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During the winter months, many runners find themselves running before or after work...in the dark. Preparing for an early-morning or late-night run requires slightly more thought than a day-time run (Which streets are well-lit? Do you need a headlamp?). But when you're considering how to maximize visibility along your course, remember that you need to be visible, too.
Enter the Brooks Nightlife Jacket II. This day-glow soft shell illuminates when hit by headlights, thus altering drivers to your presence. With reflective material on all sides, you'll feel safer crossing intersections, running against traffic, or wherever your feet take you.
But the best thing about this semi-fitted jacket is that it's not just a safety device – it's a great piece of gear that you'll likely end up wearing on many runs (dark or not). It's lightweight and breathable but also wind- and waterproof, all of which help you stay thermally balanced in a variety of conditions. The jacket is just long enough that you'll never worry about it riding up while you're on the move or exposing your back if you bend over to tie a shoelace.
The micro-fleece-lined collar keeps your neck protected, and stretchy cuffs also keep out cold air. Thumbholes initially seem like a great tactic to keep your wrists toasty, however, when in use, you'll likely be unable to fully extend your arms – the sleeves are too short. So, if you have particularly long arms, or if you're in between sizes, definitely opt for a larger size.
The Nightlife II also has pockets galore: two exterior side-zip pockets, and three on the inside, including a narrow sleeve for an mp3 player. You'll always have plenty of room to stash gels, gloves, house keys, and more – including that headlamp, in case the sun comes up. (MSRP $100)
After graduating from the University of Virginia in 2005, Whitney Dreier spent two years living out a Harry Potter-esque fantasy – teaching history and coaching lacrosse at a boarding school in England. She finally realized she couldn't survive another British winter or face the thought of having potatoes served at every meal, so she ventured to the Midwest to earn a master's degree in journalism at the University of Missouri.
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