A running belt is worn around the waist while running or walking and keeps your phone, keys, and other valuables safe and secure.
Whether you are a runner or just enjoy long, vigorous walks as a way to stay in shape, a running belt is a must-have piece of gear. Travelers, too, will find the running belt a smart way to secure their passport, cash, phone, and other important items from the ever-present hands of the pickpocket.
We’ve surveyed the market, put scores of belts from different manufacturers to the test, and compiled the following list of the 10 best running belts for 2023.
1. Dimok Running Belt Waist Pack
Some folks want to take the phone, a snack or two, corded headphones, and more with them when they run. If that sounds like you, the Dimok running belt should be on your shopping list. This mid-sized highly-functional belt never projects a bulky appearance and protects your valuables even in a pouring rain.
What we like: We appreciate the waterproof nature of the belt, the fact that it will adjust from 28 to 49 inches and that it’s machine washable. We also like that, although it’s pretty wide, it keeps everything in tight to your body. Also, we need to acknowledge the very agreeable price.
Flaws: The neoprene may irritate some people’s skin. The zipper on the pull cord also tends to flop around while running.
2. FlipBelt Level Terrain Zipper Edition Running Belt
The FlipBelt Level Terrain is an ultra-discreet running belt that effectively secures your phone and other essential items while you’re running or walking. The zippers are practically invisible, and the belt is available in 5 sizes ranging from 18 to 38 inches. It’s comfortable, ingenious, and comes in numerous lively colors.
What we like: We were struck immediately by the clean lines and trim profile of this running belt. It’s light, comfortable, has a reflective logo for safety, and can be washed in the machine. We also like that it tends to discourage sweaty buildup underneath and that it will adjust out to accommodate up to a 49″ waist.
Flaws: If you’re curvy, it’s probably going to ride up a bit as you walk or run. Also, it’s not big enough to handle some of the larger smartphones.
3. SPIbelt Running Belt
The SPIbelt Running Belt is a minimalist belt designed to hold your phone, keys, a couple of cards and a few dollars. It’s a good choice for people who don’t need to take the apartment with them when they go out for a jog. And it’s available in dozens of color combinations.
What we like: It will accommodate all but the largest smartphones. It adjusts to fit up to a 48-inch waist and is reasonably water-resistant, including the zipper. Even full, it still manages to keep everything close in to the body and under control. It won’t win any fashion awards, but it works like a charm.
Flaws: This might be too big to be practical for some people. Also, it would be nice if the zipper locked instead of flopping around.
4. Urpower Running Belt with Water Bottle
Urpower is for those who like to be prepared for anything when they’re out and about. Fortunately, there’s plenty of padding on the belt to make sure the load you’re carrying (including water) won’t wear on your waist and hips.
What we like: We like how comfortable the belt is, in spite of its size. Being able to have water at the ready is also a big plus. The belt also manages to stay pretty cool even on hot days. And it won’t irritate most people’s skin. It’s light, accommodates small or large waists, and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
Flaws: As we said this is a large belt. If both water bottles are filled, you aren’t going to get much running done. It’s ideal, though, for those who enjoy long, energetic walks.
5. Nathan 5K Running Belt Waist Pack
While researching this list, we really took a shine to Nathan running belts. The company obviously puts a lot into the design of each belt, and each is built to exacting tolerances. The 5K is svelte, practical, and affordable while also being handsome and effective.
What we like: We like the design. Nathan makes some of the best looking running belts out there. We also like that it will accommodate most recent smartphone models. Another big plus is the reflective patches, which increase safety when running or walking on the road. It’s also adjustable out to 44 inches.
Flaws: The Nathan ‘guarantee’ is really more of a promise that they’ll listen to your complaints. Also, you’re likely to hear the two zippers clinking around as you run.
6. Sport2People Running Pouch Belt
The Sport2People Running Pouch Belt provides two pockets for your valuables. One is (primarily) for your phone. While the other is intended to store your credit cards, keys, and other smaller items. Keeping things separate in this way prevents your phone from getting scratched by other objects while you run.
What we like: We like that the belt allows you to take everything but the kitchen sink. We appreciate the build quality and that it keeps everything pretty much under control. The slot for the earphone cord is a nice touch since Bluetooth isn’t for everyone. And it has an affordable price point.
Flaws: The belt can get a bit irritating if it contacts bare skin while running or walking. It also has an aggressively practical design that won’t appeal to some.
7. Nathan 7702 Zipster
We had to dip into the Nathan well one more time because they get it when it comes to running belt design. The Zipster looks like a big bulky nightmare, but it’s actually a runner’s dream. Why? Because it provides lots of storage space and keeps everything under tight control when you run.
What we like: We love how wide and stable this running belt is. We also appreciate that it doesn’t chafe your skin. There are lots of pockets for peripherals, and everything is kept entirely in check when you run. No banging or clanging around. Unlike some belts, it’s also available in several attractive colors.
Flaws: Larger smartphones are going to be a tight fit. And while we love the wide, stable character of this belt, others may find it too wide.
8. Fitletic Running Belt
The Fitletic is a quality belt that rides the line between a hardcore minimalist belt for triathletes, and a large, stylish belt for casual joggers and weekend walkers. But that’s okay because it will make members of both groups equally happy.
What we like: We like the compact size and waterproof nature of this belt. Yet, despite that trim profile, it still manages to accommodate most recent smartphone models. The belt itself is light and comfortable and has external loops to hold energy gel packets. Which means they’re aiming this squarely at the competitive runner market.
Flaws: If you fill it to capacity, it’s going to be quite a load around your waist. And most people will probably find the gel loops to be a bit unnecessary.
9. Ultraspire Fitted Race Belt
We have to admit we weren’t crazy about the look of this belt. But it wound up on our list because we couldn’t deny its quality and practicality. It’s large enough to accommodate your phone, keys, cards, snacks, and more but never looks bulky even when filled to capacity. The marketing photos don’t do it justice.
What we like: We like that it keeps everything well under control when you run. We also appreciate that it’s available in various sizes rather than one-size-fits-all like many other belts. Gives it more of a tailored feel. The belt also distributes weight effectively and doesn’t get all sweaty.
Flaws: Lashing things through the exterior loops gives it a low-rent look. And you’re not going to get a big cell phone in here.
10. New Balance Performance Waist Pack
The last of our best running belts comes to us from New Balance. This is the simplest of the belts on our list and is designed to provide you a large pocket where you can put whatever you decide you need. That pocket, and the belt it’s attached to, is well made and water-resistant. And did we mention it’s large? Because it is.
What we like: This is a belt designed with practicality in mind. It’s basically a big storage pouch that’s durable, water-resistant, and colorful. It’s an excellent choice to take on long walks or hikes. And the multiple pockets mean you can isolate your phone from your keys and prevent scratches.
Flaws: If you start running with it, it’s going to flop around some. So it’s best for walks and when traveling.
Who Needs A Running Belt?
Anyone who is into running, whether as a means of exercise or as a professional calling, should have a running belt. A good running belt buys you the freedom to concentrate on your running. Of course, you could opt to strap your phone to your arm and hold your water bottle in your hand. But why bother? A good running belt frees up your hands so you can run with a more natural stride. And it ensures that, even if you get caught in a downpour, your phone will emerge unscathed. Something no armband can promise.
But running belts have found life away from the track as well. Lots of people use them instead of a wallet or purse when they’re out running errands. They are very handy on camping and hiking trips as a place you can keep snacks, a tactical flashlight, and other tech at the ready. And when it comes to traveling, they provide rock-solid security against pickpockets. So who needs a running belt? Anyone with an active lifestyle.
How We Ranked
Running belts come in such a dizzying array of styles that figuring out how to judge them can seem a daunting task. But it’s not as complicated as it seems if you reduce it to the fundamentals. Those fundamentals are comfort, durability, functionality, and price.
So any running belt that made our list had to pass the comfort test. And pass it with several different people with different body types as well. There shouldn’t be any significant chafing or irritation caused by the material when it contacts bare skin. (As it’s likely to do during the course of a run.) And while it’s to be expected that the belt will shift position at least a bit during a run or long walk, it shouldn’t ride up in a way that causes discomfort.
As far as durability is concerned, we want to see tight, solid stitching throughout. That includes all seams and connections. We chose belts fashioned from lightweight but durable materials like lycra, Spandex, and ripstop nylon. All zippers had to work smoothly and reliably and if they locked in place, even better. And every running belt that made our list was at the very least water-resistant. With several being fully waterproof. Reliably waterproof.
As for functionality, our goal was to provide a variety of options that represented the best examples of different approaches to running belt design. So some put a premium on hugging the body and keeping everything in close. Others emphasize the need for hydration and include custom-designed water bottles that slide into customized sleeves. These help distribute the weight and keep the bottles out of your way. Still others put a premium on storage space because some folks want to take a deck of cards and a half dozen moist towelettes with them along with their phone, pedometer, and power bars.
Finally, because most of the best running belts cost less than $50, price was not a major consideration. That said, if two running belts shared similar characteristics and quality and one cost less than the other, we went with the less expensive model.
Q: What is a running belt?
A: A running belt is not a belt in the traditional sense. That is, it’s not intended to hold up your pants while you run. Instead, it wraps around your waist and provides storage for things you’ll need during your walk, run, hike, or even your stroll through the Piazza Venezia during your European vacation. The primary function of the contemporary running belt is to provide a safe, secure place for your mobile phone and keys. That safe, secure place should also be waterproof. Just in case you get caught in the rain. Anything else the belt provides is just gravy.
Q: Who uses a running belt?
A: Anyone with an active lifestyle that involves interacting with the larger world will find use for a running belt. Certainly, leading off the list would be runners. But older folks who get a great deal of their exercise walking will also find plenty of reasons to have a good running belt. And if you’re the type who believes in giving back by participating in charity walks and such, then you’re going to find a running belt will allow you to stay on course and maximize your miles and contributions. In addition, you’ll often see them on skateboarders, hikers, people attending sporting events who don’t want to take a wallet or a purse into a crowd and others.
Q: Why can’t I just put stuff in my pockets when I run?
A: Shoving things into your pockets while you run just isn’t going to work. People tried it for decades and the results were so unsatisfying that it led to the invention of the running belt. Power bars in your pocket will likely melt, while your keys scratch the face of your smartphone or dig into your leg. Also, having things clanging around in your pockets while you’re trying to run is like wearing an anchor. Join the 21st century. Get a running belt.
Q: Can I safely put my phone in a running belt?
A: You can if you choose one of the running belts on our list. They’ve all passed muster as being either water-resistant or waterproof (1). Water is the sworn enemy of the smartphone. It doesn’t take much more than a few drops infiltrating the inside of the phone for it to become useless. If you have any questions about whether a particular running belt is waterproof or not, just look at the material. If it’s fashioned from neoprene, then it’s waterproof. Neoprene is the same thing they use to make scuba diving suits. Also, if you’re concerned that all the shaking your phone will endure while you run is going to damage it, don’t worry. Because there are no moving parts in a smartphone, shaking doesn’t bother them.
Q: What do you carry in a running belt besides a phone?
A: Anything that you want that will fit. Some running belts allow for a smartphone and keys, along with a card or two, and that’s about it. Others, however, are large enough to accommodate snacks, other tech, a phone charger, tactical flashlight, EDC knife, gel packs, and more. So what you take with you on your run or walk will be entirely up to you. If you are traveling soon, remember a running belt is a good place to hold your passport, cash, credit cards, hotel key, and more.
Q: Is it safe to store credit cards in a running belt?
A: Yes, it is safe to store your credit cards in most running belts. Credit cards are not like smartphones. A few drops of water can’t destroy them. In fact, they can’t be destroyed by a lot of water (2). The primary concerns when it comes to storing your credit cards in a running belt are whether the belt has a dedicated pocket for the cards and whether that pocket zips up securely. That’s particularly important if you plan to use the belt when traveling. Or if you plan to wear it to a sporting event in lieu of a wallet. If you have reason to be extra concerned about the safety of your cards, you can always turn the belt around and wear it facing inward toward your belly. That will make it very difficult for anyone to open.
Q: Do all running belts let you carry water?
A: No, not all running belts are designed to hold water bottles or a water bladder. Some are. But to carry water, the belt needs to be larger, bulkier, and heavier than a standard phone-and-keys-only belt. As such, they’re not for everyone. The good news, however, is that if you want a belt that holds water, there are quite a few out there. Some have specially designed water bottles fully integrated into the design of the belt. These make it easy to carry water without it interfering with your natural stride. The belts themselves are also padded to absorb the added weight of the water.
Q: Do running belts stay in place while a person runs?
A: The better running belts do an admirable job staying in place while you run. Most belts made of spandex or other flexible fabrics are particularly good at staying where you want them to stay. That said, if you have stuffed the belt to capacity it’s bound to bounce around as you run and may wind up riding up your midsection as a result. That is especially true if the belt strap itself is thin. For the most part though, the belts on our list all stay more or less in place throughout your run, walk, or hike.
Q: How long will a running belt last?
A: A running belt will potentially last for years if you take good care of it. The simplicity of the belt is one of the keys to this longevity. After all, the only moving parts are the zipper and belt adjusters. And some running belts don’t even have those. So these are hardly high tech devices. The key to making them last is to wear them snugly against your body so that they don’t flop around. And wash them once in a while so they don’t get moldy.
Q: Can I put my running belt in the washing machine?
A: In many cases, yes. But in cases where the material has been treated to repel water, it may be inadvisable to put it in the machine. The smart thing to do is to read the care instructions that come with the belt and clean it as directed.
Running belts are must-have items for anyone with an active lifestyle. They allow you to carry your phone with you wherever you go with absolute safety and security. And they provide a reliable way to transport credit cards, keys, your passport, and other important items as well.
Today’s best running belts are made of lightweight, durable materials that are water-resistant or waterproof and will stand the test of time. And they’re available in a mind-boggling array of styles and colors. So there’s one that’s bound to tickle your fashion fancy.
All of the running belts on our list have withstood critical appraisal and demonstrated their quality, value, and practicality. You’re sure to find one that will dovetail with your particular needs.
For cpoe.org’s #1 recommended running belt, click here.