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

"Hey, what is that thing you're wearing? What do you carry in it?"

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.

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.

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.

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.

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