Innovation in textiles, materials like silicone, 3D printing and LED technology are making reflective gear ever lighter, more versatile, and cheaper to develop and produce. Inventors with enlightened ideas, small niche manufacturers and household names in safety apparel all know that keeping their customers safe and well keeps them coming back for more.
Here are 10 of the year’s most inventive illumination solutions. You’ll find neat design touches that have appeal and uses way beyond runners: anybody hiking, walking a dog, biking or doing craft or maintenance in low light and darkness will find something that inspires or excites them. And a gift that helps keep someone safe is a great way to show how much they mean to you.
10. Esonstyle Pack of 6 LED Light Up Band Slap Bracelets
Reflective, magnetic slap bracelets are a familiar product to athletes who are active at night, recoiling to wrap whichever limb or piece of equipment you attach them to. These products change it up with a soft-feel surface that avoids discomfort and won’t leave a mark. Even better, it incorporates a bright LED that can illuminate continuously or with slow or fast flashing. This generous pack of 6 bands has a color for every occasion, or can be deployed together to create an unmissable multicolored display of safety lighting. Batteries are the familiar CR2032 button cells, weigh next to nothing and are readily available.
9. Knuckle Lights Colors
These neat, all-weather handheld flashlights are great for runners for they create eye-catching movement from a part of the body that’s in constant motion. They’ll light your way with a beam that’s literally in your hands, closer to possible hazards than a head torch. Knuckle Lights feel more natural to hold than a traditional cylinder flashlight. With the secure silicone strap above your fingers, you can grip tools, poles, handlebars (and snacks) at the same time. The beam is wide and steady, and you can direct it with less effort than a head torch, to illuminate things around or ahead of you. The lights even clip together magnetically so you won’t leave one behind. A single AA cell keeps weight down, avoids charging time and makes it simple to purchase and carry back-up power. Some color options are almost as bright as the lights, or you can choose a more restrained black.
8. BoldBrite LED Reflective Belt
Here’s another product that builds on an existing idea, a reflective belt, and makes it longer, brighter, all-adjustable and more versatile than ever. The BoldBrite belt includes a 15-inch section illuminated by LED with a solid or flashing light. Featuring three adjustment buckles and a clip-on extension belt it adjusts from 28 inches to over 80 inches. So it’ll fit a slim, snake-hipped athletic waist, a shoulder, or wrap securely around any layers and equipment you may be carrying. If you want a change from hi-viz yellow, BoldBrite offers the belt in red or blue as well.
7. Ultimate Running LED Light, Vest & Belt Set
A great gift for anybody heading out into the dark for winter training or adventures. It’s an all-in-one bundle of 360-degree reflective vest, waterproof belt with pouches and two LED safety lights, giving a wealth of options for storing your stuff and keeping yourself, your bike or your dog visible to others. Both the belt and the vest are easily adjustable and have zippered pockets. The soft-touch neoprene belt will conceal and protect emergency cash, house keys and a large screen smartphone. There’s even a headphone port to keep your wires under control on the move.
6. GripGlo High Visibility Neon Lime Reflective Elastic Safety Belt Harness Vest
For maximum visibility by night or day, it’s impossible to ignore this extra-bright harness. You won’t suffer in the heat of an extra layer like a full vest. The double-shoulder strap design really pops in any level of light, with its broad all-round reflective band and neon lime green surround. The waists adjusts for comfortable, secure fit, matching wristbands add motion to the visibility, and with a neon drawstring storage pouch it’s ready to go when you need it most.
5. GlowONMe Reflective Vest
This premium safety vest is visible from 1000 feet away, according to GlowONMe. Its distinctive multi-part reflective panels will keep you visible and safer in the ever-brighter lights of today’s traffic as you run, walk or ride. There’s a good-sized back pocket, ideally positioned to carry essentials without bothering you. Ease of use is designed into this vest. With its front zipper and six-point clip-in fasteners, you’ll have it on and off in a flash – no more wrapping yourself in a twisted tangle of elastic straps.
4. ReflecToes LED Safety Light Clip – Set of 2
Here’s a wallet-friendly pair of night lights that could be a lifesaver and is packed with thoughtful design features. Each red LED light is just over 2 by 1 inches and a strong clip on the back attaches it securely, without extra fastenings, to shoelaces, socks, belt or the supplied wristband. They’re designed to attract attention without dazzling, by indicating movement that’s recognisably human. The lights also have two flash modes for clipping onto bags, helmets, rear bike light, dog or stroller.
3. No.1 Reflective Running Vest Gear
This super lightweight vest is engineered so the wearer barely notices it while everybody else can’t help but notice them. Makers Freemove offer this fluorescent yellow vest in six sizes so there’s one that’ll fit every active body or less active figure. It’s cut to finish short of the waist so it doesn’t interfere with movement, and features a secure pocket front and center that will carry and protect a cellphone without bouncing or weighing you down. Two matching reflective bands for arms, wrists or ankles complete the set of 360-degree visible gear.
2. noxgear Tracer360
Tech-loving athletes will love this upgrade to traditional reflective safety apparel. Fiber-optic cable bands make this an incredibly light harness with no sweat-trapping, chafing or squeezing, and a weight of just 6.5 oz. Best of all, it’s interactive. You can switch between six solid colors, or become a multicolor flashing light-show that’s sure to alert any driver even before you’re in their headlights. A waist belt in tried-and-trusted 3M reflective tape and neon yellow reflects lights for complete visibility.
1. BSeen Reflective Running Armband (Pack of 2)
This simple upgrade to safety equipment looks like it’s arrived from the future. Soft, comfortable and weighing next to nothing powered by button cells. Each pair of armbands is elasticated to fit ankle, wrist or arm, and they’re available in red, blue, orange, green or pink. Switched off or in daylight they’ll still catch the light with their reflective logos and trim. This won’t break the bank and it’s a well thought out piece of kit that’ll appeal to people who would usually run a mile from safety gear!
The beauty of these products is they showcase technology and materials you probably didn’t know existed at these prices. They’re bang up to date items that athletes will want to try out and be seen wearing, and most of them are engineered by runners and designers who understand how apparel needs to fit, how much it can weigh and where pockets and fasteners should and shouldn’t go.
If you’re after a thoughtful gift, or a parent trying to encourage your kids to stay safe outdoors, all of this gear has the capacity to surprise and delight as well as function and protect.