where to put a smartphone

Hey guys, a dumb question: what would be the safest way to transport a smartphone during a ride? I like traveling light, thus no backpacks. Moreover, as I ride unpaved roads, it happens to me to tumble off UPDs, therefore backpacks won’t do and neither would shoulder pouches… I know that the safest way would be to leave the phone at home, but it is not an option.

Ooooo…that’s a loaded question. I hope you don’t want a photo.

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In your pocket!

If you have a small backpack, then the chance of falling on it is mighty small with a UPD. When riding off-road, I naturally also UPD, but most of the time can ride out of it. Other times when the backpack is too hot on my back, as I get very sweaty, I have shorts with leg pockets to the side. Falling side ways at a UPD doesn’t happen with my riding style. I reckon if you do heavy technical steep muni-ing, then you might roll off in all directions, then just wrap your mobile in some cloth, and put it in a small backpack. Im sure it will survive.

You could use a bike saddle pouch.

I wear a backpack and have the phone in an outside side pocket so I can grab it while riding.
I have fallen and rolled onto the backpack without any damage.

You could use a bike saddle pouch or construct something from a water bottle holder.

I wear a backpack and have the phone in an outside side pocket so I can grab it while riding.
I have fallen and rolled onto the backpack without any damage.

In my backpack either somewhere inside, but the best place on it is a pocket on the hip belt I think. I often put it in the sidepockets of my pants too, if there is one. All of those have been pretty safe so far. I turn it so the backside is facing outward, so that the screen isn’t getting the impact, should it hit something, and so far, I haven’t had any issues.
Especially when I take my backpack of for a jump when riding Muni, I like to still have it on me, with the theory that should I ever break a leg, I at least don’t have to drag my way over to my backpack to call an ambulance. I hope I’ll never have to use that thinking.

I keep my phone in my left side pocket, but in the last 6-7 years I’ve managed to fall pretty hard on it twice.

The first time was a smallish cheap smartphone, and I landed hard enough to bend it into a U shape - even the glass bent. I un-bent the phone (and, separately, the battery!) back to mostly flat, and it somehow still worked.

Second time was more recently, a larger phone, and it shattered the glass screen protector, and glass back, but the phone itself was OK. I was able to replace the glass bits for just a few $$.

My takeaways:

  1. Side pocket BAD!
  2. Phones are tougher than you would expect. If you can avoid a big direct hit you should be fine. Backpack on the side sounds like a good place.

I use a what’s locally called a bum bag (I think sometimes called a fanny pack, just don’t say that in some countries OK). But I sling it around my neck. This way it won’t get smashed in a UPD and also does not interfere with riding.

I use a what’s locally called a bum bag (I think sometimes called a fanny pack, just don’t say that in some countries OK). But I sling it around my neck. This way it won’t get smashed in a UPD and also does not interfere with riding. It usually holds my phone and keys.

back pocket. and don’t fall. Or use a case to protect it.

For longer rides I have a small backpack where I carry water, food, tools and my phone.

For shorter rides I usually just put it in my pocket and try not to UPD. I’ve only had one fall with my phone in my pocket and it survived.

I have heard of people landing on phones in their pockets and causing the battery to catch fire. If you’ve ever seen a lithium battery fire then you know that it would be pretty unpleasant.

On my body I have never hit my thigh in any UPD. On my uni, a small saddle bag is very safe.

I’ve got a small phone case that goes horizontally on my belt (ie. the phone goes parallel to belt not at right angles to it) which I got from eBay. I slide that round the the front of my trousers so that it is against the first belt loop, my jersey/top then comes down over it too so the phone is pretty well out of the way and protected. It is a reasonable small phone (iPhone SE) so this might not work so well for larger ones.

I am fond of Otter box phone cases (especially the defender line) and they come with a belt clip to carry the phone. The saddle bag is another great idea.

I personally put my phone in the front pocket of my backpack (as narrow as a camelback bladder) and the screen facing me. So with your predicament, I would do the same but with a fanny pack or man-purse (or whatever small thing you can have securely on you).

I have what could loosely be called a bum bag (“Fanny Pack” for the Americans, however as Bruce mentioned, don’t call it that here!), it’s really thin and minimal and stretches like lycra to accomodate your phone’s size. Before I got this I just put my phone in my combat pants pocket (Same sort of thing as JimT above), or my backpack if I was using one, and I’ve never fallen onto my phone.


I have a camera pouch that I have on the shoulder strap of my camelback. Since my camera is now my phone, it sits there instead.

The camelback will help protect your spine in a tumble and you are fairly unlikely to have a hard strike on your chest where the phone would be sitting. I’ve never thought of this before, but if you had a hole for the camera in the pouch, your phone could even double as a chest mount camera if you are into that.

I wear a runners camelpack. Either with or without the bladder. These are light, comfortable and protect your back as well giving you somewhere to put your allen keys and phone!

I carry a feature phone, which is small enough it takes up little space in my pocket. I hardly notice it. Even if you can’t or don’t want to switch from smart to feature phone, you could get a secondary feature phone to take with you on trips, so that you are still contactable. Here in Norway, the network providers offer a service where you have two sims with the same number. So if someone calls you both phones ring.

P.S. Despite being pretty basic, many of the KaiOS powered feature phones can run an app that can track your journey and even upload to Strava (if you need that sort of thing).

This is what I have, though for rides I put the phone in my “waist pack” which rides below my Camelbak. An iPhone SE is small enough to slip into a pocket also, though pockets can be bad places depending on the fall.

Jim Thode posted photos of two very good solutions, the “leg” pocket, and the under-seat bag. Both will be very protective for most normal crashes.

Perhaps more important is to protect your phone. Part of my job is to manage about 350 smartphones for my company. Cases (and screen protectors) can make a huge difference. They can’t cure a rainy day, but they’re a lot cheaper than a new display or a new phone. Name brands can be expensive. There are lots of more affordable cases on Amazon (or eBay, etc.) that are just as protective for half the cost or less. I’ve had this case on my phone since last summer with no complaints. I did remove the screen cover in favor of my glass screen protector; much better screen response. :slight_smile: