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The Best Running Hydration Belts in 2021

 

So, you are starting to get your running mileage up a bit. That’s great. But now you have figured out that longer distances require more hydration. Handheld water bottles do a decent job, but sometimes the longest runs require you carry more water than what’s comfortable to hold in your hands.

One solution is the hydration belt. These ingenious inventions can hold water bottles along with other important items like your cell phone or house key. This leaves your arms free while you run.

To figure out which hydration belt best suits your needs, determine how much water and storage space you’ll need to carry while you run. Once you figure that out, then you can pick from our list of 10 best running hydration belts. If you are not sure, the most popular water belts hold 20 oz of water (either one big bottle or two smaller ones) and have enough storage to carry a phone.

But each water belt has unique features from insulated bottles to soft flasks to extra storage for jackets and gels.

Read on to see our top picks and the reasons why we think you’ll love them…

Top 3 Best and Favorites

 

Ultimate Direction Ultra Belt 5.0

 

  • Super comfortable
  • Holds two 17-oz bottles
  • Less bounce than other belts
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Nathan Pinnacle Hydration Waist Belt

 

  • Extremely light
  • Minimal design
  • Has storage pockets
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Osprey DURO SOLO

 

  • Ergonomic bottle
  • Good value
  • Storage pocket
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Best Overall

1. Ultimate Direction Ultra Belt 5.0

This race belt includes two bottles so it would be suitable for longer distance training runs or races. Two 17-ounces soft bottles allow one to carry up to 34 ounces of fluid when running, without feeling weighed down.

If you wish to go for a shorter run, you can leave one bottle at home. Or you may choose to take one bottle of water and one containing a sports drink. The bottles have a PEEVA lining so that there won’t be a chemical taste in the bottles.

The Flex Mono Mesh material is breathable and stable when wearing it. It weighs just 3.4 ounces and the hook-and-loop closure can fit around waists of 26 to 40 inches. The fabric is ripstop for extra durability.

There are four pockets in total on this belt—the two bottle pockets, a large zippered pocket for valuables and a key pocket. The key pocket is a small pocket on the front of the belt, but it may not fit keys with a built-in fob. The three large pockets sit behind you when you have this belt on.

The large zippered pocket in between the two bottle holders is weather-proof and can fit phones up to the size of an iPhone 10. There are also adjustable bungee cords around the pocket that offer extra space for clipping on a key or other items.

PROS:

  • Dual bottle pockets – Peeva taste-free lining
  • Weather-resistant back pocket
  • Includes two 17-ounce bottles
  • Secure Wrap Fit System

CONS:

  • Key pocket doesn’t fit a car key with a built-in fob
  • More expensive than belts with hard bottles
 

Top Lightweight Belt

2. Nathan Pinnacle Hydration Waist Belt

If minimalism is your style, you may like the Nathan Pinnacle Hydration Waist Belt. It’s a low-profile, effective design that doesn’t take up a lot of space when wearing it. But it offers a lot for its small size.

It has a step-through design rather than a waist clip and is made from stretchy fabric—polyester and spandex. There are a variety of sizes available. If you get the right fit, there should be little to no bounce.

There are four pockets in total on this hydration belt. The water bottle storage pocket is at the back, and features a Velcro flap to keep the bottle in place while you run. This allows for easy access when you’re moving, but the Velcro may wear out quickly.

A 20-ounce soft bottle with a locking cap is included. There are light compression tabs around the hydration pockat, which help to keep the bottle secure as it gets smaller the more water you drink.

A large front zippered pocket can carry most phones. Two side slip-in pockets are ideal for small items like electrolyte tablets or energy sweets.

PROS:

  • Front zippered pocket with two side stash pockets
  • Rear hydration pocket is lined with foam
  • Lightweight compression tabs
  • Includes 20 oz soft flask

CONS:

  • The Velcro on the pocket may wear out quickly
 

Best Hard Bottle Belt

3. Osprey DURO SOLO

This hydration belt is built for speed and comfort. It has space for all the necessary valuables and 19.2 ounces of water. A BPA-free bottle is included when you buy this hydration belt.

The belt is made from mesh with a full airmesh back panel for excellent breathability. An angled bottle holder with a retaining strap keeps your bottle stable and prevents bouncing. The unusual angle allows for easy reach while running.

There is a TPU screened pocket which is touch-compatible. You can place your smartphone into the pocket and operate it without needing to remove it. Underneath this pocket is another hidden pocket which can hold an average-sized phone or other items you may need such as nutrition. There is also a safety whistle on the zipper of this pocket.

PROS:

  • Includes BPA-free, 570 ml bottle
  • TPU touchscreen window
  • Padded bottle sleeve
  • Storage pocket with safety whistle

CONS:

  • Some runners may find the storage pocket to be on the small side, especially for larger phones
 

Top Value

4. Nathan Peak Hydration Waistpack

This unusually shaped hydration pack is efficient and contours to the body to provide chafe-free movement. The bottle holder is angled so one can remove it easily with one hand while running. It’s also designed to not bounce.

The 18oz Ergological™ SpeedDraw Flask has a Blast Valve cap which gives you small bursts of liquid at a time. It’s BPA-free so it’s safe to drink from and shouldn’t have any chemical smell or taste.

There is a large, expandable triangular-shaped pocket which can hold a phone or nutrition items. This is the only pocket, but there’s also a compression cord system which can be used to hold a light jacket.

Some may find that the bottle bounces too much when it’s at the back. Some have found that wearing the bottle holder section on the hip reduces bounce but the bottle gets in the way of their arm swing.

PROS:

  • Expandable zippered pocket
  • BPA-free 18 oz flask
  • Insulated and angled bottle pouch
  • Bounce-free design

CONS:

  • The bottle may bounce too much at the back, but wearing it on the hip means you may hit it with your arm when running
 

Best Slip-Free Pack

5. Amphipod Profile-Lite Breeze

This hydration belt from Amphipod comes with a large pouch and two 10.5 ounce water bottles with Jet Squeeze tops. In addition to that, the belt is designed to be customizable. This means that you can add other options to make the belt do everything you need.

The zippered front pouch is available in four different colors and is large enough to carry your iPhone. There is also a flap covered pocket to keep keys and other items separate from the larger pouch. The two pockets combine to give you ample storage for your longer runs.

The bottles feature Jet Squeeze tops which allow for easy water access. You can drink directly from the bottle without pulling or pushing the valve – all without sloshing or spilling while you run.

The belt itself is designed to fit snugly to your hips to eliminate bouncing. This results in less chafing and a more comfortable run. The uniquely designed holsters also allow for one-handed grabbing of the water bottles.

PROS:

  • Custom designed holsters for easy access
  • Has an Airflow Mesh back panel that eliminates sweaty spots
  • Comes with two 10.5 ounce bottles with Jet Squeeze tops for easy drinking on the run

CONS:

  • Has four color options for the front pouch only. Belt itself only comes in grey
 

Top For Short Distances

6. CamelBak Flash Belt 17oz

If you do a lot of short distance running or walking, the CamelBak 17-ounce Flash Belt is the perfect size for you. It comes with a 17-ounce Peak Fitness Chill bottle that is insulated to keep your drink cool in hot water.

The bottle itself has a triangular bottom for extra stability and is soft and squeezable. It sports a self-sealing cap with a high-flow jet valve to give you more water per sip. The Clean Cap keeps the bottle nozzle clean and is leak-proof.

The bottle sleeve is at an angle, which makes it look unusual. It’s convenient and easy to reach, and the sleeve has an elasticated strip inside to keep the bottle from slipping out while you run.

You won’t overheat when wearing this belt, as it’s made from air mesh so it allows good airflow as you move. A zippered pocket next to the bottle holder is safe and secure and should fit most smartphones as well as house keys and a few energy chews.

An adjustable waistband fits waist sizes from 26 to 46 inches.

PROS:

  • Insulated 17oz bottle
  • Secure storage pocket
  • Reflective details
  • Breathable mesh

CONS:

  • Not able to substitute the bottle for another due to its unique shape
 

Most Comfortable Single Bottle

7. Salomon Agile 250

Salomon weighs in with their ultra-lightweight hydration belt for the minimalist runners of the world. This stretch fit belt is designed to conform to your waistline with a snug fit. This helps to eliminate sliding and improve stability.

The soft flask slides easily into the zippered pocket for a secure, no-leak water supply. The flask can hold up to 8 ounces of liquid. It also comes with a front expandable pocket for additional storage of the items you need for a successful run.

The belt is made of durable three-dimensional mesh that provides more cushioning and improved airflow. This makes the belt more comfortable and cooler to wear. It also comes with reflective material so that you will be more visible to traffic while running out on the open road.

PROS:

  • Super lightweight belt
  • Stretch fit for more comfortable feel
  • Soft flask and slide in storage for a more streamlined belt

CONS:

  • Less overall storage capacity than other models
 

Top With Insulated Bottles

8. Nathan Trailmix Plus Insulated Hydration Belt

If you find yourself running hot weather climates, then the Nathan Sports Insulated Trail Mix Plus belt makes an excellent choice. It comes with two 10-ounce insulated Fire and Ice flasks that will keep water cooler for longer. The two flasks are held in their trademark SpeedFit holsters for easy one-handed access. And as its name implies, the water bottles won’t freeze in cold weather, either.

If you find you need to carry other items with you on the run then the Trail Mix Plus has you covered. The front zippered pocket can handle a phone as large as the iPhone 7. It also has a secure pouch to keep your keys separate from other items such as gels and snacks.

This belt is made from a soft monofilament material that allows for multi-directional stretching. This results in less bounce and a more ergonomic fit.

PROS:

  • Has SpeedFit holsters for easy access to the water bottles
  • Soft fabric belt adjusts with your body to eliminate bounce
  • Comes with two 10 ounce insulated flasks to keep water cooler longer

CONS:

  • Higher price point compared to other models
 

Best Ergonomic Design

9. FuelBelt ErgoBelt

The Fuel Belt is the first hydration belt on our list that actually offers a men’s and women’s version. Each one is defined to fit the specific physical needs of their specific gender. If you are in search of the ultimate in ergonomic design then you may have found it with the Fuel Belt.

The belt has the capacity for two water bottles that contour to your body to eliminate bulk. The bottles are BPA-free and dishwasher safe.

This lightweight belt features Helium Hex material for improved airflow and better comfort. With gender-specific designs, you will get a snug fit that virtually eliminates bouncing and slipping. This results in a comfortable run without chafing or discomfort.

PROS:

  • Gender-specific models for sizing differences
  • Ergonomically designed for ultimate comfort
  • BPA Free, body contouring bottles that are also dishwasher safe

CONS:

  • Less storage capacity compared to other models
 

Top For Longer Distances

10. UltrAspire Speedgoat 3.0

The UltrAspire Speedgoat 3.0 is a rugged waist pack that would be ideal for hiking or trail running. It was designed by renowned ultra runner Karl Meltzer to be comfortable and practical for long runs.

The belt features two 18.6oz bottles. These fit into two insulated bottle holsters which each have a mechanical locking system to prevent them bouncing or falling out. They are situated on the back of the hip, but not close enough to obstruct your arm swing.

In between the bottle holsters is a triangular, zippered pocket that provides space for larger items. You can store other items in the open-top pockets behind the bottle holders where you can reach them quickly.

On the front of the belt, a slip-in four-way mesh pocket provides ample space for a large phone. There are even bungee cords on the front so you can carry trekking poles or a light jacket. The belt is made from breathable mesh for ventilation and shouldn’t chafe.

A one-size-fits-all design means that it should fit runners of all sizes. The bottles may be difficult to get back into the holsters behind you when running.

PROS:

  • EVA foam bottle holsters
  • 4-way stretch-mesh front pocket
  • Two bungee cord attachments on the front
  • Breathable webbing

CONS:

  • The bottles can be difficult to get back into the holsters while running
 

Hydration Running Belt Buyer’s Guide

If you are shopping for a hydration running belt, you’ll quickly realize that the size and scope of the options are quite vast. Hydration belts – also called waist packs – carry various amounts of water from a lot to a little. They come with at least one but sometimes two or more bottles in different shapes and styles. And they have extra storage for bringing along extra gear on your run.

We’ll review what factors to consider when shopping for a running hydration belt. Depending on where you run, what you are training for, and how far you go, the type of waist pack you should buy will vary.

Hard Bottle vs Soft Flask

In the past, running hydration belts only came with hard water bottles. These were similar in size and shape to what you might buy for a bike or a stand-alone handheld bottle. And even today these types of bottles are still available and popular.

Some are still tall and round in shape, holding 16-24 oz of fluid. But more often they are flat and rectangular with a 10-20 oz capacity. This shape allows them to sit better around the waist while still carrying roughly the same amount of liquid.

ultimate direction water bottle
ultimate direction soft flask

A few years ago, new waist packs came out with soft flask water bottles. These look and feel like a bladder or reservoir that you find in a hydration pack, but smaller with a valve to drink from.

Soft flasks sit nicely around your waist. They are generally more comfortable to wear. There is less sloshing when you run, especially as you drink more from the bottles. They also collapse down when they are empty, unlike hard bottles. To drink, you bite down on the valve and squeeze fluids into your mouth.

But there are two distinct disadvantages to soft flasks.

The first is cost. Packs with soft flasks are more expensive. Sometimes as much as 25-40% more than a similar pack with hard bottles. If you are training for a one-time half or full marathon and don’t anticipate using your pack often, it may be more economical to buy a pack with hard bottles.

The second is that soft flasks tend to hold less fluid than hard bottles. If you want to take along the most water, you’ll be able to hold a few more ounces in a pack than with hard bottles.

Insulated vs Non-insulated Bottles

Another factor to consider with bottles is whether they are insulated or not. This mainly applies to hard bottles as the soft flasks only come in one (non-insulated) option.

Insulated bottles cost a little more; however, they’ll keep water and other fluids colder in the summer and help to prevent them from freezing in the winter. Otherwise, they basically look and hold the same amount of fluids as non-insulated bottles.

The hydration belts themselves are also different. They come with insulated pouches to hold the bottles, adding another layer of insulation to the bottle and pack.

In the summer, we like to throw the bottles in the freezer a few hours before a run. Take them out, add some ice, and your water stays nice and cool even on the hottest days.

Bottle Valves: Pull vs Bite vs Jet

Bottles come with three types of valves to drink from. They all do their job, that is to get fluids from the bottle to your mouth. But how they do it varies and you may have a preference for one over another.

A pull valve is your classic water bottle. Pull the top and the water flow opens so you can drink. Push it down and it stops.

The pros are that these are simple and easy to use. The con is that if you forget to push the valve closed, water leaks out the top onto your waist pack and/or clothing.

Bite valves always remain closed. Until you bite down on the soft, rubber valve while simultaneously squeezing the bottle. Unlike the pull valve, these won’t leak. But they can take getting used to if you’ve never tried them before. Some people don’t like having to bite down while you drink.

Amphipod offers another style of valve called a jet valve. Like the bite valve, this won’t leak while you run. There is nothing to push or pull. But to drink water, you have to squeeze the bottle fairly hard until a strong blast of water squirts out. Some people have complained the water comes out too fast and shoots down their throat!

Size and Number of Bottles: Capacity vs Weight

Waist packs usually come with one or two bottles. FuelBelt does make some versions that come with 4-6 small bottles.

The number of bottles you need will come down to how much fluid you want to carry as well as whether you want to bring two different types of hydration (like water and energy drink).

If you only need to carry water and don’t plan on doing runs in hot weather or going out for long runs, a small, single bottle should be sufficient.

But for longer runs, or if you like to take two types of fluids, then two bottles are the way to go.

FuelBelt’s 4-6 bottle packs are designed to evenly distribute a large quantity of water. Space the bottles evenly all around the waist pack and you should experience a smoother, less bouncy pack. This sounds good in theory but it also means you need to clean, manage, and keep track of extra bottles.

One other consideration is that the more water you carry (like in waist packs with two large bottles), the heavier your load will be. If you like to stay light and nimble, you probably won’t want this much water.

Extra Storage

Besides carrying fluid, waist packs often have extra storage compartments to stash other gear. Some only have room for a few gels or keys. But other packs can hold a phone, headlamp – even a jacket strapped on with elastic cords.

If you plan on bringing a lot of extra gear with you, look for a pack with added storage space.

The Wired Runner