A running belt is worn around the waist while running or walking and is designed to keep your phone, keys and other valuables safe and secure.
If you are a runner of any skill level or just enjoy long vigorous walks as a way to stay in shape a running belt is a must-have piece of kit. 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 of 2020.
1. Dimok Running Belt Waist Pack
Some folks are not content to just take a smartwatch and keys with them when they run. They want to take the phone, a snack or two, corded headphones and more. 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 important 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 into 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
Most running belts assume you don’t want to carry much more than your phone and your keys with you when you run. 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
During the course of 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 items 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 utilitarian design that won’t appeal to some.
7. Nathan 7702 Zipster
We had to dip into the Nathan well one more time because they really 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 fully 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. One that rides the line between a hardcore minimalist belt for trialthletes and a spacious 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, in spite of 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 superfluous.
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 a good 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 taking on walks and when traveling.
Who Needs a Running Belt?
As the name implies 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 there are some that 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 can be had for less than $50, price was not a major consideration. That said, if there were two running belts that shared similar characteristics and quality and one cost less than the other we went with the less expensive model.
Running belts enable you to explore your limits. If you head out with just your shorts, T-shirt and shoes you’ll need to stop when you get thirsty or hungry or want to check your heart rate. A running belt will let you carry snacks, water, gels (1) and of course your smartphone. That means you can keep running no matter if you’re thirsty or hungry. And if you have a heart rate monitor (2) you can link it to your phone. This way you always have real time information about your heart’s condition while you’re running. No more stopping to take your pulse. The end result is that you’ll be better able to push through barriers and achieve new heights of fitness.
Running belts provide an easy way to carry and protect your tech. In the not too distant past runners took very little with them when they hit the road except maybe snacks and keys. That was about it. Today, however, people want to take their cell phones with them wherever they go. Including when they go running. And while that is understandable it should go without saying that running with your phone is fraught with risk. If you carry it in your pocket it could easily become dislodged and crash to the ground. If you get caught in the rain and your phone is not properly protected well, goodbye phone (3). This is why you should always stow your phone away in a good running belt. You should also make sure that belt is, at the very least, water-resistant and preferably waterproof.
Running belts help you stay hydrated. Staying hydrated while running is crucial (4). But trying to carry a water bottle while running is a chore to say the least. It can throw off your balance, tire out your arm and if you drop it while running you have to stop and retrieve it, perhaps from the busy street. Several of the running belts we profiled above have water bottles integrated into their design. By that we mean they include water bottles that have been specifically designed to slip into pockets on the belt. They’re held fast so that they don’t flop around. And the shape of the bottle and the location of the pockets are designed to distribute the weight in an even, easy to take manner. The end result is proper hydration.
Running belts are affordable. Considering how budget-friendly most running belts are they really have to be considered one of the best values in exercise equipment. Some can be had for less than $10. Although most of the best will occupy a price range between $10 and $50. Because a fully loaded running belt is subjected to a great deal of stress as you run it’s important to consider other things besides just price when selecting a belt. This is even more important if the belt is designed to hold water bottles. So when trying to find a belt to suit your needs consider things like padding, material and build quality and then price. Chances are the really well made belt will only be a little more expensive than the discount one you may have had your eye on.
Running belts let you concentrate on running. Running is hard work. Especially when you’re first starting out. It’s really important once you start that you are able to get into and sustain a rhythm both with your stride and with your breathing (5). Just as resting too long between sets while strength training is counterproductive (6) so too is constantly stopping during a run or walk. A good running belt will enable you to maintain your rhythm and obtain optimal benefits from your exercise. You won’t have to stop to find a snack and if your belt holds water bottles you can hydrate while moving.
Running belts are comfortable and practical. Running with a wallet in your back pocket and a water bottle in your hand is no fun. And trying to run while carrying a purse is even more absurd. Running belts provide a safe, comfortable and practical way to bring essential items with you on your run or walk. And this in turn enables you to be ready for any eventuality. Electrolyte tablets (7) are another thing you can carry in the running belt to ward off cramps. And having snacks at the ready is always a good idea.
Running belts allow you to be prepared for emergencies. You can carry a lot more than electrolyte tablets and water on your running belt. Some of the more comprehensive running belts will provide room for first aid supplies like Band-aids or even bandages. You’ll be able to bring aspirin, disinfectant in case you fall and cut yourself, an emergency whistle, a pedometer and much more. If you’re old school you can even slip a map in your running belt so that you don’t get lost. And you should have some change in case you need a drink but the only available beverages are in a vending machine.
Running belts can be used while traveling. The needs of the traveler tend to dovetail pretty closely with the needs of the runner. Both need a safe and convenient place to store their phone. Both benefit from having snacks at the ready and both need a secure place to store cash or credit cards. In the case of travelers they need to secure their valuables from pickpockets (8) who tend to work the world’s tourist hotspots. By keeping your valuables close to your body in front of you where you can keep an eye on them and secure behind a zippered pocket you drastically reduce the odds of being robbed. Many running belts are so slim you can easily wear them under your shirt undetected.
Running belts protect your tech from the weather. One of the biggest concerns for modern runners is that they’ll get caught in the rain and their expensive phone and other tech will be ruined. Certainly if you’re wearing your smartphone strapped to your arm that’s a legitimate concern. However, if you’re wearing one of today’s many waterproof running belts around your waist your expensive electronic gadgets are completely safe. Most waterproof running belts are either fashioned from neoprene (9) or line the main pocket with this fully waterproof material. Even water-resistant fabrics such as lycra with its ultra-tight weave will prevent a light rain from ruining your cell phone, pedometer or other tech.
Running belts make you look like you’ve got it goin’ on. Last but not least wearing an effective running belt sends an unmistakable message that you’re on top of things. It says you are both streetwise and stylish and that you’re nobody’s fool. When you go out you go out prepared, for anything. Also, since most running clothes leave something to be desired from a fashion standpoint, a great looking running belt can add a splash of visual interest. Most feature leading edge designs that not only enhance your preparedness, but also the way you look and the way you’re perceived.
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 besides that is really 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 and/or dig into your leg. In addition, 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 (10). 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 that scuba diving suits are made from. 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. They can’t be destroyed by a few drops of water. In fact, they can’t be destroyed by a lot of water (11). 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. This 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 in order 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 in order 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. This 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 smartest 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 fashioned from 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.