Product Review: Illuminated Armbands
Planet Bike BRT
With winter on its way, many of us will find ourselves cycling in the dark more often. I decided to try these LED armbands so that others can see my hand signals. All three of these products consist of a clear vinyl strip with a battery-and-LED unit on the end which fits into a fabric sleeve. Users can wear it on their arm, around their ankle, or even use it to make their dog visible at night. All use CR2032 batteries.
The Nite-Ize armbands were disappointing. The Marker Band attaches with a webbing strap, while the SlapLit coils naturally around the arm. The switches seem to fail after about a year. Changing the battery on the Marker Band is easy, but on the SlapLit it’s frustrating. The battery/LED unit must be dragged out of the fabric sleeve by force. You’ll need pliers, and there is a chance of damage. In fact I broke the switch on one SlapLit trying to change the battery.
It’s a pity that this basically good idea has shortcomings in execution. Both items need more robust switches, and the SlapLit needs improvements to make it easier to change the battery. The Planet Bike BRT is easier to work with, although you’ll need a small Philips screwdriver to change the battery. The switch is of a better design than the one in the Nite-Ize armbands.
For a slightly higher price, I’d have to say that the Planet Bike BRT armband is a better choice for cyclists who want to be more visible at night. Note that they are not a substitute for lights on the bike.