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Smartphone shoulder holsters: Why they work and why I wear one

I've worn phone shoulder holsters in public on and off for over two years now, and it never fails to draw the eyes of the Texans around me. "I couldn't help but notice your holster. What's in there?" "For a moment, I thought you were a cop." "That is so badass! Where did you find that?" "Is that an Open Carry holster?"

The reactions are varied, though most people lean toward cool rather than uncouth. A shoulder holster is absolutely an accessory that makes a statement, but my decision to wear one isn't about fashion as you might think.

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My first experience with phone holsters came at a company retreat — the first and only time I've seen more than two of my Android Central cohorts in person. It was a wonderful weekend of work, play, and booze, but the single most important thing I found at that conference was not how insane my superiors are at Cards Against Humanity, but rather an intense jealousy over the phone holster Michael Fisher aka MrMobile was wearing around the conference: an LD West Shoulder Holster. As a smartphone reviewer who always carries multiple smartphones, the LD West holster made a lot of sense to MrMobile, but for me, someone who only carries one phone most of the time, the shoulder holster had a different significance.

A distinct look for a distinct girl

I am a 26-year-old woman who likes to wear form-fitting jeans, and form-fitting jeans are rather lacking in the pockets department. This means that as I walk around work, I either have to wear a jacket with a phone-capable pocket, or I have to take my phone out of my pocket every time I sit down. Neither of these solutions is particularly appealing, and since I have to take out my phone every time I sit down, I'm more and more likely to use my phone every time I sit down, which wasn't the healthiest of habits. A holster means I can keep my phone on me at all times, without worrying about what size pockets my jeans have or making sure I grab my phone every time I stand up or sit down.

In short, a holster is freedom. And I like it, a lot.

Unfortunately, my LD West holster broke once, and then after paying international shipping and waiting weeks for a replacement pouch, it broke again, and I was back to the dark days of hoodies and holding my phone all the time. Then the Phonster X came along. I backed it on Kickstarter, and nearly five months after it was supposed to show up, it finally came. The Phonster X brought three significant upgrades:

  • The straps hung better on my frame. The X-straps were better angled so that the pouches hung better on my petite frame. More importantly, the straps weren't elastic, so they didn't bounce on me when I moved about in them.
  • Instead of two phone-sized pouches, the Phonster X I opted for had one phone pouch and one "Multipouch" which is basically the size of a large women's wallet and zips open on three sides, which I can stow my car keys, house keys, wallet, PocketBac, and recently my RFID building badge in. Now, my holster has allowed me to empty all my pockets, and I can wear my holster with workout pants or skirts and still carry what I need.
  • The system for connecting pouches to straps on the Phonster X uses leather straps on the pouches that loop around the metal hoops at the end of each strap, allowing the pouches to hang more naturally and allowing the user to switch up which pouches go on which sides, as the LD West holster basically only configures one way. You can event loop the pouches to a belt and turn your shoulder holster into a utility belt, if you want.

These days, I am back to wearing my holster full time, and happily so. At over a hundred dollars, my navy Phonster X Double might not be cheap, but it's leather, well-made, and fits my body and my lifestyle.

Close to my heart

In addition, there's a small personal security component to wearing a shoulder holder. For starters, it's a lot harder for anyone to steal my wallet/phone/keys when they are all hugged close to my body. Second, the holster — and the straight posture I adapt to keep it from sliding around on my shoulders — helps present an air of confidence and to a small degree strength. It makes some people think twice before approaching me, which as a somewhat reclusive person I see as a feature rather than a bug. Then, when people do approach me, we have an easy icebreaker as they ask about my holster and I can tell them what I use it for.

Part of this security might very well be an illusion, but I feel more secure with my holster hugging me as I go about my day. My holster carries no weapons, but it gives me a greater feeling of security than one that does.

My holster is more that some flash; it is substane, too.

Are shoulder holsters outlandish, rare, and to a degree intimidating? Yes. Do I let any of those things stop me from wearing mine? No, I don't. It's the best solution I've found to carrying my most personal items, it's a conversation starter, and whether I'm directing breaking news or hula-hooping at the bar during karaoke night, my holster fits my life.

Phonster X series

Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.

81 Comments
  • Nah, I really don't want Tazer'd pulling my phone out to check a WhatsApp
  • You look white to me. You safe.
  • Lol, that's just wrong... but probably valid...
  • Maybe he's not stupid enough to resist or pull it out
  • Nah it's ridiculous looking
  • ..as someone who sweats a lot, I can see the holster being an issue on warm days.
    Instead, I'm single-handily bringing back fanny packs to carry my weapon of choice :)
  • Oh, please don't.
  • Don't worry, they won't. They can try, but bum bags are dead, and dead they will remain.
  • I dunno, man, have you been to a renfest or theme park lately?
  • I avoid theme parks when able. But yes, I admit situationally they are still a thing, though personally I prefer the slightly more noble side-pouch. But as everyday carry gear? I don't see them being resurrected any time soon.
  • It's either bum bags, holsters or some form of backpack - just Invision- over 60 - gray hair - and being - fashionably attired.... Enough said... 👍
  • ..from my dead, cold hands!! er...waist..
  • Wouldn't dream of it, you be you! But bringing em back you ain't lol.
  • Fanny packs be fine.
  • The shoulder holster is the modern-day fanny pack!
  • Check out the Air Sling by Alpaka on Indiegogo. I just backed it yesterday. To my eyes, it's like a modern day fannypack. I'm looking forward to it. I also have a fannypack, but use it infrequently. Mostly for festivals or street faires when I need to carry extra stuff or when traveling and I need to carry extra stuff. Not for every day stuff. The air sling, though, I think I just might...
  • 'Fanny pack' just sounds so wrong here in the UK where fanny means something completely different
  • Yeah, that is hilarious!
  • Fanny packs! They're certainly slowly getting back in trend. Wear them appropriately, and they make for a great statement piece.
  • Omg, I would have zero friends if I wore that! My Note 8 has a gorgeous spigen glittery case.. I already ordered the same for my S9!
  • If your friends leave you because of a shoulder holster for a phone I think they might not be very good friends
  • Most of my friends think it's different, but so am I. So it works for me. I lean into the weird.
  • It definitely gives off the "weird" vibe, but... 1) who cares?
    2) it suits your needs
    3) I can't deny its usefulness.
  • No, it's called poor judgement and taste. If someone wears this, and I know him/her tells me that we have different priorities in life, and not much in common. You're judged by who you hang around with. Reason why I don't have just any friends.. It's called being an adult.
  • Actually that sounds a damn sight more like being a teenager in highschool, and not a very good one at that. Most actual adults outgrow that kind of petty, superficial nonsense. At least the ones who are worth associating with do... Good luck when you have an actual crisis in your life and your "support network" breaks down because your "friends" are more concerned with saving face than helping you through it. We're talking about a damn phone holster, not a coat made from the skins of five-score and one bloody dalmatian puppies!
  • You would have zero friends if you wore that? I really hope you are joking. Otherwise, grats on having superficial "friends".
  • I'm sorry but that's the stupidest thing I've ever seen. It makes geeks look like they think they're baddass.
  • Real talk
  • Wait, we're not badass? No... No, I think you're mistaken.
  • Geeks are Baddass!
  • The last time I used a phone holster was when I wore a suit to work and had a Nokia 8890.
    Nowadays, my phone is either in my backpack or in the front pocket of my jeans.
  • This is interesting. As a fellow woman who also likes to wear jeans that fit me well (outside of work, that is), the pocket thing is such a battle. I'm not one for big phones anyway but with phones getting taller, it has become even more of a pain. I don't think this is for me but it sounds like a great solution for you.
  • I've use a belt holster for many years, mainly due to my job but no way could I wear that ridiculous looking thing. The cops would think I was carrying a gun and I'd probably get tazered or shot.
  • Belt holsters look pretty ridiculous...FYI
  • Same here. It's funny to read/hear about someone damaging their device because they put it in a pocket like every other dumbass.
  • I'm not sure I'd wear the holster, but nice MagicBand
  • Thank you! I wear it every day because the batteryadt two years whether you wear it or not, and if someone whisks me home to Orlando, I'm prepared.
  • That's hilarious
  • Two words: Cargo Pants
  • Two words: hugging curves.
  • I think they should put carpenter pockets on EVERYTHING. I wear carpenter jeans all the time, specifically because my phone fits perfect in that right side hip pocket. I think they should offer even fitted jeans with them, men's and women's. My wife complains my carpenters are too "baggy", but I'm not willing to give up my "phone pocket" lol
  • Form fitting clothes > cargo pants I love my slim fitting pants/jeans. The last time I was into cargo pants and shorts, I was in middle school and had bad fashion sense. XD
  • You still could have terrible fashion sense wearing form fitting clothes. Wearing clothes you feel good in > all else.
  • It's about wearing clothes that fit your body and your style.
  • It does seem a lot more convenient than a handbag or backpack... And you wear it well. I wonder what the reaction would be to someone wearing one of these here in jolly old England... I suspect it would involve an Armed Response Unit. Either way I doff my cap to you for ignoring the fashion victims and dressing the way you wish.
  • What is holding your money and cards?
  • Oh, my wallet? NOMATIC Minimalist Wallet https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TVBOL6S/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_rW.NAbP1WKJ2F?ta...
  • That's a lot of words spent justifying and rationalizing your choice, which could pretty easily be summarized as, "I think it looks cooler than more conventional, cheaper options like a purse, belt clip or fanny pack."
  • I also don't have to take it off when I sit, dance, hula hoop, or go to the bathroom like those more conventional options. And what can I say? I'm prolific.
  • TMI lol.
  • All valid reasons to get one. $100 seems a little steep at first but for something well made that improves quality of life it isn't that much. Another plus for me since I don't use a screen protector I'd feel a sense of freedom not caring if I put my phone in my pocket with something that could scratch or crack the screen. I do find the overwhelming expression of dislike for this a little fascinating. With all the different clothes/accessories people wear in public it doesn't seem like that big of a deal to me.
  • Trying to overcompensate by writing an article about your decision-making, and hoping everyone else will validate your decisions? You must be new to the Internet. I'm not even sure this would count as a "review".
  • I think you can get away with something like that in an area where concealed carry is generally acceptable. But here in California, when someone sees that device and does not realize what it is, you then would be having conversations with law enforcement personnel. And their guns would be drawn.
  • Not only concealed but open carry is acceptable as well in Texas.
  • The three places I go the most often in this town are the TV station (work), the grocery store (food), and the bar (karaoke/de-stress). None of these places allow guns. And I've worn the holster to Orange County and Disneyland, no one really seemed to care.
  • Were you wearing it at Disneyland like you show in your pictures? I would not expect an issue if people can see it clearly, and can tell what it is. The problem is when they can't see it clearly, such as when you are wearing a coat.
  • You are over thinking it and caring way too much.
  • I've worn it to Disneyland (wore it over the jacket), I've worn it to Walt Disney World without jackets and under jackets. Though I appreciate the concern.
  • If they definitively find out cellphones cause cancer, you're keeping your phone in a precarious spot. Just saying.
  • Opposed to guys who carry ours in our front pockets? (◔_◔)
  • I'd be more worried about its proximity to my heart than my rack, but I mean, we hold these phones up to heads frequently...
  • At least our brains have a skull to shield it. And in my case, a thick one. =P
  • True, but for the most part phones don't get held next to our heads for as long as they're stored when not in use. As for the heart, that's a real issue for some people, those with pacemakers or implanted heart monitors can't have their phones within 6 inches of those devices.
  • I don't keep mine in my front pocket, so...there's that. Gotta protect my 3 sons!
  • Great for a woman who's trying to break free from lugging around a purse! I'm a guy who wears tight jeans, but fitting things in my pockets has never been a problem. Men's pockets, even on tight pants, have plenty of space for my phone and Kindle. Things will get crowded when I start carrying around a power bank, though, but I just backed the Air Sling on Indiegogo which seems like a cool, small bag for men (it's like a modern fanny pack). That holster is dope, but definitely not for me... at least not now. Definitely something to consider... actually on second though, no. Anything that closely resembles a gun holster on a black man is just a big no no.
  • Was thinking the same thing. I hope no one gets shot because they were reaching for their phone...
  • I'm black and I holster carry all the time. A little bit of a pity party ?
  • You go with your bad self. I personally would never use one, but you look good in it. A little Lara Croft goin on there.
  • Nah Lara Croft is gonna be how my little sister looks when she gets her brown one from me this weekend.
  • Nice!
  • these are about as douchetastic as you can get... texas version of a belt clip
  • Very cool. Looks good on you. Good article.
  • I love how almost all the comments are some sort of variation of "that looks stupid". It's like no one was ever taught how to be constructive with their opinions or criticism. A simple "it's not for me" would suffice. While this product is not my style, kudos for finding something that works for you and don't let the negative Nancy's make you second guess your choice.
  • Hi Ara, What is the name of the utility key on your Keychain?
  • I backed the Trident Design QuickKey years ago and it's been on my keys ever since. It's amazing, I love it.
  • Oh you kids... this review brought back some memories. Shoulder holsters for electronics were a thing back when Apple Newtons and Palm Pilots were a thing :) https://the-gadgeteer.com/1998/06/01/pilot_burropak_review/
    http://myapplenewton.blogspot.ca/2010/11/shoulder-holsters-for-armed-and...
  • I feel dinner just by opening this post.
  • Yeah, until you reach for it and a cop blows your head off
  • I keep my phone in a satchel.
  • The Phonester X shoulder holster looks less threatening than the LD West. Good choice to not get tasered as soon as you take off your coat. We just about always wear coats in New England. The only thing holding me back is the price. Is there a newsletter or notification system that lets you know if AGE is having a sale?
  • You can sign up for emails on their site. They had a sale for Christmas, they had one for Valentine's Day, I dunno when the next one will be.