There are some people who claim to be purists and they advocate for leaving your phone home when you run. I am not one of those people… they can be incredibly helpful, you can listen to music/books/podcasts to keep yourself entertained, you can call someone if you get lost or hurt on the run, and you can respond to work colleagues if you are in the habit of running on your lunch hour and you take your lunch hour at odd business hour times. I’m an advocate FOR phones on the run. Or at least… I carry mine and if you choose to or not, that’s your preference. But because I choose to, this episode is all about carrying… your phone, that is.
This topic was prompted by the fact that I frequently use an armband and the one that I had recently decided the velcro part that holds it onto my arm was tired and it just didn’t want to work anymore. First I went out a run where the armband undid itself and unraveled, causing the whole armband to attempt to go flying off my arm, remaining attached to me only via my headphones. If I had used Bluetooth headphones on this run, the whole thing would have flown to the ground. A few days later I went on another run where it tried this disattachment act 3 times during the course of 5 miles. So I knew it was time to look for an alternative.
I could have just replaced it with the exact same thing… except there were parts about it that annoyed me. I had a cheap arm wallet thing from a company called Techvilla. I got it on Amazon and it retails for about $8. It’s just a big main pocket that holds your phone, with a smaller pocket on the front where you could stash keys, chapstick, gel. It does not have a clear screen, I don’t care about being able to manipulate my phone’s screen while it’s on my arm. What I do want is to be able to listen to my music, pull the phone out quickly and easily if I need to respond to a text/Slack message or take a photo. Because I’ve been taking a photo of my feet and super-imposing the weather over it at the end of nearly every run for the past 5 years. Call it my creative art project or some weird obsessive-compulsive thing. Whatever… it entertains me, okay? I might still buy another one of these, but the velcro has always had a scratchy part that can rub you raw if you’re not careful when closing it and I worry that the velcro will just wear out again. It was never super grippy to begin with. But I decided this was a good chance to try something different.
So I ordered a Sprigs Banjee armband. This is a stretchy armband you have to order by size because it just pulls up your arm, no velcro closures. It intrigued me because it was so thin and lightweight, plus no velcro to wear out. They are made out of tech fabric and come in a ton of colors/prints. But when I got it, I wasn’t quite sure because the material is just tech fabric. This makes it machine-washable, but it also made me very apprehensive about the possibility that sweat would just soak through and ruin my phone. I did try it on, you put your phone in it first and then pull it up your arm. I have a Loopy Case on my phone, so I put it with the loop side facing out, because the loop facing in toward the arm was uncomfortable. That means the phone screen is sitting against the skin, with just a thin layer of fabric separating it from sweat. Ew…. and while I could pull the phone out when it was on my arm, getting it back in was a nightmare. Also, the Sprigs armband has a little velcro tab that folds over the top of the phone pocket, which means that goes right across the lightning port on my iPhone and that’s the headphone jack as well. That could be worked around if the rest of it was awesome, but I was more worried about the whole thing being a liability to my phone, so I sent it back. It cost $24.
So I posted on my Facebook page and asked people how they carry their phone. There were a lot of votes for waist packs, and I have a hate-hate relationship with those. They never stay in one place. I have a booty (a topic for a body image issue, I have one rattling around somewhere in my brain but it’s a matter of getting up the nerve to talk!) and that typically means you need to put waist packs higher up and I find it uncomfortable. But another item was mentioned that piqued my interest, the Koala Clip. This is a lightweight back that is made with a sweat-resistant outer and a soft inside, with a magnetic clip on it. So you drop your phone in the bag and you can hook it inside the back of your bra or on the waistband of your shorts. I’ve tried a waist clip, I ran 1 mile thinking my shorts were going to fall out. And the entire run was one mile because I made it a half mile before giving up and heading home to ditch that clip. So I wasn’t going to use this on the waist, but being a female I do wear a sports bra on every run and I knew I could try that approach. So I ordered one… they cost $28. And with just two runs, I like it an okay amount. It doesn’t seem to lay as flat on me as it does in the pictures on the site and it makes me look a little like a hunchback. But when it’s there and when I’m running, I don’t notice it at all. And sweat has not soaked through to my phone at all. My big concerns with this one come in the form of running longer than 3 miles and in temps hotter than the upper 60’s, which are the conditions I tested it in. If I want to listen to headphones that are plugged in, I have to leave the zipper closure open and ponytail sweat could drop in. No good. Even if I zip it close, how drip proof would the zipper be? Also, this puts your phone right next to your core and the chances of it making your phone overheat seem higher this way to me. So I’m keeping this (because I have sweat on it!) but I’m not sure it’s the final solution. I’ll keep trying it.
I have used an Armpocket in the past. I never use their features like the screen, the headphone port, and cord management, but they are well-made armbands. The one I had did get really stiff and crunchy after a lot of use. And a gentle hand-wash didn’t help. Maybe I should try throwing it in the washing machine… it says to not do that, but I am not using it due to the crunch factor, so what would it hurt? Also, these are going to run you about $50 each.
Last year I bought a Camelbak Ultra Pro Vest to use on longer runs, but I didn’t get around to using it until the past month. I ordered it because the Orange Mud pack I had that holds a water bottle up high on your back was noticeably slowing me down when I was on a group run whenever I had to pull the bottle out to drink. So I thought the Camelbak with flasks stored in the front would be quicker to drink…. it’s not. I’m probably stuck with a bladder on the back and a bite-valve/tube system to be the fastest drinking on the move, but I don’t like bladders all that much…. I think too much about the potential for molds in the line.
So chime in… how do you carry your phone while running? Or are you one of those people who leave it behind?