Product review: Armpocket armband for runners

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Who doesn't run with their smartphone? There are so many good reasons to bring it with you:
  • To use a GPS app
  • Day care might call
  • So you can listen to your tunes*
  • You may need to make an emergency phone call
  • You crash and need an emergency Starbucks stop (and have the app)
I've tried just carrying it in my hand. I've tried a waist pack - liked it, but it was a pain to twist it around every time I needed to pause my GPS or needed to thumbs-down any song by Rhianna on Pandora. But I hadn't ever tried an armband until I got the Armpocket i-15.

The one I got was bright pink: all the better to be seen, right?

Armpocket comes in a number of sizes: both the size of the phone pocket and the size of the strap for your arm. It’s pretty easy to figure out what size you need if you have a really common phone. If you’ve got a toddler and therefore a cheap phone you don’t care much about – like me – you might need to look up your phone’s specs and use the measurements to pick the right one. The sizer also offers suggestions based on whether or not you have a protective case and the dimensions of that case.

Armpocket i-15Armpocket function:

Compared to just carrying my phone in my hand or running with my phone in a waistpack, I liked the way Armpocket was hands-free, easy to hear and easy to access. Once I got used to wearing it, I think Armpocket offers the best phone-carrying benefit of those other options.

There is an elastic strap sewn into the pocket designed to hold your phone closely to the plastic window, but I like to get my phone out on a regular basis – maybe every fifteen minutes or so – because I like to fiddle with my music sometimes. So I didn’t use the elastic strap; instead I just let it ride in the main pocket. The benefit of the window is that if you’re getting a phone call, you can look at who is calling and decide if it’s a call you need to take (day care, that company you recently interviewed with, etc). You can operate the phone through this window, but you need to really twist the pocket around in order to do so, so I found it easier to just unzip the pouch and take the phone out. The one thing I didn’t need to take the phone out to do was to turn up or down the volume, which was nice.

There are also two flat pockets inside which are sized perfectly for an ID, credit card, or folded-up cash. It works well to put your ID and credit card in the one against the back wall of the pocket and put a gel in the pocket sewn against that one; you can also fit a gel or two in the main pocket. You could possibly fit a bag of Jelly Belly Sport Beans in there as well, but Shot Blocks or other energy chews might not fit very well.

I’ve got my MapMyRun app set to tell me when I reach every mile, and I usually listen to Pandora; I could hear both apps very well with my phone in the Armpocket. If you do use headphones, the cord will come out of a hidden slit on the bottom of the pocket (there’s one on the right and one on the left) and you can contain the cord with the small velcro loop.

The construction is very sound – good stitching, solid material, and vented, soft material used for the strap. It seems to me that Armpocket could easily stand being bounced around my gym bag with my shoes. The Armpocket is not waterproof, and in some of the reviews I read on their website, some people said they put their phone in a ziploc bag before going running in the rain. The slits for headphone cords on the bottom would allow you to use headphones even when raining with this trick.

Armpocket fit:

On my first run with the Armpocket, I have to say I wasn’t that impressed. The whole run, it just felt strange to have something wrapped around my upper arm. On that run, I was wearing a short sleeve shirt, and I had a little chafing from the Armpocket. I also had to adjust the strap quite a few times – when you run a long distance, you can get a little “puffy.” It took me a few tries to get used to the difference in how it felt when my arm was straightened out versus bent at the elbow, too. (Because apparently there ARE biceps in there.) I also had to adjust it to be a little tighter when I got sweaty and it started to slip.

Arm chafing is fairly common for some women, when they wear shirts with cap sleeves (common in “women’s cut” shirts). So my next run with Armpocket was with a long-sleeve shirt. No chafing or rubbing, thanks to the armband being wrapped around the sleeve. I also didn’t experience any slipping due to sweating too much.

Then I figured out the right balance: a longer-sleeved short sleeve shirt, so the top of the strap was on the sleeve; and adjusting the fit with a bent elbow. It may also have been that I just needed to get used to it, but after the third run with the Armpocket I actually didn’t notice it while I was running. Which means that I liked it, and will continue to use it when I take my smartphone on a run.

I also appreciated that the Armpocket didn’t accentuate any of the hot mess that I call my “abs.” But that might be a personal problem!

*A note about running with music: I truly believe that runners are safer when they don’t run with headphones. Even when the volume is down really low, it’s possible to not hear something that could present a danger – anything from a cyclist coming around a blind corner or a car suddenly turning out of a parking lot. Even being startled by a runner coming up quietly behind you can cause you to jump when they pass.

But, I also believe that running can be more fun when you’re enjoying your favorite tunes. Especially on long runs, speedwork, and sunny days when you feel like singing along with Katy Perry as you run. So if you do listen to music while running, keep the volume low and maybe only use one of the headphones so you can hear more of what’s going on around you. 

About Kelly Barten (1149 Articles)
I started the Run Oregon blog in February 2007, because I felt like running in Oregon and SW Washington deserved more positive coverage. I also wanted to level the playing field so that small, non-profit races could compete with big events; and to support LOCAL race organizers. I'm a Creighton Bluejay (undergrad) and an Oregon Duck (Sports Marketing MBA), and I live in Tigard with my husband and two kids. My "real job" is working for an incredibly awesome math textbook company doing marketing and production.
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