Gear review: Spibelt

First things first: yes, the Spibelt is a fanny pack. As sleek and lightweight as it is, if you can’t get over the fact that you’ll be wearing a fanny pack, then this product is not for you.

Before I got my beloved Garmin, I was using the RunKeeper app on my iPhone to track my runs, which meant I had to figure out how to carry my iPhone while I was running. As I’m a fan of crowdsourcing, I asked a few trusted friends how they carry their phones. One recommended tank tops with built-in pockets. That sounded OK, except that it limited carrying capacity to warm-ish runs and wouldn’t allow me to wear any of the running shirts I already owned. Another recommended an armband carrier. I’m sure they’re great, but I didn’t like the idea of having my phone on my arm. Seems uncomfortable, not to mention a possible theft-attractant. A third recommendation was the Amphipod clip-on carrier. I wasn’t sure if something like this with my phone inside would drag my shorts down. Falling shorts = definitely not good. Finally, my friend MS offered to lend me his Spibelt, which he got for free in a race goodie bag (that’s a nice goodie bag!). He wasn’t using it, so he generously let me take it for a trial run.

The “trial run” ended up lasting about 2 months. MS wanted it back before he ran his first 50K ultramarathon, so I begrudgingly returned it (after washing it of course! What kind of person do you think I am?). I liked the Spibelt so much that I decided to get my own. I went with the most basic model, black zipper on black fabric, but they have plenty of crazy colors and patterns to help you make your personal fashion statement. They also make Spibelts with extra pockets and features (e.g., waterproof material). This review focuses on the basic Spibelt, which I got in April 2012.

Sidenote: the first belt I tried, borrowed from MS, was lighter than the one I bought, but the newer one actually stays in place better.

PRICE: $19.99
I think I got free shipping and also used an online discount code from retailmenot.

PROS:
– very lightweight
– easy to conceal
– stays in place, mostly. I’ve found that this can vary, depending on what shorts/pants I’m wearing (see photos).
– easy to clean (handwash)
– expandable and fits quite a lot. I can carry my iPhone, keys, and a package of Clif Bloks (or 2 Gus) without any problems.
– made in the U.S.A.

CONS:
– doesn’t always stay in place, depending on shorts/pants
– can get bulky if I put too much stuff in it, giving me an unfortunate bulge in the crotch area (see photo)
– zippers can be difficult to access while running
– no internal pockets, so you have to be careful that things don’t spill out. I’m especially paranoid about keys falling out. However, they do have different models with internal pockets or extra zippers if this is a concern.

And now, the action photos!

This is the most obvious picture I have of the Spibelt. Not pretty. But I should note that these shorts are also the least cooperative with the Spibelt staying in place.

You can see the Spibelt in this photo too, though less obviously. I think this was the one I borrowed from MS. I remember having issues with it not staying put, which was annoying.

Here’s the Spibelt in action! I’m putting my camera/iPhone away after taking a photo of the arch of fire.

This is the Spibelt at its best. You can hardly see it and it never bothered me during the race.

RATING: 8.5/10
Highly recommended, especially with the right shorts.

What do you use to carry your phone, keys, etc. while you run? Any recommendations or items to avoid?

Disclaimer: The above review is my personal opinion. I have not been compensated (in merchandise or money) to endorse this product.

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About

Howdy! My name is Jen and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I like to eat, run, and blog, but not usually at the same time.

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Posted in Gear
21 comments on “Gear review: Spibelt
  1. Nicole says:

    Oh, I just picked up one of these today! I’ve needed something to stash my inhaler in since I hate carying it in my hands on my run. Looking forward to trying it out tomorrow.

  2. Laura says:

    I’ve always wondered about the Spibelt- does it bounce when you run? That’s what concerns me most. My go to is my amphipod water belt- even when I’m not taking water (like on a 3 mile run), I’ll wear that belt filled with camera, phone, key & ID, and it totally stays in place as it is super adjustable with a velcro closure… may consider a spibelt if one is on sale at the expo this weekend!

    • Jen says:

      Oh, what I meant by stay in place (above) = doesn’t bounce. In my experience, it doesn’t bounce ~95% of the time, and 99% of the time if I’m wearing the right bottoms. It seems to work best with flat and/or thin shorts and pants. For instance, the shorts that give me a problem with the Spibelt have these pleats coming off the elastic (they poof out). Also, I’ve only felt the Spibelt bounce when I put a lot of stuff in it (more than just my iPhone). One more tip — I like to push my Spibelt down and to the left, so it’s sitting above my left hip. I never feel it once it’s in position.

  3. I’ve always worn fanny packs with the pouch in the back over my bum, not in the front over my belly. ??
    One thing I hate about my Nathan water belt is the pocket is too little to carry much. you can fit your key and ID and a GU, I can even shove 2 GUs in there or a baggie of dried fruit but it isn’t meant for that much. It definitely doesnt fit my phone, which I hate. I have a wrist pouch that I like. It fits my phone but isn’t meant to, so it’s clunky. (http://www.rei.com/product/773712/sprigs-banjees-wrist-wallet).
    I like your Spibelt but if I”m already wearing my water belt I don’t want to carry one more thing.

    • Jen says:

      I guess everyone has their own fanny pack carrying style? I didn’t really think about that until this post…
      That’s frustrating that nothing you own is good for cell phone carrying. What about snapping something on to your Nathan water belt? I think Amphipod makes a lot of different portable snap-on pockets. My friend swears by them.

      • Yeah, I’m not sure what the answer is. I’ve been considering getting a different belt too, something that has a bigger pocket. But good idea, something that I can attach to the belt might work.

    • I have a medium or Large size PortaPocket pocket (with belt-loop mountings) that can slide onto a Nathan water belt to hold your phone, too. Designed to work on my PortaPocket belt/strap…but have tried it & works on theirs, too. Medium size pocket fits almost any cell on the market (as long as you don’t have another case on your phone already, though some thin cases will even work then, still.) The Large pocket will work for phones with cases on them, or also fits a US passport. fyi. see what I mean at http://www.portapocket.com

  4. Kenny Hong says:

    Hi Jen, I read your review on Spibelt. Pretty good review. While using the Spibelt, has it ever disrupted your iPhone GPS signal? I use another belt, Deuter Neo Belt 1 and found it disrupts the signal causing inaccurate timing. I’m now considering if I should invest in an armstrap or another belt. Appreciate your feedback – Kenny

    • Jen says:

      Hi Kenny, I never experienced any issues (to my knowledge) while I was using RunKeeper (which uses a GPS signal) on my iPhone while it was in the Spibelt. The fabric of the original Spibelt is pretty thin. I can’t imagine that it would actually block GPS signal. I think the waterproof version is thicker and *might* block a signal. I wonder if you can ask them? Or maybe they have a money back guarantee? Good luck! – Jen

  5. Zach Smith says:

    Jen, in your opinion, what are your thoughts on this Spibelt review? http://www.theroosport.com/roosportnews/an-honest-review-of-the-spibelt/

    Also, you should link to a few of these reviews in your main post, just for comparison’s sake.

    I’d love to know your thoughts.

    • Jen says:

      Hi Zach. I don’t think there’s a “one size fits all” answer — some runners will prefer the Spibelt, while others will find that it doesn’t work for them. Luckily, I was able to borrow a Spibelt from a friend before buying one. I do think bouncing can be an issue, as I mentioned above. The riding up is not a problem when I have it adjusted just right fro me – very low, above my left hip. I haven’t had the sweat issue. The best solution for me has been a combination of the Spibelt with either a handheld water bottle (with a pocket) or shorts with pockets.

    • hard to not chime in here if you don’t mind Zach…and Jen…I’ve been in this space a long time (6.5+ yrs now) and have a patented alternative to either of these. I’d already written a comment earlier (last year…see above) but wanted to share…my PortaPocket is made from neoprene, so inherently sweat and moisture resistant. no magnets to interfere with credit cards or cell phones. And uber versatile to wear almost ANYwhere on the body, with pockets that are detachable and interchangeable to suit your daily needs. And not nearly only for runs…PortaPocket is equally useful for travel, going out on the town and even every day. Which of all these options can be worn after exercise to a black tie affair without skipping a beat? PortaPocket can. The other options can’t. they simply don’t work that way. If you want a solution that serves your whole life …not just for one dimension, PortaPocket brings it. Gives you massive functionality in a small, streamlined and lightweight package. highly functional design is what I’m all about. See for yourself 🙂 http://www.portapocket.com
      Cheers!
      @PortaPocketGal

  6. bhuvanabalan says:

    Thank you for the review! During winter, I used my fleece jacket pocket to stash my iphone, but with the summer coming, I don’t want to carry it in my hand anymore! I’m going to order mine today. Your review was really helpful 🙂

  7. Yi-Chan Tsai says:

    Very useful article! I also chose Spibelt as my 1st belt and it met what I need.

  8. deborah says:

    great review! i’m not a runner by any means and literally just picked up the spibelt (basic one) while thinking about my cycling and horseback riding habits. i’m excited to test these out for non-running sports to see how they hold up.

  9. […] Saturday’s trail run, my trusty Spibelt suddenly began to show significant wear and tear.  It’s held up for 2.5 years, but […]

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