Growing up we had fanny packs. A handy way to carry all the things on vacation, while keeping your hands free. Turns out runners need something similar called a running belt!
Only it’s designed not to bounce, to be far more durable, carry your water, your gels and of course your smartphone in a pocket where it won’t get drenched by sweat.
Running belts for marathons or trail running come in a variety of styles. This is largely determined by how much you want to carry and how you want it to fit, then impacted by the design, materials and size.
While I tend to be partial to a running hydration pack, many runners prefer the belt because they feel like it makes them less hot or they simply like the access to different things.
It’s definitely personal preference, but there are a few things to look for:
- Consider how much you truly need to carry (no need to weigh down the belt with extras)
- Determine if you need to carry water or just items
- Look for an adjustable belt or multiple sizes to ensure it’s going to truly fit you
- Ensure the material is breathable and hopefully light weight
- Ease of access is the last, but super important piece. How quickly can you get what you need while running.
Today I’m sharing a roundup of the best running belts that are perfect for marathon runners.
Best Running Belts
With so many different options for hydration belts and things to simply carry your phone, I’ve broken them down in to different categories to help more quickly find what you need.
Any prices listed were at time of publication, sales most definitely happen!
Best Budget Running Belt
In general belts tend to be cheaper than hydration packs for running. I’m a fan of buying the thing that will fit well and last the longest, but sometimes you just need a quick fix.
**Where noted that it fits most phones this is usually not referring to an iPhone MAX, but the standard sizing.
G-Run Hydration Belt
Buy now on Amazon ($16)
With two side flasks and a front pocket that will fit your phone, this low investment hits the highlights.
- Carry up to 20 oz of water (other similar budget options only allow you to carry 12 oz of water)
- The two bottles are included
- Loop next to bottle to put a gel
- Extra slot in pouch for credit cards
- Made of neoprene, so while it’s breathable, it could be warmer than some others.
Best Trail Running Waist Pack
Trails simply require us to carry a little bit more. There’s fuel, hydration, emergency items, just in case I get lost items, extra tissues and way more fuel.
- Don’t let the slim design fool you, it packs a lot
- 17 oz collapsible flask fits in the pocket and gets smaller over the run, saving weight and space (included)
- 3D Micromesh is super breathable to keep this pack from feeling as warm on the body
- Multiple sizes means fitting waists for more accurately
- Also includes back loops to carry trekking poles if needed
Ultimate Direction Ultra Belt
Buy now on REI ($75)
- This running belt has the most water carrying capacity that I’ve seen at 33.8 oz in two collapsible flasks
- It has an additional bungee cord system for you stash a top layer
- One size with an adjustable belt
- Weather resistant keeps your phone dry in a wet run
Slightly smaller Mountain Belt won’t carry as much water, but gives you a large pack for your energy bar, phone, key, emergency essentials, etc.
Best Running Belt for Marathons
Now we’re getting in to what belt is going to make it easiest to carry water, gels, possibly different types of hydration (i.e I like having both my Gnarly nutrition and water).
This is really great for long runs or races like the Chicago marathon and few other large ones that allow belts, but not hydration packs.
Coach Stacey from our team wore this in Chicago and thought it was a great fit.
- Carries 18 oz (flask included)
- Easy to quickly grab water and replace it while running
- Compartments on side for quick access to your fuel
- May not be super comfortable with a large phone since the pocket is on your side where it curves
- Most runners have said it’s truly bounce free with the velcro closure
247 Viz 4 Bottle Belt
Buy now on Amazon ($29)
Our group Registered Dietian Serena Marie opted to wear this belt for Chicago and was also a fan. She notes it’s not the most expensive or even attractive, but it did the job.
- 4 bottle holders which can each hold up to 10 oz (included)
- Bottles only need to be squeezed for water (great if you want to give some to the pup)
- Enough storage space for your phone, just needs to be shoved in to remain tightly in place
- Rear pocket or front pocket, the belt is designed to be worn whichever direction feels best
- Belt fits waist sizes in a wide range due to how it can be tightened and worn
Best for Carrying Phones and More
When hydration isn’t the concern and you just need something to carry your stuff, there are belts for that too.
Lululemon Fast and Free Belt
Buy now at Lululemon ($38)
By virtue of being from Lulu, this is going to be one of the more stylish waist packs we runners can find.
- Lightweight and breathable lycra
- Two sizes with an adjustable belt, Unisex
- Clip for keys to double ensure they aren’t lost
- Zipper pocket for your basics like a phone
- Side drop in pocket to make gels easier to grab
Buy now on Amazon ($29)
I have indeed worn this belt for a number of half marathons. Then my husband stool it and he now wears it for races and training.
- Easily fits an iphone, plus plenty of other gels
- No worries about anything coming out of the belt
- Love that you can balance out things in front, sides and back
- Never felt it bouncing
- Different sizes
I did run in to issues with it working up my hips and then sitting around the middle of my body. Possibly I needed to find a tighter belt?
BONUS: If you want something that fits like a FlipBelt, but allows you to carry some water there is a new option. It’s called the CrosFace Universal Hydration Belt. The two flasks are included.
SpiBelt with Large Pocket
Buy now on Amazon ($25)
Tons of running friends LOVE this zippered belt, but it was never a good fit for me. The pocket being only in the front make me feel like it was bouncing or just dropping in front.
HOWEVER, I also tried it WAY back when they first came out and I know much has changed.
- Super light weight because there is so little to it.
- They also now have easy to clip on flasks, which are going to make hydration easier.
- If you place your large phone in the pouch, then place it on your low back there’s more chance of bounce free.
- Many folks like to pin their gels to the outside of the belt for easy grabbing during the race.
How to wear a running water belt?
When looking through the options above, it’s helpful to understand what you need in a belt and how it should fit.
Here’s how to wear your belt for the best experience.
- You may want to tuck your shirt in to your running shorts before putting on the belt
- Loosen the belt and place it just along your hip bones (we don’t want it higher placing pressure on the stomach or lower where it could slide down)
- Or STEP in to your snug band belt
- NOTE: I’ve seen tips to place it at your belly button, but for many that is too high to sit comfortably and again can place pressure on the stomach.
- Belt should be snug, but not so tight that it hurts or restricts movement. The goal is to prevent chafe from the belt moving up and down or side to side.
- You may find the belt fits and stays in place better when you distribute weight more evenly.
- Double check that your water bottles are closed tightly before inserting (ya I’ve gotten myself wet numerous times)
- Do a little dance to ensure it’s snug, adjust if needed
- Get running
Looking for more reviews to find the best things for your run?
Checkout our full page of my must have running gear reviews and guides to save you time searching and money! Sharing what’s worked for me and fellow runners, along with what wasn’t worth the price tag.
A few common requests:
- Best sports bras
- The Best HR monitors (from watches to straps)
- Best compression running socks
- Best sunglasses for running
Have you tested out any other wireless headphones you loved?
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