First Look: LightBender and Lightspur by Nathan
Nathan’s affordable LED armband and heel-clip lights provide nighttime visibility for runners without the frills.
LightBender Armband by Nathan
Weight: 2 oz
Best features: Comfortable, super stretchy armband
Room to improve: Fabric durability
Nathan’s LightBender Armband is a good choice for runners who want an affordable nighttime safety light without the frills. This armband is lightweight, easy to use and comfortable to wear whether next to skin or over layers.
The sweatproof, water-resistant LightBender slips onto your arm like a cuff and secures over the bicep with a super stretchy, Velcro-style fabric band. The chafe-free fabric itself is very soft even when tightly secured, so it doesn’t cut into your skin or create uncomfortable pressure points. When tightening the band, however, there was occasionally minor skin-pinching where the fabric pulls through the plastic loop of the light. This is something to be aware of when wearing the armband next-to-skin. I also noticed that the soft fabric catches and frays easily, even with normal adjustments.
The LightBender has a single button that fires up the high-visibility LED and controls its mode. Holding the button for 2-3 seconds turns the light on, and single clicks will change the LED mode from steady to strobe and back.
The basic LightBender model does not have multi-color modes and the battery cannot be recharged. Nathan suggests 21 hours of battery life in steady mode and 42 hours in strobe mode. Once the coin style lithium battery is tapped, you’ll need to replace it as you would with a watch. Nathan also offers the LightBender RX model ($29.99), which has both multi-color settings and a USB rechargeable battery.
Runners with thinner biceps may want to check out the LightBender Mini for a better fit, which offers a smaller band size than the standard LightBender. At 5’2” and 115 lbs, I would have gone with the mini band to eliminate the awkwardly long tail I created from tightening the fabric of the standard LightBender armband beyond its optimal fit.
LightSpur RX LED Running Light
Weight: 1.2 oz
Best features: Strobe setting to extend battery life, no-fuss, strap-free design
Room to improve: Tight fit around heel may create pressure points
Nathan’s LED LightSpur RX running light is a good option for runners seeking a minimalist, no-fuss way to be seen and stay safe at night. At roughly 1.2 ounces, the spur is very lightweight, plus its low-profile design feels sleek and well-constructed.
The spur is worn around the heel of your shoe and stays secured without straps or buckles. Shaped like a tight “U”, the spur flexes open to slide around your heel, and has tiny plastic teeth that give a slight bite into the shoe fabric to prevent movement.
This is a wonderfully simple design, but the tight fit needed to hold the spur secure around the foot may bother some runners. I felt a slight pressure point on both the inside and outside of my heel, just under the ankle bones, where the teeth grip the shoe. This pressure wasn’t painful or acutely uncomfortable, but was definitely noticeable. Depending on foot size and width, some readers may experience more noticeable pressure here than others. Run length may also be a factor in how comfortable this light is to wear.
Once on, the spur is super easy to use. It has a single button to control power, LED mode and color. Holding the button for 2 seconds turns it on, a single click changes mode from steady to strobe and a double click changes colors between red, green and blue. No issues were found moving from one mode to the next or one color to the next, no matter the combination.
Nathan suggests 6 hours of battery life in steady mode and 12 hours in strobe mode. Once you’ve tapped the Li-ion battery, the spur is rechargeable via a small USB cable that could be plugged into a car port, solar unit, etc…
The Spur is also weather resistant, which is important to note for a light worn so close to the ground, i.e. in the splash and mud zone. If the tight heel fit is a non-issue for your foot, this safety light will be a slick and rugged companion for all your nighttime adventures.
-Kelsey Brasseur is a mountain athlete, biologist and professional artist who firmly believes that every day is The Best Day Ever. As long as there are steep climbs and chocolate.
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