Smartphone, I-phones, I-pods and I-pads; it seems as though it has become quite impossible to go through our days without a whole plethora of gadgets and gizmos. Even when exercising, it is difficult to shake that persistent urge to check our Facebook status or twitter feed, not to mention the everyday necessities of keys and wallets that we need to keep near to hand. That’s why the exercise belt has become an almost non-negotiable part of the modern workout.
Even with a galaxy of belts already on the market, the good people at Nathan Sports have thrown their hat into the ring with the Nathan 5k runner’s waist pack. So how does it shape up against the competition?
There’s already a lot of similar products to choose from…
The Nathan 5k was never intended to be revolutionary. Its simple design seeks to capitalise on a tried and tested approach when it comes to exercise belts, namely combining enough space to store all your exercise-time necessities with the comfort and security that its two zippered pouches afford. The fully adjustable belt is versatile enough to accommodate everyone from an 18 to 55 inch waist, meaning that whether you are a long-time health aficionado or just someone following through with a New Year fitness resolution, this belt will be the perfect fit.
With the additional advantage of the 3M Scotchlite reflective surface, users can be assured that they will be visible even on their night-time runs whilst its already sleek exterior can be complemented by one of four available colours. Its main advantage however, is its weight. At a mere 1.9 oz when empty, it is one of the more lightweight belts on the market and goes practically unnoticed once you pick up a head of steam.
Surely there must be some downsides…
Well, that is unfortunately very true. As soon as you take the Nathan 5k out of its packaging, it is immediately apparent that the materials from which it are made are not of the highest quality. In fact, you could say if feels rather cheap. Given this rather miserly approach to the product design then, it is hardly surprising that the reports from users for whom the belt has become prematurely unusable, sometimes in as little as a month, due to an assortment of frayed ends and seams becoming split after only a handful of uses.
Most of these complaints centre on the Nathan 5k’s zippers which frequently become jammed or simply come off in the hand. Quite frankly, the poor workmanship displayed by this product is far too common to simply be written off as a faulty product.
Anything else I should know?
If that’s not enough for you, many users have complained about the Nathan 5k’s inability to stay in place when they run, either riding up around the chest or inside slipping beneath the waist; the problem, as it is with most belts, much more common with women than with men. There have even been reports that the Nathan 5k has become detached altogether which, when travelling at any great pace, can result in a rather nasty trip or fall.
Less seriously although much more common, is the oft-heard complaint that the fully adjustable belt leaves a significant amount of strapping hanging loose. To all but the most rotund of user, the 55 inch waist is excessive, meaning all this extra space is left free to dangle, a persistent irritation to not only the wearer but anyone they may be exercising alongside. With only two pouches space is at a premium, meaning that you may have to go to some effort to fit your belongings, something that can result in everything from scratched I-phone screens to bent credit cards.
So should I look elsewhere?
In short, yes. While the Nathan 5k certainly did not attempt to break any new ground when it came to exercise belts, its main problem is that it simply does not perform the basics well enough to earn a recommendation. As has been mentioned in length, the materials used appear cheap and flimsy while the zipper is prone to a whole list of problems serious enough to render it unusable.
Given also the unremarkable amount of storage space available and a price-tag that is comparable to many other more reliable belts on the market, the Nathan 5k seems to offer little that could not be found more reliably elsewhere. Quite simply, there are too many other exercise belts out there to risk spending your money on one which may need to be replaced only a few months later. A disappointing effort from a respected brand. Best avoid.