If you run in the early morning or evening when it gets dark you know the importance of having a really good running light. I break down the 3 best lights for running at night or the early morning.

Here are the 3 Best Lights for Running at Night or Early Morning

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Like many runners, I run in the early morning around 5-6AM. Some runners prefer to run at night or after work. For me, the mornings fit my schedule the best. For both options it's typically dark out except during the summer months.  I searched around trying to find a really good light that fit the following conditions:

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to Carry and not on my head (more on that in a moment)
  • Affordable
  • BRIGHT!

Before I dig in, I had tried headlamps before and they felt more like a vice for my head than an actual useful light. They simply did not work for me. Below are the three that I use with a detailed description that attach to your body (not your head)

These running lights I personally own and have tried. All of which are linked to Amazon for your reference. I included the levels of brightness in a test I dubbed the "Stop Sign Test". So without further ado, here you go the 3 best lights for running at night or the early morning.


Ultra Runner X96 LED Chest Running Light

Runner's Goal has several different Ultra Runner variations of lights for running at night or early morning. One HUGE benefit when I opened the box was that the X96 comes with three (3) AAA batteries! The adjustable strap was easy to use and made it easy for me to put on over my shoulder and it sat snugly on my breast bone. 

The X96 has three settings of lighting, the third being the brightest.   On the box it states that it holds light steady with minimal bouncing. I found this to be extremely true when I put the running light on as I ran my early run. The X96 light can be positioned however you see fit. As the actual light is on a clicking mechanism that is extremely easy to adjust. I position the light straight-forward when i run.

Considering the price and quality, the Runners Goal folks did a great job designing a quality running light and an alternative to the head torturing lamps. The only negative I have to say on this light is that installing the included batteries can be a little frustrating the first time. Once you figure out that you only have to squeeze the one open button and pull at the same time it becomes significantly easier.

Price

Brightness

Ease of Use

Weight

Ease of Use:

I found the X96 super easy to use. The three settings were easy to click through and test and the third setting is the brightest. Adjusting the where you would like the light to be pointing was also very easy as the light is connected to a clicking mechanism that makes changing positions for the light super easy. After installing the batteries, the loud click sound lets me know that it is secure and ready for use. The three adjustable straps are perfect to adjust it however you choose.

Brightness:

I ran through the three LED settings and the third setting was the brightest. If you live in a fairly lit area but would like a little more light, settings one & two should be perfect. If it is completely dark when you run ( in my case the early morning), go with setting three. Out of the three running lights I have tested, the X96 third setting was by far the brightest. One other note about the settings and brightness, when running it is very easy to click through the settings. So if you are running against a street, you can change the brightness so that a driver is not blinded by the light.

Brightness Setting

Stop Sign Test:

I tested the brightness the same way for all three of these running lights. On our street we live the fourth house in. Our home is a normal home on a average size property. At the beginning of the street there is a stop sign. For this test, I stood outside of my driveway,  turned each running light on to their brightest setting to see which one would illuminate the stop sign the most.

The test was to see how much light the running light emitted and if it was bright enough to see upwards of 150 feet away (give or take). I think about safety before I run and these three running lights make sure I can see what is in front of me.

The X96 Chest Lamp exceeded expectations and was the brightest of the running lamps. As you can see in this picture, the stop sign is completely illuminated.


Ultra Runner X53 Chest Running Light

The X53 is very similar to the X96 however the actual light is bigger. The three settings make it very easy to click through before or during a run. The straps and position adjustment pieces are also very easy to use.

Also similar to the X96, the X53 has a mechanism built in to make positioning the light very easy. The clicking mechanism has multiple settings allowing you to position the light exactly where you wish.

The overall price is very reasonable and with the three AAA batteries included, it is a great value. On the back of the light there is a small cushion making it comfortable on the body as you run. Since this light is larger than the X96, this cushion is vital. The only question that I have is specific to the actual design of the light. If the light is designed to sit flush on your breast bone when you run, why is the light slightly curved? Overall, I gave this a 4.5 stars based on the curved question and the battery installation process.

Price

Brightness

Ease of Use

Weight

Ease of Use:

Install the batteries took me a good five minutes. Before you completely disregard this light, hang with me for a moment. The battery component is located in the tube space of the light. At one end it has a open/close drawing depicting how to open it. Without a flat-head screw driver or a quarter, it might be very tough to install the light. As you can see in the picture below, installing the batteries does take a few moments. Once installed, the light is wonderful!

Brightness:

One would assume that since the light is larger than the X96, that the X53 would be brighter. Your assumption would be wrong. This LED light has three settings, the first illuminating three bulbs, the second nine bulbs and the third, all of the bulbs. In a head-to-head light off, the X96 was brighter (more on this in a moment). Overall the light was sufficient to lighten up the road in front of me and provide we with a bright area in front of me when I ran. The third brightness setting I rated at 75% vs the X96. This light is perfect if you run at dusk where there is still a little light left in the day or in the morning when the sun is about to rise.

Brightness Setting

Stop Sign Test:

The X53 Chest Light provided adequate lighting when I did the stop sign test. Setting three was the brightest and in fact, it is double the lighting of the second setting.

Here's the kicker: Though the distance of how far the lighting can go, the X53 proved it's weight in gold by the area in which it lit up. The X96 illuminated the stop sign on a 2X2ish area, 150 feet or so away. The X53 lights up a 5X5ish area about 75 feet away. So depending on where you run and how you prefer the area to be lit in front of you. You cannot go wrong with either of these two lights.


Knuckle Lights Running Lights

The Knuckle Lights have become a trend in many running circles so I decided to give these a try. After the initial surprise of the price tag, these running lights proved to be a quality light that are worth the price.

Similar to the X96 & x53, the Knuckle Lights come with AAA (two) and it is very easy to install them. Brightness wise the other two proved to be overall brighter however there is bonus points being awarded to the knuckle lights since you receive two in the pack.

Description

Price

Description

Brightness

Description

Ease of Use

Description

Weight

Ease of Use:

The Knuckle Lights come in a see-through packaging (or at least the did when I received them). Once opened installing the battery was a piece of cake and I put these onto my hands. The sit firmly below your knuckles across the flat part of your fingers when your hands are in a fist position. I felt a little more secure with my surroundings wearing these knowing that if something jumped out, it was going to get a swift right hook that included the hard plastic of the running knuckle.

Brightness:

Similar to the other two lights, the Knuckle Lights have three settings with the third as the brightest. They come with four bulbs that equal 45 lumens. Brightness wise it is about the same as the X53. The only negative that my wife realized is that wearing these with your engagement ring can make it very uncomfortable as it sits the same place as your rings.

Brightness Setting

Stop Sign Test:

The brightness was very close to the X53. Since you have two lights vs the one light of the X96 & X53, the stop sign was illuminated more than the X53 but the X96 was still the brightest.

With the Knuckle Lights moving when you run I can see how these can be very distracting but if you ok with the constant up and down of the lights, these are a good fit for you.

So there you have it. The three best lights for running at night or the early morning.

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