Brace yourself friends, family, readers, and review seekers: we are doing things differently around here today. Yes, “we”. As my workload at the gym has increased, my free time for blogging dwindles. I’ve got a pile of gear that I’ve tested that is patiently waiting in the corner for me to write and publish reviews, so instead of delaying the posts any longer, I’ve enlisted help.
Geoff, who is running by my side for most product reviews, is a budding blogger himself. Or he’s just bored, I’m not sure (language warning for his blog. Language and a heads up for those easily offended.). Either way I asked if he would write a review of the Night Runner 270º to supplement my own review. Sometimes two heads are better than one, and when it comes to product reviews, two opinions are certainly more helpful than one.
Now, a few months ago I got an email from a PR friend (in this case, that’s public relations, not personal record, though this PR girl has some pretty amazing running PR’s herself): she wanted to bring my attention to a new kickstarter project. The kickstarter was for a product called “Night Runner 270°”. I thought the concept was awesome, and I gladly helped spread the word.
So imagine my excitement when I got the email saying I would be able to test a pair out! Yay new trail toys!
WHAT IS Night Runner 270°?
To put simply: headlights for your…shoes.
- Two ultra-light LED light units – 1.5 oz.
- Back-facing red tail lights
- 4-8 hour battery life
- Li-ion rechargeable battery
- 150 total lumens
- 30+ meters in beam distance
- Bi-lateral ‘wing’ design
- Water-resistant unit
- Secure, stable, multi-position shoelace clips
- MSRP: $59.95 per pair
The Night Runner 270°‘s are not difficult to figure out. They come with a double charging unit (one for each light), and turn on with the big red button. The clip allows you to slide the light right onto your shoe. Really, you don’t even need to read the instruction manual; they are out-of-the-box easy to understand.
For their very first test run, we took the Night Runner 270º’s down to our local trail well after dark. I was able to easily secure them to my shoes and turn them on without any problem. I was immediately excited at the bright, wide field of vision…
…and then I started running.
It totally bums me out when something I want *so badly* to work well falls short on my expectations. I hate to report that this was the case for the Night Runner 270°. The concept is unbelievable: headlamps for your feet! Hands free lighting that is always pointed in the same direction that you are! With 150 total lumens (that’s bright!), 270-degrees of visibility up to 30 meters (that’s wide!), and waterproof casing (puddles!) the features of these lights are so promising.
But as soon as I started running with the Night Runner 270° it was immediately apparent that there is a reason why most people choose to have a lamp on their head and not their feet: because your head remains relatively stable throughout the run, your feet do not.
The field of vision, while bright, was so bouncy that it almost instantly made me dizzy. In that first particular test, we were running relatively technical trails. The bouncing field of vision made me fearful that I was going to miss something, a root, a rock, a hole, a turn, and end up doing a massive face plant.
So we stopped and tried to adjust the lights. According to the directions, it is suggested that you wear the Night Runner 270° towards the middle or bottom of your laces. We tried moving the light up and down the shoe, and tilting them at various angles, but to no avail. I simply couldn’t handle the sporadic, bouncy light.
Because not all hope is lost, I will point out that the Night Runner 270°‘s make an amazing supplemental light. With the Night Runner 270°‘s on your feet, and either a headlamp or handheld lamp, you really light up the trail.
Further, forget seeing the trail/road at night…these lights will ensure that others (approaching traffic, other runners, bears?) see YOU coming. And we can never be too safe when it comes to distracted drivers.
Now, for a second opinion…
GEOFF’S REVIEW: (in his words, which are typically more concise and to the point than my own. – Heather)
We run a lot at night. Whether it’s due to some crazy overnight race training or because it’s cooler out, we do it. It adds a huge sense of adventure to an otherwise hum-drum run and it makes every trail feel brand new. But the risks of running at night are quite obvious and these Night Runners help alleviate the biggest one: visibility.
At 150 Lumens, these are quite bright. The 270 degree of light ensures anything heading your direction (car, dog, bear) will see you.
There is also a bright red rear facing light, again making sure you are readily seen. Unlike a steady beam flash lamp or reflector, the movement of these lights on your feet is almost impossible to miss.
We’ve worn these on several trail runs, using several different pair of shoes, under different weather conditions. But the consesus for each run has been the same: these are a great supplemental light source.
Let’s get into some thoughts on the product itself:
They are light weight. With the possible exception of running in Vibrams, you won’t notice anything extra on your feet.
They are very simple to get on your shoes, and better yet, easily interchangeable. There is no need to unlace your shoes. Simply slide the clip in place under your laces. And they always felt secure.
This factor is quite important. If you are doing a race where you need to change your shoes for some reason, you probably dont want to have to unlace your shoes to re-apply your lamps to new shoes.
They are weather resistant. Running in the rain presented no problem. However, we did not submerge them.
One button, easily accessible, to operate. Steady and Flash mode.
USB charging. That’s pretty convenient. You can charge them anywhere.
There is a 5-8hr battery life. We can currently easily attest to 2.5hrs .
Easily adjustable tilt angles.
Running at night requires you to able to see, and you being able to be seen. These lights do the latter with flying colors.
Using only these lights on your feet, you never end up with a steady light source on the ground in front of you. In fact, the constant up and down movement of the light can be rather discombulating. And although bright, the way these set on your feet don’t really allow you to see many technical trail features, even with the multiple angle adjustments.
When used with a headlamp or knuckle light however, these lights rounded out a good lighting system. A brighter main lamp will drown out the previously mentioned up-down movements. The light weight of them makes them easy to forget they’re on, yet if you’re in a pinch and your main lamp were to fail, you could easily remove one of these from your shoe and utilize as a hand held. (My advice is to always have a backup lamp)
We also can’t stress enough just how visible these make you. Always wear reflective gear and lamps.
SUMMARY: (Heather again)
Allowing others to be aware of you (safety factor): 5 out of 5 stars.
Allowing you to see the terrain ahead of you: 2 out of 5 stars.
Again, I really, really like the concept of these lights, which is why I was so quick to promote the kickstarter. While the execution of the product was sound (these lights have withstood all of our running with zero damage so far), the movement of the light isn’t ideal. Though I’m honestly not sure how that issue could be resolved, I am not an engineer. I’m certain there are people out there who can figure this one out.
I am very grateful to Night Runner 270º for sending over a pair for us to test. Though my review is not 100% positive, I hope the designers will take into consideration the constructive criticism, and world to improve this awesome concept.
QUESTIONTS? Comment below! Or let us know, what is your favorite method of lighting up the road or trails for night runs?