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Reviews: Running Armbands for iPhone 6

Posted in Gear Reviews

I've always carried my phone with me when running. Soon after I started the C25K (Couch to 5K) beginner program, I purchased a Gear Beast armband that would accomodate my iPhone 4 in its Otterbox Defender case. I used my phone for the running program and tracking, and later for music while running. Now I run without music and my watch takes care of tracking and pacing, but I prefer to carry my phone with me for safety and to have a camera handy.

When I upgraded to an iPhone 6 I purchased another Gear Beast to accommodate the larger phone. Recently I picked up another style of armband from a different company. Here are my reviews of each.

1Gear Box Otterbox Phone Armband

RECOMMENDED
PROS: Comfortable, practical design, affordable
CONS: Seems to have a short lifespan

I use this armband on virtually every run. It's made of stretchy neoprene with a velcro strap so I can tighten it around my upper arm in comfort. The phone slips in from the top and stays in place with an overlapping lip that covers the phone but does not attach or clasp in any way. After a little bit of practice I am now able to quickly remove and replace the phone in the armband while on the run which is ideal.

I first purchased a Gear Beast for my iPhone 4 in August of 2015. When I upgraded a couple of months later in November, the retired Gear Beast was in great shape. The new one lasted for just about a year before the small velcro hook patch started to lose hooks and thus staying power. Unfortunately I didn't notice this in a timely manner and ended up having to use a running belt to hold my phone for my second half marathon which resulted in a less-than-perfect experience during the race.

This is a very affordable and comfortable running armband so I decided to stick with Gear Beast despite the short product lifespan. I purchased two armbands from them in November 2016. I use the black one almost exclusively and keep a purple one as a spare / backup. I've noticed that already a few of the hooks on the velcro have stretched out but the armband still has life left (about 8 months if the previous armband is an indicator).

My plan is to try and replace the hook patch of velcro on my old armband and see if I can use it even longer. The velcro seems to be the only weak spot.

2Hankuke Arm Bag for Phone & More

NOT RECOMMENDED
PROS: Affordable, added storage
CONS: Uncomfortable, noisy, sacrifices storage for function

Since I'm comfortable carrying my phone on my arm I started looking into armbands that might carry more stuff. During longer races I worry about the battery life of my phone if I'm taking a lot of photos or texting while also using a GPS tracking app and other battery-draining activities. I've been thinking about carrying a spare battery or an extra smart device, especially when I run my first marathon at Disney next January. So when I saw this armband with phone pocket and extra zippered pocket, I thought I'd give it a try.

I've run with this armband a few times now. The case is made of neoprene but the armband itself is a stiff non-stretchy material. I need to make sure the fit is perfect before I start running because adjusting on the run is a little bit less comfortable than with a stretchy band. The stiffness of the strap is of concern in case I would wear this on my bare arm; so far I've worn this with long sleeves and it has been relatively comfortable.

Slipping my phone in and out of the outer pocket is even easier than in the Gear Beast because the case is a bit stiffer and the pocket is shorter. It's easy to poke the velcro cover strap out of the way, slip the phone in the pocket, and reconnect the velcro strap.

The outer pocket is large enough to hold an extra smart device, sport gel packs, or other gear. It could be handy to carry cash or credit cards, too. But it has a flaw that has been driving me crazy -- the zipper pulls jingle and jangle against each other in the most annoying way. Yes, the tink-tink-tink of little zipper pulls banging against each other has been an unwelcome distraction when I've worn this armband so far.

I decided to take it for a spin during a 5K race, so I wore this during the Princess Enchanted 5K at Disney on February 24th. I folded up the clear plastic sack they give runners to use as a gear bag and put it into the zippered pocket, along with a bit of cash. In practice, adding almost anything to the zippered pocket makes it more difficult to slip a phone in and out of the outer pocket. So carrying something as bulky as a gel or extra phone battery in this arm pocket would not be practical for me as the whole point of wearing an armband is to have quick access to my phone. Now about the jingling -- even during this crowded course full of chatty runners, characters, music, and other distractions, the noise coming from the clinking zipper pulls still was a huge distraction. I was super happy to have the big bag to hold my post-race goodies (snack box, banana, etc) but that's not enough to make me recommend this arm band. It's borderline uncomfortable, the extra storage space is nearly useless except for very small items, and it makes a distracting, annoying noise. Bummer.

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