Technology has tried, but mostly failed, to satisfy the needs of the music-loving long distance runner. Phones have gotten bigger. Wires are pretty annoying when you're doing a big run. Earbuds often fall out of your ears. Armbands have always been clunky. Sport headphones, even at the high end, are decent but they don't solve a fundamental problem: what do you do when you're an hour into a long run and the buckets of sweat start coming out of your head and start to block your earphones?
Which is why we were interested to learn about Saorbuga, an Irish company started by Padraig and Sinead Clarke, selling their own version of wireless music products. The technology behind the Saorbuga Sports Headband is pretty simple - two earphones placed inside a headband, with a Bluetooth control. The earphones are easily removed so the headband can be washed. There's a lithium ion battery which can be charged exactly like a mobile phone. It all sounds interesting, but what is it like to run with?
We did a few big runs with the Saorbuga Sports Headband and here's what we thought.
Bluetooth with a twist: The Saorbuga Sports Headband does what all of the other bluetooth headphones do - it allows you to run without wires. There's a twist though - it lets you run without having to rely on earbuds remaining in your ear. The speakers sit in the headband, which cleverly sit over your ears. Not bad.
Very enjoyable running experience: Here's the most important part of this: the Saorbuga Sports Headband running experience is quite good. The headband is not as heavy as it might seem on your head. It takes a bit of time to getting used to, but once it becomes familiar, the Saorbuga Sports Headband is actually a massively enjoyable piece of running kit, with few of the distractions that come from standard headphones.
Easy Rechargeability: Yes the Saorbuga Sports Headband needs a recharge, but it only takes an hour to get it to full charge, and from full charge you can get six hours of play time, which is perfect for most runners.
Easily cleaned: While running repeatedly in with a headband would could cause some issues with accumulated sweat stench, the Saorbuga Sports Headband is easily washed without degrading the technology, as the headphones are easily removed.
Seasonality: Saorbuga is perfect for the vast majority of the Irish running calendar. But writing as we do amid the brief Irish summer, it's worth mentioning that Saorbuga is not perfectly suited to hot weather running. The headband will make your run sweatier on a hot day. But outside of the summer, the Saorbuga Sports Headband is actually brilliant as it adds a layer of warmth for years while giving your tunes without the annoyance of wires.
To sum up: if you're serious about listening to music while you run (or walk), the Saorbuga Sports Headband (or the Saorbuga Sports Beanie Hat) might be the option for you.