New Product for Runners Serves No Apparent Purpose

With the holiday shopping season now in full swing, running enthusiasts are sharing their wish lists and picking up gifts for fellow runners. This year, however, amid the usual assortment of apparel, gear, gadgets, and accessories, they're eyeing something new—the RunStrap.

Available in three sizes and half a dozen colors, RunStrap is "sturdy, TSA-friendly, and hand-stitched right here in the U.S.A.," according to its manufacturer, Metku LLC.

And it's quickly becoming the season's hottest gift, say retailers and industry analysts, despite the fact that it serves no obvious function.

"I can't remember the last time runners went this crazy for a new piece of gear," says Richard Vernon, CEO of the National Association of Retailers Who Sell Sports Stuff. "Especially one that, by all outward appearances, doesn't actually do anything."

This lack of utility hasn't deterred holiday shoppers.

"Yeah, I'm not sure what it's for," said Claire Standish, 24, a runner who was shopping Friday at B.C. Running, a Shermer, Illinois running store. "But all these blogs are raving about it. And my friend Allison is a RunStrap ambassador. So, you know."

"I guess it's for stretching?" said Andrew Clark, 33 another shopper, turning a RunStrap over in his hands. "Or maybe you wear it while you run. Like a safety thing."

"Anyway," he said, "I heard they're good for recovery."

Or, perhaps, for injury prevention.

"I've been using the RunStrap for three weeks," said John Bender, a salesperson at B.C. Running. "And I haven't been injured that whole time."

The people behind RunStrap haven't done much to help clarify their product's purpose.

"Runners, Show Us How You #Strap!" the brand says in a Twitter campaign urging fans to share photos of themselves using the RunStrap. The resulting images depict runners looping the product around their feet, knotting it around their waist, removing it from their freezers, and simply holding it while they run.

Meanwhile, sales show no signs of slowing, thanks in part to RunStrap's inclusion in a "Gear of the Year" feature in Outdoor Monthly magazine, opposite a full-page ad for RunStrap.

Editor's Note: This post is sponsored by RunStrap. Go to Twitter and Show Us How You #Strap!