Updated: January 10, 2017
There are essentially two types of waist packs for runners:
- Running belts
- Hydration belts
What’s the difference?
One very, very important feature: hydration.
If you’re just looking for a running belt (i.e. no water bottle included) then you’ll want to check out our in depth article on them here. However, if you’re looking for a new waist pack that includes a little bit of storage and the ability to hold a water bottle, then you’re in the right place.
We’ll walk you through everything you need to know to make a knowledgeable purchase that won’t break the bank.
This guide will go into a lot of detail, so feel free to skip the guide and head straight to our top 10 hydration belts by simply clicking here.
Hydration Belt Buyer’s Guide
First things first, there are 3 main types of hydration belts:
- Single bottle
- Double bottle
- Multi-bottle (typically 3-4 bottles)
You will use the following factors to help you decide which of the above types is best suited for you.
There’s usually 2 determining factors on which type to go with:
- How far are you planning to run? Most people conservatively recommend having 1 liter (~33 oz) for every hour of running.
- Are you a horse or a camel? It sounds funny, but seriously, do you drink a lot of water when you run?
Once you answer those 2 questions, you’ll have a pretty good starting point for what type of hydration belt you can look at, and you’ll be ready to move onto to the following criteria.
Comfort and Fit
The last thing you want while running is a pack bouncing up and down around your waist, or rubbing you raw. This makes fit one of the most important features. Take the following into consideration:
- Lightweight. Most of the top brands are going to have belts very close in weight. The biggest contributing factor is going to be the number and size of water bottles. Obviously a 4 x 8 oz belt is going to be significantly heavier than a 2 x 6 oz belt.
- Breathable mesh fabric. If you’re going to be running in the heat (which is likely), you’ll want to make sure the underside of the straps have some breathability. This is usually accomplished by adding mesh strips in some places.
- Adjustable. You’ll need to play around with the fit on your waist, so make sure it’s not a “one size fits all” type pack. Lots of times the packs come in 3 sizes (S/M/L), with each size corresponding to a waist size range.
There are two storage features to pay attention to:
- Bottle security. Check the bottle holders. Are they loose at all? Is there any type of positive connection for the bottle to stay in place?
- Gear pockets. We always recommend making a physical list of the items you might carry (include anything you can think of) and then determine if the pack has enough storage.
Ease of Access
Carrying multiple bottles around your hips as you run can be extremely distracting, especially at first. It can also have an effect on running form and rhythm. That’s why it’s extremely important to make sure it’s easy and comfortable to grab the water bottles as you run.
Check to make sure the bottles can be pulled out easily, but (as we said above) also will remain snug while running.
Some packs will not include bottles with them, and for the most part (there are exceptions) we don’t recommend these packs. Try to go for a hydration belt that includes the water flasks, as they are far more likely to have a good fit.
At this point we’ve covered hydration, comfort, fit, storage, and access. You should have a good idea of what type of hydration belt (single, double, or multi) you need. If not, don’t worry, below we’ve put together a list that includes the best available this year.
Top 10 Running Waist Packs With Bottle Storage
|2||Fitletic 12 oz Hydration Belt||2x6oz||$$$|
|3||Camden Gear Hydration Running Belt||2x6oz||$$$|
|4||Fitletic 16 oz Hydration Belt||2x8oz||$$$|
|5||FuelBelt R30 Revenge Hydration Belt||3x7oz||$$|
|6||Nathan Speed 2 Bottle Belt||2x10oz||$$|
|7||Sunhiker Y321 Multifunctional Waist Pack||1x20oz||$$|
|8||Salomon XR Energy Belt||2x7oz||$$$|
|9||FuelBelt H2O Helium 2 Bottle Hydration Belt||2x7oz||$$$|
|10||Camelbak Arc 2 Run Hydration Belt||2x10oz||$$$|
As you can see from the list above, the most popular style is a 2 bottle belt. To further complicate things, almost all of the 2 bottle belts are constructed similarly.
The Nathan TrailMix and both of the Fitletic belts come highly recommended and your conventional 2 bottle belts.
The FuelBelt Helium 2 and the CamelBak Arc 2 are at the bottom of the list, but don’t overlook them. They’ve received extremely high ratings, but just haven’t had the chance to stand the test of time as they’re newer packs.
Overall, you can’t really go wrong with any belt on this list. However, we will point out that the Sunhiker Y321 is the only single bottle belt and typically utilizes a very large bottle, so just be aware of that.
Now go #getyourrunon!