It’s November. Winter is coming: it’s getting cooler and mornings are getting darker.
Much of my training is done in the early morning, in the quiet hours before children awake and work obligations flood my calendar. I spend most of my training time alone, logging miles, winding a solitary path through the streets and trails of Albuquerque.
One aspect of training that has always been of import to me – a lone, female runner – is safety. Especially for the urban runner, one aspect of that is key: visibility. Personal visibility to vehicles, cyclists and other pedestrians is important, especially as days get shorter. Being able to see the ground in front of you is important no matter what surface you’re running over, trail, road, or track.
I was recently invited to try out Knuckle Lights: Rechargeable hand lights ($59): a set of LED-powered hand-held running lights. Knuckle Lights are available online, and in running stores across the country. I am a long-term running headlamp user, and I love having my hands free while I run, and was perhaps a bit skeptical at having lights on my (moving) hands, but was eager to try them out!
The lights each provide a wide angle (~160 degrees) of bright, clean blue-white light (specs say: 280 lumens). Each handheld light weighs 3 oz. The genius behind the Knuckle Light design is that you are not clutching a light in your hand: rather, the adjustable, flexible strap cinches around your hand (above your knuckles), allowing you to relax your hand and arm naturally as you run or walk.
The lights can be set to three different power/brightness settings: low, high, and blinking. I found even on the low setting, there was abundant light provided for running on roads or trails. I ran the lights for 4 hours and 21 minutes on high power setting, recharged them and let them run again for 8 hours 23 minutes on low. I ran the blinking lights overnight (in a closet!) for approximately 13.5 hours before I used up the battery. Recharging was simple: I was able to simply click the lights into their charging dock, plug the USB charging cable into the outlet, and after an overnight charging session, they lights were ready to go once more. The lights are magnetic, clicking together so you don’t lose them.
I tried the Rechargeable on road runs, an overnight trail relay race, in clear weather and in the rain. I ran them under the shower to test their waterproofness, since the “rain” we get here in NM is not often very substantial. Even in my shower-downpour, the lights remained functional.
Pros: Super-bright, rechargeable, easy to use, light-brightness adjustable, comfortable hand held lights!
Drawbacks: The lights are super bright, and the wide angle of visibility did sometimes catch my own eye, which gave me a moment of light-blindness, but was only a minor nuisance, surmountable once I became accustomed to running with them. If you are not used to having anything on your hands, it is different to have items on your hands, however, if you are used to carrying waterbottles in your hands, these won’t phase you.
Bottom line: Knuckle Lights are a fun, useful way to be visible on your run or walk. They provide a great alternative to going blind or wearing a headlamp. To my pleasure, the wide flood beam of these lights provides a comparable brightness and a wider angle of light distribution than a running headlamp. These are an excellent tool and can be used for running, walking, hiking, general playing.
Any way you do it, be sure to run your winter-time miles with safety in mind!