Hiking-n-Cycling Safety Vest
Here's something that anyone doing the Hiking or Cycling merit badges might find useful, especially if you're putting in miles on multi-use trails or along roads with traffic.
In the very dark night hours, cars have their headlights on and can see reflective safety gear fairly well. Many hikers, runners, and bicyclists wear neon green or orange reflective vests to be more visible, thinking that's good enough to be safe. But, there's an hour or so around sunrise and sunset when many drivers don't have their lights on and visibility is poor. Just reflective vests don't help at all at those times. That's why lighted safety gear is so much more valuable if you are out getting your exercise, covering miles for a merit badge requirement, walking the dog, or commuting around dusk or dawn and any time it's dark or dreary.
While walking on multi-use paths, as the daylight hours get shorter, I've had bicyclists fly past me with no lights on. It can be unsettling. I don't personally like wearing gaudy fluorescent colored clothes which unfortunately makes me more difficult to see. Fortunately, other options than a neon wardrobe are available.
This ITL led vest provides 360 degree visibility, not just straight ahead or behind like a headlamp or tail light. Reflective vests are only helpful if a car's or bike's light shines directly on it. With this LED vest, you are visible in complete darkness, from every direction, even to bikes not using any headlights.
I got my wife to wear this cool safety gadget while I took the photos and video - I couldn't very well do both. But, I've also worn it on a few early morning and evening walks on the trail. The solid light is easy to see from a couple blocks away. To grab even more attention, turn on the LED strobe mode. The flashing lights can't be missed or ignored. And, if that isn't good enough, there's a fast flash mode for times you want everyone to watch you run past. I found that putting one light in flash mode and one in fast flash mode, it creates an irregular pattern of flashing that is the best attention getter.
The vest is made from an adjustable, elastic chest/waist band with plastic optic-fiber shoulder straps. The band is neon green fabric and a highly reflective strip. The shoulder straps are super lightweight plastic tubes to disperse the orange LED output. It does a terrific job of lighting up and turning heads. It's super easy to toss on, snap in place, and start running. Since it is so light, it is also very comfortable. The band can be adjusted from 26 inches up to 43 inches, fitting many body sizes.
The arm bands are a bonus. The vest itself does a great job, but adding the bands gives more color, more light, and more movement to increase visibility. Each band has 5 LEDs strung under a bright hunter's orange fabric for visibility during light or dark times. The LEDs have the same 3 modes as the vest. The bands slap onto your wrists and stay in place with no snaps or latches. They are long enough to be used on your bicep if you want them up higher. Hey, you could even wear one on your ankle and one on your arm on your right side, closest to traffic, to follow those safe hiking tips.
Turning the lights on, or changing their mode, is super simple. Each band and vest shoulder strap (4 total) has its own press button. Press to turn on, press to flash fast, press to flash normal, press to turn off. It would be nice if the vest buttons were on the front instead of in back, but they're still easy to use.
The vest uses 4 CR2032 batteries and each armband uses 2 CR2016 batteries. Purchasing those coin style batteries at your local store can get expensive, but I've bought them for my hiking headlight in quantities directly off the Internet for less than 25 cents each, and they work great. Replacing batteries in the vest is simple and easy, but the bands can be a bit tedious. You need to slide out the LED strip and battery holder and it tends to snag a bit on the orange fabric - no big deal, but annoying.
The vest weighs 4.8 ounces (136g) and each arm band weighs 1.0 ounce (28g) - and that includes the batteries. Under 7 ounces to stay safe and visible along the road or on the trail, day or night, walking or riding, seems like a very good investment to me.
Carrying this tiny item on my long hikes will help keep me safe when I have to walk the shoulder of roads. It's also useful during hunting season with its bright hunter orange and neon green fabric strips. Halloween also strikes me as another opportunity to ensure vehicles can see you easily.
I received this LED reflective vest for free in exchange for taking the time to try it out and share how well it worked for me.
Techy Junk: OK, I like to see how things work - sorry, it's just me. :-) While testing how to replace the batteries in an armband, I straightened it out and found that by straightening the very end of the band a bit past straight, it 'snaps' and stays flat! Then, the entire LED strip can be pushed out to replace the batteries. Once removed, I now have a very bright, 5-LED, light strip. It produces a lot of light so it's now also my 0.3 ounce, emergency back-up headlamp.
Posted: 11:58 10-17-2016 1307
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