Trail Running Product Review: Illuminate the Night with RunLites

RunLites by Mangata reviewed by Laura Clark. Laura is an avid mountain, trail and snowshoe runner who lives in Saratoga Springs, NY, where she is a children’s librarian. Photo above by Pamela Delsignore at Moreau State Park.

RunLites are an amazingly versatile hand held light and must-have item that should take up residence in every runner’s gear bag. I went for being admittedly skeptical to totally sold.

The Nitty-Gritty:

RunLites are sold separately in two different parts:

  • A pair of LED lightweight USB rechargeable light units with two settings each of 40 lumens and 80 lumens along with a two-pronged charge cable. $24.95
  • Your choice of open-fingered gloves, polar fleece mittens or winter gloves or sling carrying devices. To clarify, the sling does not mean you broke your arm and are going for a run anyway, but a summer-time alternative which additionally can be worn over a favorite pair of good luck gloves. Prices vary with the mittens and gloves going for $32.95, the half gloves for $24.95 and the slings for $19.95.

In this way you could conceivably order one pair of RunLites that you could interchange among different carrying devices depending on the weather.

The product I tested was the half-glove. I drew black, but if you are into expressing your inner self through your choice of running gear, know that there are a plethora of styles and colors to choose from, all in a breathable fabric with UV protection.

Photo by Erin McCabe. Erin is an Environmental Educator at Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park.

During my initial test runs I had two basic concerns:

The square, compact RunLites fit into the glove by means of a velcro’d front pocket, with strips on the back and front of the pocket as well as the unit, allowing the lights to protrude outside the pocket. With all the jostling that trail running entails, I was concerned that the packs would fall out, or at the very least, wiggle around preventing deliberate focusing. Not the case, and I soon learned to stop worrying.

My biggest concern had to do with the intensity and span of the illumination. Again, a nonissue. My first foray sensibly took place on the familiar trails behind my house. As I live in the country, dark means dark, with no ambient mall lighting or car headlights to contend with. Naturally, I had forgotten to carry a just-in-case headlamp, so I was totally dependent on my untested hand lights. With a wingspan of 40 feet there was more than enough power to light up the trail. I almost felt as if I were running in daylight. Moreover, the ability to hand-direct the beam wherever I wanted saved me from having to tilt my head up, down and all around, distracting my eyes from the trail. For a night run on unfamiliar trails, it would make sense to pack and additional headlamp. And as the initial charge is advertised to last from 8-10 hours, an epic race would naturally call for several backup LED light units.

Photos by Erin McCabe. Erin is an Environmental Educator at Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park.

Pleasant Surprises:

My final testing included an evening group trail run, and while we managed to beat the descending darkness, I turned on my lights anyway because the trail was especially rooted and rutty. The folks beyond the bend ahead of me were delighted to discover they could keep track of where I was when they were as much as 5-7 minutes ahead of me! This would be a perfect way to keep tabs on your friends during a totally dark run.

It wasn’t until this time that it was both not raining or snowing and warm enough to run without a jacket. At a loss as to where to stash my car key, I finally discovered that each glove contained a small, secure velcro’d pocket. Problem solved! Not only that, but allergy season had just begun and I made use of the hitherto unnoticed terry cloth thumb covering.

It snowed here two days ago, but I have discovered that in almost-freezing temperatures I can still tolerated naked fingertips if I supplement with a pair of hand warmers.

I can think of many other off-label uses for these lights: wearing even in the daylight when running on the roads to alert on-coming traffic, midnight camping excursions to the porta-potty, walking the dog…and my favorite, being able to return from a run and retrieve every last bit of mail from my roadside mailbox!

This is one of those gear items that I can’t imagine how I ever did without. Even better, I now have a gift idea for my granddaughter when she heads off to college next year—perfect for late night study break runs or simply navigating her way around a darkened campus.

Photo by Pamela Delsignore at Moreau State Park.

Tags: ,