The Best Reflective Running Gear of 2024

Run at night with greater safety and peace of mind.

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The Best Reflective Running Gear of 2024

Running after dark can be a safety hazard. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 80% of pedestrian traffic fatalities occur at night or in low-light conditions. That doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t go out at night: Whether you want to avoid the daytime heat, short winter days are cutting into your schedule, or you simply prefer it, sometimes night time is the right time. It is in your best interest to take any step you can to increase your visibility, though, so you should always wear reflective running gear when you run in twilight or after dark.

Happily for my fellow night-time running enthusiasts and I, there is a growing range of athletic apparel with high-visibility elements to make sure drivers, bikers, and other pedestrians see you. Clothing in fluorescent colors helps, but reflective panels, which light up in the face of car headlights, make your presence well-known and keep you safe on a night run. I’ve picked out the best reflective running gear, including hats, pants, shirts and more.

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When planning an evening run outfit, you should think about how much reflective coverage you need. Some types of clothing provide more visibility than others, so you may want to mix and match. If you don’t want to buy dedicated night running gear, you can also buy a reflective accessory that you wear on top of your outfit, like a running vest. Once you know what kind of reflective clothing you want, there are a few details you should look at closely.

There are multiple types of athletic apparel that are designed to make you more visible while running, but not all of it will help you at night. Many companies make “high-visibility” running clothes with bright colors and patterns, which can help grab a driver’s attention. Some high-visibility clothing will feature fluorescent colors, which may be more visible in twilight, but will not make you more visible at night.

Reflective running gear, by contrast, features a fabric that adds retro reflectivity, which reflects light back at its source. These panels, especially when placed on parts of your body that move while you run, ensure that anyone using a light will see you.

Ideally, you should wear clothing with both high-visibility and reflective elements at night. Reflective panels will help illuminate you in the dark, while high-visibility clothing will help drivers register you clearly as a person, rather than a fuzzy “object” in their path.

Having reflective panels on your clothing is always helpful, but there is an art to placing them on a garment to maximize your visibility. Ideally, you should look for garments with reflective panels on areas that move frequently while you run, or that illuminate a large portion of your torso.

Also, look for garments with panels on both the front and back, to ensure you will always catch oncoming light. More reflective material is always better, of course, but well-placed panels can reflect a lot of light if they’re in the right spots.

According to the University of Washington (where rainy, low-light conditions are a way of life), running apparel equipped with LED lights can be invaluable for runner safety. While they suggest that any lighting is helpful, they particularly advocate a headlamp because it will be high off the ground and more visible than shoe lights.

As with reflective panels, it helps to wear lights on parts of your body that move, such as the arms, wrists, or ankles, to draw a driver’s gaze. I also recommend looking for running lights that blink, which can’t help but catch the eye.

In addition to assessing visibility, you should also make sure you’re buying comfortable, well-made running clothing. For running at night, in potentially cooler, wetter weather, look for garments that offer a balance between waterproofing and breathability. They should be able to wick moisture from your skin, and should fit comfortably.

To select the best reflective running gear across a wide range of athletic apparel, I relied on a mix of first-hand testing, insights from past testing by Runner’s World contributors, and user reviews from Amazon and other online retailers. Whatever type of reflective gear you prefer, we’ve got a suggestion that will keep you safe and visible when the light is low.

This affordable Nylon cap from Gadiemkensd has lots of useful features for night runners. It features a reflective panel around the edge of the brim, creating a wide light to catch oncoming drivers. The brightest of its 20 colorways also make you easier to see–we recommend the “bright green” for high visibility. Two breathable mesh stripes help keep you cool as you go, too.

If you happen to go out during the day, it also offers UPF50+ sun protection. Either way, it also dries fast and folds down small enough to tuck in a pocket after your run. It isn’t from a prestigious brand, but this running hat delivers a lot of value.

There are lots of reflective and high-visibility beanies out there, but none of them compare to the outstanding visibility offered by Nathan’s reflective winter running hat. With a reflective band around the edge, and a high-visibility pattern of reflective dots around the entirety of the cap, it provides true 360-degree coverage. Go with the fluorescent yellow color for maximum visibility, or drop the fluorescence and wear it in black

A drawstring closure and moisture-managing materials provide a boost of comfort. There’s even a hidden opening in the back that can accommodate a ponytail. If you live in a particularly frigid climate, you might want something a bit thicker and warmer, but for most chilly conditions, this hat will keep you warm and safe.

The Black Diamond Sprint 225 is the perfect headlamp for runners. Its slim headband is unobtrusive and sits on your head comfortably, while holding its 225-Lumen LED light in place well. That’s bright, though you can adjust this by simply swiping a sensor, which is easier than pushing a button when your hands are gloved or sweaty.

You’ll want to ration out the power, because some reviewers report that the battery only lasts for a few minutes on maximum power. On medium, though, it should last for about 3 hours, which is more than enough for most runs.

Brooks has iterated on its high-visibility running apparel gradually over the past few years, and I think the latest version of its Run Visible jacket nearly achieves perfection. The lightweight hooded shell is comfortable, packable, wind and water resistant, and has zippered pockets. It also provides excellent visibility, highlighting you with reflective elements on the shoulders, upper arms, wrists, and waist. There are also high-visibility accent colors, giving you many opportunities to catch a driver’s eye.

It’s also an all-season garment: If you get too warm in the middle of your run, you can fold the bulk of it into a pocket at the rear. This converts the whole thing into a reflective vest, allowing you can stay cool without losing its visibility capabilities. You’re definitely paying a premium, but this is a top-tier running jacket with all the bells and whistles that a night runner could want. Shop Men’s Shop Women’s

The Streak Reflective Vest from Nathan gives you an easy way to make any outfit highly visible. Ultralight and as breathable as can be, it forgoes pockets or water storage. Its only priority is to make sure you’re easy to spot. (If you need those features, consider a hydration pack instead.)

The fully fluorescent yellow vest has large reflective panels on the chest and back, as well as smaller strips on the shoulders and around the waist. Sure, it’s technically an extra layer, but you won’t find a more visible piece of clothing.

Like the Run Visible jacket, Brooks’ Run Visible shirts create high visibility in low light. This semi-fitted running tee features an eye-catching combo of reflective strips over the hips and shoulders, and fluorescent yellow accents.

Made from Brooks’ quick-drying DriLayer fabric, it’s breathable, soft, and comfortable on your skin. It’s worth noting that the cut of the shirt may feel a bit snug on people with larger frames, especially around the armpits.

There are also long sleeve and hoodie versions available, if you’re looking for a bit more warmth.

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Reflective running shorts are extremely few and far between, with most limiting their reflective material to the brand logo. Adidas takes things a step further with its Break the Norm Shorts, using reflective material to brighten up the company’s signature triple stripes along the sides.

While this does create more light than your average running short, it lacks any reflective elements on the front and rear, so you should plan on pairing these with another reflective garment. That said, these are comfortable shorts, with a cut that is neither too tight nor too loose. As a bonus, they’re made out of recycled materials.

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You might be noticing a trend by now. Yet again, Brooks’ makes a strong impression with its Run Visible clothing line. As with our other selections, the Run Visible Tights get a nod for their combination of reflective strips on the knees and calves, with fluorescent accents on the ankles.

The tights feel comfortable, and their breathable, quick-drying fabric makes your run more pleasant when sweat and precipitation begin to build. It even has a bit of storage, with a drop-in pocket for your phone and a small zipping pocket for items like keys and cards. One thing to keep in mind: The tights are a bit thick, and are therefore best for cooler temperatures.

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Shoe lights are outstanding for safety. It’s just about impossible for drivers to miss a pair of running lights moving with your stride. These lights from Keywell stand out for two reasons. First, they’re USB rechargeable, which is surprisingly uncommon. (Who wants to change batteries all the time?).

Second, they offer five different settings with a variety of brightness and blinking options. A handful of user reviews report that the attachment clip wears out faster than they’d like, but the vast majority of owners are more than happy to wear them night after night.

You would think that reflective socks wouldn’t be able to add much visibility, but ReflecToes make you all but impossible to miss. A constellation of diamond-shaped reflective panels above the ankle create lots of brightness when cars drive by. (The diamond pattern also looks very nice if you’re running in twilight.)

The reflective material is highly durable, rated to last through 50 washes, which is longer than other, similar garments.

These are high-performance running socks, made with a breathable, moisture-wicking fabric to keep you cool and dry all night. ReflecToes are an easy way to up your visibility on your lower body in any weather.

Reflective wrist and ankle bands, like this set from GoxRunx, are a quick and easy way to add reflectivity to any running outfit. Simply affix them to your arms, wrists, or ankles, and you’re ready to go. Between their reflective materials and bright coloration, these bands are high-vis by every metric. And by attaching them to parts of your body that move, you increase your likelihood of being seen by drivers.

Affordable, effective, and easy to use, they’re a great addition to any runner’s kit.

How do I wash reflective clothing?

Depending on the materials, proper care for your reflective clothing may vary, so always read the care instructions on your garment. That said, I have a few general tips:

Does running at night make it hard to sleep?

This is a reasonable question, as nighttime may be the only opportunity you have to run, and losing sleep is no small concern. But run without fear. Not only has research shown that running within four hours of going to bed won’t keep you awake, but it can actually help you get deeper, more restful sleep.

Should you run with or against traffic at night?

When running, whether during the day or nighttime, you should always run against traffic to ensure that you can see (and potentially avoid) approaching vehicles. According to the U.S. Transportation Department, you should “never assume a driver sees you.”

One study shows that you decrease your chances of being struck by a whopping 77-percent when running into traffic, which means this one seemingly simple consideration can have a major impact

Nick Hilden is a writer, globetrotter, and jack-of-many-talents who has written gear reviews for the likes of  Runner’s World, Popular Science, Men’s Health, Thrillist, the Daily Beast, the Los Angeles Times, Greatist, and the Manual, and his lifestyle, culture, and tech writing has also appeared in Scientific American, Afar, Salon, Vice, Healthline, and many others. Before entering journalism some 15 years ago, he worked as a bartender, brewery manager, sound engineer, recording and touring musician, cook, teacher, and in a variety of other trades. These days, he lives all over the world, performs music sporadically, and spends a lot of time thinking how to best improve his Honda Element conversion.

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The Best Reflective Running Gear of 2024

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