If you’re like me, when you head out running, you don’t only take your iPhone. At a bare minimum, I need the card to get into my apartment building, the key for the front door, an inhaler if it’s winter, etc. So, a small armband that could hold more than just my iPhone is a great concept—no one likes running with a pocket full of keys. Enter the Armpocket Sport 20 ($29.95).
A sports armband is a good solution for those not quite in a stage in their life where they’re ready to rock the fanny pack, although using an armband can take some getting used to.
If you’re starting out with your first armband, you should know the Armpocket Sport 20 is slightly larger than the average iPhone sports armband. The “20″ in the Armpocket’s name is because of its 20 cubic-inch carrying capacity. It has a small pouch and a clear plastic window which you can interact with the touch-screen through.
The iPhone is held in place via an elastic band, and the rest of the interior is yours for the filling. It has a pocket with inserts that are just the right size for a credit card and ID. Fitting everything in can be a bit Tetris-like, but with a bit of rearranging, you’re usually on your way quickly.
The construction on the case is top notch. It’s made of recycled materials and bamboo, has reflective strips for night activities, and is water-resistant.
I took the case for a run on a hot day, and it breathed well over the course of my jog, It also didn’t smell even a tiny bit funky, which is pretty freaking good feature for a fitness accessory. The armband stayed in place and did not slip down even a single time.
Wearing the heavy armband did take a bit of getting used to, as running with such a large amount of stuff on my arm is awkward at first. But just after a few minutes, I adapted and got used to it.
You know what else is nice? You can strap your iPhone in, in its current case (assuming it’s not too chunky). No need to be constantly taking your iPhone in and out of your favorite case, just chuck it in the armband, and go.
The entire length of the armband is velcro — not just some areas of it — which gives it the ability to conform to a wide variety of arm sizes. The version I got was the medium, which is meant to handle 15-20 inches, but I think it would handle more than this. It’s also available in a small size (8-11 inches). Armpocket make two other models too, a 30 cubic-inch version which goes for $33, and a smaller 10 cubic-inch one for $23. The Sport 20 and Xtreme 30 can also be customized to have a large window, suitable for iPhones; a small window, for iPod Nanos, or none at all. All three models come in a handful of colors too.
While the Armpocket Sport 20 did impress us with its carrying capabilities and comfort, there were a few negatives: a few minor, one major. The minors are pretty small: the elastic band inside doesn’t hold the phone flush against the window. You can still interact with the screen, but you need to push it a little. The other small problem is that you can’t access the physical controls easily. If you push hard enough in the right location, you can force the “lock” button, but that’s a kludge. The volume controls are a no-go, but that can be controlled on-screen. It’s inevitable given the design, but still a pain.
So what’s the big problem? The headphone opening. Its placement is at the bottom of the case, which is a complete pain in the ass, as the iPhone’s headphone port is at its top. There are a couple of ways to deal with this, none graceful. You can leave the iPhone in its normal position, and thread the headphone cable up the length of the phone, essentially shortening your headphones by about six-inches. You can turn your iPhone upside down, but this puts the home button in an awkward place, where it can’t be hit easily. Or you can just run the headphones out the top of the case. None of these are elegant solutions.
The headphone opening has another problem — it’s too damned tight! I tried threading through a headphone cable that has an l-shape plug. It was such a struggle to get into the hole, that part of the plug’s protective outer layer came off. Easily repaired, but not cool.
The Armpocket Sport 20 ($29.95) is not without flaws. Interfacing with your iPhone isn’t perfect, and the headphone situation is annoying. That said, its comfort and extra space far outweigh the negatives. Being able to take all the stuff I really need while running and being able to use my phone is very useful. Even with the downsides, the utility of the Armpocket is in far excess of the negatives. We highly recommend it, giving it 8.9 out of 10