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Runner’s Tech: Review – Knuckle Lights

Posted Feb 27 2013 1:15pm

knucklelightsLike many of you, I do a lot of running in darkness. Whether it’s before sunrise or after sunset, I try my best to make sure I can be safe and comfortable. The saying “see and be seen” is what I always keep in mind when I head out in less-than-ideal conditions. And my latest defense against the dark is a pair of Knuckle Lights .

A set of Knuckle Lights was sent to me a while back for reviewing and testing. I couldn’t be more excited to unbox these curious looking lights. Upon initial inspection, I noticed that these lights are quite light, even with 2 AAA batteries installed in each. Most of the unit is made of plastic, except the adjustable, thick rubber strap that goes into the palm of my hand.

Each Knuckle Light is consisted of 4 LEDs that together provide 45 lumens of wide-angle light. By the way, for comparison, a $10.00 Maglite Mini flashlight outputs about 10 lumens of focused beam. So Knuckle Lights are relatively bright. In fact, last year when I lost power at home for a week due to Hurricane Sandy, I kept a Knuckle Light within arms reach most of the time.

To say Knuckle Lights are bright is an understatement. Seriously, they are more or less handheld Bat-Signals! I have no problem lighting up a traffic sign from a cross the street when I point my fist at it. So it’s plenty bright when you have one of these. And I’ve never had to “double fist” these things when I run, because one light is enough for me where I run. You may find the need to use two depending on your location, conditions, and run duration.

KL Features 2012

In terms of ergonomics, Knuckle Lights fit quite well in my hand with or without running glove. The adjustable rubber band makes it effortless, comfortable, and non-disrupting to keep Knuckle Light in front of my fist. The on/off button is on top of the unit, where the thumb can reach easily. The switch cycles between off, bright, eye-blinding bright, and blink.

As much as I like these lights, they aren’t without any flaw. On one of the runs when it was cold (in the 20s), my Knuckle Light went haywire for some reason. Initially it wouldn’t respond to pressing of the power button – then it wouldn’t even turn on during the run. I thought this was because I had previously dropped the light once from waist-height. But this happened to my friend with a new pair of Knuckle Lights as well. However once I got out of the cold, my Knuckle Light started working normally. So I wonder if there’s a range of optimal operating temperature. Other than this, I think Knuckle Lights are quite durable – as I mentioned mine survived a drop. They were also able to stay lit during a downpour in my experience.

Knuckle Lights are a fantastic light source for runners who don’t want to wear a headlamp or use a handheld flashlight. I am one of those runners, because headlamps are less flexible in terms of lighting direction – and flashlights occupy your hand during a run. Besides the minor kink that I’ve noticed during a cold run, I really have no complaints about these bright, handy lights that are reasonably priced.

What do you think of Knuckle Lights? How do you stay lit during a dark run? What other products would you recommend to runners who  train in the dark?

- Kevin

(Kevin Lu is an engineer, currently working in the field of orthopedic devices. He received his B.S. and M.S. in biomedical engineering from New Jersey Institute of Technology. Science, technology, and running are Kevin’s passions. In his spare time, Kevin trains for and participates in races of various distances. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter (@ SweatEngine ) and check out his blog  Beyond Distance .)

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