Aside from one little suggestion that I would LOVE to see implemented, I really liked the "Meow" Waist Pack for running from Ultimate Direction. It's lightweight, didn't chafe, and stayed tight around my waist while running. Here's the breakdown ... read on for my brilliant idea!
How does it look? Because, regardless of how little I really care what others think of me when I'm running, if it looks too nerdy even I won't wear it. Waist packs, thanks to their uber-nerdy cousin the "fanny pack" are generally nerdy, but the Meow passes my test. The Meow I have is mainly a charcoal grey color with some lime green and silver highlights. (It also comes in grey/blue/pink.) It's pretty small - just barely bigger than the biggest of the current Android cell phones - with a light grey waist strap.
How does it work? It works like magic. Since I run before picking my daughter up from day care, I have to have the phone with me - just in case. It's nice not having to carry my phone in my hand when I run. As for how you actually work the waist pack ... Well, you put it around your waist and snap the connector. Simple! The straps have small elastic loops around them on each side, so you can tame the extra length not needed to fit around your waist.
Speaking of – the straps are a good length. I’m about a size 10 and the straps had about 10 inches extra slack. There is one zipper on the front; inside there is a small plastic hook on which you could snap your keys. It comes with a hair tie, which I love. Many times I’ve forgotten a hair tie (because they’re too tight to fit comfortably around my wrist until they’re about six months old) and done a weird “hat hole ponytail” or (gasp!) used an actual rubber band.
How does it fit? Good! I mentioned the strap length; and it stayed snug around my waist. Note: If you want to wear it down closer to your hips, go for it – but, as with any waist pack, it will bounce. It’s just how it works. As you run, the waist pack will migrate to your narrowest point. So, even though you might feel like your Uncle Sven visiting from Norway with his money belt, put it around your waist, cinch it*, and go. The size of the pack is good, too – it keeps a low profile even with a phone, keys, and a thin pair of running gloves stuffed in. And it’s small enough that it fits right on the small of your back, which is probably also part of the reason it doesn’t bounce.
So should you buy one? Well, it all depends on what you carry with you when you run. If you have a giant smartphone (like a Samsung Galaxy), you won’t have a ton of space for anything else. But you can definitely fit your keys in there and some energy gels or chews. Perfect for a run where you don’t need to bring hydration. Add a handheld water bottle and you’re set for a long run, too.
What could make it better? When I run, I use MapMyRun to track my mileage. My runs are usually in random places without a pre-planned route. I just park somewhere between work and day care, run 3-5 miles, and then go pick up my daughter. The one thing that wasn’t ideal about this waist pack was that if you have a giant phone, you have to be careful pulling it out of the pack if you have anything else in there you don’t want to lose. And if you want to pause your running app or check your mileage, that’s annoying. This was also an issue for me because my smartphone case is one of those rubbery-ones that tends to “stick” to things. So, either have a better smartphone case or just be really careful you don’t lose your Gu. (And be sure to snap your keys on to the little plastic hook-thing. Technical term.)
What’s that suggestion you mentioned? I often listen to music when I run on protected trails, like Fanno Creek or the trails in Cook Park. I would love for the pack to come with a built-in headphone jack: you plug it into your phone and then plug your headphones into the jack. Then, when you need to get in the pack (to check your mileage or pause the timer at a stoplight), you can just pull the headphones from the jack, spin the pack around to your front to get the phone out, and then when you’re moving again you can slide the pack back around and then snap the headphones back in.
*I’ve always wanted to use “cinch it” as something other than a punch line.
About the Meow pack from Ultimate Direction:
A great companion for any of our hand-held water bottles, the waistbelt-style Meow is ideal for women who want to effortlessly carry a little extra gear. Sized for smaller waists and able to carry everything from keys to gels to smart phones, the Meow is built with a wicking mesh waistbelt and a bit of stretch for maximum comfort and a women’s specific fit on any length run. The zippered, power stretch mesh pocket expands for extra carrying capacity while a built-in divider is great for organization. $25.95