I’m getting really excited about the 2014 racing season – so far I’ve got sponsors signed on for 11 races, and I anticipate more to come soon. You’ll be hearing about those races and the sponsors soon…but before I get into that, I think it’s important to talk about one of the things that helped me get through 2013 and will most certainly help me keep on chugging through 2014. I have it with me every single time I run (unless it’s an obstacle race / mud run), and I’m fairly certain I couldn’t run without it. What am I talking about?

Tune Belt! Tune Belt was one of my sponsors this past year, and they make a sport armband. Yes, I understand there are about 45,000 different sport armbands out there, but they are not the Tune Belt. This thing is great, and is going to help me get through (hopefully) 5+ half marathons this coming year (not to mention a ton of 5K’s, 10K’s, and non-standard distances)!

SO…why is Tune Belt so special?
As I said, there is an obscene variety of sport armbands out there. I can walk into a Wal-Mart, Marshall’s, or virtually any mall BLINDFOLDED and leave with one. They’re everywhere. You would think that with such an immense variety it would be easy to find one that’s just right for you. Yeah, that’s what I thought too. After lots of trial and error, I came across the Tune Belt at the Falmouth Road Race 2013 Expo at the high school. There were several vendors at the expo that had Tune Belt, and I thought it might just be worth a shot. I had been doing my best to spend $10 on one, but after all the trials and tribulations, if I had to spend $20 or $25 to FINALLY have one that actually gets the job done…so be it. And here I am. So let’s talk about what makes Tune Belt special and why my long, exhaustive search is over.

One Size Does NOT Fit All

It’s no secret – I’m an Android fan. I love my Droid – I had the Droid Razr Maxx for the last two years (didn’t break it!) and I just upgraded to the Droid Maxx. For those who don’t know, the Droid Razr Maxx is a pretty big smartphone. The Droid Maxx is even bigger. I didn’t realize just how much bigger a Droid could be than an iPhone…until I started trying to find a sport armband. There are LOTS of really cool ideas for sport armbands out there…if you have an iPhone. I, just like all other non-iPhone owners, was neglected. There were virtually NO good options out there for a sport armband! It’s like the companies only care about iPhone owners…though I guess it makes sense – it’s such a popular device, and there’s only one kind, more or less. There’s a million varieties of Android device, and it’s tough to cater to all of them. I searched TJ Maxx and Marshall’s, I searched Wal-Mart, I searched sporting good stores…nearly ALL to no avail. I felt like a moron standing in the store trying to shove my phone into the two armbands that looked like they MIGHT fit my phone.

At the Falmouth Road Race Expo…I thought I’d give it one more shot. I picked a vendor, picked up the “Generic Large Smartphone” version off the rack (Model AB85) and asked the guy if I could open it up and try my phone in it. Can I tell you the sheer joy when it fit! And it fit pretty well too! For a “generic”…it was pretty damn good! The only thing was, as you can see to the right, the headphone hole was a little off. THAT’S FINE. I just had to shimmy my headphone plug in there and I was good to go. Not a big deal for me – I knew what I was getting into getting a “generic” one.

Fits Like A Glove

This thing fits great! I had no problems with it sliding around on my arm, like I had with other armbands. I slide it on, tighten the strap, and off I go. The strap is a “hook and loop” enclosure…it’s not Velcro, but its similar and it gets the job done. No tugging, no adjusting, no nothing. It stays put. I like that. It’s comfortable too – there’s something to be said for Neoprene…it doesn’t stick to you and feel gross like some other materials out there. More on Neoprene later though…

Also, I’ll throw this out there – They sell an “extender” in case the strap built into it isn’t long enough for your arm…I wear mine around my forearm for ease of use and so I can constantly look at my stats. Even around my bicep, it fits comfortably with room to spare. I think you’d have to have an exceptionally beefy bicep for this to not fit…but then again…I don’t often run into runners with arms that big.

A Well-Built Tool!

This thing is solidly built – they really thought out the design well. What you see below is what sits on your arm:

See that rectangular stitch in the middle? That’s where your phone goes…on the other side. No part of your phone touches your arm! Instead, the compartment for your phone sits more or less on top of a little neoprene pad. Neoprene, for those who don’t know, is what they make wetsuits out of. Nothing like having a waterproof barrier between your arm and the thing holding your phone! What’s more, even the compartment that holds your phone is made of Neoprene! 

I was DESPERATE for something that would keep my phone dry! When I was Fat Darrell, I would sweat like I’d just jumped in a pool. Surprise…I still do. I can’t afford for my expensive smartphone to get wet. The sport armband I had prior to my Tune Belt had a slit along the top backside of the thing where you were supposed to shimmy your phone into (see where the green arrow points? That’s about where the slit was on the old armband). Explain to me how having the slit against my arm will keep my phone dry?! Tune Belt got this part right, too! See where all those red arrows are pointing? That’s where you slide your phone into the Tune Belt. The opening sits on top of that neoprene base – sweat doesn’t get up in there. What’s more, when its secured to your arm, it’s tough to get much of ANYTHING in that slit (you have to put your phone in before you strap it to your arm). I am perfectly happy with that. As far as I’m concerned as a runner, it’s basically waterproof (don’t go diving in a pool or anything). I’d feel ok taking this out for a run in the rain. Maybe not a downpour, but I wouldn’t want to run in a downpour anyway.

Cool Feature!

One of the unique things about the Tune Belt is the little flap on the armband where you can secure your extra headphone cord. There’s few things worse on a run than trying to figure out what to do with the extra headphone cord flopping around everywhere! Tune Belt figured that one out and filed it away in a nice neat little place.

There’s a Tune Belt That’s Just Right For You

Remember how I complained earlier that there was a complete and total neglect towards people who don’t have an iPhone? Not with Tune Belt. I swear, they have a Tune Belt that’s designed to be perfect for almost every phone out there! Go on their site (www.tunebelt.com) and see for yourself! You pick your brand, model, and off you go! Not only that…but there are models designed for your phone while it’s in an Otterbox! Yes…they not only make a Tune Belt that fits your phone “naked”, but also that fits your specific model with its Otterbox Defender / Commuter on it! I can literally order a case designed to fit my Droid Maxx with an Otterbox Commuter on it. I don’t have to take my phone out of the case? Seriously? Shut up and take my money.

I’m sold. Seriously. They’re getting it right where everyone else is failing. They’re taking care of not only those who have iPhones, but those who have an Android phone! There’s even a Tune Belt for your iPod Shuffle, Nano, your Nike+ square device thingy, your walkman cd player or cassette tape player, and more. I swear…I have yet to find a device that they don’t make a Tune Belt for. They’re even starting to make them in reflective pink and yellow colors! Those are currently only available in iPhone size or generic large smartphone size, but there’s a relatively smaller market for those so I suppose that makes sense. Kudos to them for offering it in the generic large smartphone size!

Tune Belt is getting it right! If you’re in the market for a sport armband to carry your precious smartphone and equally precious tunes, go find a Tune Belt now! Check out their site www.TuneBelt.com , find your smartphone, and find what model number you need. You can get it all over the internet or in many running / sporting good stores! The one I have (Model AB89) actually does juuuust fit my new Droid Maxx without a case, but I’m strongly considering getting the one designed for my phone with its case on (Model AB88)…if I do get that, you can expect a review – not many armbands out there that allow you to keep your phone in the case – that’s certainly worth its own review!

Go get one. I got one for myself and for Megan. I’m glad I did.