Awe: LED Light Vest
Rating: 8 out of 10
Cost: $59.95 for human vest, $39.95 – $44.95 for dog vest
Back in October, during the Grand Rapids Marathon, I saw a guy running with a dog. The dog was wearing this really cool reflective vest with lights on each side. After the race, I began looking for the vest online to no avail. Then, back in December, Jennie and I were at a fun run for the opening of a new running store where I saw a dog with the same vest. I asked the owner where she found it and she told me that I needed to find Gary because he makes them. After the run, I found Gary with his dog (wearing the vest of course) to get some details. He gave me his business card and told me to email him if I wanted to buy one. He also showed me the led vest he was wearing himself.
I checked out the his website and found this video.
At the time, Gary hadn’t turned on the ability to order the vests online (it is available now though), so I shot him an email and arranged a time to buy them. He lives nearby so I drove over to pick them up. I ended up spending a good 30 minutes talking to Gary about running and the vests. His passion for creating a great product was very evident in our conversation. He has worked in the lighting industry (think car headlights and brake lights) for years and has spent countless hours making sure that he is using only the best quality electronics.
Usage: 4+ hours on single charge
LEDs: 12 front white Super Bright LEDs output 60,000 mcds (a butt load of mcds). The 12 back red Super Bright LEDs have the same output as automotive tail lights.
Sizing: One size. The vest itself is the Runner’s World reflective vest
Usage: 2+ hours on single charge
LEDs: 6 red Super Bright LEDs on each side, 12 total
Sizing: 3 sizes available (Bailey is a medium)
Both vests come with a rechargeable Nimh battery which means that you can recharge them whenever you want without having to worry about affecting the longterm life of the battery. The charger is the same for both vests so even though we have two chargers, only one is necessary. Also, the battery pack is completely removable in each vest allowing you wash them.
Updated 1/25/2012 10:17AM
MattyO asked about charging the vests and whether or not both vests could be charged at the same time. The answer is yes. In fact, you don’t even need to remove the batteries to charge them. Each vest has a charging port (in between the toggle switches above) so you essentially plug in the entire vest to charge it. As long as you have as many outlets available as vests you can charge them all at once.
The human vest has a zipper storage pouch that stores the battery pack but still has room for keys, Gu, etc. The human vest also has two toggle switches, one for the front lights and one for the back. That way, if you are running in a group you can turn off the back lights to avoid blinding those behind you.
Overall, I am super happy with both the human vest and the dog vest. I can only assume that Bailey approves of the dog vest because he knows that when we get it out that it is time for a run.
This is Bailey’s pathetic, “hurry up, I’m ready to go” whine.
I have used the vest for both running and biking multiple times and it works great for both activities and I have never felt safer. Not only does the vest emit an intensely bright light to make yourself visible, but it is also bright enough to light your path. The front LEDs have “caps” on them that help to direct the light forward and down so that they don’t affect your vision.
The vests are both head turners. So far, Bailey and I have been called “Tron and his dog” and likened to to 1970’s era aliens. I have also noticed cars slow down and stare as they drive by trying to figure out what is so bright and even had people yell, “Love the vest” from their car as they drove by.
While slightly bulky feeling at first, I quickly became used to the feeling and it doesn’t bother me at all now. The bulkiness is a bit more evident when running versus biking because you are bouncing around more. I think some of this bulkiness could be lessened with a better fitting vest. The Runner’s World reflective vest is a little bulky on me to begin with and only comes in one size. I may eventually try to modify the vest a bit to tighten it up around my torso.
As bright as the human vest is, it doesn’t entirely eliminate the need for a headlamp. If you are running on familiar streets/sidewalks then you are probably good running without a headlamp. However, if you are on unfamiliar trails, you may still want a headlamp so that you can look around. The vest is super bright, but if you want to look left or right, you need to turn your entire torso rather than just your head. I did a couple runs on a some dark trails and wished I had my headlamp so that I could determine whether the rustling I heard to the side of the trail was a cougar or a squirrel. I really hope it was just a squirrel.
If you are an early morning or late evening runner, I can not recommend these vests enough. Like, I said, I’ve never felt safer and you can’t put a price on safety. Especially when it comes to our 4-legged friends.
Edit: So, I typed this whole “Blah” up only discover the following when I went to the gearandtraining.com web page.
I guess I wasn’t alone. Any ways, feel free to read on if you are bored, but now you don’t have to worry about getting screwed over.
I mentioned back in November the problems I was having while buying a new trainer. Well, over 2 months later, I am happy to announce that everything is finally worked out. It started on October 31st when I ordered a Kurt Kinetic Road Machine trainer from GearAndTraining.Com. The product was listed as “In Stock” on their site and they had the best price. After ordering the product, my credit card was charged the next day. Ten days later, I still not received any shipment or tracking number for that matter. I called customer support and was told that they were awaiting a shipment from their supplier. So, apparently “in stock” doesn’t really mean in stock. I decided to cancel my order and order from another supplier (Tree Fort Bikes) who actually had the trainer in stock. Problem solved, story over, right? Wrong.
(This trainer deserves a review of its own. It rocks!)
When the credit card bill came, I noticed I was never refunded the money for the original trainer purchase from GearAndTraining.Com. (Note to online stores: don’t charge me before you have the product ready to ship). I contacted GearAndTraining.Com and was told that they would correct the problem immediately. So, I waited another week and still no credit was applied. Subsequent phone calls went straight to voicemail stating that it was a busy time of year (Christmas) and to leave a message and they would call back. Did that. Multiple times actually and received no reply. I eventually had to officially dispute the charges with our bank. While that process went surprisingly well (Yay PNC!) it was something that I should have never had to do in the first place.