There are very few times that an accessory can be polarizing and generate major debate, yet the FitPac NEO generated quite the discussion when I showed it to some friends. Reactions ranged from “Why would you use this?” to “Oh, I could totally see this being helpful for x, y, z”. You’ll have to read a bit further to see what Sarah had to say about it, but first let’s look at what the FitPac NEO is and why it may be a bit of an acquired taste.
The company describes themselves and their products as:
FitPac Lifestyle Accessories, a new millennium sports, travel and fashion accessory company, has created an innovative way to carry our cell devices and essential items we use everyday. The ease and utility of our products allow you to stay connected while on the go, without the hassle of going through pockets or purses to find what you need.
Our premier product, the FitPac NEO, is a three-piece system that provides a cell device carrier and a personal carrier with shoulder straps. It can be easily adjusted for the ideal fit and comfort of the individual wearer. The NEO can be worn over clothing or under a coat.
A true story of the American dream, what started as the brainchild of a resourceful entrepreneur working in a home office has lead to the creation of a never before seen, fashion forward and utilitarian lifestyle accessory.
Simple enough. The NEO is certainly well-built, with magnetic flaps over the pouches and strong webbing holding everything together. There’s no doubt in my mind that this a product that can take a huge beating and survive admirably. While the closure system is not waterproof, it does come securely over the front, so non-direct hits of water, sand, etc., probably wouldn’t be an issue. The webbing is also comfortable and smooth. The edges aren’t rough or sharp, which means they won’t dig too deeply into your shoulders and back even if you’re loaded with gear.
The two pouches are different sizes, one for a cell phone and a larger one for a wallet or small camera. The larger one also has a small slot that could hold folded money, receipts, a credit card or hotel key, even a small house key. All the straps are adjustable so you can dial in your fit comfortably. There’s some movement if you jump up and down, but for walking around everything stays in place properly, with the straps across your back and the pouches just below your armpits.
There’s a few downsides with the FitPac NEO. One, the pouches are stiff and don’t expand, so you’re somewhat limited in what it holds. Also, beware of the magnets; if you have a Droid or similar phone with magnetic docking capabilities, the magnets can sometimes set off car mode. Then there’s the real downside. The FitPac NEO bears an unfortunate resemblance to gun holsters. Now, I am not in law enforcement, nor do I know anyone who is, so this is based on my own impression (and the comments of my friends.) Also, for the two of you who read this far just to find out what Sarah had to say, she said this: “Those look like gun holsters. You run past the police station, and there are gangs in this town. Please don’t wear that outside.” Granted, that’s less of an issue for you if you’re wearing the FitPac in the woods, if you don’t live in an area where that’s potentially a concern, or if you wear a jacket over the FitPac.
So that’s the controversial part of the FitPac. Some of my friends flat out said they wouldn’t go near it, and others were more forgiving. One person pointed out the NEO is perfect for fishermen, since you could keep your phone or iPod close by but raised out of the water. I also think this would be very helpful on hikes and snowboarding, where you could keep your hands free, distribute items without weighing down your jacket, and still have everything accessible. Like I mentioned above, it’s also easy to throw a jacket over the FitPac, making it far more incognito and less sketchy accessory.
On a goofier note, the NEO also fits perfectly around my dog. We attached it to him as a joke, but it actually worked pretty well as a doggy holster. Usually when we’re out hiking with him we carry a few treats, a collapsible water bowl, etc…but Porter’s a big dog and he can easily carry his own gear. The FitPac may not be designed for that, but amusingly it works really well! Note: my dog is very, very docile, and let us put the FitPac on him because as long as he’s getting attention he’s very happy. I wouldn’t try this if your dog is cranky, or if he or she is not broad enough to wear the FitPac comfortably!
Overall, I have mixed feelings about the NEO. It’s well-built and does exactly what the company describes. But the style is not one that would go over well in suburban New Jersey. However, if you need something that holds a few small personal items close by and can deal with the holster style, it’s a quality purchase.
You can buy the FitPac NEO direct from thefor $49.99
What I Like: Well built; holds items securely; easy to wear and adjust.
What Needs Improvement: Odd style; pouches aren’t expandable
If you looked at the FitPac and thought it could work for you, it’s your lucky day! We have two FitPac NEOs to give away, and all you need to do is leave a comment telling us how you’d use one of these versatile accessories.
The fine print–
1. This contest will be open until April 20th, 2011; the winner will be announced shortly after.
2. Shipping address must be in the USA
3. If you’re entering this giveaway using Facebook connect, you MUST have your Facebook page set to accept messages from non-friends so we can contact you through your page if you are the winner. If you are unsure how to set your privacy settings to allow this, feel free to contact us for assistance or read Facebook’s instructions.
4. The winner will be announced on the site and will have 24 hours to contact us. After 24 hours a new winner will be picked.
The company also maintains a very detailed set of instructional Youtube videos here.