The 10 Best Hydration Belts
This wiki has been updated 31 times since it was first published in June of 2015. If your fitness routine has you going for regular long runs, or you are an outdoors enthusiast who enjoys lengthy hikes or climbs, you are going to need plenty of fluids during your activities. Fortunately, you can keep water bottles on you at all times without tying up your hands, thanks to these hydration belts, most of which offer storage for items like keys, wallets, and phones, too. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
May 25, 2021:
While we did retain several of our previous picks for this list, this round of updates ended up seeing a lot of turnover, and nearly half our options got swapped out. Choices that we decided to phase out due to availability issues were the Adalid Gear, OutdoorsmanLab ODL-HBB01 and Triton Running Gear.
We also replaced the popular NathanTrail Mix with an alternate option from the same company: the Nathan Switchblade. These two don’t have too many drastic differences between their designs, but we liked that the Switchblade came with 12-ounce flasks, compared to the Trail Mix’s 10-ounce bottles, amounting to four ounces of potential extra storage. On the other hand, the Switchblade doesn’t have elastic bands to hold its bottles in place like the Trail Mix does, which means both easier access and a less secure hold. It’ll be up to you decide whether the good outweighs the bad in that exchange, but both models are worth considering.
The 247 Viz Reflective Gear earned a spot with its four-bottle design and 40-ounce maximum capacity that dwarfs many others in the category, while the Karma Gear Runtasty got our attention with its windowed fold-up pocket that allows you to check in periodically with your smartphone as you jog. Our last new addition was the CamelBak Podium, which appealed to us with its colorful aesthetic and the inclusion of a water bottle that looks to be built much better than many of the options included with alternatives.
Hydration belts like the ones on this list can be great for a lot of applications, but for situations where you’re willing to schlep a little extra weight in the name of carrying more water, we also maintain rankings for hydration bladders and hydration packs.
March 02, 2020:
We removed the Winneco Water since it is no longer available. We updated the listing for the Urpower Fanny to the latest version, noting its compatibility with people of various sizes and its bright, reflective zipper that proves useful for those working out in the dark.
The LotFancy Running features a waterproof pouch, reflective strips and gel pads to provide comfort and minimize chafing. Distance runners find it to be an exceptional value for the price, so we gave it a slight upgrade.
We’ve noted that several models come with mini water flasks, while other options are designed for use with standard plastic water bottles or canteens of various sizes — something to consider when evaluating the options. Those who use traditional earbuds instead of wireless ones will want to check whether the pack has a special headphones hole.
2XU Waist Pack This compact pack is made with mesh pockets that promote breathability, which can enhance comfort during lengthy runs. The primary section is waterproof, and it’s easy to adjust the elastic belt for a comfortable fit. It’s safe for the washing machine, too. 2xu.com
StoreYourBoard Sidestream Paddle boarding can be a ton of fun, but it can also be quite physically taxing. Positioned snugly on your waist, the Sidestream pack will allow you to stay hydrated out on the water, and its retractable drinking hose means you won’t even have to reach down to grab a flask. storeyourboard.com
What Do I Need To Know Before Purchasing a Hydration Belt?
It's important to strike a balance between a belt that's going to fit comfortably, and one that is durable enough so that semi-constant movement won't result in any wear.
If you're in the market for a hydration belt, the first thing you need to consider is your waist size. The majority of hydration belts are adjustable, but they also have a maximum and minimum length, with certain belts being sold in small, medium, and large.
Next, you'll want to give some thought to what you plan on using the belt for. Doing so will provide a sense of whether you need a hydration belt that can accommodate one water bottle or two, along with whether you should choose a belt that comes with a zip pack for storing keys, first aid items, or a phone.
If you're purchasing a hydration belt for distance running, chances are you'll want a lightweight model (i.e., less than 1 lb) that carries a single canteen. If, on the other hand, you're purchasing a belt for any type of mountain climbing or hiking, chances are you'll want a heavy-duty model (i.e., 2-4 lbs) that's capable of holding a pair canteens, while providing extra cushion so you can avoid any type of skin burns.
It's important to strike a balance between a belt that's going to fit comfortably, and one that is durable enough so that semi-constant movement won't result in any wear. Most top-of-the-line belts are made out of either nylon or polyester (both of which are waterproof). Any belt with an elastic rear-band will provide a tight all-around fit, while a Velcro band will allow the belt - and, more importantly, its owner - a little extra flexibility to breathe.
'Oh, The Places a Hydration Belt Will Go'
Most people tend to associate hydration belts with physical fitness, and with good reason. It's common to see a runner or a hiker pulling a bottle from one of these belts. But the idea of a hydration belt can serve an even greater purpose. These belts are ideal for any type of all-day activity that entails a person being outdoors.
Most people tend to associate hydration belts with physical fitness, and with good reason.
Take a theme park, for example. Most people travel to theme parks when the weather is warm, which means hydrating is a must. Theme park owners know this, just as they know that every customer represents a captive audience. This is why water and other soft drinks are sold at such an exorbitant cost. Wearing a hydration belt to a theme park means that you can refill at fountains throughout the day. The same goes for any outdoor concert, along with any promenade, or beach.
If you're a parent, a lot of all-day outings tend to focus around the kids. This could mean chaperoning a field trip, or it could mean spending an afternoon at the playground. Either way, bringing along a hydration belt could keep your kids from getting parched. On top of which, most hydration belts feature some type of zipper pack, which means that you can store some essentials, whether they be wet wipes, a child's asthma inhaler, or your phone.
Assuming you're an outdoor enthusiast, a hydration belt can make an overwhelming difference. Communing with nature is not only beautiful, but taxing. A hydration belt will allow you to counterbalance your body's exertion. It may also allow you to refill your canteens at any spring.
A Brief History of The Hydration Belt
Belts, as a concept, have been around since The Bronze Age, and the idea of hydrating actually predates the dawn of man. That being the case, it seems odd that the first patent for a hydration belt wasn't awarded until 1979, one year after a trio of California inventors initially proposed "an adjustable canteen device for use by any runner in readily obtaining a drink of water by way of a plastic tube or by hand."
Otherwise, the design for this original hydration belt appears fairly similar to the belts that a lot of sporting-good companies manufacture today.
These three inventors - Peter Glusker, Walter Fontana, and Mitchell Feingold - presented a hydration belt that was slightly limited in that it could only hold one bottle, which was fastened to the hip by way of a cloth pouch. Initial schematics reveal that this first belt included plans for a custom-made bottle with a foot-long plastic tube that a runner could use to sip from. Otherwise, the design for this original hydration belt appears fairly similar to the belts that a lot of sporting-good companies manufacture today.
There have, of course, been innovations over the past 40 years, most notably a transition from the all-elastic hydration belts of the early eighties to the much more functional nylon and polyester belts of the current decade. In addition, the lion's share of modern hydration belts come with a fanny pack and dual holsters for accommodating canteens on either side. Beyond that, the only major change has been the audience. Today's hydration belts are being marketed to a diverse cross-section of athletes, but they're being sold to a lot of everyday parents, adults, and seniors, as well.