The best reflective running shoes

by Solereview editors

The reflective details on the New Balance 1080 V12.

This article has been updated with current models for November 2023. Most of the shoes in this guide have been updated with their newest versions.

Most brands of note now sell their popular running shoe models in two kinds – reflective and standard (an euphemism for non-reflective). It wasn’t always like this.

Until 2018, most road models had adequate low-light visibility. Today, except for New Balance, reflective bits are in short supply unless you pay extra for a ‘reflective’ version. Saucony does OK here, with shoes such as the standard Endorphin Speed meeting minimum reflectivity standards.

Nike was the first to offer a seasonal assortment (Shield) of running shoes that combined high-viz elements with cold-weather features.

Nike sells the Pegasus 39 in a shield variant, so it’s included in this guide. The Pegasus 39 Shield has a wind and water-resistant upper, as well as a grippy outsole.

The reflective heel of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3.

The Endorphin Speed 3 has a large reflective panel over the heel.

Asics has been selling a reflective pack called the ‘Lite-show’ for well over a decade.

Everything about the Lite-Show assortment is reflectivity for running in the dark, which is a contrast to the winter-focused approach of Nike Shield. For example, most Nike Shield products are water-repellent and warm; Asics Lite-Show shoes are not.

Asics’ reflective running shoe strategy is to sell them perennially. You can find a Lite-show model at any time of the year – even if it isn’t the latest model.

Adidas is a hit or miss since it lacks a consistent strategy for its reflective shoes. Some adidas models have some reflectivity than others, but it’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack – those shoes are all over the place.

For this guide, we have included just one adidas product – the Terrex Speed Ultra. It also happens to be the only reflective trail shoe on this list.

We recommend getting something from the Asics Lite-show or Saucony Vizipro assortment. Most of the models – like the Nimbus 25 Lite-Show and Saucony Tempus Vizipro – bring together everyday versatility with high-visibility elements.

1) Asics Nimbus 25 Lite-Show

The previous generation of the Nimbus – the 24 – had a fair coverage of reflective bits. That’s not true for the Nimbus 25, so if you want an upper that’s safer for running in the dark, a pair of the Nimbus 25 Lite-Show would be more appropriate.

Except for the shiny side logos, everything is the same as the standard Nimbus 25. Here’s our review of the regular version, and most of it also applies to the Lite-Show model.

The transition groove of the Asics Nimbus 25.

The Lite-Show Nimbus shares an identical sole unit with the standard Nimbus, so it has the same plush ride that makes long-distance runs extremely comfortable. The Nimbus 25 has a brand-new Flytefoam blast midsole that creates an engaging ride experience.

The Nimbus 25 has more pep than the 24 due to the reformulated midsole. It’s an excellent running shoe for long-distance cruising and everyday runs. You just have to watch out for the warm upper (making it a no-go during hot summer) and sub-par outsole grip.

2) Nike Pegasus 39 Shield

Despite the similar names, the Nike Pegasus 39, Pegasus Trail 4 Gore-Tex, and Nike Pegasus 39 Shield are all very different models.

Out of the three, only the Pegasus 39 Shield is winter-specific. It has an insulated and water-repellant upper with reflective elements – a feature that makes the shoe visible in low-light running conditions. The outsole uses a grippy rubber compound for superior traction over slush and wet roads.

It’s worth mentioning that the Pegasus Shield has the same midsole as the Pegasus 39, so there’s plenty of ride comfort for daily runs up to a half-marathon distance.

3) Asics Cumulus 25 Lite-Show

The Cumulus is Asics’s mid-priced everyday trainer that’s capable of easy paces as well as long runs.

It’s not as plush and cushioned as the Nimbus 25, but it makes up with its versatile nature. The Flytefoam midsole has been updated for 2023 with an aesthetic that mirrors the Nimbus, except that it’s lower profile and no longer has a visible ‘Gel’ unit. It instead relies on a single-density foam midsole that delivers comfort that works across a wide range of running speeds and distances.

The true-to-size and snug upper is also available in a reflective Lite-Show version for low-light running conditions.

4) Asics Kayano 30 Lite-Show

Like most of Asics’s recent running shoe models, the Kayano 30 isn’t what it used to be. The top-to-bottom redesign will polarize runners; unlike the Kayano 29, the Kayano 30 doesn’t have a firmer foam section on the inner midsole.

On the other hand, many of us saw this coming. The Kayano 30 is nothing but an evolution of the Kayano Lite – a cushioned and supportive ‘neutral’ shoe that was, in hindsight, intended to test the waters. So while runners will miss the medial post from the earlier Kayano models, many will appreciate the stability from the wide and cushioned midsole.

Okay, there is a small foam ‘wedge’ on the inner midsole, but it’s not a medial post – at least not in a conventional sense. It does, however, keep the midsole from bottoming out, so it is useful to an extent.

Overall, the Kayano 30 is softer than the 29 while performing a similar role – it’s a comfortable daily beater that doesn’t excel at tempo runs, but is great for cruising and everyday mileage.

The Lite-show version comes with reflective laces, side logos, and rear trims. For all that, there’s a $10 price premium.

5) Asics GT-2000 12 Lite-Show

The GT-2000 12 is Asics’ popular stability trainer, and it also happens to be available in a reflective avatar.

The GT 2000 12 is a toned-down and $20 less expensive version of the Kayano 30, so it only makes sense that its design is inspired by the latter. It gets rid of the medial post as well as the visible Gel window.

The Lite-Show GT 2000 is a shoe with plenty of low-light visibility. The side logos are reflective, and so are the laces.

The ride is the same as the standard GT-2000 12; the cushioned and supportive ride makes it a capable daily trainer. It’s more than an ounce lighter than the Kayano, so it’s a better shoe for quicker speeds. In short, the GT-2000 12 trades long-distance comfort for versatility.

6) Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 Vizipro

Saucony’s popular racer is also offered in a high-visibility version for safer early morning or dusk training.

Interestingly, most of the reflectivity is placed over the tongue and lacing panel. The large fused panel and eyelet strips become highly visible when reflecting light from vehicular traffic.

Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 Vizipro.

As for the rest of the shoe, most of you know the spiel by now. The soft and bouncy Pwrrun PB foam midsole contains a Carbon plate to deliver an exceptionally high cushioning-to-weight ratio. The aggressive rocker midsole helps the foot roll forward for quick turnovers during a road race.

Our review of the Endorphin Pro 3 is here.

7) Saucony Endorphin Speed 3

The Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 sells in two versions. There’s the standard model, and the reflective ViziPro edition for the darker (and colder) months.

But if you’re looking for a reflective upper, it’s hard to go wrong with any version.

If you don’t want additional reflectivity, then the regular Endorphin Speed provides excellent performance under low visibility conditions. Though the Runshield Endorphin Speed 3 is the most reflective, the regular model isn’t bad either; the large trim over the heel is fully reflective.

The Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 in a marathon.

The midsole is where the magic happens. The soft PEBA foam (Pwrrun PB) works together with the Nylon plate to produce a comfortable yet speed-friendly ride character.

Use the Endorphin Speed 3 for quick daily miles or a marathon – it serves both use cases equally well.

8) New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 V13

The New Balance 1080 V13 is one of those rare running shoes that have an abundance of high-visibility elements. We say ‘rare’ because most brands now sell a reflective version of their popular model for additional business.

Thankfully, New Balance hasn’t gone that way, not just yet. The standard 1080 V13 has a prominent reflective placement, thanks to the side logo.

The reflective logo makes the 1080V13 excellent for low-light conditions. But that’s not the only reason why one should buy the 1080, especially the redesigned version 13.

The Fresh Foam midsole is softer and more livelier than the V12; the ride quality differs significantly from the previous model.

The deeply cushioned midsole makes high-mileage training less punishing on the feet.

The cushioned 1080 V13 is no slouch, either. The rocker-shape midsole and the resilient foam work together to make everyday runs peppy, so this shoe isn’t just for easy runs.

9) Saucony Tempus Vizipro

Last year, the Saucony Tempus became a surprise sleeper hit. Looking back, it wasn’t hard to see why. It combined the familiar cushioned comfort of the Pwrrun PB foam with a unique support frame made of EVA foam. Our in-depth review is here.

The Pwrrun PB midsole of the Saucony Tempus.

The Tempus combines an EVA frame with a softer Pwrrun PB core – the same material that’s used on the Endorphin Speed and Pro.

Based on what we’ve seen in other brands (Nike Pegasus Turbo 1, Hoka Mach 5), this soft-firm combination generally works well. That said, the Tempus wasn’t just about putting two foam densities together. Rather, the Tempus’s success was the result of how these opposing foam densities were utilized.

The soft and responsive PEBA foam core makes the Tempus a capable shoe for marathon distances. On the other hand, the firmer EVA frame provided the reassuring stability that is usually absent on midsoles made with 100% PEBA foam.

The secure and lightweight upper is also sold in a reflective Vizipro avatar, so that training in low-visibility conditions is less of a hazard.

10) adidas Terrex Speed Ultra

The adidas Terrex Speed Ultra is an excellent trail running shoe, reflective or not.

This speed trail runner weighs under 9 ounces without compromising performance. A Boost foam core delivers tried-and-tested cushioning and does not stiffen in the cold. A firmer EVA frame adds stability and quickness to the ride.

The Terrex Speed uses a full-length Continental rubber outsole with an aggressive lug geometry for dependable traction. Though the midsole lacks a rock plate, the rubber outsole acts as a protective shield and delivers proprioceptive feedback.

This is a speed-running product, so the upper balances a minimalist design with protection. The thin tongue is lightly padded and perforated for comfort and ventilation; the exteriors use strategically placed overlays for reinforcement.

However, the real reason why the shoe features here is its additional reflectivity. The 3-stripe logo detail is reflective, and so are the laces.

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