The Best Running Safety Gear of 2021, According to a Running Coach

A dozen items to keep you safe while you exercise

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There's always a sense of accomplishment when finishing a long run or reaching your daily step goal. But running or walking alone outdoors can also pose a couple of safety issues surrounding visibility, emergencies, and self-defense.

“Staying safe while running is also about awareness and self-advocacy,” says RRCA-certified running coach Heather Jergensen. “Raising awareness for your surroundings means keeping your head on a swivel, leaving the headphones at home, and using your other senses to take in information."

When looking for safety gear, think about your needs. If you’re running in low-visibility conditions, like the early morning or evening, you’ll need high-visibility accessories. Runners with medical issues might also need an emergency bracelet. Finally, consider your surroundings and whether you need self-defense gear if you feel unsafe.

To find the best running safety gear, we researched popular running safety gear and gadgets, looked at product details, and reviewed customer ratings and comments to find high-quality products. We looked at the products’ functionality, features, effectiveness, price, durability, and design. We also consulted runners and coaches about their most useful and effective running safety items.

Here is the best running safety gear on the market, according to a running coach.

Our Top Picks
With 360-degree illumination, reflectivity, and fluorescence, the vest has the right combination of features to keep you seen.
Best Runner-Up:
FlipBelt Belt at Amazon
This belt works by storing your items, and then when you flip the belt inside out, your items stay locked in place.
They’re lightweight, comfortable, offer 360-degree reflectivity, and can be seen from 800 feet in the dark.
Best ID Bracelet:
Road ID Bracelet at Amazon
Helps first responders get the information they need.
Best for the Young Athlete:
Apace Vision LED Safety Lights at Amazon
Comes with an elastic Velcro strap to secure the light onto your ankle, wrist, or arm.
Choose from six different lighting modes, such as red night vision, strobe, and dimming, to customize your lighting.
Best for Self-Defense:
SABRE Pepper Spray at Amazon
Causes an immediate closing of your potential attacker's eyes.
You can keep your phone within reach as you’re running with this durable, sweat-proof, weather-resistant armband.
Offers 360-degree visibility at distances of up to 1,200 feet.
No special training or skill required to operate the alarm—pull the top pin to activate the loud siren and flashing strobe-light.

Best Overall: Noxgear Tracer360 Illuminated, Reflective Vest

Noxgear Tracer360 Illuminated, Reflective Vest
Pros
  • Very high visibility

  • Fully adjustable

  • Sweat- and water-resistant

  • 360-degree illumination

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Not easy to clean

With 360-degree illumination, reflectivity, and fluorescence, the Tracer360 vest offers the right combination of features to make sure you’re seen on the run. The vest’s LED lights can switch between multiple color options and modes with just the touch of a button. Flexible fiber optic cables form an X shape on the front and back, providing a huge area of visibility that can be seen for a quarter-mile in all directions.

Made with lightweight and breathable mesh and elastic, the vest has a minimalist design and allows for a full range of motion, unlike some reflective vests that can be constricting and cumbersome. It’s sweat- and water-resistant, so you’ll stay dry and comfortable.

The straps are adjustable, so the vest can easily fit over all types of clothes and can be used by runners of different sizes.

Best Runner-Up: FlipBelt Running Belt

FlipBelt Running Belt
Pros
  • Plenty of room for a phone

  • Doesn’t bounce or ride up

  • Bright color options

  • Lightweight and versatile

Cons
  • Stretchy, but not adjustable

  • Not completely waterproof

Whether going for a daily run or entering a race, runners may like to bring their keys, phone, ID card, and headphones. While an armband and waist pack are still go-to accessories for storing, some runners think they are too bulky. The FlipBelt combines the convenience of holding items with the safety of reflective material. 

This machine-washable spandex-lycra blend belt stores your items into any or all of the four openings around the belt’s exterior. When you flip the belt inside out, your items stay locked in place.

Users say the belt doesn’t move or bounce up, and since it has no additional closures, it protects against chafing. This streamlined, elegant strap is so lightweight, you can wear it under your clothes.

Best Budget: HiVisible Reflective Bands

HiVisible Reflective Bands
Pros
  • 360-degree reflectivity

  • Budget-friendly

  • Doesn’t limit range of motion

  • Adjustable

Cons
  • Not very durable

  • Fit may not work for all sizes

For a low-tech, budget-friendly way to improve your visibility, place these HiVisible reflective bands on your ankles, upper arms, or wrists. They’re lightweight, comfortable, offer 360-degree reflectivity, and can be seen from 800 feet in the dark. The fully-adjustable bands can also be strapped onto equipment and accessories, such as handlebars, backpacks, and waist packs, to add even more visibility.

Versatile and portable, the bands can be stored in your pocket or running belt for when you need them. They’re simple to get on and off and, once in place, they stay put. Each set comes with four bands and a mesh bag to store them.

Best ID Bracelet: Road ID Bracelet

Road ID Bracelet
Pros
  • Durable

  • Easy to put on

  • Stays on securely

  • Lightweight and comfortable

Cons
  • Can get scuffed

  • Some wish lettering was larger

If you get hurt while running, someone needs to be able to identify you and get in touch with your emergency contact. The Road ID Bracelet solves this problem since it's laser-engraved with your name, address, phone number, and emergency contact. If you’re unconscious or confused and need to go to the hospital, first responders and medical professionals can get the information they need to alert your loved ones.

This essential safety item includes a silicone band with a stainless-steel clasp and faceplate. Unlike an ID card or piece of paper, it’s durable and permanent, so it won’t get torn, crumpled, or damaged.

It’s available in black, red, blue, and lime, and can be cut to fit all wrist sizes.

Best for the Young Athlete: Apace Vision LED Safety Lights

Apace Vision LED Safety Lights
Pros
  • Bright light

  • Easy to use

  • Three lighting modes

  • Lightweight

Cons
  • Batteries not easy to change

  • Just for visibility, not illumination

These lights are a versatile and straightforward way to make you more visible and safe when walking or running any time of day. They come with three high-powered LEDs per light and feature three different lighting modes—steady, slow flashing, and fast flashing—accessible with just one click.

They also come with an elastic Velcro strap that can secure the light onto your ankle, wrist, or arm, suitable for any young athlete. Weather-resistant and versatile, these lights are so lightweight, your child will barely even notice they have them on.

They can also be used on pockets, a jacket, winter coat, or backpack, so they're ideal for your athlete waiting for a predawn school bus or coming home late on a winter afternoon.

Best Headlamp: Black Diamond Equipment Spot 350 Headlamp

Black Diamond Equipment Spot 350 Headlamp
Pros
  • Powerful, bright light

  • Doesn’t bounce or slip

  • Six lighting modes

  • Moisture-wicking 

Cons
  • Small power button

  • Some functionality is complicated to use

A headlamp not only makes you more visible to oncoming traffic but also helps you see what’s in front of you. This Black Diamond Spot 350 Headlamp has a powerful bulb that gives off 350 lumens. You can choose from six different lighting modes, such as red night vision, strobe, and dimming, to customize your lighting for any situation. The adjustable strap provides a snug, but comfortable fit, so it won't slip off your head. The headlamp also has a lightweight, low-profile design and uses three AAA batteries.

Beyond running, this versatile headlamp also comes in handy for camping trips, home projects, power outages, or reading at night next to your partner.

Best for Self-Defense: SABRE Pepper Spray

SABRE Pepper Spray
Pros
  • Effective

  • Inexpensive

  • Easy to carry

  • 10-foot range

Cons
  • Clip doesn’t always stay on waistband

  • No key chain holder

  • Must be handled with care

  • Not suitable for children

It can be dangerous to go running alone in the dark or in deserted areas. But if you're worried about potential attacks by strangers or animals at any time of day, you may want to carry pepper spray. It's non-lethal but causes an immediate closing of the eyes, difficulty breathing, runny nose, and coughing in your attacker, whether it's a person or animal.

The Sabre pepper spray bottle is small enough to hold in your hand or to keep in a pocket while you're running. With a 10-foot range, you’ll get protection from a safe distance. Just be sure to keep these locked away from your children.

Best Phone Armband: Tribe Reflective Phone Armband

Tribe Reflective Running Phone Holder
Pros
  • Comfortable phone storage

  • Reflective

  • Water- and sweat-resistant

  • Adjustable

Cons
  • Not easy to remove phone

  • May not work for very large phones

Running with your phone means you can call for help if you’re injured or find yourself in an unsafe situation. You can keep your phone within reach as you’re running with this durable, sweat-proof, and weather-resistant armband. If you need to call someone quickly, it’s easy to operate your buttons or screen through the clear, touch-sensitive panel.

The armband is coated with a patented nano-sheen, reflective material that increases your visibility in low-light conditions. It also features an adjustable Velcro strap, so you can customize it for a secure and comfortable fit, and cutouts for a headphone jack and a charger.

Best Reflective Vest: Nathan Streak Reflective Vest

Nathan Streak Reflective Vest
Pros
  • Adjustable

  • Lightweight and breathable

  • Budget-friendly

  • 360-degree visibility

Cons
  • May not work for very petite or very large runners

  • No pockets

With 360-degree visibility at distances of up to 1,200 feet, the Nathan Streak Reflective Vest makes sure you’ll be seen when running on the road in dark or low-light conditions. Made of a lightweight, breathable fabric, it features reflective strips on the shoulder and reflective patches on the chest, back, and waist.

The vest’s minimalist design allows for a full range of motion and won’t ride up as you’re running. It’s easy to adjust and will fit over all types of clothing, including winter jackets. This vest folds up easily and doesn’t take up much space, so you can keep it in a running belt or pocket during your run and take it out when necessary.

Best Personal Alarm: She’s Birdie Safety Alarm

She’s Birdie Safety Alarm
Pros
  • Easy to carry

  • Simple to use

  • Effective

  • Range of color options

Cons
  • Some think it could be louder

  • More expensive than some other options

If you don’t like the idea of carrying pepper spray, you may want another self-defense product to protect yourself, especially if you're running alone. Consider a personal alarm like this one for protection from strangers, dogs, and wild animals. It features an alarm that can reach 130 and an easy-to-use modern design.

You don’t need any special training or skill to operate the alarm—pull the top pin to activate the loud siren and flashing strobe light. To deactivate, just replace the pin. The alarm is small enough to fit in your pocket and can be easily attached to your keys, backpack, or running belt.

Best Whistle: LuxoGear Emergency Whistles with Lanyard

LuxoGear Whistles
Pros
  • Inexpensive

  • Easy to use

  • Reflective, adjustable lanyard

  • Can produce up to 120 decibels of sound

Cons
  • Need to blow hard to use it

  • String may get tangled when storing

For kids and adults alike, a reliable whistle is an affordable and easy-to-use safety accessory. This multi-pack from LuxoGear includes two vibrant whistles attached to reflective, adjustable lanyards. Slider buttons on the end of the lanyards will help the whistle stay secure, whether you choose to wear it around your neck or around your wrist.

Made with high-impact ABS plastic, the waterproof body of the whistle is designed for durability and can produce up to 120 decibels of sound—meaning it can be heard over a mile away. And if it doesn't perform as expected, the pack is backed by a lifetime warranty for worry-free use.

Best Flashlight: Nathan Zephyr Running Flashlight

Nathan Zephyr Running Flashlight
Pros
  • Four light modes

  • Weather-resistant

  • Built-in emergency whistle for safety

  • Rechargeable batteries

Cons
  • Not completely hands-free

  • Battery life short at high setting

Designed specifically for running, this Nathan Zephyr flashlight can light your way and keep you seen in low-light conditions. Just slip it over your wrist and the angled light will illuminate your path and help you avoid obstacles and hazards. The comfortable and adjustable hand strap allows for an effortless carry in either hand.

The flashlight features 200 lumens of crisp, clear light and three different settings, as well as a built-in whistle you use in case of emergency. It’s powered by two AA batteries.

Final Verdict

Making sure you’re visible in low-light conditions is one of the most important safety rules for running outdoors. With bright LED illumination, the versatile and comfortable Noxgear Tracer360 vest (view at Amazon) is an ideal choice for making sure you stay seen and safe. It also has several different light settings and is adjustable, so it fits over all types of clothes.

What to Look for in Running Safety Gear

Reflectivity

You can never have too much reflective gear when running in low-light conditions.

“When it comes to where you should be putting the most reflective material, you want to prioritize the largest parts of your body,” says Matt Scarfo, an NASM-certified personal trainer, and running coach.

Reflective jackets, running shirts, or vests are all good investments for making sure the biggest surface is seen. You should also look for products that will provide reflectivity on all sides of your body so you can be seen from every direction. Hats with reflective bands or reflective belts are ideal for adding 360-degree visibility.

Portability and Comfort

When choosing running safety gear, make sure the item is easy and comfortable to carry or wear. If it’s not, you’re unlikely to use it. Look for products that are lightweight, low-profile, or small enough to easily store.

Lights

Wearing or carrying lights improves your visibility and can also illuminate your path, so you can avoid potential tripping hazards, puddles, or animals.

Look for lights that are intended for running and can be easily secured to a body part or clothing, or are comfortable to carry. If the device is rechargeable, good battery life is also crucial, so you won’t be worried about your light shutting down mid-run.

Hats with built-in headlamps, flashlights, or small flashing lights that clip onto your clothes are all great options for wearing during morning or evening runs. “The advantage here is a car’s headlights don’t have to be pointed at you for them to see you. These can be seen in all conditions,” says Steve Stonehouse, a USATF certified running coach and director of education for STRIDE, an indoor running studio franchise. Carrying or wearing lights on body parts that are moving also makes you easier to spot as a moving object.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What should I carry for self-defense when running?

    If you run alone outside, you may want to consider carrying pepper spray or a personal alarm in case you’re attacked by a person or animal. Some runners like to run with their dogs to provide some added security and deterrent to people who might bother them.

  • What safety equipment do you need for running?

    No matter what time of day you’re running, it’s always a good idea to run with your cell phone and some identification, in case of emergency. A zippered pocket, running belt, or armband is ideal for securely stashing those items.

    When choosing running gear for low light conditions, reflective clothes, and gear, such as vests, armbands, wristbands, and belts, make you more visible to drivers and cyclists, says John Gardner, a certified personal trainer, and CEO of Kickoff, a personal training and nutrition service. Using a headlamp or flashlight is also important for lighting your path and increasing visibility.

  • What do runners wear at night?

    Runners should wear as much reflective gear and clothes as possible when running at night. “You can find shirts, jackets, hats, shoes and more with reflective fabric or striping, and even Velcro wrist and ankle straps that reflect,” Stonehouse says. A headlamp, hat with a light, or flashing lights on your clothes or gear will also help drivers and cyclists see you.

  • How can I get visible running at night?

    Runners can increase their visibility through a combination of lights and reflective gear.

    “Ideally, you should have at least a small amount of reflective material on every body part when running in the early morning, late evening, or middle of the night,” says Matt Scarfo, a NASM-certified personal trainer, and running coach.

Why Trust Verywell Fit?

Certified running coach and fitness writer Christine Luff has spent years researching, testing, and recommending fitness and athletic products and knows that the right gear can tremendously improve performance and comfort.

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