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Sunday, 29 November 2020

Free Train V1 Vest: Why Is It Different & Is There Snack Space?

*I was sent a Free Train V1 vest to try. They sent it to me for free and I don’t get paid for reviewing it but I was asked to pop a review on for them. It’s an unbiased review – I’m saying exactly what I think as usual …!*


Free Train V1 Vest: Why Is It Different & Is There Snack Space?

When Free Train contacted me about trying one of their run vests, I wasn’t sure what to think. I have a lot of different run vests, backpacks and waist-belts. What could really be different about this one? Anything?

Well yes … a few things actually!



Front Storage 

First if all, the V1 Vest is shaped like a running vest. It has the over-the-shoulder and fasten-at-the-front style that is common to most running vests … however the biggest difference is that instead of having the storage area on your back like a classic vest, it’s on your front. The phone & card area is right on the front in the middle and key and snack pockets are at the front over your shoulders. I wasn’t sure what I thought of this initially … but in action, well you don’t have to stop! If I want to check my run route, change my music or even check for Strava segments … I don’t need to stop and rummage around on my back. 



Drop Down Pocket

The design of the V1 vest is focused on the front phone pocket.  This is a separate pocket attached at the base of the pocket to the main body of the V1 vest and which clips back on with a strong popper button. The phone is protected from the weather from the thick neoprene fabric from which the body of the vest is made. The inside of the pocket is a thick clear plastic through which you can see the display of the phone. The plastic although thick is responsive enough for the display of my phone (iPhone X) to be engaged with, notifications seen, music skipped, routes checked. The main pocket is divided into 2 sections, with a small section at the rear to keep cards secure. 



Key & Small Snack Pockets

There are 2 additional pockets on the front shoulders of the vest. The left pocket is neoprene and has a 4” zip to open and close it and is approximately 4.5” x 2”. A small pocket but large enough for a key and a small snack. The right pocket is of a stretchy tech fabric and is held closed with a square of velcro. I tend to use this for headphones or similar small items I won’t need in a hurry. This is a similar size but only opens at the top so is more difficult to retrieve items from if running. 



Vest Material

The vest is made of a thick neoprene type fabric so it it’s soft and pliable against your body as you move and is also pretty weather proof … important if, like me, you take your phone everywhere you go. I’ve run in some pretty damp weather recently and everything has stayed dry. The waistbands are thick elastic and can be made looser or tighter with buckles. This means that the V1 is very adjustable and a benefit of the elastic is that the V1 fits snugly without movement when I run. An additional benefit of this is no concerns about chafing as there is no rubbing.



Reflective Patches

The V1 vest comes in only one colour – black - which has a benefit of matching whichever kit I choose, but which can be a downside if I'm running at night or dark evenings or mornings. However, the kit has several highly reflective sections which add some further visibility on dark nights. The front pocket has the logo and text and a strip on the front pocket and the rear has a chevron and the logo in large. 



Packaging

Great packaging! I loved the bag that the V1 came in! It was fun and pretty.  A small detail but I really liked this.


Downsides of the V1 Vest

Space is Tight

It is very space efficient so not much space for anything except phone and key and a small snack. If you prefer to run with anything more substantial you’ll need a waist belt or a larger vest.



Waterproofing Over Tactility 

The phone buttons work through the clear plastic but not very easily if you want to do anything more complex than change songs or check routes. On the plus, side as the pocket is on the front, it’s easy to remove the phone while moving.



Sweat toThe Next Song

If I get overly sweaty (if I’m running reps or am particularly warm) the combination of the clear plastic and sweat will interfere with the phone screen and I’ll sometimes find I’m running along to one song and it’ll suddenly change to another. It might be just me being a sweaty betty, this happens with other belts if I have the phone facing inwards but my solution was to turn the phone screen away from my body and just remove the phone from the pocket if I needed to use it. 



Summary 

This vest really does win for comfort. It feels very good quality and is very comfortable. My weight and size changes depending where I am in my training cycle and sometimes this is a nuisance with having to adjust waist belts but this hasn’t been an issue with the V1 Vest even when I’ve added or removed layers on training. The elastic has kept it snug and comfortable.

I’m currently using the V1 vest for the majority of my runs. It probably wouldn’t be practical for a marathon or an ultramarathon as it doesn’t have the storage but for anything up to about 10 miles – perfect. It’s easier to access my phone than if I’m wearing a vest or waist belt which is handy as I do love taking a mid-run photo. There’s enough room for all the essentials and with the comfort factor, it has become my favourite run vest.

Take a look at the website and see whether you agree: Free Train V1 Vest

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