Last week the postman turned up with a box of products from Nathan (as in the running brand, not Nathan Finnemore who threw my PE bag into a load of stinging nettles at junior school1), and I found myself sifting through a pile of LED clothing and gadgets from their Fire Up Your Run range. Of course, like any right-minded person, the first thing I did was to put everything on at once in an attempt to make myself look a bit like Tron.
At this time of year, running in daylight is a bit of a rarity, so it wasn’t long before I was putting the kit through its paces. Despite being a regular night-time runner, I’ve never really bothered with lights or reflective clothing before, and this is for the same reason why I’ve never bought a burglar alarm; i.e. I’m a super-naive fully-paid-up member of the “that sort of thing only happens to other people” gang.
[Note for any burglars reading this: Ignore that last bit. I've since bought a massive burglar alarm. And a Minotaur.]
Anyway, let’s have a look at the kit…
These gloves have a nifty little strip of red LEDs on the back of the hand that can be set to a steady glow or on/off blinkinesss, which I’m fairly certain is a real word. Nathan claim that these bright little chaps are visible from up to 1300ft away, which should give motorists plenty of opportunity not to run you over. However, while the lights are great, I wasn’t terribly impressed by the rest of the gloves, considering the hefty price tag. Maybe I just have fussy hands, but these didn’t feel any different to the bog-standard £5 running gloves that I’ve been wearing for years, and a slightly chilly wind seemed to cut right through them.
Hang on a sec though… I’ve just noticed that they have a “nose wipe chamois thumb”. Changed my mind; they’re amazing 😉
- Rechargeable via USB
- Conductive finger, for fiddling with your smartphone
- Suggested retail price £49.99
This hat uses a similar LED system to the speedshift gloves (above); but unlike the gloves, I found that it was warm enough to make a difference on cold night-runs. It has white LEDs to the front and red to the rear (unless you wear it backwards, obviously), which the manufacturers claim can be seen from 2400ft away. It’s a snug little running beanie, and I really liked the fact that the gadgetry is all wafer-thin and doesn’t affect the lines of the hat whatsoever (which is good, because my head is already quite lumpy enough, thanks). The front light isn’t bright enough to replace a head-torch on seriously dark runs, but it helps, and it’ll definitely get you seen.
- Ponytail slot
- Rechargeable via USB
- SRP £37.99
This is just a simple little red flashy clip-on thingy. It doesn’t try to be anything it’s not, and it performs well enough.
- 30hrs run time
- Nice secure clip
- SRP £9.99
This clip-on light initially looked very similar to the Pulsar strobe, but it also packs a decent 30 lumen white light in addition to the red. I tested this on a moonless night, clipped to the supplied waist belt, and it was just bright enough to keep me upright and on the footpath. As with all of the above products, this gadget is more about making yourself visible to others rather than lighting the way in front of you. However, I think this light would work really well in partnership with a head-torch, as a secondary light-source to add texture and definition to the terrain in front of you. This is probably my favourite of all the products tested.
- Rechargeable via USB
- Run-time up to 30 hours
- Various settings and combinations of red/white light.
- SRP £27.99
Zephyr Fire 100 hand torch
At the other end of the liked-by-jay scale comes the Zephyr Fire 100 hand torch. From the build quality and the seemingly clever (and very comfortable) hand-strap, I was really looking forward to trying this out. According to the manufacturer, this torch casts a 24 degree downward projection, meaning that it lights your way without you having to twist you hand out of its natural position. In practice this just didn’t work for me. Now, I know I don’t have the most natural or graceful of running styles, but I’ve always thought that my arm swing was one of the few normal(ish) aspects of my gait. When I run, my forearms are vaguely parallel to the ground, with fingers pointing forwards and thumbs upwards. This means that as I run, the Zephyr Fire spends a lot of time illuminating the tip of my nose and little or no time lighting up the path ahead. It might give you a heads-up of any murderers hiding up trees, but that’s about it. Luckily, I don’t swing my arms across my body as I run (because a running coach once told me that if I did that, they’d set lions on me, or something) , because that would’ve just made things even worse. To make this torch work for me I found that I had to hold my arm or wrist at an unnatural angle, and even then the jiggly-aboutness (again, real word; don’t bother looking it up) of the beam was really off-putting. It’s a shame, because the torch itself is very nice with some great features.
- 67m projection
- 113 lumens
- Rear red light
- Audible safety alarm (a nice little touch, I thought)
- SRP £44.99
1 Although for all I know, he could have gone on to start a company bearing his name and selling running products, in which case I reserve the right to amend this review so that it reflects the fact that he smells and I hate him.