Never be caught short again on a long run or race: get yourself a lightweight running utility belt and carry everything you might need.
During a long training run, you reach a point when you need an energy gel or a snack to keep you going, and some water to wash it down. You may also need lube for a chafe spot, or more sunscreen, or a tissue to clean your sunglasses… but you didn’t bring any of those items along because you had no way to carry them. The simple solution is to buy a running utility belt, with pockets for gels, snacks and other goodies, and holsters to carry water bottles. From simple designs to multi-pocket, multi-bottle versions, here are some of the best belts to choose from.
1. Decide what you need. Buy the belt that best suits your needs. For example, water bottles may be necessary for training runs, but in races there are regular water tables.
2. Check the storage. Take what you intend carrying on the run to the store and check that it all fits and that you can close the pockets securely.
3. Try the belt on. Most have adjustable straps so you can set the length to fit your waist. Also check for padding for comfort, and make sure the belt feels right.
4. Do the arm tests. First check that the pouches and holsters are positioned so that your swinging arms don’t hit them. Secondly, check that you can reach all the pockets and holsters while running.
5. Check for bounce. A belt that bounces with every step is not only irritating and uncomfortable, but may result in chafing. To test this (and the arm swing test), jog around the store with the belt on.
1. Sportsmans Warehouse Long Distance Running Belt – R89.95 @ Sportsmans Warehouse
This relatively simple belt has three large zippered pouches that can be moved or removed. The adjustable strap with buckle has reflective strips on the front for visibility in dark conditions.
2. New Balance Performance Runner’s Pack – R149 @ The Sweat Shop
The one big zippered pocket is made from stretch fabric, so will expand to hold all your goodies, and has two sub-pockets inside, plus a hole on the flap for an MP3 player’s ear-plug cord. There is extra padding on the back of the pocket for comfort.
3. Sportsmans Warehouse Deluxe Running Belt – R149.95 @ Sportsmans Warehouse
The two smallish zippered mesh pockets towards the front of the this belt are easy to access while the two ringed holders on the back can be used for clothing or small water bottles. It has an adjustable strap with large reflective strips all-round.
4. GU Belt – R150 @ Runner Group
This belt has an angled mini-bottle holster with a small pocket on the outside. The adjustable strap is made from stretch material with reflective elements, and there is extra padding behind the pocket.
5. New Balance Performance Water bottle Waist Pack – R229 @ The Sweat Shop
An insulated holster for a 750ml bottle is this belt’s main feature, but there is also a smaller bottle for gels, and a zip pocket with earphone cord opening. The adjustable strap has padding behind the pouch area for added comfort, and reflective elements.
6. adidas Running Belt – R279 @ adidas Retail Stores
The three mini bottles hang upside down to prevent them falling out, but their nozzles are angled outwards so that they don’t dig into your leg. The elasticated belt has a velcro buckle for easy adjustment, and there is a zippered pocket with two compartments between two of the holsters.
7. GU Sports Pack – R295 @ Runner Group
This belt offers a good combination of angled water bottle holster, mini-bottle for gel or concentrate, and a zippered pocket with a handy rope toggle on the zip for easier handling on the run. There is extra padding behind the pouch and the adjustable belt has reflective strips.
8. GU Nathan Marathoner – R300 @ Tri Shop
A really handy feature is the trash pocket on the outside of the main pocket. The zippered main pocket also has a mesh bottom to allow for drainage, plus an inner sub-pocket.
9. Salomon Twin Belt – R429 @ CapeStorm
The main feature of this belt is its twin 600ml water bottles in their insulated, angled holsters, but it also has a sizable zippered pocket between the holsters. There is also a second, removable zippered pocket on the strap for extra storage.
10. Fuel Belt Profile Design Helium Hydration Belt – R490 @ Tri Shop
Most of this belt is made from ventilated foam pads, which make it more comfortable and breathable, and it has four holsters for mini-bottles and a removable zippered pocket. The velcro buckle makes it easy to fit, but except for two stretch material sections on the sides, the belt is non-adjustable.
Note: Prices may differ from store to store.