I have been running with hydration belts since I decided a 10km race wasn’t quite far enough for me. This was before hydration packs were a “thing” in the trail running world…but even with a variety of hydration packs there is definitely still a time and place for a solid hydration waist belt. So, let’s jump right into this review of the hydration waist belts.
We are going to talk about two belts for each brand. The first belt is the more robust option with extra room for snacks and layers. The second belt is a sleeker option with more limited space. Each waist belt will be reviewed for three main features — storage options, overall adjustability and general fit [including notes on any bounce-age]. For a quick overview of the features for each model please scroll down to the bottom of this article where you’ll find a handy dandy chart outlining the most noteworthy features.
CamelBak Hydration Belts
The CamelBak Flash Belt is built on a standard belt system with a buckle in the front and two pockets in the back. The pouch pocket designed for the 17oz water bottle is insulated with foam and has an elastic strap to keep the bottle secure. The other pocket is larger with a zipper, a great place to stash a layer, a few snacks or a headlamp. The Flash Belt comes with a 17oz Chill Bottle, insulated to keep your water cold [or hot, you decide!]. There is one point of adjustment in the front near the buckle, but you can adjust on either side of the buckle.
The CamelBak Ultra Belt is a slim hydration belt with a plethora of pockets. Along the perimeter of the wide belt you’ll find four pouch pockets, one zipper pocket and one velcro pocket. The two larger pouch pockets have bunches to secure the top closed. On the back there are two bungee straps you can use to secure collapsible trekking poles or a rolled jacket. The Ultra Belt comes with a 17oz Quick Stow soft flask [but there is room for two if you’re creative]. You can make moderate adjustments to the fit of this belt with the bungees across the top of each large pouch pocket. It comes in three sizes from XS/S to M/L.
What We Loved: The insulating foam and the insulated bottle included with the CamelBak Flash Belt really work to keep your body heat from warming up your water. You can fit a *lot* of gear [or snacks!] into the CamelBak Ultra Belt and it does stay in place when it is full of essentials.
- What We Would Change: A few extra small stash pockets would be a great addition to the CamelBak Flash Belt. Similarly, a separate stash pocket inside the zipper pocket of the CamelBak Ultra Belt would provide a safe place for keys/credit cards.
- Fit & Feel: The belts are either adjustable or true to size. For the Flash Belt you can adjust it when it’s full of gear but you’ll notice you need to readjust a bit as you eat/drink on the trail. With the Ultra Belt you do need to be conscious of where you’re stashing essentials as a headlamp on your hip will naturally be uncomfortable.
Salomon Hydration Belts
The Salomon Agile 250 Belt is a compact belt with a fully customizable fit. The waist belt is held in place with velcro — inside the front pocket and at the attachment loop. You can move the place of attachment behind the front pocket or even cut down the length of the belt. This gives you a wide range of fit options for just one belt. There are two pockets — one pouch and one zipper. The included 8oz soft flask fits into both pockets, although you’ll likely use it in the easily accessible pouch. There is also a small pouch within the zipper pocket to stash keys or other small essentials.
The Salomon Pulse Belt is a minimalist hydration belt with just two pockets on the slim waist belt. One pocket has a diagonal to keep your gear stashed. The other pocket is a pouch with a lot of space beyond the opening of the pocket. There are two elastic straps on either side of the pouch pocket that can be used to tuck away collapsible trekking poles or a rolled jacket/layer. There is now a hydration option included with this waist belt but it will fit a 500ml/17oz soft flask in both of the pockets. It comes in five sizes from XS to XL.
What We Loved: The adjustment options of the Salomon Agile 250 Belt ensures it will fit almost every runner out there. The Salomon Pulse Belt fits snugly and stays in place when you’re on the move. Also, larger phones fit into both the zipper and the pouch pockets.
- What We Would Change: The Salomon Agile 250 Belt does bounce a bit when both pockets are full. You can twist it off to the side on your hips for more counter pressure and that does help a bit, but it does move on the bouncier descents. The Salomon Pulse Belt could use a few more pockets. There is a lot of space along the outside of the hips that isn’t being used…or at least isn’t easily accessible [the pouch is quite large, but you have to get items from the back corners].
- Fit & Feel: The Salomon Agile 250 Belt fits comfortably, although you do need to put some effort into finding the right fit. Also, it does move a bit when it is full of gear/water. The Salomon Pulse Belt fits true to size with a secure, snug fit right over your hips. It utilizes the contour of your lower back and between your hips to hold your gear in place.
Nathan Hydration Belts
The Nathan Peak Hydration Belt has the more traditional hydration belt look and feel with an 18oz SpeedDraw hard flask that is secured in the foam pouch with a small bungee cord. There is also a large zippered pocket that will hold enough snacks to keep you going. On the other side of the belt there is also a zig-zag bungee that is able to hold at least one layer. The belt is adjustable on either side of the front buckle.
The Nathan VaporHowe Waistpak is a female-specific minimalist waistpak with just enough room for the essentials. It has three velcro pouches [one large, two small] and a zipper pocket as well as straps to hold collapsible trekking poles or rolled layers along the front. It does offer minor sizing adjustments with two pull handles along the back — they can be used to cinch the belt just a bit tighter to reduce any bounce. It comes with a 20oz soft flask that fits in the large velcroed pouch. It comes in three sizes from XXS/XS to M/L.
What We Loved: There is a lot of space in the zippered pocket of the Nathan Peak Hydration Belt as well as a separate bungee to secure a layer. The two adjustment straps in the back are very useful to make moderate adjustments as you add/remove items from the belt storage.
- What We Would Change: The Nathan Peak Hydration Belt is hard to keep secured in place. The two adjustment points on either side of the belt’s clasp will loosen up as you move and result in the belt bouncing with each step. A more secure loop here may help keep the belt secured once fitted in place. The Nathan VaporHowe Waistpak’s large pouch had just one small velcro piece to secure it shut. This works for the water bottle, but it won’t hold multiple smaller items in place for the days you opt for a handheld.
- Fit & Feel: The Nathan Peak Hydration Belt is comfortable when secured in place, but you’ll be securing and re-securing throughout your run. The Nathan VaporHowe Waistpak hugs the hips without cutting in and will fit comfortably even when stuffed full. It is true to size.
Ultimate Direction Hydration Belts
The Ultimate Direction Ultra Belt 5.0 is designed with plenty of room to carry your hydration, snacks and layers. It comes with two 500ml/17oz Body Bottle soft flasks for the two cinch pouches in the back. There is also a large zippered pocket and a zig-zag bungee cord to stash your gear. The Ultra Belt 5.0 is secured in the front with a velcro strap that also has a small stash pocket just big enough for your keys.
The Ultimate Direction Hydrolight Belt is a lightweight hydration belt that comes with two 300ml/10oz Flexform hard bottles at the back of your hips. There is a larger zipper pocket across the back and a hidden pouch pocket in the front. The Hydrolight Belt is an elastic belt you can slip on then adjust with the rigid drawcord once you have it in place. It comes in five sizes from XS to XL.
What We Loved: The Ultimate Direction Ultra Belt 5.0 has a lot of space for gear, food and water. The back pouches ride quite low on the back which helps to reduce bounce. The Ultimate Direction Hydrolight Belt provides two hard bottles giving you options with how you hydrate [add power or no?] while also providing a balance of gear gravity across your back.
- What We Would Change: With the Ultimate Direction Ultra Belt 5.0 is a bit challenging to fit the soft flasks back into the bungee pouches when you’re on the move. The lower pouches in the back can also be problematic if you have any booty poppin’ as the pouches need to lay pretty flat against your body to stay in place. There is a hidden pouch in the front of the Ultimate Direction Hydrolight Belt which holds a lot of stuff, but a few smaller pouches would give you easier access to what you stash in the belt.
- Fit & Feel: The Ultimate Direction Ultra Belt 5.0 fits securely and is easy to adjust with the velcro strap; however, the strap is not very wide and can get uncomfortable against your waist when tight. The Ultimate Direction Hydrolight Belt fits snug across your hips and the rigid drawcord is easy to adjust the fit to be just right. It is true to size.
UltrAspire Hydration Belts
The UltrAspire Synaptic 2.0 Waist Pack offers a lot of adjustability in a traditional hydration belt. There are four pouches total with one dedicated to a contoured UltraFlask 550 [550ml/18oz] along the back. This hydration pouch is designed with what they call a “foam locking system” — essentially foam designed to keep the bottle in place, which actually works! The remaining pockets are made up of two pouch pockets and one zipper pocket. There are also bungees in the front to hold collapsible trekking poles. You can adjust the Synaptic belt at two locations in the front, designed to allow you to choose where the front pouch lays on your waist.
The UltrAspire Fitted Race Belt is a minimalist hydration belt that offers a lot of storage options. It has a larger pouch in the front for a 250ml/8oz soft flask [sold separately] with four pouches around the waist belt to stash other essentials. There is also a zipper pocket for items like keys. There are bungees in the front to store collapsible trekking poles or rolled up layers. There is also a single elastic strap to stash more rolled up gear. It comes in five sizes from XS to XL.
What We Loved: The UltrAspire Synaptic 2.0 Waist Belt offers extra adjustment options across the front and the “foam locking system” is extremely easy and functional when it comes to taking your water bottle in/out of the pouch. The UltrAspire Fitted Race Belt has a *lot* of space for storage and organization so you’ll be able to pack all your trail essentials.
- What We Would Change: You are a bit limited with the UltrAspire Synaptic 2.0 Waist Belt as the water bottle pouch can’t really be used for anything but the water bottle [meaning you use a handheld for hydration and this belt for just gear/snacks]. The UltrAspire Fitted Race Belt does have a bit of a bounce, especially if you load it up with gear and trekking poles — sizing down may help, especially if you’re between sizes.
- Fit & Feel: The UltrAspire Synaptic 2.0 Waist Belt fits nicely against your back and the added adjustment really does help to make the front pouch comfortable. The UltrAspire Fitted Race Belt fits snugly around your hips but does not have any additional adjustment options — if you are between sizes definitely size down to reduce any chance of your gear bouncing.
|Brand & Brand & Model||Sizing Options||Type of Hydration Options||Number of Pockets [including designated hydration storage]||Type of Pole Storage|
|CamelBak Flash Belt||OSFM with adjustable belt||17oz hard bottle||2 [1 zipper, 1 pouch]||None|
|CamelBak Ultra Belt||3 sizes from XS/S to M/L with bungees for minor adjustments||17oz soft flask||6 [4 pouches, 1 velcro, 1 zipper]||Bungee straps|
|Salomon Agile 250 Belt||OSFM with adjustable belt||250ml/8oz soft flask||2 [1 zipper, 1 pouch]||None|
|Salomon Pulse Belt||5 sizes from XS to XL||500ml soft flask [not included]||2 [1 zipper, 1 pouch]||Elastic Straps|
|Nathan Peak Hydration Belt||OSFM with adjustable belt||18oz QuickDraw hard bottle||2 [1 zipper, 1 pouch] + bungee||None|
|Nathan VaporHowe Waistpak||3 sizes from XXS/XS to L/XL with straps for minor adjustments||20oz soft flask||4 [1 zipper, 3 velcro pouches]||Elastic Straps|
|Ultimate Direction Ultra Belt 5.0||OSFM with adjustable belt||Two 500ml/17oz Body Bottle soft flasks||4 [1 zipper, 3 pouches] + bungee||None|
|Ultimate Direction Hydrolight Belt||5 sizes from XS to XL||Two 300ml/10oz Flexform hard bottles||4 [1 zipper, 3 pouches]||None|
|UltrAspire Synaptic 2.0||OSFM with adjustable belt||550ml/18oz hard bottle||4 [1 zipper, 3 pouches]||Bungee Straps|
|UltrAspire Fitted Race Belt||5 sizes from XS to XL||250ml/8oz soft flask [not included]||5 [1 zipper, 4 pouches]||Bungee Straps|