Runners tend to carry a few basic items along for the trip. Cash, keys, music, and munchies are a few favorites for longer jaunts. Finding ways to keep such essentials handy, without jingling or juggling, can be a stretch. Who remembers the old fanny pack? It was handy for ski patrols, world travelers, and moms on the go. But the bulky and bouncy waist bag fell by the proverbial wayside, leaving folks carrying totes or wearing backpacks to lug essentials around.
Here’s something somewhat new. Marketed primarily to women, the HipS-sister Band waist tote is designed to carry indispensable items (such as car keys, cell phones, cash, credit or debit card, and driver’s license) hands-free. This sounds like a super idea for fitness walkers, bicyclists, day hikers, horseback riders, paddle boarders, roller-skaters, sightseers, skiers, vacationers, and anyone who wants to keep away from clutter while out and about.
I stumbled upon a HipS-sister display booth at a summer fair, and I grew intrigued. The sleek design of the stretchy item fits neatly over a woman’s hips. The HipS-sister Band includes front and back zippered pockets and a little hidden top slit for holding a smart phone or portable personal audio device.
Made in China of polyester and spandex, this handy little stretch pack can be worn over a fairly snug outfit or underneath, as long as immediate access to items stored within it is not needed. It fits nicely over leggings or yoga pants, which tend not to have pockets like jeans or tailored trousers.
Retailing for $25 to $30, the basic HipS-sister Band is marketed in multiple colors and patterns, and many designs are reversible. The zip pockets are located on the outside of the band. If the wearer reverses it, placing the other color on the outside, then the pockets will be found on the inside. The band comes in several sizes, from extra small to plus, and is labeled as machine-washable in cold water. Additional models, including a wider version and custom styles, are available. The company also has a unisex line of similar products.
Note: This product review was based on a purchased item, not a free sample or promotional request.
Does the HipS-sister Fitness Band work for a runner?
I opted to try it, especially as the HipS-sister exhibitor was offering a reasonable discount at the fair. I liked the streamlined construction, as compared to more clunky running packs.
First, I had to wriggle into the thing. The five-inch-wide band is designed as a continuous loop. That means the wearer has to step into it or pull it down over the head and torso. That is a little awkward in public, as I discovered at the fair, but it works OK at home.
The next step was to take give it a road test, where I ran into a glitch. My smart phone did not stay tucked in securely in the top slot. It actually topped to the ground when I started running. Thankfully, I had sprung for the heavy-duty protective case for my phone.
On to plan B. My small phone fit nicely in one of the zippered pockets, with my headphone cord running easily outwards. The other pocket was more than ample for holding keys and gummy snacks for a longer run.
Unfortunately, the HipS-sister Band does not hold a water bottle for running. I tried tucking one into one of the pockets, but it bulged and bounced and proved to be a problem. That meant carrying the water bottle by hand for the entire run.
Also, when the pockets are filled with non-flat items (especially weightier things, like a cell phone), the band becomes more cumbersome and doesn’t stay put during an actual run. Designed to rest flat upon a woman’s hips, it does not stay there at any pace exceeding a brisk walk. It also rides up, much like any stretchy sash, when the wearer sits down.
I found the HipS-sister Band to be reasonably comfortable. It appears to be well constructed, although the zippers are thin and made of plastic, and they tend to catch on the surrounding fabric. Additionally, because the thing is made of four layers of synthetic textiles, it does not breathe well and becomes exceedingly hot around the wearer’s midsection while running, particularly in warmer weather.
Honestly, I felt like I’d endured one of those weight-loss wrap things by the time I finished the trial run.
For review purposes, I asked several runner friends with various figure types to try on the HipS-sister Band. Even the very slimmest were dismayed to find the thing gave them the dreaded muffin top effect over thinner performance tees or lightweight jerseys. Although lady runners are not all about appearance, we were surprised to see the band have this unflattering effect on multiple athletically fit women.
Overall, I would possibly recommend the HipS-sister Band for everyday wear, traveling, or light exercise, but not for running.