'Sweating' the Details - The SwitchLok Armband
"Necessity is the mother of Invention"
The motivation to create a new product almost always comes either from not being able to find what you want or frustrations with a current offering.
SwitchLok was born out of a number of frustrations with the available armbands for running with a phone right at the top of the list. The elastic ones were scratchy and rough--terrible materials to have up against your skin. The current market leader's offering is made out of neoprene which feels fine but is neither stretchy nor breathable. These are just a couple of highlights--those of you that have used these products will know what I am talking about.
It doesn't matter how amazing your interface for attaching the phone is. If it's attached to an awful armband, it's ruined. I wanted a band that just disappears: it is so comfortable you forget it's on.
So when I started building SwitchLok, I knew that I would have to find the best material possible for the armband. I had no idea how far I would have to go to get them.
First I went to fabric store and bought elastics that felt great. Unfortunately, none of them worked with hook and loop (Velcro). Then I contacted every US based elastic manufacturer I could find to get samples. Out of five, two responded and one actually sent samples. The material was awful. I moved on to Amazon and started ordering armbands and elastics, even a heart rate monitor strap.I got a few that were ok, but nothing that was acceptable. Alibaba was up next. Lots of responses and plenty of samples but no one seemed to understand that I wanted something of a higher quality. Finally, on Etsy of all places, I was able to find an incredibly soft, smooth elastic. Material? Check.
Some of the elastic samples. A number of samples were disposed of immediately.
Just having the right material wasn't enough though. Too often, with other armbands I would have to tighten the band to an uncomfortable point just to get it to stay in place. I needed something grippy to help it stay in place. That's when I noticed that my triathlon shorts (like bike shorts but without a big butt pad) had a pattern of silicone dots around the inside of the legs to keep them in place. Bingo!
I'm going to 'yada yada' the part where I learn how to design and procure custom armbands (and how not to), found the average arm sizes of the US population and a whole bunch of other stuff and show you the result. This armband feels incredible! It's stretchy, soft and smooth and it stays in place with just a little tension. I was running with it yesterday and I realized after about 30 minutes, I couldn't even feel it anymore. It had disappeared.
The SwitchLok Armband