The beauty of running is in its simplicity: just lace up your shoes and go. Except if you’re going on a long run. Then you might need a couple of snacks… and a drink or two. Then there’s the key to get back into your house or your car. And of course, you’ll want your phone in case of emergency or to snap the perfect Instagram moment.
Suddenly you’ve got a lot of stuff and not a lot of places to store it. Hence the genius of the running belt—a waist pack that stays put and keeps everything secure, leaving your hands free to swing at your sides. But you’re going to want to find the right one so you’re not underprepared for a lengthy trail race—or over-equipped for your 5K, lugging the equivalent of Batman’s utility belt. Read on for a list of our favorites for every type of runner.
What to Look For
When choosing the best running belt for you, your primary consideration is how much you need or want to carry. If most of your training is for 5Well-Balanced on Hips, you’re likely not going to need much more than a house key and phone. If longer-distance runs are your jam, you may need more storage space for food and fluids. Some belts have removable pouches and attachments that allow you to run a more minimal setup for shorter outings and stack it up for multi-hour runs.
Once you’ve narrowed down your capacity needs, consider adjustability. The running belt should fit snugly and stay put with minimal jostling or fuss. It should have cushioned, breathable material against your skin for comfort. If you’re petite or plus size, be sure to check the dimensions to ensure a proper fit. And consider little touches you might appreciate like headphone ports to run wired earbuds if you like to run with music.
How We Selected
We rounded up a group of running belts from brands we trust and have personally used. Most models have been tested by our staff, and those that haven’t have been carefully chosen based on their value, performance, comfort, and secure fit. From the most minimalist designs to belts you could take on an adventure, there’s at least one on this list that’ll carry everything you need.
This super-low-profile pack is as minimalist as it gets. The belt is constructed from breathable, four-way stretch material for a snug, unobtrusive fit. There are two zippered pockets to keep valuables secure and two stretch pockets capable of holding two pint-sized flasks. It comes in four different sizes and multiple colors to fit runners of many shapes and styles.
- Almost unnoticeable
- No water bottle
With a weather-resistant pocket generous enough to hold a jacket, this lightweight belt is ideal for those early-morning trail runs that go from frosty to balmy in the space of an hour or two. The belt sits below the waist using a Velcro closure, where it doesn’t bob up and down or chafe, regardless of how many snacks you load it down with. A 500ml bottle nestles securely against the small of your back, where it’s easy to grab on the go without dislocating a shoulder. And inside the main pocket is a secure phone pouch—which is pretty clutch when you reach the trail summit and want to snap some #DawnPatrol pics. It fits 26- to 40-inch waists.
- Single bottle
- Carb Up: Brooks x Deschutes Ghost 14 Collab
- Key pocket and phone pocket are on the small side
When you want to take all your creature comforts out for your long runs, this is the belt for you. It holds two 6-oz. bottles and has a generous waterproof zipper pouch to hold your cellphone, a couple of gels, a credit card, and ID. There’s a separate key garage to keep your keys from scratching your electronics and a headphone cable hole on the pouch if you want to enjoy some tunes. It also has race bib toggles if you want to strap it on for the big event. The soft lightweight neoprene belt fits hips 29 to 41 inches.
- Lots of cargo space
- Narrow fit range
There’s little that’s less appealing than a big slug of hot water on a sweltering day. If most of your runs are in hot weather climates, consider an insulated hydration belt like the Nathan TrailMix, which holds two 10 oz. insulated flasks to help keep your water cool when the temperature’s high. This belt also holds a bunch of stuff, including electronics, snacks, cash, and cards. A zip pocket with a key ring keeps your keys separate and secure. It fits 26- to 42-inch waists.
- Insulated bottles
- Plenty of storage
- Some testers have reported the bottles bounce out
Go ahead and get out there. This adventure-oriented belt holds more than 40 oz. of fluid and has a large rear pouch for your phone, keys, and cards. Four outer, quick-access gel slots make it easy to get a hit of calories when you need them. It’s customizable, so you can add more fluid or storage capacity with additional accessories (not included), such as a nutrition pod and music case. The stretchy belt is one size fits most and is held in place with a quick-release buckle.
- Holds lots of water and gear
- Bottles can leak
The Switchblade lets you personalize your hydration belt experience by moving the two 12-ounce water bottles and .5L zip pouch to where you want them—or just chucking them entirely when you’d like to travel more lightly. That customizability also makes for a more secure fit and helps you better get your hands on your stuff mid-run. The pouch is big enough to hold your phone and a small snack inside; outside, it has elastic loops for carrying a few bonus gels. Be warned: Some testers of the belt have reported that their bottles leaked, which is not an issue I’ve had with this specific belt, but something I’ve experienced with a handheld Nathan bottle. In my case, the brand was quick to replace the leaky bottle, so if yours has any valve issues, just look up the brand’s generous warranty. The belt fits 26- to 44-inch waists.
- Add or remove bottles and pouches
- Good race belt
- Bottles occasionally leak
The dual-bottle setup doesn’t work for all runners. Some find the bottles bounce too much, get in the way, or cause the belt to slide down from the added weight. This single-bottle design is nice because you can tuck the solitary 17-ounce bottle up against your back, where it’s secure in its mesh elastic sleeve and less likely to dance around while you’re moving. (Our only caveat is that it can be hard to access without stopping until you master the art of dislodging it.) The bottle is both leak-proof and insulated, so it will keep your water or electrolyte drink contained and cold longer. A .5L zipper pocket is just big enough to securely store your phone. The belt fits 26- to 46-inch waists.
- Mesh band is stretchy and well-ventilated
- Insulated bottle
- Bottle is hard to reach on the go
If you don’t need to haul water with you, the FlipBelt is a smartly designed option for carrying small essentials. When not in use, it just grips your hips like an extra waistband, with no bulk or protrusion. Add your phone and a few gels to one of the three slits in the four-inch-wide fabric band, and the belt will remain just as bounce-free and comfortable, stretching to meet the needs of your cargo. In fact, you can forget you’re wearing it while running until you need some fuel—it’s that unobtrusive.
- Low profile
- Doesn't bounce
- Won’t carry water
For shorter runs that don’t require you to carry much gear or water, this minimalist women’s pack is a good option. The mesh belt is designed to hug your waist and not bounce or ride up, with an adjustable strap that’s easy to cinch into place. It comes with a 570 ml BPA-free bottle that’s shaped to sit comfortably at an angle against your midsection. The touchscreen window pocket can hold a phone, but be warned—only a mid-size or smaller phone inside a thin case will fit. The pack also has a small zipper pocket, with just enough room for keys and a gel.
- Nestles into your back
- Feels lightweight
- Phone compartment is small
This lightweight race belt makes it easy to unclip and leave off the bottles on days when you just want a little cargo space around your waist. The pouch can hold a (smaller!) phone, a gel, and keys with minimal bouncing, depending on how you adjust it. Two 10.5-ounce flasks are easy to snap in and out for mid-race refills, and have self-sealing valves that don’t leak.
- Bottles can be attached and detached easily
- Minimalist pouch
- May not fit larger phones