The Best Workout Gear For When It's Dark And Cold Outside

From reflective shoes to flashing vests, here’s how to keep your sweat sessions lit during the low-light fall and winter.
Don't start an early-morning or late-evening sweat session without these products.
ljubaphoto via Getty Images
Don't start an early-morning or late-evening sweat session without these products.

Daylight hours are dwindling. When we roll back the clocks for Daylight Saving Time in November, the sun will set even earlier. And for many of us, this means it’ll get dark before we finish work.

This can make it feel more challenging to fit in workouts, especially if you prefer to sweat it out outdoors. Yet, with the right gear, it doesn’t mean you need to swap your favorite trail for an indoor treadmill or your bike-riding routine for a spin class.

There are two key safety rules for exercising pre-dawn or post-sunset ― see and be seen. And for all types of exercise, it’s important to invest in lighting gear and reflective apparel, said Ross Martinson, a running coach, Philadelphia Runner owner and 10-time marathoner.

“Even if you’re on a trail or stationary, you want to make bikers and other people aware of you,” Martinson said.

We asked Martinson, along with other fitness pros, to share their favorite gear for training in dusky or dark conditions. Read on to see what they recommend.

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Amphipod Xinglet Optic Beam USB Rechargeable Flashing Reflective Vest
This lightweight vest features neon green lights that shine across your body in the shape of an “X.” The USB-rechargeable lights can keep you visible for up to eight hours and have multiple settings, including two flashing modes.

“It’s easily an upgrade of a reflective vest, and it’s super-thin so it doesn’t get in your way, feel bulky, or make you hot,” Martinson said.

Get it for $60.
Brooks Carbonite Jacket
Designed to make you visible in motion from up to 600 feet, this wind- and water-resistant layer features reflective details in areas where you move, like the arms and shoulders. The semi-fitted jacket follows a sleek, black-and-white color pattern, accented by a neon yellow zipper.

Get one starting at $150.
Petzl Bindi Ultra-Compact Rechargeable Headlamp
Started by cave explorers, Petzl is a company that takes lighting seriously. Weighing in at less than 0.08 pounds, Petzl’s headlamp features multiple lighting and color settings, plus an adjustable cord that allows you to wear it as a headband, necklace, or attached to a hat.

“It doesn’t bounce around because it’s so lightweight, but even though it’s small, you can make it super-bright,” said Brogan Graham, co-founder and director of worldwide exercise community November Project Inc.

Get it for $44.95.
Nathan Strobe LED Safety Light Clip
Clip these colorful lights to your running jacket, biking shoes, backpack or armband to make yourself visible in low-light conditions. The water-resistant lights last up to 57 hours on steady mode and more than 100 hours when set to flash.

“I don’t like a lot of stuff on me when I exercise, and these I can just clip to the back of my shorts and I don’t feel them dangling on me,” said Jeremy Spry, a 37-time marathon runner and running coach. “Plus, they’re in an affordable price range, so if you lose one, it’s annoying but not devastating.”

Get a pack of two for $18.
Brooks Fusion Midweight Glove
Part of its Run Visible collection, Brooks offers a midweight glove outfitted with reflective material to catch light as you move. The gloves come with tech-compatible fingertips and magnetized cuffs that’ll keep them together in your bag.

“They’re one of the best pieces as it gets colder, because they’re something you’re going to wear every day, and they’re highly reflective,” Martinson said.

Get a pair for $34.
Aftershokz Air Conduction Headphones
Rather than plugging your ears, the earbuds of these headphones sit right in front of your ear canal and send vibrations to your inner ear through what’s called bone conduction technology. The design keeps your eardrums fully open to ambient sound, allowing you hear what's going on in your surroundings.

“It’s a nice safety feature all the time, but extra-important when it’s dark outside,” Spry said. “And they hook around your ears, so they stay on well during workouts.”

Water-resistant, the headphones work well for the sweatiest of workouts and rainy conditions.

Get some starting at $109.99.
Whenever heading out for a workout, it’s wise to tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll return. If you want to guarantee someone can retrace your steps in case of emergency, location sharing app Life360 makes that easy. Available for iPhone or Android, the app enables you to create invite-only “circles” that allow loved ones to see your location in real time. You can also create temporary “bubbles” to share your approximate location for a set period of time, and send silent alerts with your location to circle members, emergency contacts, and police if you ever feel unsafe.

“I’ve been using it for years — the idea is to keep people protected and connected,” said Tina Vindum, owner of the Outdoor Fitness Institute training program. “If I’m going out for a five-mile trail run, someone can get turn-by-turn instructions on how to get there if I need them.”

Get a Life360 plan starting at $4.17 a month.
Asics Lite-Show Shoes
When it comes to safety in low-light conditions, you can never have too much reflective gear. Asics’ Lite-Show collection makes it easy to dress head-to-toe in gear that’ll make you shine. The collection includes everything from shorts and jackets to tights, along with some of Asics' most popular running shoe models, like the Gel-Nimbus and the Gel-Kayano.

The shoes are particularly great. They’re not covered in shiny silver elements, but when the light shines on them, the entire shoe is reflective,” Martinson said. “On top of that, they’re just great shoes, so you’re not sacrificing anything to get the reflective part.”

Get a pair starting at $160.
100% Speedcraft Photochromic Glasses
Popular among cyclists, these sports performance glasses have rubber nose pads that secure them in place while preventing dirt from getting in your eyes. The photochromatic lenses transition with the light, turning darker in sunnier conditions and lighter as it gets dark.

“Since the lenses change with you, you don’t ever have to stop to change your glasses along your ride. And they’re really light, so you don’t even realize they’re on your face,” said Cynthia “Chi” Planken, a cycling and outdoor fitness coach.

Get a pair starting at $184.99.
Light & Motion Seca Comp 2000 Bike Light
While heavier than some of its competitors, the Seca Comp 2000 is one of the brightest compact bike lights on the market. It’s designed using a combination of spot and flood beam patterns to create a natural lighting feel that enables you to see far ahead of you when mounted onto your handlebars.

“It has multiple settings, but it can get really, really bright, which is especially important on a mountain bike when you need a lot of depth perception,” Planken said.

Get it from REI for $225.
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