Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The little band that can...


Keys are a problem. Not always, mind you. When I need to enter a locked building, they come in handy. They allow me to access my office at work and open my car’s doors. They let me gather the mail from the mailbox and gain entry to the EMS garage when I’m on call. The trouble with keys has nothing to do with their purpose. It’s the question of what to do with them on race day or when I drive to a group run that bothers me.

Last spring, I ran a trail half marathon. I stuck my keys in the pocket of the bottle holder around my waist. Somehow they fell out. Thankfully, someone spotted them and took the time to scoop them up. They brought them to the finish line. I was grateful!

I’ve tried putting them in the pockets of a pair of shorts on more than one occasion. The bouncing of them against my leg drove me nuts and I was always afraid they’d escape along my route. They wouldn’t be found and returned every time.

The solution I uneasily settled on when I was at events without a non-running family member or friend who could hold my stuff for me was hiding my keys in a bag and leaving it somewhere at the race start. Most of the races I run in are small, local events, so the likelihood of theft was slight, but the fear of the unusual happening was still there. When I finished my race, I fished for my keys in my bag almost immediately every time.

Then one day I was browsing the internet, I stumbled on SpiBelt’s new product, the SpiBand. It’s simple design appealed to me, so I investigated further. I sent a message to someone at the company and a short time later, a black SpiBand arrived for my review. I tried it out the next morning.

I had trouble figuring out how to make it work at first. I pulled it on and couldn’t find the pocket. When I did, it was fairly straightforward. Put the key in the small slot. Pull the rest of the band back over it. I would advise users to pay attention to what the band looks like when they purchase it, so they can get it back to that shape. That will make it a snap to use.

With my keys secure, I stepped out the door and started running. The band didn’t bobble or bounce at all. I mostly forgot it was there. That’s a good thing in my book. I hate products that keep yelling at me, “I’m here! I’m here!” The only time I noticed it was a little later in the run. The band’s material, over time, made my wrist warm up considerably. It wasn’t getting any air. That’s a minor enough issue, I suppose. I thought I might try the band around my ankle, but it’s not big enough to get over my heel.

The SpiBand fit my smaller wrists snuggly. It was comfortable and worry-free. I wondered, though, how it would work for someone with larger wrists. Would it be too tight or would the material give enough to allow the same excellent fit? I asked a bigger-boned friend to give it a spin. He took it home and tried it. It didn’t go well. He had trouble getting the pocket right on his wrist. It wasn’t too tight or loose. It was just confusing for him. This, of course, does not mean another person of similar size could not find the SpiBand useful.

Several days after my key test, I decided to try carrying a cell phone in the band to see how the SpiBand faired with a larger object in place. It was a little more difficult to get the phone in place, but that could partly be because of the smooth, rounded corners on my old-style, flip phone. I didn’t have a larger smart phone available to me, so I can’t say how it would fit, but my phone stayed in place through my morning’s 5-miler. It was much cooler that day than the key test day so the warm wrist was actually pretty nice.

My final assessment of the SpiBand? It’s a well-made product that does well what it is designed to do. It’s great for carrying keys, but a cell phone might be a little too much to ask of it. The only complaint I have is the breathability of the fabric. I could be the only person in the world troubled by hot wrists, but there may be others who dislike the same. It will not fit over the ankle.

GIVEAWAY: If you would like to enter a drawing for a chance to win a SpiBand, comment below. That’s one (1) entry. Two additional entries can be obtained by tweeting a link to this post with both my username – @openmikey (2) – and SpiBelt’s username – @SpiBelt (3) – in it. That gives you a total of three entries. The drawing for the SpiBand is open to U.S. residents only. It will take place on Wednesday, May 16, at 5:00am. If the person chosen does not respond within a week of being notified here that they are the winner, another winner will be chosen. A big thank you goes to Dawn Ryden and SpiBelt for making this giveaway possible. Comments on this blog are moderated, so don't panic if you don't see yours right away. I have to approve it before it goes live.
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