iFitness Belts

The iFitness belts SNEWS recently tested are great for runners who like to carry gadgets, keys and snacks with them.

It’s difficult enough to find enough pockets to store all the stuff we like to take with us on a run – iPod, phone, keys and chapstick. And when we do, the constant bouncing gets on our nerves.

Hydration belts and packs on long runs are supposed to help, but the ones we’ve tried in the past still bounce or frustrate us with the lack of space in the pockets and the oddly placed water bottles.

So when one of our testers spotted the iFitness Belt booth at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2011, she was skeptical. Ah, but the pink-and-black hydration belt happened to be her favorite color scheme, and upon closer inspection the pocket looked spacious enough to carry all her gadgets … and then some.

We tested two separate pink-and-black iFitness Belts – the 16-ounce Hydration Belt (photo, left) and the Neoprene Ultimate II Running Belt – on numerous runs and races on the streets of Denver and through the mountains of Vail, Colo.

We prepared ourselves for the belt to bounce like so many others when we shifted our run into high gear, but to our surprise, the bounce was minimal and only happened if we overloaded the front pocket with too many energy snacks. If the pockets were carrying only an iPhone and iPod, there was virtually no bounce.

Both belts are made of neoprene with an adjustable elastic waistband. The spacious neoprene front pockets (the same size on both belts) comfortably fit our iPhone, iPod and a pack of Honey Stinger Energy Chews, or sometimes a bag of Skittles.

A special slot in the back of the front pocket can fit a credit card and a photo ID. An added bonus is that the neoprene keeps gadgets and cards dry, even in the sweatiest of 20-mile runs.

Both belts have two toggles in the front, under the pouch, to hold race numbers securely without having to deal with safety pins and snagged clothing. This came in handy during several fun runs and races during our testing period. Both belts also feature reflective flaps on each side of the front pocket, which helps keep users visable to drivers during their nighttime runs.

The 16-ounce Hydration Belt has two elastic slots for Gu, but we opted instead to store a chapstick. The bottles were placed at an angle, instead of straight up, making them easier to grab during a run. Neither tester had to fight with the belt to get some Powerade.

The Neoprene Ultimate II Running Belt (photo, right) offers everything the 16-ounce Hydration Belt does, except the two water bottles. Though the running belt is designed for running races (it has four elastic slots for Gu packets, a small pocket for a single key and a chapstick and one main pocket in the front) it can easily be used for daily runs when you need to bring items with you.

We only found two slight downfalls of the hydration belt: there are only two bottles, and though you can buy add-ons, it would be nice to have four bottles built onto the belt instead of so many slots for Gu; and you have to take the house or car key off your ring because the pockets don’t fit a whole set of keys.

We found the belts adjusted easily to fit our testers of different sizes and genders, and they did not feel stretched out in any way. The belts – particularly the hydration belt – are now part of our essential running gear.

Suggested retail: $28.95 (Neoprene Ultimate II Running Belt); and $39.95 (16-ounce Hydration Belt)

SNEWS® Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)

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