When cycling or running at night or in low-light, athletes need to be visible.
We tested three products from Nathan Sports—makers of hydration equipment, music carriers and technical products for athletes—that offer a greater sense of safety without sacrificing ease of motion during exercise.
LED Cyclist Vest
As a bike commuter, I've come to believe that my front- and rear-mounted lights are not effective enough to ensure I will be seen easily by motorists. The LED Cyclist Vest is a welcome addition to my visibility arsenal. And while marketed to cyclists, it performs admirably during runs as well.
The rear-facing LED light is built-in along the spine of the vest, and claims to have 500 candlepower of reflectivity and to be visible up to one mile. It functions in both steady and blinking states. A flap affixes over the top of the light to protect against rain, though it isn't water tight. However, moisture is more likely to seep through the mesh backing.
Illumination is said to last for 150 hours. The battery was a little difficult to change, but the entire LED device is light and secured well enough within the vest to make it barely noticeable while riding or running.
The vest's neon yellow mesh is breathable and also features reflective silver material around the shoulders, torso and lower back. There are two small loops near the back shoulders in case you want to attach additional lights.
The vest also rides low in the back for better visibility when in a cycling position. The tail area features a pocket, too, for small items. The one-size-fits-all design easily adjusts to fit over my backpack while I'm riding, or snug around my body for evening or early-morning runs.
Found to be cheapest online at eBikeStop.com for $26.45
"Share the Road" Magnetic LED
The Magnetic LED is composed of two triangular parts that attach on either side of a cyclist's clothes or bag. Each side measures about 2.5 inches, and each corner has at least one small red light. The lights, activated by simply pressing down in the center, have two modes: steady and blinking. "Share the Road" is declared in raised, reflective script.
Nathan claims up to 1,200 feet of visibility and up to 150 hours of battery life. There are two small batteries on the inside of the outer magnet that can be easily changed. Where the batteries sit on the circuit board is left unprotected, but after several rides in wet weather I have yet to experience a problem.
While the lights aren't large enough to be a cyclist's main source for a rear-facing warning light, it functions well as a supplemental light that can be effortlessly adapted to any wardrobe—whether training Spandex or commuting chic. It can also attach to pant legs or sleeves for increased side visibility.
The magnet is strong enough to remain snug on just about any single-layer fabric, including fleece and the thick nylon of a messenger bag. It works best with stronger material that sits tight against your body or is well-secured. Attaching the magnet to something similar to a loose, thin windbreaker will cause the light to bounce with the motion of the cyclist.
Found to be cheapest online at night-gear.com for $12
Tri-Color Ankle Band
Among the many reflective tapes and accessories available on the market, one of the most fun (and practical) is this multi-hued option. Sporting three thin bands of reflective material in orange, neon yellow and silver, this ankle band is backed with soft fabric for a comfortable fit.
Because most of my night riding is done in the winter, the band also serves to keep warm the exposed area between my sock and knee warmer.
It dries quickly and can be hand-washed should it get covered in dirt, sweat or mud. The band is considered one-size-fits-all and secures itself with Velcro.
Found to be cheapest online at REI.com for $5