As a frequent runner, I look forward to putting in some miles on an almost daily basis, rain or shine; hot or cold. But, if there is one thing I don’t like, its heading out for a run after dark, mostly because I worry a bit about whether or not I’m visible enough for passing cars to see. I’ve had so many close calls over the years, that I do a pretty good job of staying aware of my surroundings and avoiding serious mishaps. Still, even while wearing a headlamp and reflective clothing, I’ve nearly been hit more times than I can count. But over the past couple of months I’ve been testing a pair of Night Trek 270 Tactical Shoe Lights, and I can honestly say they’ve helped significantly.
The Night Trek 270 are a pair of bright lights that attach to your shoes or boots, not only helping you to stay more visible, but allowing you to see more of your surroundings too. They have three different settings – high, low, and flash – and they even have red sidelights that can help them pop out of the darkness just a little more.
The lights feature a clip that slides under and over your shoelaces to secure them in place. Once there, they shouldn’t move around much, projecting as much as 150 lumens of light in a 270º pattern in front of you as you walk and run. I say the shouldn’t move around too much, but in my testing I found that they work better on some shoes as opposed to others. For instance, I tried them on three different pairs of running shoes and on two of them they stayed firmly in place and never came off. On the third pair however, they would occasionally come loose and fly from the shoe while I ran.
On one occasion I had to backtrack for nearly a mile to retrieve it, which is testament to how lightweight these lights actually are. I didn’t even notice that it had dropped of my shoe for quite some time, which made retrieving it a bit of a pain, but it was easy to spot laying upside down on a sidewalk with the light still blasting away.
When attached to hiking boots, I had no issues with the lights, as I wasn’t moving at as fast of a pace, and the thicker laces seemed to hold the light well. In fact, hunters, campers, and hikers will probably appreciate the Night Treks just as much as runners, even though they’ll be using them for a different purpose.
Battery life is advertised as 3-5 hours depending on the brightness setting, but I was easily able to get 6-7 hours of life from them on the lowest setting before needing a recharge. I run for more than an hour most evenings and could go a full week without having to juice up the lights again. Cold conditions did eat into that battery life however, as it does with most electronic devices.
It is difficult to say just how much more visible you are when wearing these lights on your running shoes. But, from anecdotal evidence, I can honestly say that I have had fewer close calls since I started using the Night Trek 270s then when I was running in the dark before adding them to my gear closet, using just a headlamp alone. There were times when I wondered if my headlamp was even on, as cars seemed to not notice me at all. But with these lights in place on my shoes, that changed noticeably, as I saw passing vehicles slow down; unsure of what was approaching them. I suspect the movement of the lights on my feet played a role in that process too.
The Night Trek 270 sells for $74.95, which means they aren’t an inexpensive investment. In fact, there are a lot of different options for runners that can increase visibility at night that don’t cost this much. But, most of those devices are cheaply built and aren’t particularly bright. These shine through the night like a beacon and are very well made, resisting accidental drops, kicks, and even moisture without a problem.
They’re also made to last a very long time, which means you probably won’t be replacing them every year like you would with something less expensive. Just be sure they’re attached properly to your shoes. At $75/pair, you definitely won’t want to lose them.
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