A growing awareness of all that “running safety” encompasses is evident on the retail floor. For example, while safety lights from brands such as Nathan and HyperBrite are best sellers for Fleet Feet, “we’ve also seen a rise in requests, and sales, for pepper sprays, like Pro-Tec Jogger Spray, as the running community is now more aware of, and educated on, the importance of safety precautions while on the run,” notes Kaitlyn McCrystal, accessories buyer for Fleet Feet. A spray with hand grip, or a clip for apparel, makes it easy for a runner to safely carry and use if needed. Visibility vests are also “a mainstay in runner safety,” she says. In store, merchandising of safety product varies. Smaller accessories at Fleet Feet stores can be found at the cash wrap for a quick grab at checkout. Higher priced items – like headlamps – are locked in cases at store front. Seasonally, safety and visibility products may be highlighted by mannequins or used on focus tables throughout the stores. Many run specialty stores also offer weekly group runs to keep folks together and offer self-defense classes as an additional tool. Here’s a look at what’s new in run safety.
In Craft Sportswear’s Winter Running Guide, the brand lays out a path for dressing for the conditions The three keys are not to dress too warm (layer instead), protect against cold and wind, and make sure you are seen. Craft’s Lumen concept includes high visibility products, including a mix of SubZ (garments with light insulation padding) and Hydro (waterproof with taped seams) offerings. “A functional baselayer (synthetic or wool) also plays a central role to keeping you dry and warm,” says Daniel Högling, creative director, Craft Sportswear. The SubZ Lumen Running Vest has a Ventair front with light padding and a bonded 3-layer shield.
Asics also has their Lite-Show visibility collection of apparel and footwear built for low-light conditions. Advanced retro-reflective technology works at night, reflecting any light directed at the garment or shoe back to its source. This summer the Asics team went on a seven stop Summer Hydration Tour hosted by local run specialty stores with group runs and educational discussions on the importance of hydration during all seasons and temperatures, which is another component of runner safety.
To Karrah Zuziak and the team at reflective performance apparel brand WildSpark, running safety means choosing well-lit locations when possible, selecting routes with speed limits of under 25 mph or less, dressing properly for visibility at night (do not wear dark clothing OR white clothing alone – both are not visible to most drivers until they are too close) and make sure drivers know you are human. “The more reflectivity you have on your entire torso, shoulders and arms; the more quickly drivers will recognize a human form,” comments Zuziak, brand director for reflec-tive apparel at WildSpark. The brand’s apparel has whole-garment reflectivity built into the entire fabric surface area, making them fully illuminated at 170 feet from a vehicle.
Seirus introduced a running collection this year with baselayers, hats, sock and gloves with moisture control to guard against exposure and frostbite. The body mapped baselayers have Heatwave technology offering stage heating for maximum warmth and rapid wicking. Polygiene mesh anti-microbial ventilation zones offer focused perspiration evaporation. “With a higher exertion activity like running it can be tricky to find that perfect temperature, but it’s so important to find that balance of warmth and breathability,” notes Danica Carey, director of marketing operations for Seirus Innovative Accessories.
The Brooks 2023 Run Visible collection offers highly visible styles for all climates. For cold, the Run Visible Thermal Tight is soft and blocks the chill. In warmer climates, the Run Visible Short Sleeve and Short Tight offer sweat wicking and breathable comfort. Powerful 3M Carbon Black stretch reflectivity is placed in critical zones on garments. “We know a lot of our dedicated runners don’t let the weather or time of day stop them from getting their daily miles in, so we want to equip them with the right gear so they are confidently visible,” notes Mike Orton, apparel product line manager at Brooks.
“The best way to stay safe is to pay attention,” says Katie Pyle, senior product line manager, Saucony, adding that the Saucony brand mission has always been to protect the runner and enhance the running experience, whether in rain, snow, heat, cold or low light conditions. The Vizipro collection from Saucony delivers that performance with an added level of protection – enhanced visibility. A highly reflective mesh on the Ride 16 and Endorphin Speed 3 carries a fun pattern.
The easiest intro into the safety category could be socks, considering the low-price threshold, ease of fit and ability to coordinate with an outfit. “Consumers seek products that can aid in helping them stand out, without interfering in their run,” notes Paul Perrone, global VP of business development at Implus, whose Balega sock brand offers four Mini Crew color options in its Silver product line. Designed with silver ions in addition to the reflective yarn, the socks help keep feet dry and odor-free.
Switwick’s Aspire sock is available in a Hi-Viz yellow colorway in zero, one, four- and seven-inch cuff heights. Swiftwick COO Chuck Smith equates safety with visibility plus avoiding injury on the run. The brand’s FLITE XT Zero sock has AnkleLock technology to provide ankle support, while GripDry moisture wicking fibers offer stability.
In its headwear, BoCo Gear has always focused on moisture wicking and ventilation for airflow, but its 2024 Cooling Series takes it a step further, incorporating pockets for ice to regulate body temperature. Its ice hats cool the head, “which is one of the body’s primary heat-regulating mechanisms,” explains Hillary Matthews, director of sales and marketing, BoCo Gear.
CamelBak, known for its personal hydration products, launched the Zephyr Pro Vest earlier this year for trail runners. The Zephyr Pro is constructed of ultralight 40D Ultra ripstop and includes secure pockets for a phone and fuel, reflective points for added visibility, a built-in safety whistle and dual adjustable sternum straps for stability and an exact fit. It also comes supplied with two 17-ounce Quick Stow flasks and is hydration reservoir compatible.
To Louis Philo, brand director at Knog, “running safety means being prepared with lights to see by and be seen by.” Knog offers three running headlamps that are USB rechargeable and include Knog’s red-halo effect, which allows red side illumination LEDs to shine through the silicone head strap, improving the runner’s visibility from all angles. Red light was chosen since it can penetrate to a longer distance than other lights because it is scattered the least by air molecules in the atmosphere, according to Philo. If it’s not comfortable, they won’t wear it – so Knog crafted the strap from grippy, molded silicone that does not allow the lamp bounce, move or pull the wearer’s hair.
“Runners want to wear/use gear that is light, chafe-free and comfortable, doesn’t hinder natural body movement and is simple and intuitive to use,” explains June Angus, co-founder of Amphipod. The brand’s newest introductions include ultralight, flashing rechargeable vests, high-powered USB clip-LEDs and headlamps, storage packs and Love to Run Visible all-in-one gear kits, which include a reflective vest, LED flashing wearable reflector and reflective arm ankle band.
“We ask people who run at dusk or dawn to have a wearable light safety plan and an alarm of some sort, as we’ve noticed that most pedestrian injuries occur between 6pm and 6am,” says Jennifer Rust, senior product line manager with Nathan Sports. A couple of new offerings include the Neutron Fire RX Runners Headlamp that features five modes with three levels of light (plus boost and strobe) and red/green/blue side strobes and Polaris Hand Torches (400 lumen for rechargeable, 200 lumen with batteries) featuring a no grip strap similar to that of a ski pole.
For Nite Ize, “our design checklist is ease of use, convenience and fit – in addition to product durability,” comments VP of marketing, Brenda Isaac. The GoLit Rechargeable Visibility Light – Disc-O Tech is a light on a watch-style band that can be attached to a backpack, running vest or bike handle. Disc-O Tech is an LED module that can be used in a vivid color-changing mode or in red, green, blue or white alone (in glow or flash mode). If you’re out running with your pup, the NiteHowl Max Rechargeable LED safety necklace in Disc-O Select even fits on large and/or fluffy dogs.
Stunt Puppy’s Go-Dog-Glo Harness features 3M reflective panels on the front and reflective thread in the webbing for all-around visibility. Fit to Move geometry allows for free movement of the scapula and glide control keeps the dog relaxed and comfortable. Stunt Puppy ID collars, adjustable ID tags and Fi Compatible collars work together to integrate location and identification into the dog’s own gear. “We believe that any opportunity to move with your dog is a way to build a stronger relationship…and comes with the responsibility to keep your dog safe and comfortable, whatever the conditions,” notes Angela Hook, partner, Stunt Puppy.
When She’s Birdie Co-Founder Amy Ferber runs alone, “for safety, I go with an ID, a phone, a Birdie alarm and my dog.” The Birdie + personal safety alarm has a loud siren, is Bluetooth enabled and connects to the Birdie + app. By connecting with the app, the user can get instant 24/7 access to a live support representative, receive a fake “excuse-to-leave” call and share location with designated contacts. The Birdie+ Subscription Plan is $89.99/year after a 30-day free trial.
Noxgear’s 39g is a lightweight wearable Bluetooth speaker that allows the wearer to listen to music without plugging ears with earbuds. “You can enjoy your audio while still hearing the world and being aware of your surroundings,” explains Arenda Nolan, e-commerce coordinator, Noxgear. Hear and be heard!