Gear Review: Nathan High Visibility and Lighting Lineup
Fall in the Pacific Northwest usually means darker mornings and earlier evenings and if you’re like me and still want to get out and hit the road, then it’s best to do it safely and more importantly, visibly. Our friends at Nathan have long been providing top quality gear both in the visibility and lighting categories (as well as hydration of course) for runners for quite a while. They offer a wide breadth of options for all runners from recreational to performance alike. In this article, we’re going to introduce you to some of the pieces of equipment that we like best and also note, these are great gift ideas for the runner in your life.
Zephyr Fire 300 Hand Torch
I’ve never been a big “flashlight in hand” runner and always relied on a headlight instead. I think this was always due to the ineffective way in which you carry a flashlight will you run. You don’t want to keep your hand wrapped around a light tightly for X number of miles and if you let up even for a second, then you end up losing grip and dropping it. What Nathan has done with the Zephyr Fire 300 to solve this is combine a high quality LED based flashlight with a handstrap system that effectively tethers the light in its proper position within your palm, but allows you to relax your hand and run freely. The unit has four separate light modes including both a front white light and a reread Rear red tail light giving you visibility in both directions for any nearby vehicles. The high end front LED puts out just over 350 lumens, so plenty of light.
The nice part with the Zephyr is that you get lighting and visibility in one package. Another great benefit of the Zephyr is that it also has a panic button switch just below the on/off switch allowing you simple one-touch access in case for any reason you need to draw attention to yourself. The light can be charged via USB (5 hours for a full charge) and runs for quite a while between charges. I also found the light to be highly durable and even after dropping the rubber exterior seems to protect it well. The hand strap is also machine washable and can be removed. The entire thing is also considered weather resistant and held up really well in the rain. The Zephyr 300 is right around $50 and available at most sport and outdoor retailers.
LightBender RX and LightSpur
These next pieces are super simple to wear and I actually have a LightBender for quite a while without even thinking about it. It’s as simple as a cuff that you slide on your arm, position where you want, and then tighten it down. The arm cuff is composed of a flexible 6 lumen LED light that can be switched between red, blue, and green colors and can be set to solid or strobe. This puts off a good amount of light for visibility and is waterproof to boot. This charges via USB as well and hits full charge fairly quickly.
The LightSpur is an ankle cuff is being molded one piece that attaches to the heel of your shoe and is just flexible enough to spread the arms apart and have grab onto your shoe. Much like the LightBender, the LightSpur puts off a good amount of light for visibility and runs in steady or strobe. It gives off a green light and is powered by two watch batteries that last over 40 hours. Both are available for about $20.
Strobes, Strobes, Strobes
Nathan offers a wide variety of strobes that can be placed anywhere you like. The cheaper models like the StrobeLight are very inexpensive coming in at $5-10, but I would recommend looking at the higher-end models like the Orion Strobe or HyperBrite, because they give off significantly more light will definitely be beneficial over time. The base StrobeLight is just a few lumens, but the Orion gives off 30 lumens and the Hyperbrite gives off 20 lumens. I found myself using the Orion Strobe more and more honestly because the included belt was awesome. I would just slide it around to my back on the provided waistbelt giving me some rear visibility to vehicles since I have a front light already. Definitely check out the entire range and I’m sure you’ll find one that will keep you safe and visible. A bonus here is the lower end strobes make for great visibility elements for your little ones on those night time walks.
A lot of people don’t like high viz vests simply because they look like what they are, but let’s get realistic. They’re here to serve a purpose which is to keep you visible and also you don’t want to swap your entire wardrobe to yellow in the winter months simply because you want to be seen more. Using a vest like the Streak provides that additional level of noticeability, but allows you to use your existing seasonal gear. The Streak comes in both pink and yellow and is a mix of reflective material and high contrast material. There are also mount points for additional LEDs. They can be sized as you put them on and it is very much a one size fits all. This is a great thing to have for runners and walkers of all degrees of experience and it literally won’t affect your performance in any way. The Streak is available for right around $25.
Overall, Nathan has become synonymous with the high visibility scene and provides numerous options for those at all skill levels. We called out a few of their products today, but I would invite you to check out your local sporting or outdoor retailer to find something that meets your needs. The units are all very practical and durable and if you are a night runner, then you should make visibility a priority. We have all heard horror stories and we all spend a ton on the rest of our running kit or our shoes, so when it comes to this time of the year just spend a little extra and make yourself noticeable out there.