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Gear and Technology

The science behind our Run Visible Collection

Runners wearing bright clothing in the dark
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The sun has set. Or maybe it has yet to rise. “Guess I can’t run,” said no runner ever. For those times when you just gotta hit the road, our updated Run Visible Collection has what you need.

What is Run Visible?

In all seriousness, we know there are plenty of reasons to log miles in the dark. 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 be recognized as a runner.

Our updated Run Visible Collection, now with an all-new modern look, can help.

Two runners stretching int he dark

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 better visual recognition.

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

Candlepower measures 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. Consumer research taught us that most runners take routes through suburban areas at night, where the speed limit is 30 mph on average.

3M™ Scotchlite™ Carbon Black Stretch reflectivity yields a deep black color, a high level of reflectivity, and color durability. Essentially, these are strips of reflective material placed in critical motion zones. 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 – maintains color richness and resists cracking, even after washing.

Fluorescence is a measure of luminosity — how much light a color gives off — and chromaticity — the intensity of the color. To be fluorescent, and to also meet our strict standards for Run Visible performance, a fluorescent color must meet a fine balance of the two. We partnered with color experts to create a unique fluorescent hue that has been tested for the best performance in little to no-light scenarios. Fluorescence is extra helpful in low-light conditions you find at dawn and dusk.

Contrasting colors in our apparel make even the non-reflective parts of our gear visible.

Innovative technology is what makes this collection shine. Here’s how we used the tech to improve low- or no-light running.

Seeing science

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 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 considered that car headlights point down and to the right. So high-visibility features are highly effective on a runner’s lower body.

These findings lit the way for our Run Visible Collection.

A runner lit up in the dark

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 a unique fluorescent hue to make even the non-reflective parts of our gear easily visible. Our neon Nightlife color has been tested for the best performance in little to no-light scenarios.

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 testing allowed us to develop the Run Visible Collection.

Runners across the globe are on the roads in the dark and at all times of year. We’ve added pieces like shorts and tank tops to the line for warm runs and a Run Visible Convertible Jacket that converts into a backpack for chillier weather.

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

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Two runners on a run at night

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