Apple’s Sport Loop band style was introduced last year alongside the Apple Watch Series 3. This year the Apple Watch Nike+ version introduces a new twist on the soft hook-and-loop style strap: reflective yarn. So how does the new reflective Sport Loop perform for night running?
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Nike Sport Loop currently comes in two colors, summit white and black, and both are sold exclusively with the new Series 4 version of Apple Watch Nike+. You can buy Nike Sport bands and older Nike Sport Loop bands, but you can’t buy the new reflective thread versions separately yet.
Apple typically makes new Nike versions of Apple Watch bands available for purchase on their own about six months after they’re introduced, but no one knows if or when that will happen for these bands yet.
Black on Black
Compared to Apple’s black Sport Loop, the new Nike Sport Loop is much simpler with mostly black thread interlaced with gray thread that reflects light at certain angles. Apple’s version is mostly black but includes a lot of color specs throughout.
In terms of feel and wear, there are no noticeable differences. 44mm Sport Loop bands are slightly shorter than 42mm Sport Loop bands, however, so that’s something to consider if you’re upgrading and approaching the edge of comfort.
You notice the reflective thread shimmer subtly in day to day use, but the real effect kicks in when the new yarn encounters direct light contact. Here’s what that looks like without light and with light using a flash:
How does that look on the wrist? With and without light comparisons captured around sunrise using the iPhone flash:
The Nike version of the Sport band used perforations to improve breathability for runners, but the original Nike version of the Sport Loop band only used colors to differentiate from standard Sport Loop bands.
Introducing reflective thread details for runners to improve visibility during low-light runs is clever. The hoop and loop closure makes it infinitely adjustable so you can easily tighten it for a run and loosen it during daily wear. The reflective detail is only dramatic when it makes contact with a bright light source so it won’t stand out too much away from headlights and camera flashes.
As a safety measure for running at night, the reflective thread is certainly helpful but the strap is a small target for making you visible to drivers. I often run at night with the blinking flash light feature enabled on Apple Watch, but it’s just one more safety precaution in addition to a few others.
The new Nike Sport Loop is a clever take on the strap and can be one more way to improve night time visibility, but be sure to always have larger reflective targets like vests and arm bands and use LED lights and lamps to maximize your visibility to drivers and improve your own vision.