. Keep in mind that it only works if there is light to reflect off of it though. If you're running down dark trails, you're still going to be hard to see.
posted by corpse at 11:18 AM on March 12, 2010

I love the illuminite stuff. I have a jacket that looks like any other jacket during the day, and that is completely reflective when hit with a light at night. What I like about it for winter wear is that it's something I would be wearing anyway, in other words, it's a regular piece of clothing. The fact that it isn't reflective or strange looking during the day means that it's something I can wear then as well.

I've put a lot of miles on that jacket, which I've had for at least four years, and it still looks just fine. No visible wear, and no flaking or anything.
posted by OmieWise at 12:03 PM on March 12, 2010

I have a reflective vest from Nathan Sports. I think my exact model may have been discontinued, but it's one with no LED lights (although that's an option). Very lightweight and reflective, and I can use it with clothes I already have with little $ investment.
posted by BlooPen at 12:11 PM on March 12, 2010

I have the pop bands... they're just like the "slap bracelets" we used to have back in grade school. Although they conform closely to the wrist, they're not particularly constricting. And I really didn't want a reflective vest or a strobe, so this was the best option for me personally.
posted by somanyamys at 12:59 PM on March 12, 2010

The way I see it, the bigger the reflective/high visibility area, the more visible it is.

That's why I go with a $5 high visibility vest.

Sure, you can spend more for fancy styling or buying in the 'sports equipment' section instead of the 'workwear' section - but IMHO money spent trying to make high-vis yellow clothing look stylish is wasted because it'll still be high-vis yellow.

That said, the illumiNITE stuff does look nice.
posted by Mike1024 at 1:28 PM on March 12, 2010

I know this is a question about reflective gear, but I do almost all of my running at night, and I don't wear any. My assumption is that if I position myself in a place where reflective gear makes the difference between me being hit and me not being hit, I have already lost the game.

I run as if the people driving their cars cannot see me. I limit my use of the roads to low-speed residential roads, and mostly stick to the sidewalks. When at an intersection, I don't just do a quick scan for movement and lights, I pause and actually look for cars. I also ignore any wave-acrosses that I get from drivers waiting at the intersection. (Just ignore the driver's urgings. They get the picture in about 5 seconds and move on.)

Don't get me wrong, reflective and illuminated gear is good, but don't let it put you in a situation where you're counting on the drivers ability to see you in order to be safe.
posted by 517 at 1:48 PM on March 12, 2010 [2 favorites]

517 has it. drivers do not see you until you are on their hood, or dangling from their passenger mirror. the reflective stuff is nice for in case you or somebody else miscalculates in some other way.

as a driver and a runner, I am always looking for people on the road, and I have still come close to mowing some people down. granted they were crossing in an unlit rural area, against traffic, wearing all black clothing, but it was still terrifying.

we bury lots of runners out here in rural north florida, because they believed they were visible and, in the wrong instant, they weren't.
posted by toodleydoodley at 2:26 PM on March 12, 2010

This is much the same debate that motorcyclists have. One camp believes that everything that can be done to increase visibility should be done. Another, much smaller camp, believes that convenient and comfortable things to increase visibility should be done but that passive attention-getting devices like reflectors or colored jackets are of limited utility and that more attention should be paid towards defense driving(/jogging?) techniques and active attention getting techniques (weaving, etc.). I'm part of the second camp.

Like 517 said, don't put yourself in the position where a reflective jacket is the only thing between life and death.
posted by speedgraphic at 3:18 PM on March 12, 2010

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