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Gear and Technology

The science behind our Run Visible Collection

Illustration of a runner wearing bright clothing

It was a dark and stormy night. “Guess I can’t run,” said no runner ever. For those times when you just gotta hit the road, our Run Visible Collection has what you need.

What is Run Visible?

In all seriousness, we know there are plenty of reasons to log miles after hours. Whether your days are super busy or you just prefer to be out sans sunshine, early mornings and late nights offer a great window to fit in your run.

In fact, the average runner tackles workouts in low- or no-light conditions — before dawn, at dusk, twilight, or at night — a few times a month.

But you should never compromise your safety to go on a night or morning run. Take precautions, like running with a buddy, sticking to well-lit areas when possible, and choosing gear that helps you stay seen.

Our Run Visible Collection, formerly the Nightlife Collection, can help.

Tech terms

Let’s start by shedding light on a few key terms that will help you understand how the gear works.

High-visibility describes anything that uses color and contrast to provide increased visual recognition.

Retroreflectivity refers to rays of light reflected back in the same direction from which they came.

Candlepower is our measure of luminous intensity — how strongly light reflects off our gear. Each piece in the Run Visible Collection returns at least as much light as 300 candles burning in the same location.

Moving vehicles are just what they sound like. Through consumer research, we learned that most runners take routes through suburban areas at night, where the speed limit is, on average, 30 mph. 

Carbon Black 3M Technology yields a deep black color, a high level of reflectivity, and color durability. The fabric features:

  • Stretch – high stretch and recovery in all directions for freedom of movement.
  • Brightness – enhanced visibility when illuminated and easily visible from multiple angles.
  • Wash durability – our gear is engineered to maintain color richness and to resist cracking, even after washing.

Innovative technology is what makes this collection shine. Here’s how we used the tech to improve night running.

Seeing science

Ever feel like somebody’s watching you? Not always a bad thing, as it turns out. If you’re logging miles in the early morning or late evening, you want other people to see you coming — especially folks behind the wheel.

Brooks recently partnered with scientists at 3M to learn how the human eye discerns people and objects in low- and no-light conditions. Our Apparel Team dubbed this the study of “vision science.”

Research revealed that the brain is easily confused in poor lighting. When we catch a glimpse of something in the dark, our eyes struggle to make sense of what they’re seeing. So high-vis gear should make a runner not just easy to see, but easy to recognize as a human.

Our team also learned that when it comes to reflectivity, more is not always better. Blinding shine can be, well, blinding. And it doesn’t necessarily help drivers identify you on the road. Instead, reflectivity is most powerful when it maps to key areas of the human body.

Finally, our research took into account that car headlights point down and to the right. So high-visibility features are most effective on a runner’s lower body.

These findings lit the way for our Run Visible Collection.

Check out the action

Rather than designing gear to look like a supernova, our team used 3M Scotchlite Carbon Black Stretch Reflective material in critical motion zones: places on a runner’s body that help drivers recognize the human form.

Reflectivity at the joints, especially knees and ankles, allows headlights to easily pick you up, so drivers know what they’re looking at sooner — and they have more time to react, if they need to hit the brakes.

We also use high-contrast colors and fluorescent features to make even the non-reflective parts of our gear easily visible. Our neon Nightlife color is one of the easiest to discern in low light.

How do we know it works? After developing our product line, we put the gear through rigorous testing using the 3M Test Track. This facility has more than two miles of roadway designed to simulate the urban, rural, interstate, and work zone environments a real runner might route through.

And our gear held up in the headlights.

We put runners in different outfits assembled from the Run Visible Collection. Testers got behind the wheel to make sure they could see the runners from every angle — and with enough time to brake or steer away.

Meet the Run Visible Collection

All this research and collaboration with our partners at 3M allowed us to develop the Run Visible Collection.

Runners in all parts of the globe are on the roads in the dark and at all times of year. We’ve added pieces like vests and tank tops to the line for warm runs, and we’ve improved pieces like our Carbonite Jacket by adding a hood to make it even better for cold and wet runs.

Check out the updated Fall 21 Run Visible products that deliver a better run — day or night.

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The enlightened runner

Highly visible gear is just one part of your safety on the run. You can dress like a disco ball, but if you’re trotting into traffic or barreling through bear country, you’ve got bigger problems.

So we asked our friends at the November Project to highlight how they train in the dark. Check out their advice here.

Shop the Run Visible Collection

Two runners across the street wearing run visible