Wildfire’s Tips for Running Safely at Night
Author: Stephanie Ford Date Posted: 11 November 2020
Running at night can be a beautiful thing. The world looks different, the trails are less congested, and you only need to focus on the small section of trail or path in front of you. Here are our top tips for running safely in the dark...
Use A Reliable Head Torch for Running in the Dark
You don’t want your head torch to run out of battery mid-run. Nor do you want one that bounces around on your forehead. You want a torch that’s there for you when you need it.
That’s not to say you need to spend a lot of money. Quality head torches from Black Diamond, Petzl and Knog start below $60. But spending more will give you access to longer run times, smaller units (which bounce less), and rechargeable batteries. I’ve been rocking a Ledlenser MH10 for the past few years and it does the job. It lasts forever and the brightness is perfect for anything I’ve tackled. (The MH11 is now out!). Prior to that, I used a Black Diamond ReVolt, which I was also a fan of (though I love that they’ve gotten smaller in recent years!).
You can find more information in our blog post on how to choose trekking poles and head torches.
Two Light Sources are Better Than One
I first used a head torch combined with a handlebar light while mountain biking at night - and it changed my life! Running on technical terrain with two light sources is incredible for your confidence. Having a lamp attached to your hip lets you keep an eye on technical features close to you while you look further along the trail. Well-designed running lights don’t tend to bounce either, even if they’re a bit bulkier. It’s not a necessity if you’re running on the road and paths at night (though, it may still do wonders for your confidence). But I don’t want to hit the trails again at night without one!
Visibility for Night Runs
See and be seen is the mantra for anyone exercising after the sun goes down. These are the tools that will help you be seen:
Rear Visibility Lights
Much like a bike, I attach a rear flashing light to myself whenever I run at night. It’s a courtesy that lets everyone else know you’re there, which is MUCH safer than your presence being a surprise. I always prioritise rear lights with strobe or flashing functionality and try to use red lights where possible. You might like this Knog Plus Rear Light.
There are so many reflective items to choose from. But be sure to wear something reflective! I tend to try to wear something reflective at the top and bottom of my body to make myself more easily identifiable for passersby. Here are some options for you:
- Reflective cap
- Reflective Buff headband
- Reflective beanie
- Reflective calf sleeves
- Reflective gloves
- Reflective speed laces.
A Survival Kit - if I’m hitting the trails
I know the likelihood of me spending the night trailside due to an injury or me getting lost is low, but it’s not impossible. I always make sure I’m equipped to make it through a cold night if I’m hitting the trails late in the day. My survival kit has some painkillers and an emergency blanket (like this one). And I always carry a warmer layer and some snacks, just in case. My Ultimate Direction Adventure Vesta 4.0 has an emergency whistle attached, so that’s always with me too! (Try the 5.0 now). Finally, I like to be even more aware of my surroundings in the dark. So, I leave the headphones at home and practice spending time with my own thoughts!
Get out there, safely! And have fun doing it.