New Gear Let Down

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I prefer to do trail runs. Where I live road running can be a bit dangerous as most of the roads are windy, there are no shoulders, and there isn’t much room to hide from cars. Where I play, the trails are just too pretty not to take advantage of. So because I spend alot of time solo in the woods, I need to carry a few items with me.

Things I regularly carry are my car or house keys and a drink. I often bring my cell phone too, which has become a bit of a problem. Most of my running shorts do not support a big phone bouncing around so I have been on the lookout for a belt that could hold my phone, keys, and some basic nutrition while I am out on longer runs.

What I settled on was the Nathan Vista Waistpak. This belt features a tri-fold design secured by velcro. Inside the folds is a zippered pocket with a clear plastic to allow for phone viewing and access, and a separate area for other thin items such as salt pills or maybe cards etc.

I gave the belt three separate tries, and have come to the conclusion it just is not worth the $30 I paid for it. There are several design flaws in the product that I will point out, and I will also describe my issues with it.

On my first outing with the belt, I was very excited to have something secure to carry my phone and keys as I ran down a isolated trail. I have a larger sized phone, and put it in the main pocket of the belt, not the one with the clear viewing window. This felt the more natural place for it, it fit well, and off we went. The first thing I noticed was that the belt itself continued to loosen as I ran. It has a very solid nylon strap and metal buckles and tightening parts, but as I moved so too did the belt. As I fidgeted with the tightness, the velcro came undone for the first time. Mind you I am in the woods and losing a keyfob on the trail could be easy and disastrous. At this time I had the belt so my phone and key were facing backwards. I typically run that way with my existing belts and it seemed the right way to go. I only noticed that it had popped open because I periodically like to make sure I still have everything and reached back.

As the run progressed the issues continued culminating with a faster downhill finish during which the belt (I had re-positioned to the front to ensure I saw if it popped open) popped open and ejected my phone which I kicked mid stride into the middle of the road. Without fail a car was coming in my direction, and I was just able to run over and grab the phone before it would have been crushed. It may sound comical but losing the phone would have been a huge issue.

After the run I did some online reading, saw the phone was supposed to go in the clear pocket, and so I thought I was doing it wrong. I took the belt on another shorter trail run with this configuration and things seemed to go well. There were no problems I recall and my confidence was restored.

During my purusing the Nathan website, and close inspection of the belt, I noticed two sewn loops on either side of the pack itself. I thought these looked exactly like nutrition holders and was excited to put some gels in them for my upcoming half marathon run.

On run day I headed out with a sleeve of gummies in one loop, salt pills in the inside pocket and my phone in the cell pocket. It was a very hot day and I was sweating heavily during the run. As the run wore on it seemed to be loosening up on me. I adjusted it, put the slack tight agaist the holder and continued on. At around mile 5 as I was running the ENTIRE BELT CAME OFF! I couldn’t believe it. The hook obviously made its way out of the catch and then gravity kicked in. This was super annoying to have happen. When you are focused on picking them up and putting them down, you don’t want to be adjusting things. You don’t want things to fail on you. To make matters worse, when I picked up the belt I noticed the gels were missing. Somehow they fell out along the run without me noticing. Not an ideal scenario with that being my only nutrition for the effort.

I gathered everything back up and trudged on eventually finding my gels on the side of the road on the way back, and finishing things up without any other major events. But that was my final straw and unfortunately I won’t be using the belt any further for runs or for rides.

What I think Nathan got wrong was a few things. First the cell phone should not be on the outside pocket. This has the least support and is more likely to move around when running. Second the velcro is insufficient. It is not very big and clearly can’t handle bouncing objects inside. Third the belt material while strong seems to slide once you begin to sweat. A different texture may have helped to limit this. Sadly I had high hopes for this belt, and may make some manual alterations to make it usable again. Until then, it will just be another dust collector in the sports closet.

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