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When I adopted my dog last year, I quickly realized how much time I would spend walking her in darkness as we got deeper into fall and winter. Given how greatly pedestrians overestimate their visibility to cars (three-fourths of pedestrian deaths occur at night), I knew I needed to figure out a way for us to walk safely after sundown. Still, I was overwhelmed at the number of visibility products on the market for humans, from head lamps to reflective vests to shoe lights, let alone for dogs. Instead of making an investment in something nice, I burned through a bunch of cheap collar lights. But when I saw the Noxgear LightHound on sale last Black Friday, I knew it was time to splurge. And this year, you should too.
Noxgear’s LightHound is lightweight, adjustable, machine washable, and holds a charge seemingly forever. It comes in four sizes and includes fluorescent yellow reflective fabric to increase visibility. Instead of running on batteries, the LightHound conveniently recharges via USB. A button on the top of the vest allows you to flip between obnoxiously bright solid colors or multicolor flashing modes, so your 5 a.m. (or 5 p.m.) outing can be a slog and a rave. Now every time my hound mix looks up at me with her permanently melancholy eyes while her “party vest” is flashing between pinks and reds and greens and blues, I can’t help but crack up. And it’s an icebreaker, too—on nearly every (pre-COVID) walk, someone would stop to pet her and chuckle at her vest.
Noxgear also makes a version for humans: the Tracer360. It’s similarly lightweight and sturdy, and it comes in three sizes. And yes, you will also look like a glowstick factory explosion. But that’s the point: To get drivers’ attention, you want to look ridiculous from every possible angle, and for me, brighter is better in a city not known for calm, focused driving. With a headlamp, only oncoming cars can see you, but the Noxgear vests are visible to both oncoming and passing traffic. Plus, it’s crucial for drivers to spot you from as far away as possible.
The adjustable straps on the LightHound can be a bit of a pain—my pup was in between sizes, so I went with the bigger option, which meant I had to wrestle with some extra strap material. And the regular price is hefty. But at nearly half off on Black Friday, the LightHound and Tracer360 are the perfect splurge: My dog’s vest became one of my favorite purchases once I got it. After trying out a friend’s Tracer360 for this piece, I’m springing for that this year, so both my winter runs and evening dog walks are a little brighter.