Best Trail Running Lights For Nighttime – Reviews & Comparisons

If you’re into trail running, you know the hazards you might face when you try to trot along those paths in the dark. While you may not have motorists to deal with like you would if you were road running, you have a whole host of other concerns.

To make sure you return home safe and uninjured after a trail run at night, you need to find the best trail-running lights.

Quick Picks - Top Trail Running Lights

Bias Alert: Our Night Safety Kit

Running Safety Kit

We've just released a complete reflective gear set for runners. It includes an LED headlamp, reflective vest, arm bands, and red strobe lights. We think it's pretty awesome, click below to check it out: 

Why Would You Run Through the Woods at Night?

If you’re a fan of trail running, the better question might be––why wouldn’t you want to run through the woods at night? But, because not everybody understands the allure of trail running, let’s break down the benefits.

First off, it’s a chance to be in nature. While road running is something everyone can do because of the accessibility to roadways, not everybody is a fan of running in concrete jungles. Some of us prefer to pass by greenery instead of parking lots, and we’d rather see animals than people.

The solitude and the feeling of being one with nature is high on the list of what is appealing about trail running.

While some people are stuck hitting the trails in the dark because of winter’s short days and their crappy work hours, some people like the adventure of running at night. Others like the beauty. You can’t see much of the plant life while running on a trail but the nighttime sky can be breathtaking.

But just because you’ve determined running on a trail at night is worth it, it doesn’t mean that it’s without challenges. It can be a difficult task to undertake.

What Hazards Do You Face When Running Trails in the Dark?

You don’t have distracted motorists to worry about, but you do have nocturnal animals on the prowl. That can be scary by itself––both for you and for them.

To give both of you a little extra warning time before your close encounter, lights are a great idea. It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing a headlamp or a chest light, just make sure you have something strapped on. That will give you both enough time to get out of each other’s way.

And while those motorists won’t be around to bother you, you still might come across other runners, walkers, or cyclists. A light is a good way for you to avoid scaring the life out of them.

Finally, one of the biggest threats you’ll face while running a trail in the dark is tripping and falling.

Remember on those old “Three’s Company” episodes how Jack Tripper was always falling down in every episode? That’ll be you without a light, but there won’t be an audience there to enjoy it, and there will be no one there to have your back if you get seriously hurt.

Lights can help you avoid tree roots, rocks, and uneven terrain that will surely make you stumble or fall at some point during your run. If you think you can handle the trail without light because you’re able to run on roads in the dark, you’re sorely underestimating how dark the woods can get at night.

What Should I Look For in a Good Trail-Running Light?

To make sure you’re as safe as you can be on your midnight sprint through the woods, you need to figure out what features are important to you in a trail-running light. In addition to buying a light, it would be a good idea to get a whole kit of reflective gear and lights, like the one we’ve released.

Here are some of the things you need to think about before buying your trail light:

  • What type of light you want: Would you rather have a chest light, headlamp, or a light that attaches to your shoes or running belt? Any of these will work while running a trail as long as they are bright enough.
  • Whether you want a strobe light option: Obviously, you’ll want a solid beam of light to show you every potential threat in your path. But you might also want a strobe light to switch to if you need to call extra attention to yourself, such as in the case of injury.
  • How long the batteries last: You don’t want to be in the deep, dark woods and have your battery go out. You would have a heck of a time making your way back. The batteries have to be reliable and long lasting.
  • If the batteries are rechargeable: You don’t want to spend a fortune in batteries so you may want to look for a rechargeable light.
  • How comfortable it is: A headlamp shouldn’t shift around and require readjustment every few steps. Additionally, a chest light shouldn’t be heavy at all––you don’t want to feel the weight of it banging against your chest with every step you take.

The 5 Best Trail Running Lights 

Bias Alert: Our Night Safety Kit

Running Safety Kit

We've just released a complete reflective gear set for runners. It includes an LED headlamp, reflective vest, arm bands, and red strobe lights. We think it's pretty awesome, click below to check it out: 

Knuckle Lights

Knuckle Lights Colors - Running Light for Runners, Joggers,...
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If you want a light that you can control with your hand movement, but you don’t relish the idea of your hand cramping up as you carry it, check out Knuckle Lights. They are adjustable and they can even slide over gloves if you’re running with your hands covered in the winter.

Pros

  • You’ll get two lights in a set––one for each hand. If one goes out, you’ll still have light from the other.
  • The two lights stay together magnetically while they aren’t in use.
  • The beam can be adjusted to low, blinking, and high.
  • The lights are waterproof so you can continue to use them in rain or snow.
  • They run on AA batteries, which are easily accessible for everyone.
  • They come in three different colors.
  • The lights use wide-flood beams so you’ll be able to see everything in your immediate path.
  • These lights will even work in below-freezing temperatures.
  • They are lightweight, weighing in at under 3 ounces each.

Cons

  • At a max of 60 lumens each, they aren’t the brightest lights on the market.
  • They are fairly expensive.

Trailblazer Supply Co. Headlamp

LED Headlamp - For Running, Camping, Reading, Fishing,...
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If you want to keep your hands free while running on the trails, this headlamp could be a good option. You might want to spritz on some bug spray if you use a headlamp in the woods, though, because it will help ward off any insects that swarm around your face when they’re drawn to the light.

Pros

  • This light is bright and provides 300 lumens.
  • It has a strobe light mode, low light, and red lights.
  • The light can tilt to a 45-degree angle, which gives runners more flexibility about where to shine their beam.
  • It only weighs 2.6 ounces so it won’t make your head feel too heavy even after multiple miles.
  • You can adjust the elastic strap easily to find a good fit.
  • The three AAA batteries last up to 45 hours, depending upon which mode you’re using.
  • It’s waterproof from any angle, which means you won’t have to worry about destroying your light if you get caught in the rain.
  • It’s easy to use––there’s just one button on the light.

Cons

  • You’ll have to cycle through all the light modes to get it to turn off when you’re done with your run.
  • It doesn’t provide a very wide beam.

Explortek Nite-Blazer Headlamp with Case

Explortek LED Headlamp Flashlight with Red and White Light...
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When you’re out on the trails, sometimes you need a wide variety of different light options. This Explortek light gives you that. It has six lighting modes to illuminate your way.

Pros

  • This light offers 168 lumens, and the light can extend for about 360 feet.
  • With this light you won’t have go through all the other modes to turn the light off after you’ve used it.
  • The light can last a whopping 120 hours on the lowest setting.
  • The batteries are simple to replace when they’ve died.
  • It comes with a hard carrying case that has a storage area to keep extra batteries.
  • The strap stays put, which means the headlamp doesn’t bounce around during runs.
  • It’s waterproof, which is nice for the unpredictable elements you’ll be running in.

Cons

  • Some runners complained that the plastic piece on the back of their head hurts because it rubs around as they run.
  • It’s a little on the pricey side.

Black Diamond Icon Headlamp

Black Diamond Icon Headlamp, Aluminum
  • One QuadPower LED spotlight, two...
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If you’re more worried about the brightness of the light you use than you are about what it weighs, you might want to check out the Black Diamond Icon headlamp. It’s a little heavier than many of the lightweight models on the market, but at its highest setting you’ll get 320 lumens. That will be enough to see anything coming at you.

Pros

  • You get several different modes with this light, including strobe, full strength, dim, lock mode, and red night vision.
  • You can check how much battery power you have left.
  • If you drop it in water, it’ll be fine––it can be submerged for 30 minutes up to 3.3 feet.
  • It’s a durable light that can stand up to heavy use.
  • With the lock mode, you don’t have to worry about the light accidentally turning on in your bag and finding you have a dead light as you’re about to start a run.

Cons

  • This light is very pricey.
  • It is heavier than some other lights.

Luxolite Headlamp

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If you’re the type of person who likes all of your gear to match or if wearing a brighter color makes you happy, you might like to know that this headlamp comes in several colors, including some bright ones.

Pros

  • The output on this headlamp is a respectable 168 lumens.
  • If you’re tired of trying to use only one button to switch between red and white lights on other headlamps, you’ll like that this one has separate buttons for white and red lights.
  • The white lights have four different levels of brightness and the red lights have two levels.
  • The lamp can tilt downward so the light can point where you most need it.
  • It’s a lightweight light, only weighing 3 ounces.
  • It’s waterproof.
  • It’s durable if dropped from waist height or so.

Cons

  • It doesn’t offer a wide beam so you get a very narrow view of what’s in front of you and that’s it––you cannot see anything off to the side.
  • The buttons are small, which makes it hard to turn off if you’re wearing gloves while you run.

And the Winner Is …

One of the best trail-running lights is the Knuckle Lights, if you don’t mind having a little extra weight on your hands as you run.

The best thing about Knuckle Lights is that you get two lights––one for each hand. Having two lights gives you a better chance of not being stranded in the dark woods. If you’re only wearing a single light and the batteries give out, you’re in trouble. With this one, you’ll have the light from the other hand to get you safely out of the woods.

It’s also nice that the lights stick together magnetically when they aren’t being used so you won’t misplace one. Plus, you’ll be able to rely on these lights even in freezing conditions.