SPIbelt Large Pocket Belt for Running Reviewed
If you are an outdoor runner, you know all too well about carrying your essentials without creating discomfort. Running shorts and tights, especially those made for women, have all sorts of issues with pockets. If they’re too small, your phone won’t fit. You don’t want to get into an emergency situation, far from home, without a means of calling for help. If the pockets are too big, your debit card or cold drink may shake around and jangle with each step. Most runners we know are into stealth and speed–jangling is not part of the package.
We won’t even get started on pocketless shorts, ill-fitting fanny packs, or designers who love to torment us with roomy pockets that face the wrong way. Why? Just–why?
SPIbelt, an American company entering its 13th year, has several solutions. Founded by runner Kim Overton, the company makes belts, packs, water bottles, and safety LED lights, all geared towards distance runners. Today’s focus, the SPIbelt large pocket belt, holds most phones with room for keys, protein gels or bars, cash, earbuds and more. The SPI stands for small personal items, and the large pocket pack will keep those together with no bounce and no mess.
Spandex fabric keeps everything together with no chafing or excess weight
8.9-inch pocket holds everything, but is low profile and doesn't add bulk
Comes in 15 different colors, with the zipper acting as an accent piece
Fits most waists, from 25 to 47 inches--kids and adults can use
Easy-glide zipper and oversized buckles make closure and retrieval easy, even while running
The backstrap is made of a non-slip material that is also stretchy, so no discomfort during all-day wear
Easy to stack items, with largest and back and smallest in front, so no scrambling for keys or change
The belt isn't 100% waterproof or sweatproof, so watch out
Anything with a zipper is prone to jams and breakdowns
Can't clip a typical water bottle without weighting the strap down (try one of SPIbelt's custom-designed clip bottles)
Since the elastane construction is stretchy, it will expand for big phones and snug up for smaller ones. "One size fits all," in our experience, usually means one size fits most. But with its widely adjustable band, and the ability to expand or contract according to what's in it, the SPIbelt Large Pocket comes as close to a universal fit as possible. We're partial to the pink and black, purple and black, and digital splatter color schemes, but there are plenty of other choices to suit your palette and aesthetic. The belt isn't just for running; if you want to dispense with a backpack or purse during a city excursion, you can. Day hikers will appreciate this belt, too, and there's even room for trail mix or beef jerky in the pouch.
One thing we don't always think about, with running gear, is medical supplies. If you use an EpiPen, glucose test strips, as-needed medication, or other lifesaving devices, you will be able to pack that in the belt along with your phone and food supplies. Kim Overton is the kind of woman who thinks of everything, and it really shows.
The ad copy calls this belt bounce-free. Because of the low profile and textured straps, with secure buckles, it won't move around even if you wear leggings with a slick nylon finish. When you wear thicker pants, you can let the strap out for comfort.
The belt is machine washable. You'll want to use cold water, and hang the belt up to air dry. 5K and longer runners, you don't have to contort your arms or get a friend to pin your race number to your tank top with safety pins any more. Rejoice! SPIbelt makes a loop kit that lets you secure your number to their belt, so it's out of the way and undamaged if you want to save it in your I Love Me file forever. What, you don't have one of those? They are great motivational tools and cost less than a paper journal.
After her run, Overton drew out her vision for a better hip pack. After cycling through several prototypes, she officially launched SPIbelt in February 2007. The belt and other designs are patented, so there aren't others quite like it on the market. Though its headquarters are still in Austin, Texas, SPIbelt is an international company and its versatile products are a common sight. In addition to hip packs, you can get hydration belts, messenger bags, and oversized packs designed for insulin pump users.
Diabetes support is a huge passion of SPIbelt, and they provide free insulin pump belts to those diagnosed with Type I diabetes. Those belts have holes in them for pump hoses to pass through discreetly. As we said before, Kim Overton and her team make it their business to think of everything and include everyone. So when you treat yourself to a SPIbelt Large Pocket belt, you are setting yourself up for success and also helping out a great cause.
Why It Is Different
Some of the standout features are a bit less obvious. The zipper for the Large Pocket is right in the middle, bisecting the storage pouch horizontally. That makes it easier to pull your phone out, like unwrapping an ice cream sandwich. It also means there is an equal amount of fabric on top and bottom, with the zipper perfectly positioned in the middle. Ever had metal or plastic zipper teeth get caught in a narrow hem of fabric? We have, and it's usually in the middle of a rainstorm when we need our dry-fit hoodie closed up right now, thank you!
No zipper or fabric arrangement is perfect, but the placement used by SPIbelt will alleviate a lot of jams and snags. The teeth and zipper pull are oversized, too, making it a bit easier to open or close at night or when you have sweaty hands.
The strap, the part that encircles your waist, is special too. It is made of lightly textured stretchy fabric. That means you can get the fit just right. Some runners prefer a tight bond, others not so much. You may even be okay with the belt riding down your hips over the course of an activity. If you're not in that camp, pulling the strap tight will keep the whole works immobile even during a vigorous workout. We know the Large Pocket is mostly for runners, but CrossFitters, aerobic steppers, martial artists, and even powerlifters can use it with confidence, too. It won't restrict movement, and you won't have to leave your valuables in an unguarded locker if you go out of town and have to use an unfamiliar gym.
What People Are Saying
The SPIbelt product page, at the time of writing, has no less than 15 five star reviews. It's true that makers can cherry-pick reviews, but it's also true that 15 people thought enough of the belt to say good things about it, without being paid or compensated. Reviewers praised the lightweight, semi-waterproof quality, and immobilization offered by the belt. Others liked the low-cost accessories SPIbelt offers, like the clip-on water bottle and loops for race numbers. One reviewer said she was able to fit her phone even with a large, rigid Otter Box case installed on it.
For variety and verification, we went to Amazon where, currently, there are 49 reviews of the belt. Many are from iPhone 8 and above users, all happy that their large phone fits in the pouch. One recurring suggestion is to put the phone in a plastic baggie, for real waterproofing and for protection from key scratches. There really isn't any jangling, but the belt is designed to keep things snug. Keys or coins, tight up against the phone screen, could cause scratches so the baggie seems like a good idea.