By Jason B
I am always interested in new technology and as an ultrarunner, I am looking for new ways to brighten the trail while running at night. RunLites is a new company I recently found. They make an assortment of gloves with a built in LED light. I will be reviewing the RunLites Sling II model over the next several months.
RunLites seems to be relatively new company and based on my review of their website appear to be based out of Pennsylvania in the US, but didn’t really find much else on the company’s website. They do make an amazing array of various types of gloves. They have winter gloves and mitts, half-length gloves for biking, hunting gloves, work gloves, and the Sling system that is basically a holder for the LED light and not much else. Their website provides good information on each of the various types of products and is easy to navigate.
The Sling II is the model I am reviewing. The Sling II consists of two finger bands, a wrist band, and a pocket to hold the LED light that is sold separately. The fabric of the Sling II is polyester and has a stretchy feel to it. It is very comfortable to wear. The finger bands have elastic to stretch to fit most fingers and the wrist band is a standard hook and loop fastener. The edges of the light pocket and the wrist band have reflective material and the rest of the Sling II is black. The Sling II retails for $15.95.
The RunLites LED units come in a set of 2 and will fit in any of their gloves or sling systems. The lights come with a dual USB cable so they can both be charged at the same time. I received the version 2 lights. They have two settings – 40 lumens and 80 lumens and are supposed to provide a 135 degree arc and light up to 30 feet. They are operated by a single button on the top of the unit, and the user clicks through the cycles low, high, off. The lights fit into the pocket on the Sling II and are held in place by hook and loop fasteners. The lights can easily be turned on while wearing the Sling II. The RunLites LED units retail for $11.97.
Overall, they seem fairly simple to use. Playing with them in the house and yard they are comfortable to wear and seem to provide a good amount of light. As I use them over the next several weeks I will look for a couple of characteristics. Run time – how long do the lights last before I need to recharge them? I did not see any run times listed on the company’s website. Do they put out enough light to run to? I have the luxury of being able to run both roads and trails at night so I will evaluate how they work for both. I will also evaluate durability, comfort, resistance to humidity and anything else that might happen to come up while using the lights.
Update June 3, 2017
I have used the RunLites Sling II over the past couple months while walking and running on the Mississippi River Levy in New Orleans and while night hiking on the trails of Buccaneer State Park on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The lights have provided ample light for walking at night, are comfortable to wear and seem to have a pretty decent run time.
I have used the Sling II for over 20 miles of night hiking the past few weeks. As I stated in my intro the lights were used on the Mississippi River Levy and while hiking in Buccaneer State Park. Conditions have been warm and humid to say the least. Temperatures have range between 60F and 80F with winds ranging from light and variable to 20 plus miles per hour when cold fronts moved in.
The Sling II lights have two settings the 40 lumens and 80 lumens. I find that the 40 lumen setting is enough light to hike and run in urban settings. I felt comfortable hiking on roads and smooth surfaces like the levy. The levy in my area is paved and there are numerous other folks out exercising at night including those riding bicycles. The lights made sure my dog and I were seen and illuminated the path well. While hiking forest trails with my daughter in Buccaneer State Park, I preferred the 80 lumen, high setting. The trail wasn’t super technical, but I appreciated the additional light to make sure I could see roots and ruts and not trip over them. I think the 80 lumen setting would be adequate for a technical trail but I am not sure I would want to completely rely only on the Sling II. However, I think they are perfect for everyday early morning or evening runs in urban settings.
One of the things I wanted to learn about was run time. I was able to get about 3 hours of run time on the low setting before they no longer worked. The drop off of available light is pretty significant. They go from bright to dark in about 5 minutes before they are no longer usable. This is an area I will continue to monitor as I continue to use the lights.
The Sling II’s are comfortable. The wrist strap and the light holder are hardly noticeable even in warmer temperatures where I was sweating. The finger straps were also comfortable. There is definitely one elastic band that is larger than the other on the finger straps which helps me identify which hand the light should go on. I generally use the larger finger strap for my index finger and the smaller strap on my pinkie. The light stays in place nicely during runs and hikes. Overall, I am very pleased with the comfort of the Sling II.
I have been happy with the durability of the lights. I have not done anything special to store them after running or while hiking. I just toss them in a backpack or my gear cabinet just in the door after use. The button to turn the lights on is a bit touchy so I try to make sure they won’t accidentally come on in my pocket or pack, but that is the only precaution I take. I have also not had any issues with using them in the humidity that is prevalent year round in the Southern United States. I will continue to monitor this as we enter the summer.
I will continue to use the Sling II’s over the next few weeks for nightly walks and runs on the levy with my dog. I am also training for a 10 hour night trail race in July and will use the lights while training and for the race before I post my final thoughts. Thanks for reading my review.
Final update August 30, 2017
I used the Sling II’s on a 10 mile night run in Fontainebleau State Park and North Lake Nature Center in Mandeville, LA and for the Louisiana Ultra Runner’s Hotter than Hell Dusk to Dawn 10 hour night race on a 2 mile loop in the aforementioned North Lake Nature Center. Temperatures for both runs were in the 90s with oppressive humidity. There was no wind to speak of, only what was generated by my forward movement through the swamp.
I had two areas that I wanted to follow up on after my first update – did the lights provide adequate light to do trail running at night and how long would a fresh charge last? I can say that I have answered both of these questions. The courses in Fontainebleau and North Lake Nature Center are not technical by any means. However, there are roots that are known to sneak up and grab runners especially beginning around midnight or 4 hours into the Hotter than Hell(HTH) race. After running over 40 miles combined at night on these trails I can say that the lights produced plenty of light, even on the low setting, to easily run. I even missed the root gremlins during the 8 hours I was on course for the HTH. I would still prefer more light for technical trail sections, but for non-technical trails and urban running they performed well.
The second thing I wanted to know was the burn time on these lights. During my initial review, I was only getting about 3 hours of use before they were too dim to be useful. I am not sure what I was doing differently during my initial use of the lights, but I was able to get 7 hours of continuous use on the low setting while running the HTH race. This is a greater burn time than I expected especially based on my earlier experiences. I was pretty happy that I could test out the limits of the lights on a 2 mile course, because they faded to almost nothing in the last half mile, but there were other runners and a bit of moonlight to guide me into the start/finish which also served as the only aid station.
The lights remained comfortable to wear even when I was as sweaty mess. I did not have any chaffing on my wrists or fingers. I also found that I could use the lights even while carrying a hand bottle, the bottle blocked some of the light of course, but it was still possible. My only nitpick is that every time I would go to wipe sweat out of my face or take a drink from my hand bottle I would blind myself. It definitely made for a tough choice as sweat was pouring down my face during the race.
In conclusion, RunLites are a good lighting system that is perfect for the average urban runner as well as a trail runner. They provide a nice arc of light while running and the reflective material on the SlingII gloves helped me be seen more easily. The 7 hour burn time is better than expected and would only require me to recharge the LED’s once a week.
Thanks to 4alloutdoors.org and to RunLites for providing the product for this review.