Goodbye, sunshine. Hello, dark, dreary winter.
We’re swiftly headed toward the shortest day of the year — Dec. 21, the winter solstice, when some parts of the U.S. will see fewer than nine hours of daylight.
But don’t hide in the base gym all winter because it’s dark out there. Stay warm and safe outdoors in this high-visibility gear.
Brooks Nightlife Infiniti 1/2 Zip:
Brooks’ Nightlife collection is an entire line of fluorescent neon tops and accessories in colors we like to think of as “don’t-hit-me-with-your-car” yellow and “that-doesn’t-grow-in-nature” green. The Infiniti 1/2 Zip is a great midweight layer that works as outerwear when it’s chilly but still shines under a vest when it turns colder. The semifitted Infiniti has 360 degrees of 3M’s Scotchlite retroreflectivity, a hidden zipper pocket on the left arm and sleeves with thumb holes. $80; www.brooksrunning.com
Sugoi Versa jacket
If you invest in only one piece of high-vis gear, make it Sugoi’s Versa jacket. This water- and wind-resistant outerwear is a combination jacket and vest. The magnet-attached sleeves pull off easily — even while moving — and stow in their own rear pocket. Versa’s 360-degree reflective visibility keeps you in sight, while the jacket’s breathable Argon ripstop fabric keeps your dry. The only downside? It won’t stay tied around your waist if you get too hot — the sleeves stay tied while the vest portion falls to the ground. $120; www.sugoi.com
Amphipod Xinglet (above)
Minimalist athletes will appreciate Amphipod’s Xinglet reflective vest. This one-size-fits-all product is like a souped-up, service-issued reflective belt without the annoying hanging straps. Shine like a human chem light with front and rear reflective zones and full 360-degree reflectivity. The quick clip release makes it easy to slip on. Upgrade to the Xinglet Pocket and get a 4- by-3-inch ventilated zipper pocket that’s great for keys and an ID. $25-30; www.amphipod.com
Coast HL27 LED headlamp
Coast’s HL27 headlamp shines at 309 lumens and has the beam strength to light up targets up to 400 feet away, making it great for trail running. The best feature on this lamp is the company’s Light Output Control Wheel, which lets you choose the brightness with a glove-friendly dial instead of a tiny button. This gives you dimmer options from 309 lumens down to almost nothing, instead of restricting you to two or three brightness settings. The hinged beam adjustment lets you point the light at your feet, off into the distance or somewhere in between. Weighing in at 4.4 ounces, this light has some heft, but not so much that it’s annoying. It runs on three AA batteries (included), is water resistant and comes with a lifetime guarantee. $75; www.coastportland.com
Ay Up headlamp
Ay Up’s HT13 torch kit has given us some major light envy on the trail. The kit, from 5-year-old Aussie company Ay Up, will cost you some big bucks, but it’ll pay out huge dividends in lumens. This 9.2-ounce kit boasts a 700-plus lumen light that will get you two hours, 45 minutes, on high power; four hours, 30 minutes, on medium and eight hours, 30 minutes, on low. Each kit comes with a rechargeable battery and charger, a three-point elastic harness, and a zipper case to keep your prized light safe when not in use. The downside to this powerful light is that you’ll have to think ahead if you want to play in the dark all night — especially if you’re a light snob and want to run on high power. Spare rechargeable batteries will run you $56 to $75, making a midrun battery change much more expensive than swapping out some AAs. $196; www.ayup-lights.com
Nathan LightSpur heel lights
Whether on the bike or on the road, Nathan’s LightSpurs will light you up like Tron. The lightweight, multisetting LED spur easily attaches to the backs of your shoes. Runs on a replaceable watch battery, provides 100-plus hours of illumination and is waterproof. $20; www.nathansports.com
Amphipod Swift-Clip Cap Light
Throw this tiny light in your bag and never be caught in the dark. The rubber LED light clips to the brim of any cap or visor and can operate on a constant or blink setting. And at half an ounce, you’ll barely know it’s there. Uses two CR2032 batteries, included. $15; www.rei.com
Planet Bike SuperFlash Turbo bicycle tail light (not shown)
Planet Bike’s tiny LED tail light is visible at up to a mile, (hopefully) helping drivers see you before it’s too late. The weatherproof, lightweight light will last up to 100 hours on two AAA batteries (included). Has blink and constant modes. $30; www.amazon.com
We love all-in-one gear, and the Acouztic 1000 is right at home in that category. At 8.5 ounces, it’s a flashlight, bicycle headlight and MP3 player. The 170-lumen LED light will stay on for up to 40 continuous hours; or you can listen to music for up to 70 hours. It has a waterproof aluminum housing, built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery and enough memory (2 gigabytes) to hold about 500 songs. But please, Knight Rider, be safe and leave the tunes for the day time. $120; www.xceoninc.com
Road ID app
The free Road ID app acts like the old standby bracelet, but without your contact information from three PCSs ago. Available on iTunes, it lets you keep your information updated and gives friends and family a way to digitally track you while you’re out and about. Set an alert when you leave and contacts can follow along online with virtual “eCrumbs.” The app will send them a stationary alert if you stop for more than five minutes. Use the lock screen creator to set “in case of emergency” info that can be viewed by first responders even if your phone is locked. Road ID must have a cellular connection and uses the GPS on your phone, which will affect battery life. Free for iOs, coming soon for Android; www.roadid.com