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Part of the fun with running is its minimalism. All you really need is a good pair of shoes and some athletic shorts, but, for most of us, the necessities don’t stop there. Whether it’s your phone for music and emergencies, house keys, or a water bottle, there’s usually something that needs to be carried on a run. The best running belts offer one of the most streamlined solutions by keeping your stuff secure and close throughout your run.
Running belts are pretty straightforward: They’re a form-fitting waist pack designed to store the bare essentials. The best running belts keep these necessities stationary against your waist, eliminating that annoying bounce (and risk of loss) that you get with regular shorts pockets. This means you can bring your phone, keys and wallet when hitting the trail or pavement and still feel agile.
What Are the Best Running Belts?
Because every runner is different, the best running belt depends on you. If you like short, fast runs around your house, you’ll probably want a small, streamlined belt. But, if you’re a marathoner, you might want something with more space for snacks and room for a water bottle. Below are a few things to consider when picking the best running belt for your needs.
Size: The smallest running belts are typically just a nylon-spandex tube with room to squeeze in your phone and keys. These are ideal for short-distance runners and anyone with minimal carrying needs. Bigger running belts might have a larger pocket for snacks or gel, as well as a dedicated water bottle pocket. Also, if you have a large smartphone that’s bigger than a six-inch display, be sure to choose a larger running belt.
Hydration: Carrying water can up your performance (especially on distance runs), but some runners can’t stand a heavy, sloshing water bottle. We’ve found a couple running belts with dedicated water bottles if you prefer it, although they’re not for everyone.
Closure: Most running belts feature a buckle closure. These are easy to take on and off and feature an adjustable fit, but run the risk of falling off (although that’s rare). The other type of running belt is just a spandex loop that you slip on and off, providing maximum security and a totally bounce-free fit.
1. Nathan Zipster Running Belt
The Nathan Zipster running belt does an excellent job of balancing minimalism with usable space. Because the belt is a single nylon-spandex loop, it fits snugly against your hips and stretches as you move without any bounce.
The belt features four pockets, including two large zippered pockets on the front and back, plus two flap-top pockets on the sides. These side pockets are meant to hold small things like keys or money, while the front and back zippered pockets are designed for smartphones (although extra-large phones may be tight). The zippers are great, as you can quickly take out your phone to change music, check directions, send texts and so on.
2. lululemon Fast and Free Run Belt
If you’re all about being as lightweight as possible, check out this running belt from lululemon. It’s super streamlined with a small, zippered smartphone pouch on the back and two drop-in pockets on the sides (one of which features a hook for keys). The back of the belt (where the pockets are located) is made of lululemon’s soft, sweat-wicking Ultralu fabric for a comfortable, premium feel. On the front, you’ll find an adjustable buckle closure waistband. Overall, the belt is high-quality and stays well out of the way, although the smartphone pocket is on the small side.
The FlipBelt is another very streamlined option for runners looking to stash a few essentials. Instead of several pockets, the whole belt is actually one tube pocket with multiple slits for access. This design provides a surprising amount of storage space for such a small belt and keeps things secure no matter how much stuff you’ve got. It’s also very comfortable with a soft, stretchy spandex-lycra fabric and no buckles, zippers or hardware. Just be sure to consult the sizing chart for the right fit as the belt isn’t adjustable.
4. SPIbelt Large Pocket Running Belt
This SPIbelt has been a best-seller since its release back in 2007 and has gotten even better over the years with adaptations such as a bigger pocket for growing smartphones. The SPI’s design is very simple. It’s just an expandable, low-profile main pocket and a comfortable buckle closure waistband. This main pocket is quite clever, as the stretchiness allows it to keep any amount of personal items secure (I.e. no bouncing keys when you’re traveling light). The strap is fully adjustable to accommodate most waist sizes, and the belt comes in a range of colors to fit your workout style.
5. CamelBak Flash Belt
If you need a water bottle for longer runs or hot days, go with this Flash Belt from Camelbak. As expected from the California brand, the high-quality Flash running belt is suitable for intense runs or hikes. In the rear, you’ll find a 17-ounce water bottle stashed in a dedicated pocket, as well as a secondary compartment for your phone, keys, wallet and snacks. The inside of this rear pocket is made of a ventilated mesh for breathability and comfort, while the front buckle waistband is fully adjustable for a secure fit.
6. Fitletic Hydra Hydration Belt
For serious distance runs, we recommend this Hydra belt from Fitletic. It boasts two eight-ounce water bottles with dedicated holsters (so, 16 ounces of water total) as well as a pouch for your phone, wallet and keys. The belt can be worn on the front or back, and even has integrated bib toggles for race day. The water bottles are very easy to access, ensuring no lost time when you take a sip. The elastic waistband is adjustable for a snug, chafe-free fit, and the whole belt stays nice and still for a bounce-free run.