The Original SPIbelt & SPI H2O Companion: Run Like a Kangaroo…But Without the Bounce!
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When I lived in Australia, I loved seeing the kangaroos. What does this have to do with this article? Nothing, I just love reminiscing about my time in Australia. Ok, maybe it has something to do with it…but more on that in a moment.
I am a minimalist runner. I like the freedom of just being able to throw my shoes on, cue up my playlist, and head out the door. The less I can take with me on the run, the better. However, I do have the problem that not all of my running shorts and pants have convenient pockets. Even some of the “accessory pockets” some clothing manufacturers build into their pants either will not accommodate my iPhone 5S or, given my body shape, it just won’t work for me. So this means I need to find a way to carry my Phone with me, and sometimes keys, or whatever. I do NOT want to be that person who sets their car keys on their tires when I go out for a run or race.
There is also that issue about staying hydrated on the run, and you all know how much we here at Casual Runner harp on staying well-hydrated. BUT, and this is a big “but,” while a batman utility-belt may work for my long runs where I need a lot of fluids, I really do not like taking it with me on shorter runs. So I need a more minimalist option.
So there is this cool little company out of Austin, Texas called SPIbelt. I know of 3 things that come out of Austin: great food, great music, and now, great running products. I took the opportunity to check out one of their base products, the Original SPIbelt, but with the add-on of one of their SPI H2O Companion water bottles.
The Original SPIbelt is a cool little product. It is essentially an adjustable elastic-type waist belt (think of a cool, stylish, socially-acceptable fanny pack!) that clasps around your waste. Its main feature is an expandable pouch with a full width zipper for placing you small items in such as phones, gels, IDs, credit cards, or keys when you are on the go.
The SPI H2O Companion water bottle is a 6 ounce (175 ml) BPA free fluid bottle with a sport-style squeeze top and a large, heavy duty, removable plastic clip, which allows it to be easily attached to, and removed from, the SPIbelt for hydration on the go.
Both of these products are for any runner, walker, triathlete, cyclist, or even folks enjoying the day at a theme park or amusement park who want to keep small items both secure and accessible.
The SPIbelt is so easy and convenient to use it can be used, really, whenever and where ever. Just keep it handy, snap it on and go. It is that simple. I was actually thinking it would make a great little travel companion, especially on international trips as it can be conveniently worn under your clothing to protect your passport and credit cards from pickpockets. Hmmm, maybe I should copyright that one, what do you say SPIbelt?
However, the SPI H2O Companion bottle is a little bit more limited due to its smaller capacity (6 ounces/175ml). Now, there is no way that I could get through a longer mileage run (especially in the summer heat) with just 6 ounces of fluid, my body requires a lot more than that. However, it is a good option for those shorter runs and races (5ks, etc), where someone like me may not otherwise be inclined to bring any fluids at all. It is better to have a little something in case you do need it than to go into a hydration deficiency.
You also have the option of adding multiple bottles to the same belt, but I would recommend trying this out on some shorter training runs first to make sure you adjust to the way the bottles and the belt feel if you are going to add more to your waist.
The Good, The Bad, The Ugly?
The SPIbelt is a great product at a very appealing price point ($19.99 on SPIbelt’s website). You can tell that the belt is made from quality products and the stitching is strong, which means it will stand up to a lot of abuse (and I do tend to abuse my running gear!). While I have an iPhone 5S (which fits just fine in the belt), I also tried it out with larger phones, including the iPhone 6S, inside of a large OtterBox case, and it fit in the belt’s pouch with plenty of room to spare.
The zipper slides easily, and does not show any sign that it will bunch up any time soon (which is a problem that I have had with zippers on running gear of lesser quality). It has a slight gap on one end which accommodates the wire for your non-bluetooth headphones.
Ok, now, back to the kangaroo story for a moment (see, I told you that it was sort of relevant!)…the best part about the SPIbelt is, unlike Kangaroos, it does NOT bounce. I took the product out with me on numerous training runs from 5k to double digit mileage, and with a variety of clothes thanks to this El Nino winter, and I never once felt it bounce. Still, I would caution against over-filling the pouch as the chances of bouncing increases with the more weight you add to the pouch.
I cannot say that the SPIbelt was “comfortable,” because, to be honest, I did not even notice it. I am not sure that I could give this product higher praise than saying I did not notice I was even wearing it when I was on my runs!
To show that I am not exaggerating, after one training run, long after Candace and I returned to the house, she pointed out that I was STILL wearing the belt (she also may have called me a dork, but we do not need to go there). It wears so well I did not even notice that I was! Needless to say, I am a fan of this product.
Typically, when I go shopping for new running shorts and pants, I always look for accessible pockets. Now, I do not have to do so. Additionally, with the zipper pouch, I have more confidence that nothing will fall out along the way, so the added security is an added bonus.
The one drawback is that the pouch is not water proof. So, you may still want to put your phone into a Ziplock back before you zip it up. Additionally, the pouch does not offer much in the way of protection of extreme temperatures (but then again, neither do pockets!). As I learned the hard way, phones will shut down in extreme temperatures, so you may need to add a little insulation to your phone if you are running in freezing temps. Fortunately, with the expandable pouch capacity, SPIbelt easily accommodates this.
Now, the H2O Companion Bottle. This bottle works fine as advertised. It has a wide mouth opening for easy filling and refilling and the clip’s design allows it to be attached to and removed from the belt easily without having to break your stride. It has a limited capacity, so, as I said, it is ideal for shorter training runs and races. It may also be a good option as an emergency backup for a longer race in case you miss a fluid station or if they should run out of water (which, sadly, does happen).
So, next time you go out for a run, you may want to take the SPIbelt with you and leave the annoying bouncing at home. Now, who wants to talk about Australia with me?
YOU CAN CHECK OUT OUR 2015 PRODUCT PALOOZA AND ENTER TO WIN A FREE PAIR OF COMPRESSION SOCKS OR SLEEVES FROM NOW UNTIL DECEMBER 21, 2015 – CHECK OUT THE DETAILS HERE.
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Neither Mike nor Casual Runner received any compensation for this review. The product reviewed herein was provided by the manufacturer for purposes of this review and the opinions are solely those of the author.