The best running belts allow you to carry your keys, phone, gels, and gloves with you on a run, without having to overstuff your pockets, or run loops around your house to stop for fuel. Some running belts are better than others, and the best on the market will carry all of your cargo, without bouncing against your body as you run, or chafing your hips.
Not what you were looking for? Why not check out the best running shoes on the market, the best running sunglasses for running in the summer, and the best running hats for keeping the weather off your face all year round?
Like everything in the running world, running belts have come a long way — you’re no longer limited to a bulky, ugly fanny pack that bounces with every stride. Modern running belts are designed with different runners in mind — some are lightweight, designed for a couple of gels on race day, or to fit just your phone if you prefer to not run with a running phone holder. Others are more complex — designed to carry hydration and fueling, as well as holding your phone, and other essentials.
The most essential requirement for a running belt is comfort — you want to find a running belt you can put on and forget about. To help you find the best running belt for you, we sweat-tested some of the most popular on the market by clocking plenty of miles in each. From the best for running in the heat, to the running belt that’ll help you stay seen when the seasons change, we’ve found the best belt for every runner, now you just need to decide what to carry.
If you can't stand the thought of a belt, we've also found the best running phone holders for carrying your tech on the move.
The best running belts to buy 2023
Why you can trust Tom's Guide? Our writers and editors spend hours analyzing and reviewing products, services, and apps to help find what's best for you. Find out more about how we test, analyze, and rate.
With Lululemon getting into the running world (check out our review of the Blissfeel running shoes here), it only makes sense that they would make a running belt for those of us training for longer races. The Lululemon Fast and Free Belt might be more expensive than its competitors, but you get what you pay for here — this belt does not budge, even when you’re picking up the pace.
During testing, I found this running belt really lives up to its name during faster sessions — I felt fast and free, and was able to run without feeling restricted, or weighed down by my belt. It was my favorite low-profile belt for most runs. For longer runs, I found I was able to hold my iPhone 11, a couple of gels, and my keys in the belt, but there wasn’t much room for anything else, and there was no option to carry hydration here.
The downside with this belt is that it’s a snug fit getting your phone in and out of the belt — I found if I tried to pull my phone out mid-run, everything else in the belt would come with it. This wasn’t too much of a problem for me — I’m the kind of runner who zips my phone away and forgets about it, but if you’re a runner who loves to stop for a mid-run selfie, you might find this irritating.
The Camelbak Flash Belt proved to be one of the best running belts during testing, especially if you’re marathon training, or running in the summer and need to carry water with you. The belt comes with a 17oz Camelbak water bottle, which has double-walled insulation to keep your water cool for longer as you run.
Running with the Camelbak Flash Belt is easy — you can adjust it to the correct size, and the belt is one size that fits most. The straps are adjustable, and it's one of the more forgiving belts I've worn — many belts won't fit bigger sizes without feeling tight, but the Camelbak Flash Belt adjusts to fit larger sizes. Even when the water bottle was full, I had no issue with the belt bouncing or moving on the run.
The belt holds hydration, fuel, and a cell phone, but only just — the main drawbacks are that the pocket size is limited, and it might be big enough to hold some larger smartphones. During testing, I found it could hold my iPhone 11, two gels and a credit card, but if you’re a runner who doesn’t travel light, this might not be the belt for you. It’s also slightly heavier than other belts on the market, but in my opinion, the heavier weight is a trade-off for the belt’s ability to carry hydration. This proved to be my favorite belt, especially when I hit the trails, but if you’re a super-speedy runner, it might not be the running belt you reach for on race day.
We liked that this running belt had not one, but two small insulated water bottles, which better helped distribute the weight across our hips. In addition to an adjustable clip in the front, this running belt has two elastic cinches on each side, so you can get a snugger fit if you feel the belt slipping as you run. It was easy to adjust; we were able to tighten it without breaking our stride. As a bonus, you can also use these elastic cinches to hold gels.
The two water bottles also fit securely in their holsters, but were equally easy to remove — and put back in their place — mid-stride. We're not convinced of the necessity of the bottles being insulated, but at least the insulation is reflective, which made us more visible to traffic in darker conditions.
In between the water bottles is a padded, double pouch; the inner, zippered pocket was spacious enough to hold an iPhone 14 Pro, while the outer pocket — secured by a strip of Velcro — is big enough for several gel packs.
We ran with the Nathan Hydration belt for several hours, and aside from having to tighten it a few times, found it to be very comfortable and barely noticeable.
I often head out for a run at 5:30 am when it's still dark out, so staying safe and lit up is a must, so I was excited to try out the Running Belt with COB light. The belt is easy to adjust — it fits well around my waist and I could loosen it on days when I didn’t have as many layers on. That said, I immediately noticed how heavy and bulky the belt felt. The weight comes from the giant light and attached cable, but you definitely feel it on the run.
The pocket fit my iPhone 11 easily, as well as a couple of gels, but there was no space for hydration, so you’ll need to carry that separately. I also wish the material of the belt itself was a little thinner, as I found it quite warm when running on warmer mornings, but as an autumn/winter running belt, this isn’t as likely to be an issue.
When running, I appreciated that I was illuminated — this is without a doubt the main selling point of the belt. When I tried wearing the belt for a faster speed session, I experienced quite a lot of bouncing on the belt, even when tightened, but on easy runs it coped well. Good for slower, dark miles, but don’t grab this for your next speed session.
The Spibelt is the original running belt — it’s been worn around runner’s waists since 1970, and is still topping the lists of the best running belts to buy. That said, when I first unpacked my Spibelt, I thought, “is that really going to hold my cell phone?” The belt looks like a thin pocket with an adjustable strap, and is far more compact than a lot of the other belts on this list.
That said, the zippered pocket expands a hell of a lot more than you think it will. I was surprised that I was able to hold both my iPhone 11 with a bulky case but I would worry it won’t fit some of the larger smartphones on the market with a case. Thanks to the adjustable waistband, the running belt can be tightened or loosened to fit securely — once you find the right fit for you, the Spibelt fits well and during testing, I had no issue with the running belt sliding or move around. Even while using this running belt for faster sprints, I had no worries about it bouncing against my lower back as I ran.
The drawback with this belt is that it’s pretty simple — there are no options to attach hydration bottles to it, and the size might be limiting for runners with larger phones, or lots to carry. If you are heading out on a longer run or hike, check out the best hydration backpacks here.
The Flipbelt is one of the most popular running belts, and for good reason. Firstly, it's available in several different colors, but what makes the Flipbelt unique is that, instead of an adjustable band, it's offered in several sizes, so you may need to try on several of them to decide which size fits your waist most securely. Of course, the downside with purchasing by size, with no adjustable feature, is that if you lose or gain weight, you'll have to buy another size.
When out running, the Flipbelt stays secure — during testing, we had no issue with the Flipbelt moving or bouncing on the run. I also found it can hold a lot more than you think — I was able to fit several gels, an iPhone 11 with a case, a small water bottle, keys, and nutrition in the belt, and there was still a little more room for say a hairband, credit card or lip balm. Flipbelt even offers accessories, such as compatible water bottles and lights, so you can tailor the belt to your needs.
The Nathan Zippered Pocket Waist Belt is another cheap and cheerful running belt option for runners on a budget. Yet don’t let this put you off — it’s still well worth checking out. It fits waist sizes 26 inches to 40 inches with some stretch. The weather-resistant zippered pockets hold a lot of gear, including fuel, keys, cards, and cell phones, and I appreciated the fact my valuables were protected from rain showers. The drawback is the pocket isn’t huge — I have an iPhone 11, and it fit the belt, even with a case, but it was snug, and I wonder if runners with bigger phones might struggle.
When running when the Nathan Zippered Pocket Waist Belt, it stays put — you don't have to worry about picking up the pace and having it bounce around on your back. Unlike other belts on this list, it fits like a large band around your waist, and I liked that I could just slide into it and not worry about tightening the belt each time. Of course, the drawback is that if you change sizes, you'll need to purchase a new belt.
I've run several runs up to two hours with the Nathan Zippered Pocket Waist Belt and had no issues with it. I like that it stays put, can hold nutrition, and has room for a cell phone, plus, you don't have to worry about running in the rain, because the weather-resistant pouch keeps your items safe. I wish it had a feature to hold hydration, but this won’t be an issue for some runners.
I had high hopes for the Ultimate Direction Access 300 — I'm already a fan of this company’s products and have tried several options over the years, and since they are known for running accessories, I expected this to be one of my favorite belts. However, almost immediately, I noticed there was no elasticity in the belt when trying to tighten it, so I struggled to get a good fit, despite multiple attempts to tighten the belt against my waist. Unfortunately, this meant that throughout my runs the belt was bouncing around. I am not a particularly petite runner, but could never get the right fit for me.
If you can get the fit right, however, the Ultimate Direction Access 300 Belt has a number of selling points. It holds a lot, including a phone and a small flask, allowing you to carry water with you, without having to invest in a separate running flask, or wear a bulk hydration backpack. The pocket is also big enough to hold nutrition in it, as well as your keys and maybe your phone. During testing, I found the belt is fine if you're doing a low-impact activity, and I wore it on a number of different summer hikes, but for running, there are better, more comfortable options on this list.
How to choose the best running belt for you
Before choosing a running belt, you need to ask yourself what you need in a belt. Do you want the ability to hold hydration? Do you want something that allows you to run comfortably during faster speed sessions and races without bounce? Do you want extra visibility for early morning or night runs? Do you think you'll need hydration or snacks out on the run? Does your phone fit into the running belt, especially if you have it in a case?
You'll also want to think of what time and where you're running. If you are running in the early morning or after dark in the evening, you might need the extra visibility, or if you are doing long marathon training runs in hot weather, you’ll almost definitely need extra space to carry hydration.
Finally, think about your budget. Running belts cost between $30 and $50, with the more expensive belts generally having the ability to carry hydration, but if this isn’t something you need, save your money.
How we tested the best running belts
To understand the capabilities of each running belt on this list, we went on several different runs while wearing each of them to see how they performed during easy runs, and hard efforts. We looked at whether the running belt was easy to adjust for a secure fit against the waist, and how much it bounced against the back during a run.
We also tried packing the belts with a number of different items you’d want to carry on the run. For example, we tried all of the belts with an iPhone 11 with a bulky case, as well as a number of different gels, snacks, credit cards, keys, and a lip balm, to see how much room there was to spare.
We then looked at the little things — how easy it was to adjust the straps on the belt, how easy it was to remove your phone mid-run, and the overall weight of the belt when packed.
What is the difference between a running belt and a fanny back?
A running belt is a belt that has been specifically designed to be comfortable when running or hiking. It'll have pockets for your stuff, and sit comfortably against your waist without bouncing. A fanny pack might fit this brief, but they have not been designed for this purpose, and might not be as sweat-wicking, fast-drying, or easy to clean.
Should you wear your running belt on the back or front of the body?
The ideal place for your running belt is on the front of your body, on the widest part of your hips, however it's often down to personal preference. If, on race day, it's easier to wear your belt on the back to prevent it covering your race number, that's fine, as long as it's pulled tight, fits well, and isn't bouncing against you as you move.
Do running belts slow you down?
No, a good fitting running belt shouldn't slow you down. If you're carrying your own water or gels in your belt, it might even save you time as you won't have to stop at aid stations mid-race.
Running belt vs running armband - which should you buy?
This is a purely personal decision, depending on what fits you best - some runners hate having anything around their arms, and others can't bare a running belt around their waist. That said if you're hoping to carry more than just your phone, a running belt might be the better option, as they often have a larger capacity.