I’m used to running with my stuff in a Spi Belt, which has a zipper that makes it easy to shove things inside the expandable pouch and grab them on the go. But it can get bouncy. The FlipBelt, on the other hand, is a snug-fitting, tubular band of fabric with periodic gaps through which I could shove long-run necessities such as gels, Chapstick, and my phone. Some people then flip the belt over (thus its name) so the gaps are against their bodies, ensuring their stuff doesn’t fall out. When I took it on my Saturday shakeout run, I didn’t do that, just so I could see how securely it held everything. And on my short run, I found that my stuff stayed put and the belt felt comfortable. It was a go for the Austin Half Marathon.
I don’t carry too much with me on race day, but I need to be able to get at my Chapstick or gels or whatever without a lot of fumbling as I’m running. If I have to slow or stop to find what I’m looking for, it’s worthless. I also carry my phone at the small of my back so that it will talk to my Bluetooth headphones, and while I don’t touch my phone much during a race, it can’t bounce around back there either. I see people whose phones and gear belts are flopping all over the place, and I don’t know how it doesn’t drive them absolutely crazy.
Also, I like to take a picture as I approach the starting line, so I need to be able to do that, and then efficiently shove my phone into the belt to start the race. My running capris have a phone-sized pocked in the back, and I’m adept at getting my phone in and out of that. But due to the humidity, I didn’t want my phone that close to my damp skin, so I thought the extra layer of fabric inside the FlipBelt would help keep it dry.
This day, I didn’t have a lot with me. A package of watermelon Gu Chomps, two tubes of Chapstick (
fresh breath is unchapped lips are a priority of my life), my phone, and a ziplock bag for the electronics in case of rain. I pinned my race number to the bottom of the belt and shoved a washcloth/sweat towel under it for later.
How’d it work out?
It’s kind of awkward putting it on, since there’s no clasp or buckle– you have to step into it and slide it up your hips. I’m roughly a size 8, and the size M fit comfortably. It expanded enough to go over my hips–I was worried it would stretch out and then feel too loose, but it sprang back to fit snugly. The top part of the belt sat evenly with the drawstring of my pants and didn’t slide or move around. When I put my stuff in it, the belt remained mostly flat–no funky bulges, no flopping around.
As the race began, I took my customary photo. Sliding my phone into the belt behind my back was a little more complicated than using the zippered pocket, since I couldn’t see the little gaps, but it only took me a couple of extra seconds to find one of the holes and slide my phone through it and situate it where I wanted.
Every mile or so I fished around for Chapstick or gels. Mostly Chapstick. On the run, it’s not always easy to find one of the little slits, but since they’re placed every two or three inches, I was able to locate them by touch, feeling along the center seam until I reached an opening. At first it was awkward but I got the hang of it pretty quickly. And even though the fabric is slippery spandex and the Chapstick tubes are slick plastic, they didn’t slide around inside the belt at all. My phone stayed put at the small of my back too.
All in all, for 13.1 miles I hardly noticed the FlipBelt was there. My stuff was accessible, it fit comfortably, and it didn’t bounce around as I ran. It met all of my criteria with flying colors.
The only real drawback is its price. My Spi Belt cost about $16, for example, and the FlipBelt is almost $30. But I also found it to be significantly less bulky than most other belts out there, and since there’s more space for my stuff, it’s not all concentrated in one blob that flops around when I run. This gives it a distinct advantage over other running belts. I don’t know how well the spandex fabric will hold up over time, but out of the package it does all the things it’s supposed to do, does them well, and comes in eight spiffy colors. I chose black because it hides sweat and grunge, but I’ve seen runners wearing the brighter colors too.
Want to win a FlipBelt? Comment on this post before the end of the day Saturday, March 1st and tell me about:
- your favorite piece of running gear,
- your bucket list race,
- the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you (or someone else) during a race, or
- your favorite distance and why.
randomly select my favorite response to win! And if you can’t wait for the giveaway, go to flipbelt.com and use promo code ITTSR for 10% off your order!