Hate running with your phone in your pocket, in your hand, or in an arm band? I do. I usually run with just a watch and forgo music for comfort. The Freetrain V1 Vest is a potential solution. It puts your phone at the center of your chest in a secure position and features a clasp mechanism for easy access. Sounds intriguing right? Definitely. Now let’s test it in real world conditions.
To test the Freetrain V1 Vest I used it across multiple sports and activities. I also used it in various weather conditions and with different clothing. My tests were designed to approximate what daily use would look like for most people. Throughout the testing process, I noted the positives and negatives of the vest. I’ve organized them here to help you determine if the V1 Vest will work for you.
- Phone access. The ingenious chest-mounted flip-down phone case is the star. It’s easy to get a quick look at your phone whether you want to see your route, music, or a text message from Mom (Hi Mom!). I can’t express how much of an upgrade this is from traditional arm bands and waist bands. It’s the number one reason to buy a V1 Vest.
- Weight. Because of how you wear the vest, your phone and the vest itself are easily carried by your shoulders. The vest, at 6 ounces, is very lightweight. For reference, that’s lighter than any iPhone 11 model. I’ve never carried my phone in a better location. I hardly even noticed it was there while running or playing sports. And that’s the best compliment I can give to any phone holder.
- Great for sports. This is the only phone holder that I can basically forget about while shooting a basketball. Whether it’s basketball, soccer, rowing, disc golf, or any other sport that involves using your arms and legs at the same time, the V1 Vest just gets out of the way and lets you get to work.
- 3M. The V1 Vest’s 3M hits on the front and back are great for visibility during night running. Freetrain also offers the VR Vest with full 360° 3M. It’s sold out now but I’m hoping to try it soon. It looks perfect for multiday relay races like Ragnar and Hood to Coast.
- Zip pocket. The pocket on the left shoulder is a vertical zipper pocket that can fit keys or an energy gel. It looks small but once you get your stuff in there it’s not moving.
- Quick dry. The neoprene-like material that makes up the entire vest dries quickly. This is absolutely necessary if you run or train daily.
- Cable management. While I don’t recommend running with cabled headphones (bluetooth earbuds will make your life 100x better) the Freetrain V1 Vest does have some hidden slots added to keep your cables out of the way. I have no idea how well they work (I’m 100% bluetooth now) but it’s a nice touch.
- Accidental button presses. After I removed my phone mid run to take some pictures and videos (my job requires it lol), I had to endure random pauses of my podcast and my phone getting locked due to too many login attempts. I’m 98% sure this was because I took out the phone and let water get inside the sleeve. I imagine there’s a lot of people who will do the same at some point during their training. If it’s cold, you probably won’t have a problem. But if you do it during sweaty summer runs, be prepared.
- Phone pics and video. Removing the phone midrun has consequences. And based on some of the V1 reviews, it’s hard to remove your phone if you have a bulky case. End result, taking pictures and videos during a run or training session is difficult. If you don’t take a lot of pictures/videos while training, it won’t bug you. But for those who do, I hope Freetrain’s next vest allows the smartphone camera to take pics while still ensconced in the protective sleeve. It seems like something that will be necessary when selling to today’s photo-posting, social media savvy athletes.
- Chest..ahem…accentuation. Depending on your body type and the shirts you use, the design of the vest can make your chest look weird. For some men, it results in manboobs. For some women, not wearing a super tight or supportive sports bra underneath causes some weird cleavage situations. A lot of this depends on your height and chest size. It’s difficult to predict if you’ll have an issue. Just be aware it’s a possibility.
- Sizing. Taller people (like myself) end up wishing the vest was built just a little deeper. The bottom elastic straps align more with my chest than my rib cage. I wasn’t uncomfortable, but the V1 Vest didn’t fit the optimum way. Freetrain is still a fairly new company so I would expect them to eventually offer more fit options. As it is, I think the vest will work for anyone 5’0” to 6’6” with varying degrees of comfort. That’s hard to do with one piece of equipment so I have to commend Freetrain for the versatility of their vest.
- Velcro pocket. The pocket on the right shoulder is not very functional. It’s opening is tiny due to being too far up the shoulder strap where it gets really thin. It’s hard to put anything in there. Keys, gels, and credit cards don’t fit. Freetrain needs to rethink this pocket.
- Storage. Freetrain made the V1 minimal. You get your phone pocket and one usable zip pocket. This is perfect for training on a field or court but needs more to cater to road and trail runners. Most runners need room for the phone, 2 gels, keys, a card or two, and water. I would love to see Freetrain create a deluxe vest for long distance and trail runners.
- Handwash. I put this here because I know it annoys people. The V1 Vest should be hand washed with warm water and mild detergent. Ideally, you’d be able to use a washer and then air dry the vest but that won’t work with these materials. This isn’t a huge drawback for me but your opinion may vary.
I said it in the intro and I’ll say it again. If you don’t like carrying a phone, wearing it on your arm, in a waist band, or in your pocket, the Freetrain V1 Vest is going to be the best solution for you. The V1 Vest has some flaws but it’s lightweight, easy to forget you’re wearing it, and provides the best phone access of any solution. At $40, it’s priced about the same as most armbands and waistbands. If you’re still looking for the perfect phone holder for training and running, the Freetrain V1 Vest deserves strong consideration.
Thanks to Freetrain for sending a vest for testing. Freetrain was not given any editorial control of this review.
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