Let’s face it, running during the winter can be challenging. Not only do you have to contend with cold and often wet conditions, but the shorter daylight hours create a visibility issue that is worse for those who run in the morning or evening. While most runners wisely update their shoes and clothing to contend with the inclement weather, they often forget to add the reflective accessories necessary to ensure they remain visible and safe when training in low-light conditions. Here are the top reflective running vests to keep you safe and help you stay active this winter season.
Nathan Vibe Reflective Vest – $40
BEST MINIMALIST VEST
More a set of reflective suspenders than an actual vest, the Vibe Reflective Vest is a top choice for runners seeking 360 degrees of reflectivity in a minimalist package. A combination of adjustable buckles and elastics ensures a body-hugging fit without restricting movement during challenging training runs.
Sizes – One Size
Life Sports Gear Reflective Vest – $35
BEST FOR RUNNERS WITH BROADER TORSOS
Constructed with a bright yellow mesh and sporting reflective panels on the front, back and shoulders, the Life Sports Gear Reflective Vest provides the no-nonsense visibility runners require when training in low-light conditions. Available in two sizes, with Velcro-style body adjustments, this vest offers a fit range to accommodate most runners. While the open mesh construction is highly breathable, the reflective patches are not, which may be a benefit for runners training in colder and windier conditions. Finally, this vest’s slightly boxier shape should provide a good fit for runners with larger torsos.
Sizes – S/M, M/XL
GetVizy VizyVest 2.0 – $80
BEST FOR RUNNERS SEEKING MAXIMUM VISIBILITY
With its 200-lumen chest lamp and flashing LED tubes, the VizyVest 2.0 is one of the more innovative reflective vests on the market today. The chest lamp offers four brightness settings and does a great job of illuminating your running path as well as making you more visible to traffic. The LED tubes are similarly versatile, with multiple strobe options for the six LED colours. Finally, the chest-lamp strap is covered in a highly reflective silver fabric for that extra bit of visibility in low-light conditions. The whole unit is powered by a rainproof rechargeable battery that delivers up to 14 hours of run time.
Sizes – One Size Fits Most (26″- 44″/66cm – 111cm)
Sportline Unisex Reflective Run-Walk Vest – $25
BEST COST-EFFECTIVE OPTION FOR OCCASIONAL USE
The Unisex Reflective Run-Walk Vest should be a solid choice for any runner who wants a cost-effective reflective vest for winter training. This tried-and-true design consists of a breathable mesh vest with reflective sewn panels. The Velcro-style tabs offer a simple and effective fit adjustment, while the sculpted torso panels won’t impede arm moment. The addition of a small zippered chest pocket provides storage for small essentials.
Sizes – M/L
Nathan Hypernight Laser Light Vest – $80
BEST VALUE FOR RUNNERS SEEKING A SLEEK FIT
The Hypernight Laser Light Vest is a minimalist high-tech vest for low-light running conditions. The vest consists of two small sculpted reflective panels (one in front and one in the back) connected by LED tubes. The front panel houses the closure system, while the back panel holds the rechargeable battery that powers the LED tubes. The tubes have seven colour options and can be set in strobe mode to help create more visual attention. Battery run time varies between eight and 12 hours, depending on what LED colour is used, and the battery can be fully recharged in 2.5 hours.
Sizes – One Size Fits Most (22″- 44″/56cm – 111cm
Nathan Streak Safety Vest – Normally $40, Currently $28
BEST FOR RUNNERS SEEKING A MINIMALIST DESIGN WITH ABOVE-AVERAGE VISIBILITY
This simple safety vest features a bright yellow mesh body with highly visible reflective swatches on the front and back torso as well as on the shoulders. Two Velcro tabs adjust the fit, and the vest’s highly sculpted shape avoids interfering with arm movement when running. The vest also has attachment points for additional LED lights when greater visibility is required.
Sizes – S/M, M/XL
Ronhill Hi-viz Bib – $25
BEST FOR RUNNERS SEEKING MAXIMUM COVERAGE AND VISIBILITY AT A REASONABLE PRICE
With its longer-than-average length and high-visibility fluorescent yellow mesh body, the Hi-viz Bib creates an easy-to-see silhouette even in the darkest conditions. The addition of two reflective strips on the front and back increases the bib’s visibility and, in turn, the runner’s safety. Ronhill specs elasticized side panels to minimize unwanted fabric flapping even in windy conditions.
Sizes – One Size Fits Most
Here are some common FAQs (and answers) about reflective vests:
How much visibility do I need?
Like many seemingly simple questions, the answer is a bit complicated. While there is no downside to having a more visible vest when running, if you spend most of your time logging miles during daylight hours or in brightly lit urban centers, you can get away with somewhat less bright clothing. On the other hand, if you tend to run before sunrise and after sunset (especially in rural, less well-lit areas), investing in brighter, more attention-grabbing clothing should be a priority.
Are the battery-powered vests worth the extra cost?
If you want or need maximum visibility, the answer is yes. Many battery-powered vests outperform more passive reflective outerwear because they offer visibility that is not solely dependent on reflecting a vehicle’s headlights. The LEDs not only generate their own light, but the strobe settings are more likely to catch a driver’s attention. The LED’s movement (stemming from the runner’s gait) combined with the LED’s strobe effect are hard to ignore, even in the lowest light conditions.
How should the vest fit?
Fit is personal, but you should look for a reflective vest that does not feel restrictive, accommodates your natural running form and fits over the layers you plan on wearing. This last point is especially important if you run in particularly cold conditions and choose to wear multiple layers.