I’m not someone who believes that running is a sacred time that should be spent outside of your phone. I take my cell phone with me every time I run because I want to take it with me.
Most of the time I wear it in a running belt, which I’ve found completely satisfactory. Belts are cheap, usually have room for keys and a gel next to my phone, and are easier to access than an armband while walking.
Since I have no problems with belts, I was curious to see if the Freetrain vest could improve the experience of wearing my phone. The short answer is no. The longer answer is that I can’t think of a single advantage of using the Freetrain over a running belt.
You pull the Freetrain over your head and then customize it by placing the phone in a pouch in the middle of your chest. Release the push button on top and the bag swings down so you can see the screen through a plastic window that also allows you to use the touch screen.
There’s also a zipped pocket on one shoulder strap that can hold your keys and a Velcro strap on the other strap that almost fits on a card or small gel, but that’s it. The Freetrain doesn’t wear more than my running belt, even though it’s very large.
The Freetrain V1 I tested also has reflective patches to improve your visibility to vehicles, which is useful (another version, the VR, makes the shoulder straps fully reflective). It’s also waterproof, although given the phone holder’s prominent position on your chest, I’d still be concerned about wearing my phone in it during a deluge.
I also didn’t like the way the freetrain felt during a run. It’s a bit more restrictive than a running backpack that has straps with pockets instead of centering the pocket on the chest. To be honest, I felt like an idiot too. I don’t accept the idea that Freetrain puts forward that this is a stylish product and the seasoned club runners I ran with certainly had a good laugh when I showed up wearing it.
All of this would be fine if the Freetrain served its primary purpose, which is to make your phone more accessible on the go than any other product, but not. It may be better than an armband, but I certainly found it less easy to use than a belt.
While the case allows you to use your phone through the touchscreen compatible window, it’s a hit and miss. You must also do this with your phone in the pocket, which is still attached to your chest. Since you have to look down and use both arms – one to hold the phone in place and one to use it – you really have to stop while a running strap allows you to quickly take your phone out and use it when you pull it in one hand.
You might suggest that you can do the same with the freetrain, but no. The sticky plastic on the window of the pouch makes removing and installing your phone a nightmare even at the end of a run, and it’s certainly not something I want to do repeatedly during a run.
So you have a slightly pressing chest strap with no more storage space than a running strap, which makes it difficult to use your phone. It’s also less comfortable than a lightweight running backpack that allows you to tuck your phone in the belt pocket while leaving plenty of room to carry things. To top it off, a no-benefit product costs £ 30. I won’t buy it.
Buy from Freetrain | £ 29.99