What Is a Hydration Belt?

B. Miller

A hydration belt is a tool that runners use in order to keep thirst at bay during longer runs, while still keeping the hands free. There are a few different designs of hydration belts. Some are similar to a toolbelt; they are worn around the waist, and have at least one holder, though sometimes up to four, for smaller water bottles. Another type of hydration belt is closer to a hydration backpack, and is worn as a fanny pack with the water inside. These often feature a straw running from the pack that may be clipped onto the shoulder, so it is possible to drink the water without even taking the pack off.

A hydration belt may be useful for long-distance runners.
A hydration belt may be useful for long-distance runners.

Runners who go long distances often find that a hydration belt is a very helpful tool that can help them to run further without getting dehydrated, which can be dangerous. It keeps the hands free and often provides a place to store other items used while running, such as an MP3 player or even a small snack, such as glucose gel packs for an energy boost. Its real purpose, though, is to store water or sports drinks and provide easy access to them.

Bottled water can be a viable substitute for a hydration system.
Bottled water can be a viable substitute for a hydration system.

The most common type of hydration belt simply allows runners to strap a bottle of water to their waists. Some hydration belts come with a set of smaller water bottles; this way, the smaller bottles can be placed around the waist without throwing off the runner's balance. They are still easy to access, and generally just clip into and out of the belt. These belts are often made of smooth silicone to prevent chafing against the clothing or skin, and to make them much easier to clean after a sweaty run. Other styles of hydration belts exist as well, though.

A hydration fannypack is the other most common type of hydration belt, for people who do not wish to wear multiple water bottles around the waist. This product will generally just include a cell inside the main pouch that can be filled with water, often making it a bit lighter than a hydration belt that requires carrying bottles. These will generally include a durable silicone straw extending from the inside of the backpack, and clipped on the shirt, so it can be accessed and drunk from while the individual is still running, without needing to remove and open individual bottles. It can then be easily disassembled in order to clean it.

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