Shoe Wallet

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It's certainly not a new idea -- a pocket-like pouch that straps to the laces of your running or walking shoes so you can stash ID, a key or some change – but it's been recycled again by a company called Shoe Wallet that is promoting more than a product. Instead, it promotes the safety and importance of carrying ID.

That's good. We are also big fans of carrying ID at all times, even on what seems like an innocuous run or walk. No one wants to be Patient No. 62 without a name in a hospital until relatives or friends are found. But when we were pitched on this new Shoe Wallet we assumed it would look, well, different, updated, newer … SOMEthing. Well, no. It really looks like every other one out there – others include ones by Nathan Performance, FreeStyle and Jogalite. We in fact, being the gear packrats that we are, dug around in the depths of a drawer not seen in eons and found one we had bought in, yes, 1984! And it looked nearly the same as this new Shoe Wallet being touted as the latest and greatest.

Our testers were all over the board in feedback. One veteran runner hated it so much he declined to use it and threw it away. "Worthless," he stated. Another enthusiast thought it was a nice enough idea, didn't weigh much, but kinda wondered "why bother" when you can tuck keys and change in pockets of shorts or jackets. Another more beginning runner thought it was a great idea and was surprised it was so light and didn't annoy her. "I'll use it," she declared.

Yet another runner, a devout type who switches off between three or four pairs of shoes, found it just too plain tedious to take on and off shoes to move around – and said she preferred tucking things into pockets or even – sorry guys – sports bras. "Get it out of my way," she said. Still, there was no bounce and it was quickly forgotten when it was on a shoe during a run, she said. And one last occasional runner found it not disturbing at all, even with a key and a fake credit card stuck in a slot on the back – no bounce, no distraction. "I actually really like it," he said.

The only real difference between this product and others is that a newer version has an elastic strap on the back (the part against your shoe) so you can tuck in an ID or hotel card key. Nice idea on its surface, but what happens if it's raining, you have to make your way through sprinklers, a puddle, across a wet lawn, or even some mud? You could ruin the ID and disengage the magnetic strip on your card key. If carrying a card is going to be an option (Nathan and Jogalite have versions that are larger so a card snugs inside, but strike us as pretty big), then there needs to be some kind of protection for it (How about a really lightweight Gore-Tex pouch on the back?). At the least, uses should use one of those Tyvek-like card wallets offered by banks.

We think the best user would be a moderate fitness exerciser. One who has one pair of shoes and goes for short jogs or walks on nice days. No fear of mud, no changing between shoes. Most others would likely find it much too bothersome.

In general, however, the company founder has been touting the benefits as if it's a new product, which it is not. And, in fact, his pouch at about $10 is nearly twice the price as Freestyle's ($5.99) and Nathan's ($5.50), although less than Jogalite's deluxe version ($12.95), although this last model is larger and has a zip pocket for stowing cards and other slightly larger items. They all work essentially the same way, securing under the laces of a shoe with a narrow strap running lengthwise up the back that then continues over the top to fold down on the front to close the envelope-like pocket with hook-and-loop tape. Most brand's straps – and the Shoe Wallet's -- feature reflective tape of some kind, increasing visibility at dusk or in the dark.

Our bottom line here is this: If buying a Shoe Wallet, or one of the other brands we mentioned, will remind you to carry ID, and you don't carry ID now or are resorting to tucking it into socks, running short pockets, or your bra, then the purchase may make sense. Keep in mind as we experienced with our testers, getting used to wearing the wallet on your shoe – and liking it -- can be an entirely different matter.

SNEWS® Applause Meter: 3.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)

Suggested Retail: $9.99

For more information: www.shoewallet.com or 1-800-618-4630

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