I want to start this review letting you know that I am in no way affiliated with NATHAN. I am writting this review of the Nathan LightBender LED and RX Armband because I’ve used these lights for several years now and can give an opinion based on more than just a few days with the light.
What is the LightBender Armband?
In short it’s an adjsutable LED light armband with elastic hooks making it easy to either slip your arm through or to hook onto other gear.
I’ll start with the LED Armband which was the original light band I owned for visibility while running in the early morning then I’ll go into the RX Lighted Armband which I currently use for more than just running.
The LightBender LED Armband which is currently listed for $20 USD on the nathan site.
Here is how Nathan describes it.
An incredibly lightweight and comfortable LED band, the LightBender wraps around your arm with a chafe-free stretch band to provide 360-degree visibility. Better yet? It’s completely sweatproof, water-resistant, and powered with easily replaceable watch batteries.
That mostly describes my experience.
I purchased this armband for visibility while running. My armband was red with red LED lights like the one shown above. It’s a very simple device and is very visible for at least 180 degrees. At some point your body is in the way.
Here are the things I really like about this arm band.
The elastic strap is adjsutable making the strap comfortable on large or small arms. The strap also has a hooked end so that it can be opened up and threaded through something. I personally transitioned my light from running only to putting it on the back of my bike helmet for additional rear visibility. (Photo below)
LED light is red – stands out as a common color to look out for. It can be turned on as solid red or blinking.
The light bends around your arm so that it is visible from more than one direction. This way one light makes you visible to anyone comming at you from the front or the back. I always wear it on the arm facing the middle of the road.
The CR2032 battery is very easy to find and lasts a very long time. There is no real indicator that the battery is getting low. The light will just keep working and you’ll one day think to yourself that it used to be brighter. A quick battery swap using a coin or car key to open the compartment on the back and like magic it’s blindingly bright again.
For for what I didn’t like. It’s a short but important list.
I live in a very warm and humid environment being in Texas. I also sweat alot. That being said the light lasted a very long time considering. The issue here is that the battery compartment is a simple 1/4 twist to unlock with a coin type. It has a pretty close tolerance but no form of proper seal such as an O-ring or even a soft silicone edge. The sweat or sweat vapor is able to make it’s way to the inside.
You know how electronics and moisture don’t get along well in this case they actually did. It wasn’t a case of shorting out the light or burning the contacts. Most likely from the very log current required for the LED’s to function. It was actually corrosion of the circuit board which must be coated in some form of protectant that finally put an end to my light.
For $20 and the fact that even sweating on this light like crazy on a regular basis it still lasted a year or more with many battery changes. I highly recomend this light.
Don’t forget the helmet trick.
Now after giving my light a good lookover and determening what killed it the engineer in me came up with an improvement to the next one. I went to the store to purchase it and came agross my light and a newer model. Long story short I never tried my little mod but ended up with the Nathan RX Lighted Armband.
The Nathan RX Lighted Armband is currently lsited on the Nathan site for $29.99 USD.
This armband is very similar to the original that I reviewed above with a vew key changes. The RX band is USB rechargable, has 3 color and different strobe options and the adjustable strap has hooks on both ends. It also comes with a small USB cable to charge it on anything that has a USB power supply.
Here is Nathans description of the light.
Three colors are better than one!
Change colors as you like on this lightweight, comfortable, and durable armband, switching between red, green, and blue. You can even choose between a blinking and steady state light pattern, for added visibility.
Also new to the LightBender RX is a Li-ion battery that allows for convenient USB charging. This versatile armband is also sweatproof, waterproof, and chafe-free.Lightweight and comfortable 6-lumen lighted armband
Switch between 3 color modes: Red, Green, and Blue
Multi-settings for blinking or steady stream lights
IPX4 water-resistant so you can run longer in any weather
The changes above are in part what made it appealing to me. I like that it’s rechargable and charges relativly fast for the 15-18 hours that it works between charges. I use mine in one of the 2 flashing modes. There is the normal steady strobe and with a short hold of the power button you get an inconsistent flash that is a little more attention getting.
The charge port is covered with a rubber door that gives it the IPX4 water resistance. The rest of it is sealed using the tolerance between the blue and the transparent portion to keep everything else out.
It has 3 colors. Which is just kinda cool in itself. I use the red while biking with it threaded through my back helmet vents. I use the green when on the road because it’s by far the brightest and the blue when running in groups or sidewalk/train because it’s easier on your eyes.
As I stated a few times now it is flexible with an adustable strap on the back. Along wth my helmet I’ve also used it on my bike frame by wraping it arround the back of my aero shaped seat tube giving good multidirectional visibility. This worked great with one issue that was totaly my fault. I got hit by some poorly aimed irigation sprinklers and the light got soked. It kept working but would not turn off due to a short on the inside.
Again the engineer in me played frankinsteins workshop and did a little sergery where I snipped the shorted circuit and resealed the strap for a few more months of use (with no blue colored light)
I like this light so much that I did purchase a replacement the next time I saw it at one of the local running stores. I did make one little change to it when I opened the package. This was to prevent it from getting shorted again by a direct hit of water spray. This model so far hasn’t had any issues with me sweating on it. My little modification was to take some clear silicone from the hardware store and applied it around all the transition seams between the clear and blue plastic. Just a very thin layer to fill any gap.
I use this light almost every day and would purchase it a third time if I were to loose it etc…