Best Running Belts

Updated August 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
Bottom Line
Pros
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

18 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
255 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best running belts

Last Updated August 2019

When you’re trying for a new personal best, pockets full of gear are the last thing you need weighing you down when you run. Still, carrying some personal items is nonnegotiable whether you’re running a mile or a marathon. You need your keys, your phone, and maybe even a gel pack or two for a long-distance run. But no one runs well with metal jabbing them in the leg. You need another solution. You need a running belt.

Running belts are fabric pouches that hold your valuables securely on your torso while you run. A far cry from fanny packs, running belts are sleeker with a lower profile. Some are larger than others, but most are designed to hold small essentials like keys, ID, credit card, and possibly a   smartphone.

But the belt that suits distance runners best might not work for weekend warriors. Keep reading to learn more about your options, and before you buy, check our recommendations for the best running belts on the market.  

Belts that fit more tightly are less likely to jiggle, bounce, or slide when you run.

Key considerations

When choosing a running belt, it’s important to decide whether you want one that’s a fixed size or adjustable.

Fixed size

Belts that are one size offer users many advantages. You pull one on like a pair of pants, so there are no bulky clasps to snag your clothes or chafe your skin. You can choose to wear it at your waist, hips, or anywhere in between that feels right. These belts tend to lie flat against the body, with little to no bouncing. And these slim-fitting belts look sleek and stylish.

But as the name implies, fixed-size belts aren’t adjustable. That’s fine if you’re an occasional runner or maintaining your body size. But if you’re jogging as part of a weight-loss program, you might need to buy a smaller belt at some point. Likewise, if you gain weight, you might need a new belt or need to wear it on a different part of your torso. Keep your fitness goals in mind when making a decision.

Adjustable

Many belts can be adjusted to fit a variety of waist, hip, and torso sizes. This feature is attractive if you’re running to lose weight because you won’t need to buy a new belt when you go down a size. But adjustable belts do have buckles that can irritate skin or snag clothing. They tend to be a bit bulkier, too, so one is more likely to bounce as you run than a fixed-size belt. Adjustable running belts are more economical but less ergonomic.

EXPERT TIP

A running belt with race bib toggles means you don’t need to poke pinholes in your shirt.


Staff  | BestReviews

Running belt features

Once you decide on the basic type of belt, you can make some choices about the other features that will make a difference for your run.

Pockets

Poorly sized or organized pockets can make it hard to find your essentials. Even worse, valuables could fall out while you’re fumbling for your keys. Look for a belt with a number of pockets in various sizes so you can keep everything well organized and safe.

Smartphone pocket: Aside from keys, your smartphone is probably the take-along item that matters most, and phones are growing in size as well as capabilities. If you want a belt that will fit your phone, keep in mind that you’re committing to a broader belt. Check carefully before buying, and be sure to include in your measurements any phone covers or cases you’ll be using.  

Headphone-ready

Music is a must for many runners. But it’s risky to leave a zipper open for headphone wires  because you could lose your keys or drop your phone. Instead, look for a running belt equipped with a hole or adapter for your earbud wires. 

Water resistance

Belts that hold electronic key fobs and phones must offer some protection from water. Waterproof belts are hard to find, but a number offer pouches and pockets with significant water resistance. Look for belts that can stand up to water if you live in a rainy climate, if you regularly encounter sprinklers on your jogging route, if you’re a trail runner who’s likely to encounter puddles and mud, or if you sweat a lot.

Safety

Visibility to traffic is always a concern when running in the early morning or late evening. Experts recommend wearing reflective clothing on your jog so oncoming vehicles can see you coming. Choosing a running belt with reflective patches or lettering can help keep you safe and keep you from wasting precious time searching for something reflective if your run gets postponed until after dark

Value-added features

A few other features can help improve your security and your experience while you run.

Key security: Many belts include a key hook or specially designed pocket that reduces your chances of losing your keys when you open your pouch.

Water: Some belts include small water bottles to help keep you hydrated without weighing you down with a full-size bottle.

Energy gel: Distance runners should look for a belt designed to hold energy gel packs.

Some running belts can also be used as shoulder bags.

Running belt prices

Inexpensive: You can find a budget running belt of reasonable quality for $10 to $15. In this price range the belts are adjustable, featuring a long strap that holds a zippered pocket. This pocket should offer some water resistance and be large enough to hold the basics like keys and phone. Most of these belts fasten with a buckle.

Mid-range: Running belts that are a little higher in quality cost $15 to $20. Most of these belts are adjustable, and many include longer pouches that are more thoughtfully segmented to hold your keys, phone, snacks, and other personal items. Some have value-added features like key hooks or miniature water bottles.

Expensive: Expect to pay $25 to $35 for a high-end running belt. Belts that cost this much can be either fixed or adjustable. They have significant internal storage space with multiple access points for your keys, phone, and other items. Belts and fasteners alike are more comfortable, with no bouncing or slipping as you run. They may also have value-added features that make taking your belongings on your run more convenient. 

EXPERT TIP

Storing a water bottle in your running belt can limit the space you have available for a smartphone.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Go for comfort. Stowing several small water bottles in your running belt might be more comfortable than carrying a single large bottle.
  • Waterproof the belt. Consider treating the belt with a waterproofing spray to add an extra layer of protection.
  • Make sure the belt’s storage compartments are large enough for your gear. If you run outdoors and carry an EpiPen for allergies or other special items, make sure your running belt has a compartment large enough to hold it.
  • Take your running belt when you travel. Low-profile running belts can pull double duty as money belts when you’re traveling.

Other products we considered

If you’re looking for a fixed-size belt with easy access, take a look at Nathan’s The Hipster Running Belt. Unlike other popular stretchy belts, the Hipster features separate storage compartments with individual, easy-access zippers, so it’s more convenient if you need to use your belongings while running. It comes in lots of colors, too. Serious runners can go the distance with the Fitletic Ultimate Belt I. This adjustable belt has a patented bounce-free design, a water-resistant neoprene pouch for keys and phone, and loops for up to six energy gel packs.  Race bib toggles are a thoughtful addition that make this belt an ideal choice for marathons, triathlons, and trail races.

Tuck your shirt into your pants or shorts before putting on your belt so you don’t have to pull up your shirt to reach your gear.

FAQ

Q. How do I wash a running belt?
A.
Your belt is bound to collect some sweat, so periodic cleaning is a good idea. The good news is that many running belts are made from the same materials as athletic wear and are machine washable. If you have a machine with an agitator, consider washing your belt in a lingerie bag to keep the straps from getting caught. Be sure to check the washing instructions that come with your belt because a handful of belts have zippers and inserts that require gentler care. 

Q. Are running belts with water bottles worth it?
A.
Water bottles are a mixed bag. Runners need the water but hate the extra weight and bulk of carrying bottles. Manufacturers feel your pain and are trying to find ways to balance runners’ needs. While a few offer water-bottle attachments for an additional price, many achieve this by creating special miniature or slender water bottles that fit in your belt. These specialized water bottles aren’t going to fully satisfy your thirst, but they might be enough to get you through. Generally, you should drink four to six ounces for every 20 minutes of running. If your pace is faster than 8 minutes per mile, increase the amount by a few ounces.

Q. How can I keep my running belt from riding up or sliding?
A.
Many manufacturers boast that their running belts don’t jiggle, slide, or bounce. But the truth is that many do, or else the companies wouldn’t feel the need to differentiate their products with the claim. Different belts are a better fit for different bodies. If the one you order ends up sliding, try wearing it at a slightly different point on your body. Some runners add small lead weights to their belt’s pockets if the belt tends to move. Weights can keep your belt in place and increase your calorie burn.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Kristin
    Kristin
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Moriah
    Moriah
    Writer

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