This time of year – any time of year, actually – safety is the most important concern when running. Being visible to vehicles and cyclists is more than half the battle when staying on your own feet and out of harm’s way, so wearing a reflective vest is vital when running in dark or low-light conditions.
Recently, I started upping my mileage in anticipation of the 2018 edition of ORRC’s 1200 Club, and it’s November, so I’m running a lot more often in the dark. I have typically run in a standard neon colored vest with a reflective stripe, so trying the NoxGear Tracer360 was a big change. I have seen other runners in these vests, and I have always thought they are highly visible and just plain cool, the way they change colors and flash in a pattern.
The NoxGear Tracer360 has a solid central piece that rests on the back (below the bra line) and clips in front on the upper stomach, and a neon elastic band with a reflective stripe that snaps behind the back. Their most unique feature is a thin length of tubing that loops over the shoulders and rests on the hips, that can be set to red, blue, green, pink, purple, orange, yellow, magenta, or a flashing or fading pattern. This is what really draws the attention of drivers and makes you more visible at night.
I was concerned that the vest might not be comfortable, but that concern was quickly proven unfounded when I put the vest on and snapped the clip. You can’t feel the bands over the shoulders – just a little pressure from the elastic band that did not bother me at all. To change the blink pattern or color while running, you press the button on the back panel until you’re at the color or pattern you want; this can be tricky to do without unclipping, but it’s not impossible. (I also found the Tracer360 can be worn backwards if you want easier access to the button while running and it was actually comfortable the wrong way, too.)
This button is also the on/off; but to turn it off you press and hold. When you’re turning it off, watch what color flashes before it goes dark: green means you’re good on battery, red means you should replace the 3 AAA batteries soon. When you’re nearing the device’s 40-hour limit, the light will only appear red even when you push to change the color.
You will need to check the size chart to determine which size is best for you. I wear a size L in most running shirts and a M in most “regular” shirts, so I got the size M/L. It fits great over my winter running gear, which usually includes a rain jacket, and doesn’t bounce.
This vest definitely gets the job done – everyone is my running club commented on how bright the vest was – but it really “shone” when we were running on the unlit Powerline Trail. There, even with a super-bright headlight on, the blinking pattern of the vest lit up the entire trail and it was clear just how bright the vest is.
I found that the steady-color light works best on dark trails and sidewalks, but the blinking pattern is really valuable on busy roads, even standing out in well-lit areas. Because the pattern speed and color varies, it grabs more attention than a single steady light or simple on/off blink.
Be sure to check for holiday deals on the NoxGear Tracer360 – the regular price is $69.95 but today they are on sale at noxgear.com for only $44.95.