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The Best Personal Safety Devices, Apps, and Wearables

From a young age, women learn that doing such normal activities as living alone, jogging, going on dates, leaving the house, or not leaving the house, could put them in harm's way. We repeat mantras to ourselves and each other: Try not to go places alone. Don't leave drinks unattended. Check your car's back seats and lock your doors after getting in. 

To protect ourselves, WIRED staffers and friends I spoke to mentioned the same few methods, like walking with keys held between their fingers, carrying pepper spray on their keychains, or talking on the phone with a friend until they felt safe. It's not always a stranger lurking in the dark who poses the biggest threat; it's often the ones we love and live with who perpetrate the most harm. We can't make people be better, but as technology writers, the Gear team wondered whether there was something better, a way for all this tech we already carry with us—our phones, our smartwatches—to provide an assist.

How We Tested

We tested built-in smartphone functions, third-party apps, internet-connected jewelry, and other personal safety devices designed to get you in contact with help when you need it. We set off panic buttons where applicable and talked to responders, or went through training exercises provided by the companies. Most of the products are capable of signaling your need for help without requiring you to speak to anyone, so you don't have to dial a number or voice your concern aloud when it would be unsafe for you to do so.

None of these products provides a comprehensive solution for every scenario, but they each offer some form of protection. In some localities, it's illegal to carry a concealed weapon like a knife or even pepper spray, and using those things can put you in further danger. So the methods we highlight here are an alternative to brandishing a weapon. 

We approached our testing with inclusivity in mind, acknowledging that different groups may have different personal safety needs or feel vulnerable in situations where others don’t. While we think women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ+ community would benefit from some of these products the most, cisgender straight men are also at risk of violence, even if they don’t hear the same warnings we do. Most of this advice focuses on one-on-one violence, but mass shootings are also a fear that Americans are constantly battling. These things might help get you in contact with help quicker, but they haven't been tested for that sort of chaos. 

The TL;DR

This guide is long, with options for a lot of different scenarios and budgets. The most important advice is this: download the free Noonlight app, see what safety features your phone and watch already offer, and learn to use whatever method you go with before you're in an emergency. From there, we urge you to browse the rest of this guide for other options you might not have thought of.

Updated July 2023: We added two apps, SafeUP and Just N' Case, and the Plegium Smart Emergency Button. We also added notes about Apple's upcoming iOS 17 Check In feature.

Table of ContentsBefore You Buy Anything …Safety Features Your Phone Already HasA Great (Free) General Safety App: NoonlightA Free App and Panic Button Combo: Arlo SafeAnother Panic Button to Consider: PlegiumA Running App to Share Your Location With Friends: StravaAn App for Alerting Friends or Police: SabreAn App for Recording the Police: Mobile JusticeThis App Can Send Help to Your Saved Addresses: RescuAn App From ADT: SoSecureMore Apps to ConsiderA Bracelet That Triggers a Fake Phone Call: FlareMore Wearables With Safety Features: InvisawearSafety Features Already in Your SmartwatchIf You’re Off the Grid: Garmin inReach MiniA Flashlight Works Too: Infinty X1 Hybrid Power 

Medea Giordano is the lead reviewer for this guide. Louryn Strampe and Adrienne So also tested some devices and shared advice on products they already use.

Special offer for Gear readers: Get a 1-year subscription to WIRED for $5 ($25 off). This includes unlimited access to WIRED.com and our print magazine (if you'd like). Subscriptions help fund the work we do every day.

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Before You Buy Anything …

Before you take the plunge and invest in one of these personal safety products or become entirely reliant on a piece of software, here are a few general guidelines to follow:

Test it first. A complicated new device won’t do you any good if the first time you use it is during a tense or panicked situation. As soon as you unbox the product or install the app, you should go through test runs of setting off alarms, sending your location to a friend, or activating any kind of SOS feature in the product. If the product you’re using promises to connect you to emergency services, give this a dry run. (Most companies account for test runs. Just be sure to complete the call and communicate to the service that you're OK.) Make a plan. If you list certain friends or family members as emergency contacts within an app, give your friends a heads-up and make sure they also know what to do when they're alerted—go through a dry run with them too.Have it ready. Whatever type of product you're using, it will only work if it's quickly accessible. If you find yourself on a solo jog, walking home alone at night, or navigating a dark parking lot, have your device in hand. You won't always have time to dig through your bag. If it's a phone-connected device that requires Bluetooth, make sure it's on. Just to note, the promise of technology should not lull you into letting your guard down. Always be aware of your surroundings. Have options. For some communities, the police might not offer the best, fastest or most reliable protection. We’ve included suggestions below for apps and devices that will contact only your predetermined friends in an emergency, as well as an app that records interactions with police.And remember … Even the best product isn't foolproof. Your phone’s battery can die, or the phone could be stolen. Devices that rely on data or Wi-Fi signals are useless if you’re out of range. Location-tracking services can be used against you by abusive partners. Apps might store your location and contacts on their servers, which means you might be exchanging a bit of privacy to use some of them. Only share your location with people you absolutely trust not to use it against you, or who know you and your patterns well enough that they won't overreact and send police to your location when you're simply stuck in a meeting or taking a nap.Safety Features Your Phone Already Has

Your smartphone has at least two built-in safety features that work without requiring you to download or buy anything extra: location sharing and emergency calling. To use these built-in safety features on your phone, follow these instructions:

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1. iPhone: If you have an iPhone, you can share your location with other iPhone users by going to their contact card and selecting Send My Current Location or Share My Location. With the latter, you can choose a time frame: indefinitely, until the end of the day, or for one hour. iPhones also have an emergency call feature that is activated by holding down the power button and one of the volume buttons. You can slide the SOS slider for an instant call to 911 or keep holding down the buttons to start that call automatically, which will happen after a five-second countdown.

At Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), the company announced the Check In feature coming to iOS 17 in the fall of 2023. When you initiate a Check In with someone, you choose your ending location and time you plan to be there—so say, home by 10:30. Your selected contact will be notified right in your text thread that you've reached your location. If it looks like you're running behind, or deviate from the route, it asks you directly to add time. If you don't respond, your location, route taken, battery level, and cell service status is shared with them too. If you're a member of Apple's public beta program, you can try it out before it's officially released in the fall. 

2. Android (most other phones): You can use Google Maps to share your location with friends by choosing Location Sharing under your account icon in the top right (on the iPhone app, you’ll find this in the menu in the top left). Unlike the fairly uniform iPhone, Android phones, including Samsung Galaxy devices, come in varying sizes and shapes and receive Android software updates at different times, but if you have an Android phone from the last few years it should have some form of an emergency call system. Check for it now, before you need it.

Pretty much all smartphones now offer an emergency call feature from the lock screen, so you can call 911 without having to unlock your phone. Calls to 911 should also work on most smartphones if you don't have service or a SIM card, as long as you're close enough to a cellular signal, be it your own wireless carrier or another. It’s similar to how you can use a payphone to call 911 without feeding it any quarters.

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The obvious downside to relying on your smartphone is that if it dies or is shut off, you can’t make any phone calls or share your location with a trusted contact. So if you notice your battery is low and you sense you might be in danger, you should quickly send your current location so your trusted contact has a starting point. If you’d rather not use continuous tracking, you could text a trusted friend a photo of the map you’re using, like if you’re going out for a solo hike; if you don’t arrive at your destination, friends or authorities can at least try to trace your steps.

A Great (Free) General Safety App

Noonlight

Every person should have this app downloaded. The best safety apps are simple to use in a panicked situation, and Noonlight is as simple as you can get. All you have to do is press your finger on the on-screen button if you feel unsafe—I often use it while walking home but you can use it for any situation, like if someone knocks on your door. After you release your finger, the app will wait 10 seconds for you to enter a PIN number, in case it was a false alarm. If you don’t enter your PIN, Noonlight will first attempt to contact you over the phone, and if you don’t answer the call, the company will then contact local authorities and direct them to your location. Help is on the way in the critical moments when you may not be able to dial 911 and talk to an operator yourself.

It's available for both iOS and Android, and the free version includes more than enough features for most users. The iOS version, particularly, has two additional free features that I like: Timeline and Safety Network. Your Timeline can be filled out with details about your activities, like who you're going on a date with and where; you can even add a photo of their dating profile. You can also indicate if you’re doing anything out of the ordinary from your usual schedule, like house-sitting, working late, or traveling to a new location. If you activate the Noonlight button, your Timeline will be sent to authorities along with your location.

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When you add contacts to the app’s Safety Network, these people can check in on you and send local help to your last known location. And your contacts won't have to download the Noonlight app; they can access all of the relevant information on the company’s website. 

If you subscribe for $5 or $10 a month, you can connect Noonlight to apps like Uber, Lyft, and Tinder (you'd be able to automatically add your date's profile to the Timeline mentioned above), or connect a voice assistant. The $5 tier also gets you access to the Apple Watch app, though I personally think that should be a free feature. 

Noonlight partners with some of the other options on this list, too, and works with Wyze, one of our favorite smart home brands.

Download Noonlight on the App Store or Google Play.

An App and Panic Button Combo

Arlo Safe App and Button

We like several of Arlo's security cameras, and it's nice to see that the brand has expanded into other areas of safety. The paid version of the Arlo Safe app works similarly to Noonlight. You hold down the on-screen button until you're either safe—release your finger and enter your predetermined pin within 10 seconds—or need help. In the latter case, you'll get a text and call within a few seconds of each other. Like Noonlight, it uses GPS to track your location. A family subscription unlocks other services too, like tracking and check-ins. Without any subscription, the app alerts a chosen contact, not the police.

If you're going to pay for a subscription, I recommend also getting the brand's Safe Buttons, which are really the stars of the show. There are times when you simply can't, or don't want to, have your phone open in your hands, and that's where a panic button like this comes in handy. Once connected to the app, it works the same way, just in device form. Press the button for a second to start the countdown immediately or keep your finger pressed if you feel uneasy, releasing it when you need help.

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The button is small and mostly unassuming. It doesn't add much weight to your keys or to yourself if you're on a run. There's a clip to attach it to your clothes, and it seems pretty secure for walking, but runners may want more dependability. I recommend using the key ring to attach the button to a hair tie around your wrist, then use the clip to secure it so it doesn't bounce around—I used to do this with my dorm key in college to avoid losing it or needing a bag. You'll need to have Bluetooth turned on, and the device must be close to your phone for it to work, like the other devices here.

Subscriptions cost $5 per month for an individual plan, $10 for a family plan, and $20 per month for the total Safe and Secure Plan.

Download Arlo Safe on the App Store or Google Play. A single Safe Button costs $30, and there are bundles available: get one button with a one-year subscription for $60 from Arlo, or two buttons and a one-year subscription for $120 from Arlo or Best Buy.

Another Panic Button

Plegium Smart Emergency Button

Plegium's buttons are affordable and small little keychains, at just about an inch in diameter. The button part is actually two teeny blue buttons, one on each side of the circle. Hold them down for a few seconds, and once the green light flashes, a text and automated phone call are sent to your chosen contacts. If you don't pay for a subscription, they'll get the location where the button was activated. That gives them at least a place to start if something terrible happens. For live tracking and connection to authorities, you'll need to pay for the $ 5-a-month subscription.

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The brand also has two sizes of pepper spray that, when sprayed, alert your contacts the same way the button does. Like I mention in the Sabre section below, I prefer the option to use pepper gel, because there's less blowback on you.

Download Plegium on the App Store or Google Play. A Smart Emergency Button costs $40.

A Running App to Share Your Location With Friends

Strava

Even going out for a solo jog can make you vulnerable to potentially dangerous situations, especially for women. Strava is a social network for workouts, used mostly to record long bike rides or runs, and it may even be an app you already use. 

Strava has a helpful feature called Beacon that shares your real-time location with anyone you choose, along with what time you started your activity, how long you've been active, and your phone's battery percentage. If you set up a check-in time with your chosen friend, they'll know when it's time to get worried. They can then share your GPS map with the police. Just remember that if you have a public profile, other Strava users might able to see where you live. Strava has instructions on how to tweak your privacy settings, or you can start tracking your runs a few blocks away from your house. 

Beacon is now free on the mobile app (it used to only be part of the premium version of Strava), but you'll have to pay $7 per month if you want to use it on other connected devices. 

Download Strava on the App Store or Google Play.

An App for Alerting Friends or Police 

Sabre Personal Safety

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You may be familiar with the Sabre name if you've ever looked into pepper spray. The company makes a long list of police-grade sprays and other safety devices. But the brand teaches safety, too, with certified instructors and programs available. It also has an app to get you help quickly if you need it.

The app is free if you want to only alert trusted contacts, or $5 a month to add police access (Sabre works in partnership with Noonlight for this). In the app, you'll add your contact's name and number and all they have to do is verify it via a link they're texted; they don't have to download the app. On the homepage, you should see your location on a map and a red exclamation point at the bottom. Clicking that exclamation point takes you to your panic button. Once you press it, your trusted contact gets a link to your location. If you've paid for the subscription, it will also alert authorities to that location. From there, you can mark yourself safe or state it was a false alarm—both need a pin number to confirm, and your contact will be alerted of that status as well (though they can still view your location).

Sabre's Personal Safety app can be used alone or paired with its smart pepper spray. If you do connect the spray to the app, it alerts contacts or local authorities when it's been deployed. But as we said earlier, laws are complicated and pepper spray isn't the best choice for everyone or every situation. Pepper gel is also typically a better choice, because there's less chance of it blowing back into your eyes. (If you do get it, please utilize the practice canister.)

Download Sabre Personal Safety on the App Store or Google Play. 

An App for Recording the Police

Mobile Justice

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The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Daunte Wright, Ma'Khia Bryant, and many others have only underscored that for many Americans—particularly Black Americans—there’s a very real risk of being harmed by police. Even defaulting to apps that promise to “contact the authorities” when you’re in danger assumes a certain amount of privilege: It means your experience is such that you believe the authorities will protect you, not hurt you. But as we know, that is not everyone’s experience.

That’s where an app like Mobile Justice may be helpful. The app records your interaction with police, streaming the video to your chosen contacts and your local ACLU chapter. If you feel your rights have been violated during the interaction, you can then fill out an incident report for the ACLU with the location information, name of the police agency involved, and a detailed explanation of what happened. You’ll need cell service or Wi-Fi for the app to work, but you can record on your phone and send an incident report later if needed. The Mobile Justice app isn’t just for people who are being pulled over or treated with unnecessary force; others can use the app to record incidents they’re witness to.

We know this isn't a perfect solution, and that even capturing concrete video evidence doesn’t necessarily mean a citizen is protected or that justice will be served if harm is done. But you are well within your rights to record interactions with law enforcement. As is outlined in the rights section of the app, officers cannot view or delete footage or confiscate your phone without a warrant; and demanding that you stop recording violates your First Amendment rights. Third parties can legally record interactions with police and someone else, as long as they are not interfering with what’s happening or obstructing officers’ movements.

There's more helpful information within the app about your rights in different situations, whether you’re being stopped by the police or participating in a protest, as well as alerts from your local ACLU.

Download Mobile Justice on the App Store or Google Play.

This App Can Send Help to Your Saved Addresses

Rescu

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In addition to police, Rescu includes options to get the fire department or an ambulance dispatched quickly so you don't have to worry about talking through an incident with an operator before the right team is alerted. It has another nice feature: You can send help to up to four saved addresses even if you aren't there—so if you're out of town and your security camera spots someone lurking around or there's an emergency at an elderly parent's house outside your area, you don't have to figure out exactly which department to call when you're already panicked.

There's no free tier here. The $7 per month subscription is not GPS-enabled the way the other apps on this list are. Instead, you'll get access to only those addresses you've saved. The $10 Prime tier includes those addresses, plus the ability to send help to wherever you are using GPS. Once you've actually sent an alert in the app, you can switch to a call or chat if it's needed as well.

The app is automatically put in test mode for the first day after you download it, so you can get used to using all the features without actually calling anyone. If you want to refresh yourself or show someone else how to use it, you can put it back into test mode at any time from the main menu.

Download Rescu on the App Store or Google Play.

An App From ADT

SoSecure

The InvisaWear wearables below work with ADT, but the home security company has its own standalone app too.

The free tier gets you an SOS button, where you can activate an alert—if ADT can't reach you by phone, they'll send help and alert your chosen contacts. There's also an SOS chat option available. Both of these get you to help without anyone near you knowing, so if you're in a weird situation, no one would think you're doing anything but texting. Or, if you have to hide for any reason, you can tell someone what's going on silently—just remember to turn your phone volume down. Also part of the free version is location tracking with trusted contacts, like some of our other recommendations offer.

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If you subscribe to the Plus plan at $4.17 per month, you'll also get SOS video (this could be used as evidence, if it comes to that), a timed tracking feature for ADT and your contacts to track your location during a situation you feel could be dicey, and the option to trigger a silent alarm with a secret code phrase. A premium plan for $8.33 a month includes roadside assistance and crash detection. You can download a home screen widget too.

Download SoSecure on the App Store or Google Play.

More Apps to Consider

There are tons of safety apps to consider, including these two additional ones we've looked into. We recommend trying a few to see what works best for you, and like everything else on this list, play around with the app so you know exactly how it works when you need it.

SafeUP connects you with local women, called guardians, when you're in need. When you request help, it sends out an SOS to the guardians closest to you, and connects you with the first three to answer. You can talk over the phone or video chat with all three, and even request for them to come to you if it won't put them in danger. Either you or they can decide to alert police to your location through the app. A lot of people call friends when they're feeling uncomfortable, so this takes that idea and makes it a little more actionable. They're close to you and the police are just a button away.

Every user must be verified—to join, I had to video chat with a customer service representative—but that, of course, can't ensure that everyone using the app is genuinely kind without nefarious intentions. Guardians must be over 18 and watch a few basic on-app videos. Remember, these are regular people who just want to chat for a moment while you reach your destination, not trained crisis counselors or 911 dispatchers. 

I love the idea of SafeUP, but it will only work well if women in your area are a part of it. Major cities are likely to have many guardians, and rural or suburban areas might not have any. You can see how many are around you on a map. Download SafeUP on the App Store or Google Play.

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Just N' Case uses a panic button or selected phrase to alert your chosen contacts of your location. It does not contact police as of yet. Those main features are free, or you can add an automated call to your contacts for 99 cents a month.

You can open it when you need it, like I do with Noonlight, or keep it running in the background so you can yell your phrase at a moment's notice. If you enable sound, setting it off also starts an alarm. That could be good if something is happening to you in public and want people around you to pay attention, but if you're trying to be discreet, you'll want to turn this off. It is not yet available for Android phones. Download Just N' Case on the App Store.

A Bracelet That Triggers a Fake Phone Call

Flare Bracelet

I’ve tested around half a dozen or so safety-specific wearables over the last few years, and the Flare bracelet stood out. For one, it actually looks like a bracelet, not a tracking device. Flares come in beaded, leather, or cuffed designs, with a few different options for metal finishes. Its design hides an SOS button that you'd really have to be searching for to find—whoever you're trying to get away from won't know you've set anything off. Press the button once if you’d like to receive a fake phone call, the type of which you determine in the app, like a roommate who needs you or a partner checking in. It comes from a real number that the app prompts you to save in your contacts, adding a fake name that gets displayed when the phone rings.

That aforementioned feature is helpful if someone is simply being a nuisance, but when you’re in a dangerous situation where a fake call isn’t enough, you can hold down the Flare button to send a message and your location to your selected contacts. Flare has also established a partnership with Noonlight, so you can set up the Flare device (through the app) to call 911 when you hold the button down. You'll get a text and call immediately, and if you can't answer, your location is shared with first responders in your area. If you set it off accidentally and want to cancel, the operator will ask for personal identifiers, like the spelling of your last name and phone number, so they know it's really you.

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The pricing and subscription models have changed a few times, but it's now back to what we originally saw. Bracelets cost $129, and that comes with a free membership. The battery isn't rechargeable, which the company says was an intentional design choice to avoid any frustration with having to constantly recharge the thing. But the bracelet is guaranteed to last one year and depending on usage could last as long as two years. After that, you'll have to purchase an entirely new bracelet for another $98. The company will let you know when the battery is getting low. Flare is currently only available for iPhone users; and while the company says an Android version is in the works, that's been the case since we wrote this in 2021. Like any other tracking device, it has to be connected to a phone, so you couldn't put this on a child and send them to school, for example.

The Flare Bracelet for iPhone costs $129. Download the Get Flare app on the App Store. 

Note: The company picks five people each month who are in need to receive a free bracelet. You can nominate yourself or someone you know here. 

Runner-Up Wearables, With Reservations

InvisaWear keychains, bracelets, and more

If you like the idea of Flare but have an Android phone, or simply don’t wear bracelets, then you might want to consider InvisaWear products, which are backed by the home security company ADT. The InvisaWear lineup includes a wide range of products: keychains, bracelets, necklaces, fitness bands, and even scrunchies. (Yes, you can now buy a “smart” scrunchie backed by a home security company.) Like Flare, these products are mostly designed to blend in with the rest of your wardrobe. As with Flare, it uses Bluetooth to connect to your phone.

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I tried the InvisaWear keychain, bracelet, and necklace, all of which are designed around a pretty circular charm. On the back of the charm is a button that sends an alert and your location to local authorities and/or preselected contacts, depending on the settings you choose. 

When we first tried this, getting in touch with 911 was free, but now everything requires a $20 per month subscription. That also includes features that could be useful, like in-app chats when you can't be on the phone, access to 24/7 calls with an ADT agent for any reason if you just want to be on the phone until you're safe inside, video streaming to an agent via the app, up to four hours of activity tracking if you know you're doing something that could be risky—like solo hikes or blind dates—and even virtual self-defense classes. As with the Flare, the battery isn't rechargeable, so after a year or two you'll need to replace the button at a discounted $99 fee—the app will alert you when it's time to replace it. Once a month, the company sends out an email reminding you to place a test call to make sure it's working properly. (To do this, open the app's menu then select “Place Test Alert.”)

★ Note: A friend of mine has an InvisaWear and she's experienced problems with it not sending alerts when it needed to, and sending alerts when it didn't need to, like when she put it on. We didn't experience this in our limited testing, but it's a problem to keep in mind. Test it often, replace it when it needs to be replaced, and if you experience this issue, contact the company right away.

InvisaWear safety wearables cost $129 to $350. Download the Invisawear app on the App Store or Google Play.

Note: There's a 5 percent discount for students. 

Safety Features Already in Your Smartwatch

If you already own a wrist wearable like an Apple Watch or Garmin fitness tracker, you might not want to spend your money on yet another gadget. Or maybe you'd prefer something that's more multi-use than a wearable SOS button. The good news is that some popular smartwatch models have safety features built in.

Apple Watch SOS: As on an iPhone, you can make an SOS call to local emergency services via your Apple Watch by pressing the side button until the SOS slider appears on the screen. From there, you can manually drag the slider or keep holding the button until it counts down for five seconds and then automatically activates the call. Your designated emergency contacts are also notified via text message with your location.Garmin Watch Assistance: Most Garmin models—including our favorites, the Vívomove Sport, Forerunner 45, and Forerunner 745—have an assistance feature that will send your location to your predetermined contacts if activated, similar to the Flare and InvisaWear jewelry. There is also “incident detection,” which automatically sends your location to those contacts when the device detects a fall or other serious accident, like a bike crash.Most PopularGearThe 15 Best Electric Bikes for Every Kind of Ride

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WIRED senior associate editor Adrienne So tried testing the incident detection feature with her Garmin Venu 2S and couldn't get it to activate after a fake fall, so we can't say for sure how well this would work during an actual incident. Still, So says she feels generally much safer on runs, thanks to her Garmin’s location tracking. Like most of these wearables (except for Apple Watch, which you can set up a separate cellular plan for), your phone will have to be with you for this to work. And of course, you'll have to make sure you activate these safety features first.

If You’re Off the Grid …

Garmin inReach Mini

If you’re a frequent camper or hiker, or are otherwise away from cell service often, most of these products aren’t going to help you in an emergency. That’s where a satellite messenger comes in.

We have a guide with a few picks for different situations, but the Garmin inReach Mini is one of our favorites. It’s light and takes up little room in your bag, plus it utilizes the super-fast Iridium satellite network to get your SOS to help.

★ Also Consider: Garmin has a new satellite communicator, the inReach Messenger for $300 that works with a connected phone to send messages when you're away from cell service. We haven't tried it yet.

The Garmin inReach Mini costs $350 from Garmin and Amazon.

A Flashlight Works Too

Infinity X1 Hybrid Power Flashlight

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I've talked to several self-defense teachers over the years who always recommend flashlights as personal safety devices—yes, more than mace or a pocket knife. A flashlight obviously lights your way while you walk in the dark, which might help you see someone otherwise cloaked by darkness, but there are two other reasons why these work. Putting a flashlight up to someone's eyes will disorient them, hopefully long enough to let you get away. I'm nearly blinded by an iPhone's camera flash, so imagine thousands of lumens directly to your eyeballs. If it was truly a kind stranger asking for directions and not a threat, you didn't actually harm them, and you'll be far away before you know any different. (Sorry, stranger.)

If that fails, you can use it to, frankly, hit them. A hunk of metal to the face will hurt worse than your fist, and won't hurt you in the process. Get a good swing and run. Of course, though, like any weapon, it can be taken from you and used against you, so keep that in mind. 

The Infinity X1 Hybrid Power Flashlight ($79) has 4,000 lumens (the brand has other options available too). When I turned it on in my apartment, it lit up the room brighter than my actual lights do. It comes with two cores, one that holds the batteries and one that's rechargeable. There are cheaper flashlights, but I like that the rechargeable core can also charge your phone, so it's not bad to keep on hand for emergencies anyway. It's heavy and long, which is good if you need to swing it, but it won't be easy to stow in your purse. 

Cheaper options: Any flashlight with some heft will do, and there are a few others we really like. WIRED writer Matt Jancer recommends the 350-lumen Fenix E20 V2 ($45) in his Guide to Creating a Home Emergency Kit. It's compact, so it shouldn't be too annoying to throw in your bag, but it's still constructed of tough metal. For even less, writer Louryn Strampe recommends the 900-lumen Anker Rechargeable Bolder ($30), which even has a strobe function. It's a lot smaller, but it will still pack a harder punch than a lone fist.

The Infinity X1 Hybrid Power Flashlight costs $79 from Infinity X1.

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