Review: The iFitness Hydration Belt (or: The Best Running Fanny Pack)

If you see me out on a long-distance run–or even in some longer races–you’ll note that I’m running with what looks like a fanny pack. Non-runners may judge me for this. Non-runners can kiss my ass.

I used to mock these hydration belt setups. The first two times I trained for a marathon, I ran only with a handheld bottle. The first two times I trained for a marathon, I was an idiot. Not only did the bottle not hold enough water for any run longer than 10 miles, but as light as it was, it still tired out my arms. Seriously, even running with keys in your hands for more than six miles gets annoying pretty fast.

My first season with Team in Training, I picked up a Fuel Belt brand hydration belt. It had four bottles for fluid and a small pouch for money, credit card and, importantly, ID. Because if you’re out on a solo run and something lays you low — a heart-attack, a car, one of those little kids with those damned razor scooters — and you don’t have ID, then what?

Some people ask: “Hey, doesn’t that belt bother you?” Nope. Not really. I even ran with it in races because it was more convenient than dealing with the typical clusterfarg around the water tables.

But the Fuel Belt isn’t, shall we say, optimal. It rides sort of low, bounces around quite a bit and the pouch it comes with is pretty small. You can get additional pouches but they look goofier than the belt and none of them really seem big enough to hold a key item some folks like to run with — the modern smartphone, which has grown the size of a brick.

So Cara and I purchased the iFitness hydration belt (16 oz). I can’t say enough about this belt. It fits much better than the Fuel Belt — and this is for both men and women. (Cara had a Fuel Belt as well). This is partly due to material and partly due to construction. The waterproof pouch in front can hold everything you need–money, credit cards, i.d., keys, iPhone or HTC Evo-size phones and, quite possibly, a small child. It has two little loops built in for Gu packets (or whichever brand you prefer). And while I haven’t used it, it comes with a racing-bib holder that positions your bib right at crotch level.

All of this and the belt does not slip. It does not ride up. It does not ride down. It stays put. This is why we like it.

Beefs with the belt? The biggest beef is that it only comes with two eight-ounce water bottles. So I’m sort of back to not having as much hydration as I’d like. I’m going to order an additional bottle and clip and will report back to see if that bounces around or changes the performance of the belt. I’m also not crazy about the bottles themselves. Mine leak a little when I squeeze them. Cara’s bottles, however, don’t leak–so that might just be a fluke on my part. And it’s not like the Fuel Belt bottles never leaked either.

10 thoughts on “Review: The iFitness Hydration Belt (or: The Best Running Fanny Pack)

  1. Dang it Ken! After a lot of thought on the matter, and research, I just bought a Nathan belt. It took me a month to decide that the Nathan belt was the one. I like it okay (it holds 20 ounces of water – main reason I bought it was that water capacity), but I definitely wouldn’t wax rhapsodic about it like you just did about the iFitness hydration belt. Why didn’t you post this 3 weeks ago?

  2. How well does it work when you are sitting on the couch? Is this really an advance over the beer hat? And is there a pouch for potato chips and beef jerky?

  3. Hi Ken,

    Thanks for the great review! It sounds like you have defective bottles and we definitely don’t want your shorts getting wet while you run! Please contact us at 866.334.3960 or so we can get some replacement bottles out to you.

    Thanks for Running with Us!

    iFitness Team

  4. Hi Ken,
    Thanks for the review. I have one of the neoprene single pouch ifitness belts that I’ve been using for about two years. It’s a fantastic product, waterproof, snug, comfortable and practical. Unfortunately, the elastic around the belt and pouch itself has worn out, leading to a lot of unwanted bouncing and twisting around. I’m considering a replacement, possibly the Ultimate II race belt – but am looking around to see if other belt brands have better longevity.

  5. I just read your post on the hydration belt and thought you made some really great points. I especially liked your comment about belts that bounce while running…. annoying! 🙂 My company, The Hydrosleeve, focuses on just that subject, and I thought your readers might be interested in a review if you had a chance. Here’s a link to our media page if you’re interested: Let me know if I can give you any more information or help out in any way. Thanks!

  6. I bought this belt when I went to run NOLA in February this year. I had high hopes for it and was thrilled to replace my Nathan, which had all sorts of issues. Although I am glad you are happy with it, my experience does not mirror yours. This belt moves around as much as the Nathan. I wear compression tights on my longer runs and slick fabric pushes the belt up to my waist constantly. I have a small and it is as tight as it can go. I also have issues with the bottles leaking, which was the same with the Nathan. I am still in search of the belt that resolves the slipping problem, which is so annoying on a long run…

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