The latest in Marware’s line of exercise accessories for various iPod models, the Sportsuit Runabout for 2G shuffle is an armband/wristband for the second-generation (2G) iPod shuffle.
Available in all-black or blue and black, the Runabout package comprises two armband pieces: a 9-inch main piece with a plastic-loop buckle at one end and a Velcro-hook tab at the other, and a 7-inch extension with a Velcro tab at each end (one hook and the other mesh). Each piece hosts three 1.4-inch Velcro-mesh patches. To use the Runabout as a wristband, you wrap just the main piece around your wrist, thread the Velcro tab through the plastic buckle, and then fasten the tab to any of the three Velcro-mesh patches; the Runabout fits wrists approximately 6 to 8.5 inches in circumference. To wear the Runabout around your upper arm, you use the extender, which lets the armband fits arms 9 to 14 inches in circumference.
The armband itself is made of Marware’s “Orca” neoprene, which is both lightweight and very comfortable; in fact, the Runabout is the lightest and most comfortable iPod armband I’ve tested. And if the size of your arm corresponds to one of the band’s Velcro patches, you get a secure fit, even during rigorous activities. On the other hand, one downside to using discrete Velcro patches along the band is that if your arm size is in between two patches, the band doesn’t fit as securely. I recommend buying the Runabout from a retailer with a reasonable return policy so you can make sure your own arm fits well.
The Runabout holds your shuffle using the simplest of methods: a non-elastic nylon strap, onto which you clip your shuffle using the shuffle’s built-in clip. This approach doesn’t seem very secure, but the nylon strap is the same width as that of the shuffle’s clip and is stretched tight against the armband; once on the strap, the shuffle doesn’t slide around, and I was unable to dislodge it from the Runabout accidentally. After a good amount of use I came away satisfied that the Runabout’s simple design was also a secure one.
On the other hand, unlike Griffin’s Tempo armband, the Runabout positions your shuffle horizontally — across the armband, rather than lengthwise along the armband. This means that when you pull your arm across your body to look at the shuffle, the shuffle is still oriented sideways. With the Tempo, the shuffle is oriented so that its controls are in the right position (Volume Up facing “up,” Volume Down facing “down,” and so on). I ended up placing my shuffle in the Runabout upside-down, so that its Volume-Up button was facing towards my hand; I found that this arrangement made it easier to use the shuffle’s controls than having the Volume-Up button towards my shoulder.
Like the Tempo, the Runabout leaves your iPod shuffle completely exposed to the elements or to accidental damage. The issue of protection may not matter to you if you run only in dry weather or if you aren’t worried about banging your shuffle against gym equipment, but it’s something to think about when purchasing a workout armband.