When you’re choosing any gear for running at night, you need to focus on two key elements – safety and warmth. Ideally, your chosen running gear can cover both bases.
The heavy focus on safety shouldn’t be underestimated – so many night running accidents occur despite the runner doing the right thing and running “safely”.
Adding that extra level of visibility for night running helps you be seen, and helps drivers who might not be concentrating to, well, not drive through you (unfortunately, I speak from personal experience on that one).
For most parts of the world, night time is also cooler with more challenging weather conditions. So you’ll need gear that can protect you from the elements without causing you to overheat and sweat.
We’ve put together a list of night running gear that we’ve all personally used and can recommend. For comparison, our night runs are typically around 40-55 degrees Fahrenheit and with winds up to 30 miles/hour. We don’t deal with snow or frost but it can be raining, so water-resistant gear is perfect.
Tips for selecting your gear for running at night
Before you dive in a buy everything available, think about a few points:
- Using components rather than a single item
- Preferred level of comfort
For any hikers, the concept of layering will be second nature. This is when you use multiple interlocking layers of clothing and gear to provide more protection than the addition of each element.
Rather than using a bulky jacket that is only good in the worst conditions, think about using a long sleeve thermal top (polypropylene is recommended for runners) with a light long sleeve fleece and a waterproof/windproof jacket over the top.
The big benefit of that approach is that you can then remove layers as you warm up to regulate your temperature. With one bulky jacket to keep warm, it’s either on or it’s off.
With layering, I’ve raced in alpine snow at 25 degrees Fahrenheit with a long sleeve polypropylene thermal top, this warm running t-shirt from Higher State and the waterproof jacket below (in addition to gloves, beanie and shorts). Side note: my tolerance for cold is quite good, so that clothing approach is not for everyone but it shows what layering can do.
It might sound weird, but why use a long sleeve running top when you can use a short sleeve t-shirt and arm sleeves.
Sure, you’re adding more gear to your list. The real benefit comes with your ability to fine tune your selection.
For night runs, you start in a warm house. You go out into the cold. You then warm up as you run. The night then gets colder and you’re freezing again by the end.
Wearing a long running top might have you warm initially but then you’ll overheat after a few miles. Start in a T-shirt and you’ll be OK once you warm up but frozen as the night temps drop.
This is wear components come into play. Start in T-shirt and arm sleeves, drop the arm sleeves to your wrist as you warm up and then pull them back up again as the temps drop.
The same applies for using a buff, calf sleeves, a zipped gilet (windproof vest) and quarter zip running tops. You can configure each of these items differently to help regulate your body temperature and comfort level.
Preferred level of comfort
“Know thy self” – pretty sure some smart person said this some time ago. Not sure they were referring to gear for running at night though…
You may get ideas and inspiration for your gear selection from fellow runners, race reports and that subscription to Runner’s World that you forgot to cancel. But in the end, it’s about your personal preference and how you like to feel.
If you can tolerate heat, you may not need to worry about overdressing. If you don’t mind the cold, you can use a gilet instead of a running jacket.
Try anything for yourself and decide if it’s right for you. Don’t feel the pressure to wear or use any gear for running at night because “that’s what every runner does”.
Recommended gear for running at night
Each item has been tested personally and is recommended for durability with use and washing as well as effectiveness for safety and maintaining comfort.
This jacket is waterproof (10000mm) + seam sealed (this ensures no water sneaks in through the seams) and breathable (5000g/m3), so you can run without overheating.
It’s fluoro yellow color is perfect for high visibility night running and it has reflective elements for extra safety. It also comes in orange and other color combinations.
Best of all, it’s very well priced at around $40 USD.
It’s a big make so account for that when you order. I’m usually a medium in tops and the medium jacket is quite roomy on me, although I wouldn’t drop to a small size.
OK this headlight has everything, literally!
LED Lenser have created a headlight with a bright 600 lumens, focusable beam, rechargeable battery (18650), IPX4 and a long battery life (600 lumens for 10 hours).
For added safety it has a rear red light, making it perfect for night road running.
The only compromise is the weight at 158g, but with the rear-mounted battery pack, it still feels perfectly balanced.
Priced around $100 USD, it’s the only headlight you’ll need for every outdoor situation.
Petzl is known for its innovation in headlights – the Iko Core packs in features++ and at just 79g!
Super lightweight, IPX4 and with 500 lumens of brightness to illuminate the road or trail easily. You’ll get 2.5hrs of battery at 500 lumens or 9hrs at 100 lumens and it has spot and flood beam options.
It comes with a rechargeable lithium battery pack, and you can use AAA batteries as a back up or buy a spare battery pack (~$30) to double its life for racing.
This is my personal favorite! Weatherproof (IP68) and not too heavy at around 118g, it handles all conditions.
It has a 1000 lumen spot and a 400 lumen flood beam. Best of all, the flood beam is a beautiful yellow light to cast a natural light on the trail.
The 400 lumen setting on either globe lasts a whopping 22 hours, and it’s USB-C rechargeable (although I carry a spare 18650 battery for hot swapping mid-race).
Priced at around $90 USD, it’s the best combo of features on the market (in my opinion).
One of the most fully featured headlights on the market! The LED Lenser H7R.2 will not disappoint.
Offering IPX6 weatherproof, a focusable beam and a rotary dial to adjust brightness, it can be configured exactly as the situation demands.
Its 300 lumens of brightness are literally magnified by its focus system to punch into the night. Its rechargeable battery gives 4 hours of 300 lumens and can be swapped for AAA batteries as a back up.
The weight is on the heavy side at 165g but it’s nicely balanced with the rear-mounted battery pack.
Priced around $100 USD, it’s perfect for those who want to adjust every detail to match their environment.
This reflective windproof running gilet is perfect for cool windy conditions, keeping you warm without overheating.
The reflective detail and yellow color adds to its safety and makes it suitable for night running.
At around $20 USD, it’s perfect for conditions that are windy and cool but not jacket-worthy.
They’re a deliberately snug fit, so order your size as measured. I’m a medium in tops and the medium gilet has just enough room to be comfortable.
These gloves cover all the bases – reflective for hi vis, warm thermal fabric, moisture wicking and durable.
The gloves are designed for running at night in cooler climates and have a focus on safety with their high visibility reflective detail.
Priced at around $18 USD, they’re a great investment for years of night running.
This hi vis race vest is fluoro yellow and has plenty of reflective panels on front, back and sides.
It features velcro fitting straps on either side for fast adjustment and the ability to remove and re-fit the vest with clothing or pack changes.
At under $7 USD, it’s the added safety that you’d be crazy not to have in your kit.
Disclaimer for Best Gear for Running at Night
**Special note: this article has Physiotherapist-recommended products with affiliate links to trusted vendors, selected for their fast & reliable service and great prices. The article was written prior to sourcing the affiliate links and the links in no way influence our recommendations.