At a certain point, every runner has a realization: You can’t just hold your things in your hands. The phone, the keys, the credit card, the energy gels, the cash—whatever is jangling around, it needs to go somewhere safe and secure. A running belt can provide peace of mind and serve as a great aid for all kinds of runners, from people training for an ultramarathon to those who always want to be ready to stop with cash on hand when that fancy donut shop on the way home miraculously doesn’t have a line.
There are a lot of running belts out there, but we wanted to find the best ones. After 18 hours of research and testing, 30 miles clocked, and five running belts tested, the Flipbelt Classic Edition came out on top. Its secure fit, easy-to-access pockets, and bonus key ring clip made it the clear winner.
Here’s the TL;DR on how the best running belts stack up:
The Best Running Belt
- XXS-XXL size options to fit 18- to 48-inch waists
- Two zipperless pockets with an internal clip
- Lycra material
- Can comfortably fit a lot of essentials
- Key clip provides peace of mind
- Easy washing/care instructions
- On the pricier side
- Slit design on pockets may make some wary of carrying my ID, cash or credit card loose
The FlipBelt Classic Edition is a top-rated belt—and in tests, it lived up to the rave reviews. It has two zipperless slits on the front and back, which allow you to slide things you need inside. When I first took the belt out of the packaging, I was a bit skeptical that my very large iPhone 12 Pro would be able to fit through the narrow slots, but its fabric easily stretched around my phone and held it in a snug, secure position. In addition, the fabric was soft to the touch, although it got a bit soggy from sweat about 15 minutes into my run. But the good news is that its washing instructions (machine wash cold with like colors and tumble dry low) are easy enough that it can be washed whenever it’s needed.
On my test runs, the belt stayed in place perfectly with no bouncing, twisting, or jiggling. Honestly, I hardly noticed it was there at all. But one of its best features is an interior clip that’s meant to be used for house keys. I’m always paranoid about losing my keys mid-run and not being able to get back into my home when I’m done, but I felt confident knowing that my key was not only in my belt, it was strapped in too. After two runs and a trip through the washer and dryer I didn’t see any signs of wear and tear on the belt. It also regained its shape after stretching to accommodate my rather large phone.
While the FlipBelt was the clear winner for me, it’s not perfect. First of all, it’s certainly on the pricier side. At $34, it’s the second most expensive belt I tested (behind the Lululemon Fast and Free Belt). In addition, while the micropoly Lycra was super resilient in this test, as someone who has spent a lot of time wearing Lycra (I’m a retired professional figure skater, which is a career that comes with a lot of leotards and tights), it’s only a matter of time before it stretches out permanently.
Finally, the pockets are super handy for taking things in and out of the belt on the go, but the lack of a secure closure made me a little nervous about storing my ID or a credit card in it. That said, most reviewers say they keep their various cards inside the belt without an issue. FlipBelt also makes a nearly identical version with zippers, so you can get that one if you want to make extra-sure your belongings are secure.
What Is a Running Belt?
Running belts are storage belts you can wear while running, jogging, or power walking. Unlike the fashionable (again) fanny pack, running belts have a slim profile and are designed to stay in place while keeping your things safe and secure while you exercise. They can help store gels, gummies, or protein bars for the road—a necessity for anyone who runs long distances, or just doesn’t like the idea of being without snacks for too long—or a packable jacket to prepare for weather changes. Some even come equipped with water bottle holders and race bib toggles.
No matter what you want or need to have on your person while you run, a well-fitting running belt can ensure belongings are safe. (The ol’ keys-in-sports-bra method can only go so far.) A running belt that isn’t sized properly, however, can bounce around, making it the most annoying running companion ever.
Armbands are another popular option, but they can throw off your arm swing—a vital part of maintaining balance while running—and also result in some unsightly tan lines. So if you want to upgrade your run by being able to securely and easily take your essentials on the road, it might be time to invest in a running belt suited to your needs.
How We Got Here
Who Did This Work
I’m Brooklee Han, a retired international figure skater and winter Olympian, current real estate and title industry reporter, and freelance sports and fitness writer. My work has been published in HousingWire, D Magazine, and The Chronicle of the Horse. Since retiring from competition and with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, running has become a staple in my exercise regimen. While I am certainly not someone with goals of becoming an ultra-marathoner, I have realized that, as in my skating career, the right equipment can make a huge difference in how enjoyable and successful my running is. Most weeks I run at least three to four days, averaging about 3.5-4 miles per run.
Our Testing Process
In my quest to find the best running belts, I started by evaluating the most popular running belts online. I also looked at user reviews of each product and took stock of features buyers seem to look for—and grouse about—in their running belts. Once I narrowed the list of belts I wanted to try down to five top contenders, I began the testing process in earnest.
To test the belts, I completed a 3-mile run with each belt two times, for a total of 30 miles. In between test runs, I washed the belts according to the directions on the packaging. I ran the same three mile route outdoors for my first run, but I did my second run in each belt indoors on the same treadmill. This is because the hills in my neighborhood can be a surprisingly great distraction to, well, everything else that could cross through my mind, and I wanted to make sure that I had space to pay attention to how the belts felt. I also made sure to wear my usual running shoes for each workout and I carried the same things in my belt—my iPhone 12 Pro in its hefty wallet case and my house key.
All in all, I spent roughly 18 hours researching and testing these products.
The Running Belt Buying Guide
While the belts I tested are specifically made for people who run, don’t feel intimidated if you don’t consider yourself a runner. If you run at all, you are a runner! Plus, the utility of these belts aren’t limited to people who knock out marathon-plus distances—anyone can benefit from having access to the things they need on their run. I think of myself as a recreational runner and can still say that my jogging game was improved by using running belts that fit me properly and kept the things I needed safe. Although armbands or a generic fanny pack can typically carry the same items, they can impact your gait or bounce around and annoy you, making your run less enjoyable.
These belts also have other, non-running uses. Some people say they bring them to concerts to thwart pickpockets and keep hands free for dancing. Dog walkers may use them to store bags and treats. Others use it to carry medical devices, such as insulin pumps or allergy medication.
For most cases, you’ll want to consider these factors:
- Fit/Comfort: Check the belt’s sizing information carefully, especially if you’re buying one that doesn’t have adjustment straps. It’s essential for it to fit snugly enough not to bounce, but not so tight it chafes or leaves painful marks.
- Capacity: The entire purpose of using a running belt is to take a few things along with you on your run. You know, the essentials—phone, keys, ID, and some cash/credit card. Anyone running for longer than an hour or so should also bring gels, snacks, or water with them. If running in inclement weather, it’s nice to have a packable jacket. Adequate room for all of these essentials is, well, essential.
- Upkeep/Durability: I don’t know about you, but I am all for chucking things in the wash, then tossing them in the dryer with the rest of the laundry. This means simple upkeep is big with me when considering what running belt I like best. It’s also an important consideration because these belts get sweaty, and having to wait for something to flat- or hang- dry can take time and be a bit of an inconvenience.
- Special Features: Sure, the main purpose of a running belt is to keep essentials secure while running, jogging, dog walking, or prancercising. But some special features, like a clip to make sure keys are extra safe or some reflective detailing to make sure you’re visible to traffic when running on a busy road, go a long way.
Other Running Belts Worth Considering
LotFancy Running Belt
- One-size-fits all circumference to fit 29- to 41-inch waists
- Lots of special features including water bottles, race bib toggles, and reflective details
- Neoprene material
- Strap is easy to adjust
- Stays comfortable while running
- Hand wash only
- Sizing may not work for everyone
Running belts can get pretty pricey. If you’re not trying to invest a lot of money in yours, this LotFancy Belt is a great option. It’s less expensive than other belts we tested and offers a plethora of added features that the other belts don’t, including two 6-ounce water bottles, race bib toggles, reflective details, and a headphone port if you have yet to convert to Bluetooth.
This belt is technically one-size-fits-all (it has a buckle for adjustability) but was still a bit large on me, and bounced around as a result. I wish I could have either tightened it more or that it came in, say, two separate sizing options rather than just the one. But it was very easy to adjust the sizing of the belt and I liked its infinity loop design, which meant I didn’t have a “tail” flapping around my thighs while I ran. You also have to hand wash it and patiently wait for it to hang dry (which took about 36 hours).
This was my first time running in a water bottle-equipped belt and I was concerned about the added weight, as well as potential leakage. But the bottles were small enough that the extra weight wasn’t noticeable and they didn’t leak during my test runs. The bottles were also super easy to access and the elastic loops helped ensure they stayed put in their holders. While the belt only has one zip pocket, it easily fit my phone and keys, and it has a mini-pocket inside the big pocket. This allowed me to keep my keys away from my phone and gave me peace of mind that if I took my phone out mid-run, my keys wouldn’t tumble out and onto the road.
All in all, it’s a great belt—if a little less sleek than pricer options. If you don’t have the budget to spend over $30 on a running belt or are starting to train longer distances and need to carry water with you, this is the belt for you.
Lululemon Fast and Free Running Belt
- S/M and L/XL size options to fit 26.6- to 50.4-inch waists
- Internal key clip and reflective details
- Nylon/Lycra blend
- Tons of pockets
- Can go in the washing machine
- Must lay flat to dry
Lululemon heads know: This brand always delivers top-quality, style-forward items. The Fast and Free belt definitely lived up to my high expectations. Its materials (a nylon/Lycra blend) feel high quality it comes with a ton of pockets, including one large zippered pouch that easily fit my bulky phone. Although its four smaller pockets do not have zip closures, they have an envelope design that keeps items placed in them secure. In addition, the belt has a key clip. That, plus the belt’s reflective detailing, make up my favorite bonus features.
As much as there is to love about this belt, it fell short when it came to sizing. I ordered a S/M, hoping that the adjustable waistband design would let me customize the fit. But I couldn’t get it small enough, resulting in quite a bit of bouncing and movement on my test runs. Also, unlike the other adjustable waist belts I tested, the Lululemon belt doesn’t have an infinity design, meaning that it flopped around on my rear unless I tucked it into the belt.
Lululemon asks you to machine wash the belt separately, then let it air dry. While it was easy enough to toss the belt in the wash, having to dig it out of the soggy laundry pile was a bit of an inconvenience. The good news is that it air dried pretty quickly, in about 24 hours. The biggest turn-off for the belt, however, is the price tag. At $38 this was the most expensive belt I tested. If you know it’s going to fit you, its quality and myriad of features justify the price. If not, there are better belts out there.
- XXS-XL size options to fit 23- to 40-inch waists
- Nylon-polyester material
- Tons of pockets
- Hand was and hang dry only (and literally took 3 days to dry)
The Nathan Hipster is one of the most widely recommended and reviewed running belts on the market, so I was excited to give it a go. Due to some sizing issues, it didn’t live up to my expectations.
First, let’s cover the positives: Its pockets are spacious and easily fit my phone and keys, and its envelope closing structure made me confident that I wouldn’t lose something mid-run. However, it was just too big. According to Nathan’s sizing chart, I should be an XXS, which wasn’t available when I ordered the product. (Right now, there is a single XXS option on Nathan’s site, but not on Amazon.) I ordered an XS hoping that it would fit (I typically wear a 24-25 in pants), but it didn’t. It bounced and jiggled, rather annoyingly, through both of my test runs. Because of the way this belt is designed, it’s impossible to adjust if you get the wrong size.
It also gets pretty soggy on runs and requires hand washing and line drying. This is a bit of an inconvenience—especially because it took three days (literally) to fully dry.
Despite the issues I had, I would still recommend this belt to someone who’s able to get the right size and doesn’t mind waiting a few days for it to dry off after a wahs. It’s well made, its nylon-polyester blend fabric is soft, and it can hold a lot of stuff.
A Running Belt You Can Skip
- One-size-fits-all for 5- to 47-inch waists
- Single pocket intended to hold all belongings
- Lycra material
- Dries quickly
- Pocket can fit way more than you think
- Everything may fall out if you just want to remove one thing
- Hand wash only
I was skeptical when I took the SPIbelt out of its packaging. It has a single, tiny-looking rectangular zippered pouch, but I quickly realized I could fit everything I needed into it. Things continued to look good when I tried it on and found that I could adjust the straps tight enough so it fit snugly right at my waist. During my test run, it continued to perform well, with only minimal wiggling and jiggling. But as my phone rang mid-run and I opened the pocket to see who was interrupting my exercise time, I soon realized the belt’s fatal flaw: If you want to take one thing out, everything is going to come out. Although my heart rate was already elevated from my run, it kicked into high gear as my keys tumbled out of the pouch and onto the road. (No key clip here.)
Besides my big gripe about the SpiBelt, I also was mildly annoyed that it’s hand-wash only. The good news is that its lightweight Lycra material dried in about 12 hours.