Small Business Finds for Walkers

Big box stores and retailers tend to rule on Black Friday. The little guys have their own day now, Small Business Saturday. Some of my favorite walking gear is made by small businesses who market at race expos. These are all items suitable for gifts, and when people see me use them I often hear, "Where did you get that?"

I prefer shopping online, and many of these small businesses sell on Amazon or through their own web sites. While some of my favorite memories are the marathon shopping days with my Grandma Ethel, I avoid crowded malls and big box stores during the holiday shopping season. I'd prefer to only step foot into a mall as an alternative walking workout site in foul weather, in the hours before the stores open.

1
The FlipBelt

FlipBelt
FlipBelt. Courtesy of Amazon

Flipbelt Review
This is my go-to utility belt for a 10K or half marathon. You can tuck a lot of essentials into it for quick access. I use it for my phone, snacks, keys (it has a clip to keep them secure) and Kleenex. It's a unisex design and comes in a variety of colors. It's machine washable and ready to go again and again. It was invented by Mia Do, who co-founded the company.

Buy from Amazon

2
Knuckle Lights

Knuckle Lights
Knuckle Lights. Courtesy of Amazon

Dan Hopkins wanted an alternative to a headlamp for running or walking at night, and he invented these great lights you wear on your hands. They are better than a flashlight because they are attached with a silicone strap, allowing you to use your hands without having to grip a flashlight. They emit a wide beam so you have good light coverage even with arm motion. Plus, you can raise the light to flash a car if you need to alert them to your presence. The batteries last for over 20 hours.

Buy from Amazon

3
RooSport Magnetic Pocket

RooSport Magnetic Sport Pocket
RooSport Magnetic Sport Pocket. Courtesy of Amazon

RooSport Review
Do you need a pocket for your keys, cell phone or energy bar but your pants don't have any? This pouch goes on over any waistband, secured by magnets, and you instantly have the pocket you need without a belt. I never travel without it, it is perfect for keeping ID, cards and money safe, as well as using while enjoying a walking workout. Inventor Brenda Brundage keeps debuting new sizes as our phones get bigger.

Buy from Amazon

4
Orange Mud HydraQuiver

Orange Mud HydraQuiver Single Barrel
Orange Mud HydraQuiver Single Barrel. Courtesy of Amazon

Orange Mud HydraQuiver Review
The HydraQuiver is a mini-backpack that carries one or more water bottles for quick over-the-shoulder grabbing. Designed and sold by adventure racer Josh Sprague, these appeal to those who hate water-carrying waistpacks or hydration bladder packs.

Buy from Amazon

5
HipS-sister

Sparkle Sister hipS-sister
Sparkle Sister hipS-sister. Wendy Bumgardner © 2014

HipS-sister Review
This stretchy accessory is worn on you hips. It has zippered pockets and a top drop-in pocket for carrying your phone and essentials when you workout at the gym, go for a walk or jog, or are just strolling. It's a little more stylish and secure than the Flipbelt. Sonia Kanner is the brains behind HisS-sister.

Buy from Amazon

6
Handana

Handana
Handana. Courtesy of Amazon

Old-school terry cloth wrist sweatbands may work OK, but this updated version of supplex comes in great colors, with a reflective logo. It covers your palm and wrist so you can easily swipe away the sweat. I spied it at the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon Expo and could hardly hand over my money fast enough. It worked great during the half marathon. Handana was created by Katie Niemeyer.

Buy from Amazon

7
Sweet Spot Skirts

Sweet Spot Skirts 1500
Sweet Spot Skirts. Wendy Bumgardner ©

Sweet Spot Skirts: Do you love the Lycra but hate displaying your buns in it to the public? You can snap on a Sweet Spot skirt and have an instant, stylish cover-up that won't get in your way while walking, biking or running. It was invented by Stephanie Lynn, the owner/designer. You can shop more small businesses that sell sparkly and run race gear for walkers and runners.

8
Exerstrider Walking Poles

Exerstrider OS2 Trekking Poles
Exerstrider OS2 Trekking Poles. Exerstrider

Tom Rutlin has been working tirelessly for decades to bring you great walking poles to boost your walking workout. He has a variety, from single-length poles to adjustable height poles, for fitness walking or for trekking.

Buy from Amazon

9
Walkapocket

Walkapocket
Walkapocket. Walkapocket

Walkapocket comes from Cathy Larrick. It's a great updated hip-pack that lies flat. I use it to carry my iPhone, keys, etc. on walks when I don't want to wear a backpack and I don't have pockets. It's great for dogwalking and is a unisex design.

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10
One More Mile

One More Mile - Almost There
One More Mile - Almost There. Wendy Bumgardner ©

One More Mile: Rock a funny slogan for walkers and/or runners on great tech shirts, hats, stickers and more. They constantly debut new slogans you wish YOU had thought of. I see them at race expos and spend a lot of time laughing.

11
Go Local for Shoes

Find the independent running shoe store in your area that caters to serious runners. This is where you will get the best, personal advice and service and get the right walking shoes. These stores often have generous return policies and keep working with you until you have the shoes that really work for you.

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