When you go for a run or a power walk or to the gym for a workout, sometimes you just want to take the bare essentials. The SPIbelt's goal is to be your "small personal item" (get it? Small Personal Item…SPI) pouch for just those types of activities.
The belt is a 7/8-inch-wide elastic strap with a snap buckle closure. The zippered pouch sewn into the belt is made from a lightweight, super-stretchy material. When it's empty, it's only 7 inches long and 1 inch wide. Trust us, though, this puppy can expand. One tester filled the SPIbelt with an MP3 player and a cell phone, each about 2 by 4 inches in size, as well as a driver's license and two credit cards and the darn thing kept growing and growing to accommodate them. Another tester was able to easily fit a pepper spray can and an ID in it. Another runner tried it as a compact way to carry a couple of sports gels during a half-marathon.
SPIbelt touts that it "does not bounce, ride or shift while running or doing other activities." One tester agreed, saying the pouch stayed still during her walks and didn't twist around her waist at all. A running tester found that it sat well on easy jogs, but during a race, it tended to shift and bounce unless she snugged it down very tightly on her waist, which made it a tad uncomfortable. Also, out testers discovered that when they did not tuck in their shirt, the SPIbelt tended to pull a loose shirt up and out, so the belt ended up against their skin, which was a bit irritating.
Another reviewer noted that if you go a little crazy filling it up with an MP3 player, cell phone and multiple credit cards, the pouch does have a tendency to flip up a bit and not lie flat against the body anymore. But if you show more restraint, like one electronic device and an ID, it will lie more flat.
Also, when we used the belt during runs, it was difficult to fetch out ONE thing, such as a sport gel. Unless we stopped, we ran the risk of losing small items like an ID, money, a car key or a second gel. To remedy that, we'd suggest adding a key fob or some type of small slim pocket inside for an ID, credit card or that second gel. Of course, that may defeat the minimalist approach. One tester solved the issue by adding a large safety pin to secure a baggie to hold the goods or to attach a key.
The SPIbelt can hold up to five GU packets, but only with care can you fetch one out without losing the others -- again, unless you stop -- which may be fine on a workout but not during a race or other event. And it was difficult to fiddle with the zipper to put the wrapper back in while we were in mid-stride (so one tester -- not wanting to litter mid-race -- shoved the packet down her shorts!). But, as a way to carry items that you won't be fetching while in motion, it's a nice compact alternative. You could use it during a gym workout when you want your valuables or an MP3 player handy, or simply while traveling when you don't want to carry a wallet or purse but want your stuff close for security. As narrow and small as it is, it won't be conspicuous.
Despite a few fumbles, the SPIbelt is interesting and could be useful not only for runners, racers and power walkers, but also to hikers and travelers.
It's available in two sizes: small/medium for 20- to 32-inch waists, and medium/large for 28- to 40-inch waists. SPIbelt's website said it can also double as a race number belt by adding hooks you can buy for 50 cents.
SNEWS® Rating: 3.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $19.95
For more information:www.spibelt.com