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One of the items that’s been floating around my desk waiting to get reviewed was the SPIbelt, which is a small belt for carrying personal items. When I got their press release, the first thing I thought was that someone’s remade the fanny pack, only smaller. Forget that. This is no fanny pack replacement – it has neither the capacity, nor the embarrassing geek factor. Unless you’re a tourist carrying around the original Sony Walkman and a two pound cell phone, you don’t need a fanny pack anyway.
The belt itself is adjustable, soft, and stretchy, like you might find on your HRM. It’s the pouch part that got all the clever thinking. Nominally, it’s about an inch tall, roughly the same size as the belt. But it’s got magical pleats in the back that allow the spandex-like material to stretch more than my cycling shorts after a long winter. It’s designed to hold things such as money, keys, phones, energy gel packs, and really important stuff like asthma inhalers and diabetic gear. Not coincidentally, all that can be found on our kitchen counter. In the first photo, you can see that I’m about to stuff my car key, iPod, and lip balm into it. Doesn’t look possible.
Unzip it and let that magic pleat do its job. Not only does it all fit, but you’ve got room to spare.
Pretty cool, since it’s only as big as you need it to be, and it also doesn’t flop around, or bounce against your body as you walk or ride. (I didn’t test it running, since my knees tell me that’s a deal-breaker, but the designer assured me it stays put)
After my testing, I did some research, meaning I went to SPIbelt.com and had a look around. There is an astounding choice of colors, reflective belts, custom belts, belts for kids, dual pocket belts, belts with an extra inner pocket, limited edition Susan G. Komen belts, race number belts, and a water bottle holder. I’m sure there’s more, but you get the idea. Pricing ranged from $11.95 to $29.95, with free shipping offered at the time this was published. It should also be noted that they are American made in Austin TX.
Would I buy one for myself, or as a gift? Yes. Would I have bought one before getting one to review? Probably not. It’s one of those items that doesn’t seem necessary until you actually try it, then realize just how handy and practical it is. It’s cleverly designed, well constructed, and works better than expected. While the cycling season is drawing to an end for many, this is a product that can be used year-round, on and off the bike. My wife can use it for her keys and phone discretely when she goes for walks, and I’ve found it works great for concealing your cash and valuables under your shirt when traveling. It would go unnoticed under a baggy MTB style jersey too. Hard to beat that.