Okay, so: you've planned your route, grabbed your keys, chosen the perfect playlist and have all your essentials ready to go for a quality afternoon run. There's just one problem, though — how are you going to carry all your must-haves?
If you're lucky, your running shorts will feature pockets, but these can leave your phone, wallet and other items jostling freely with each stride. You could wear a running vest that also gives you room for hydration, but these vessels may be overkill for a jaunt that takes you just around the neighborhood.
For those daily jogs or exercise sessions where your gear list is minimal, running belts can be an excellent luggage-carrying option. Designed for around-the-waist wear and providing small yet effective pockets, these packs can provide more than enough storage capacity to fit your phone, wallet, keys and other small essentials. But which running belt boasts the best qualities? As is the case with most running gear, it all comes down to your training goals and needs.
BEST OVERALL RUNNING BELTInov-8 Race Elite Waist Read More
BEST UPGRADE RUNNING BELTNaked Running Band Read More
BEST BUDGET RUNNING BELTDecathlon Kalenji Adjustable Running Belt Read More
BEST MINI RUNNING BELTSPIbelt Running Belt Read More
BEST TUBE-STYLE RUNNING BELTSalomon Pulse Read More
How We Tested
As an athlete that normally runs in un-pocketed bottoms, I've become quite the connoisseur of running belts over my training career. Like my running shoe rotation, I often keep a handful of silhouettes, including a handful selected for this roundup, at the ready depending on my training needs in a given day. Each pick was chosen based on quality of materials and fit, as well as their storage capacities, unique features and more.
Plus, while most running belts offer some level of adjustability, I looked at how easily said adjustments were made across the varying strap styles. Bonus points were awarded for belt profiles offering sleek aesthetics and varying colorways, too ... because what's a running accessory if it doesn't accentuate your wardrobe?
Inov-8 Race Elite Waist
Durable, lightweight and offering plenty of storage capacity, this Race Elite Waist profile from Inov-8 has become my go-to companion for a majority of my miles. The 3-liter central pocket gives enough space for my wallet, phone and keys, and I’m easily capable of keeping a packable running jacket in-tote, too, just in case there’s some oncoming precipitation in the forecast. I also appreciate how simple the strap system is to adjust, finding no issues in extending or shortening the waist length.
The bungee compression straps also keep your essentials tucked into the pocket itself, which helps limit jostling as you pace through your daily jogs, and there’s even a 0.5-liter flask pocket to keep your hydration source close by. Admittedly, I’m hesitant at times to stow my water bottle sideways for fear of unexpected leaking, but if you can get over this hurdle, this is one belt worth adding to your rotation.
Naked Running Band
Want a sleek design that doesn’t leave you fussing with clasps or hook-and-loop bands? The Naked Running Band can be an excellent pick thanks to its expansive size range and plethora of reachable pockets. I also admire the two bungee toggles at the front of this silhouette, which can make for easy attachment points for race bibs. Plus, this belt also features an internal key clip for that added sense of security.
The Naked Running Bib’s tube-style design sits comfortably across the waist, but some athletes may find the taller cut of this wearable a little too much for comfort. Depending on where you wear the belt across your abdomen, the top could begin to scrunch up during movement, leading to bunched fabric and an overall uncomfortable fit. This can be altered, though, with the routine readjustment mid-training — so take this note as a subjective callout, if anything.
Decathlon Kalenji Adjustable Running Belt
Minimalism is definitely the theme of this sleek running belt from Decathlon. I appreciate the subtlety of the Kalenji Adjustable Running Belt, as it allows just enough room for my smartphone, keys and a few bills of cash. This is more of a mental perk for me, as it eliminates the temptation to try and tote unnecessary gear along for a given session. Plus, the central phone pocket is stretchy enough to fit most silhouettes, so you shouldn’t worry about fitting your massive device, either.
The only thing I caution, however, is to ensure you’re paying attention to your zipper when opening and closing this running belt. Due to the centralized opening across the main pocket, there’s not a ton of shelf to the pouch, meaning if you’re zippering the compartment open without giving it your full attention pre- or post-run, your smartphone and other essentials could be in for a swift tumble to the concrete.
SPIbelt Running Belt
Sharing a similar aesthetic with the Decathlon pick above, I really enjoy running with this sleek offering from SPIbelt thanks to its simple storage capabilities and varied hues. I’ve owned multiple SPIbelts in the past and always admired how vibrant the colorways were across the lineup, with the hi-vis reflective option being my personal favorite for nighttime running excursions.
Naturally, though, the miniature makeup of this running belt limits its storage capacity, so don’t expect to pack everything and the kitchen sink in its simple yet stretchy compartment. Plus, despite the brand’s “bounce-free” claims, you can expect the pouch to jostle mid-training if weighed down with a heavy smartphone and other essentials. I often keep my device and a small flashlight in-tote on evening runs, for example, and can easily feel the pouch bouncing across my waist through strides. As a tip, though, you can alleviate some of this bounce by tucking a portion of the belt into your short’s waistband, albeit while compromising some comfort.
Thanks to its stretchy makeup, the Pulse running belt from Salomon can be a great pick for those wanting to keep their items as close to their person as possible. There’s enough storage capacity to keep your small must-haves in-tote, and the zippered entry across the front allows for easy access without having to slide the belt around your midsection mid-training.
In testing, I found the Pulse to be simple and efficient, but I would recommend loading your belt down with essentials after you’ve secured it in-place around your waist. Getting into the tubed structure was a little snug at times, which called for stretching the profile out around my hips to achieve that perfect setting. This was quite the uncomfortable experience when my keys, cards and smartphone were already nestled into their respective pockets. This is also a testament to ordering the correct size at initial purchase, unless you want a constant imprint of your running accessories around your midriff.
Nathan Peak Hydration Waist Pack
When carrying hydration across my waist, I often prefer a hard-flask vessel thanks to its easier grip and handling when on the road. For toting this particular water bottle design, it’s hard to overlook the Peak Hydration Waist Pack from Nathan. The included Speed Draw Flask provides 18 ounces of hydration possibilities, and I also appreciate the flat makeup of the bottle which helps it sit comfortably across the small of my back.
Unfortunately, though, this running belt doesn’t feature as much storage capacity as other waist pack-style totes in this roundup. The main zippered compartment only has enough room for a smartphone and maybe a thin wallet. While you can strap a running jacket or cap to the adjustable bungee cord, this could lead to your gear smacking against your frame through your gait. If you’re just looking to carry the bare essentials along with a quick source of hydration, consider this belt, but for added storage, you may want to consider a well-to-do hydration vest (which Nathan does quite well, too).
Ultimate Direction Ultra Belt
If you’re more of the soft flask fan, then this running belt is right up your alley. Capable of housing two (yes, two) 500-milliliter flasks, the Ultra Belt can be perfect for those wanting thirst-quenching hydration as they tackle their weekly mileage goals. I also appreciate the fit of this waist pack as it evenly distributes the weight of the flasks and stored gear without any errant bouncing or jostling.
Speaking of gear, the Ultimate Direction Ultra Belt includes a weather resistant zip-secure rear pocket at the center of the pouch, as well as a small key pocket along the hook-and-loop belt. While I appreciate the brand’s idea of convenience with this small key compartment, admittedly, it’s a little shallow and thin. This can make for some annoying fuss if trying to retrieve your house key from the side of your midsection, and plus, if you normally keep your car keys and house key on the same ring, the pocket’s rendered useless.
Lululemon Fast and Free Running Belt
Thanks to the brand’s signature aesthetic and reflective logos, this sleek running belt is perfect for setting off that can’t-miss running wardrobe. The available hues should be able to fit most personalities, and I also appreciate how comfortable the Nulux fabric sits across the skin. Let’s face it, though, if you’re running with the Fast and Free Running Belt, odds are that it’s a forward-facing accessory that’s never covered by a lengthier outer layer.
This Lululemon running belt also features some approachable size options with clear measurements to help you find that ideal fit. Just note, though, that the polyester strap system is heavier than others in this guide. While the added weight could be meaningless for slower-paced jaunts, it can begin to weigh down your aesthetic at longer distances, leading to some potential discomfort and readjustments.
Camelbak Ultra Belt
Simple and to the point, the Ultra Belt can be great for runners that only tote the bare essentials. Despite the minimalist aesthetic, this running belt also comes equipped with a soft flask that forms to your body during wear while also limiting mid-stride jostling. I also appreciate the breathable mesh composition of this Camelbak offering, which makes for a breathable, cooling fit ideal for summertime jogs. Plus, if you pair the mesh with a flask filled with cold water, you’re more than ready to tackle mileage under the scorching sun.
As with other hydration-minded belts, however, what you gain in water capacity, you lose in storage capabilities. The Ultra Belt only features a small zippered compartment for heavier items and two stretch side pockets for gels and smaller gear. While your capable of getting the necessary items packed into place, and extra equipment is not coming along for the ride.
Ultimate Direction Mountain Belt
Now this is a running belt that can handle your gear requirements. Thanks to its vast 2.4-liter capacity, the Mountain Belt from Ultimate Direction can easily store your essentials and more. I’ve carried my phone, wallet, keys, running jacket, running cap and sunglasses in the main compartment at once, and still have some room left over for a handy protein bar or gel pack. Plus, the bungee cord across the exterior helps minimize bounce along the hefty pouch, making this a go-to of mine for longer trail runs, too.
Naturally, though, just because you can pack a closet’s worth of running gear into this impressive pack doesn’t mean that every session will call for its fill. After all, the more equipment you carry into a workout, the more weight you’ll need to work with en route to the finish line. If you’re not ready to sign up for weighted training just yet, consider another option (or, you know, pack lightly).
Types of Running Belts to Know
As the smallest style of running belt available, these profiles often showcase a small, stretchy compartment designed for just the essentials like your phone and wallet. Mini belts often include a clasped band that's adjustable for varying waist sizes, making them an exceptional option for beginners, too.
For a more ultralight aesthetic, tube-style belts showcase a singular banded profile that's built according to size. The result is a snug fit that's stretchy enough for comfortable wear yet still provides enough storage compartments for small items. This can be a great option for athletes that want to limit bounce during runs, as stored essentials often have less room to jostle throughout your strides.
Waist packs are the largest running belt style and can come equipped with hydration features, bungee cords and other components. Designed for maximum gear storage, these silhouettes also often employ a clasped belt structure with room for adjustability. Given the larger capacities, though, these running belts can feel heavier during wear than other, smaller profiles.
What to Consider When Choosing a Running Belt
Fit and Adjustability
Naturally, a running belt should fit comfortably when worn across the hips. Not only can this help ensure it stays in place as you move, but limits the chances of errant rubbing or chafing. While some running belts feature a universal, one-size-fits-all construction, others come in varied diameters, so be sure to pay attention to the brand's specific chart upon purchase.
If you opt for a mini or waist pack silhouette, you'll also want to consider how much slack is present across the adjustable straps. Too much can lead to some dangling textiles and lead to distracted pacing, while too little may leave your accessory snug against your frame. This is also important to consider if you favor wearing your belt over a layer of clothing.
Your running belt should be able to house your required items, but it's important to realize that your gear list should be realistic. Don't expect to carry all your items around your waist — that's simply asking too much of any running belt. Think about which items are must-haves for every run and lay them out side-by-side to gather a visual of how much space you'll need in your chosen silhouette. Plus, hold all your running essentials in-hand to get a feel for the weight. This can help you decide on whether a single, centered pouch is efficient enough for your training, or you'd rather that density be dispersed across your hips through multiple compartments.
The final thing to consider when choosing a running belt is how snug your gear stays across your frame during running. Profiles that turn into a hefty sack can lead to some bounce while in motion, which can quickly turn annoying at long distances. Plus, the last thing you want to feel mid-run is your keys continually stabbing the small of your back.
To help alleviate this jostling conundrum, look for running belts that feature secure pocket builds that don't allow for errant swaying mid-motion. Tube-style belts are the best for keeping items locked into place, but can be limited in terms of capacity. Large waist packs can still be bounce-free if not loaded down with ample equipment, but the added mass is bound to build inertia at some point during your workout. In the end, it's up to your personal taste and how much you're willing to stomach under certain conditions. For example, I don't mind a few bounces from a waist pack if I know I'm well-equipped for a longer route or incoming weather.