From your shoulders to your hips, here are some alternatives to running vests.
For long runs, many runners prefer a running vest or hydration pack. Others complain of weight or chafing, so we tested options that won’t rub your shoulders raw. If rolling your water bottle up in a jacket a la dirtbag doesn’t work for you , here are a couple other options.
Multipass sling bag
Janji has a simple and stylish option. They have set the bar for being fly while flying down the trail, or catching glances while walking down the street. This limited run pack echos the ‘90s essential that celebrities recently brought back into style. With a 2 liter capacity, there’s room to fit an extra jacket and a water bottle. At first glance, it’s a sleek fanny pack, but there are various pockets to organize items. The hidden zippered compartment is a slim spot to keep a wallet or phone. The main pouch can fit a jacket and headlamp, or hats and gloves, even a pile of snacks. As a plus there’s a key loop and other gel-sized pocket contained inside. An adjustable bungee can cinch the contents tight to reduce bounce, or hold a 21-ounce waterbottle. This can be worn over the shoulder or around the waist. It comes in black or a super snazzy floral print, “that looks as good as it feels”. Five percent of Janji’s proceeds go towards clean water initiative so you can feel good when you buy it.
HydraQuiver Vest Pack 1 & 2 – 2.0
Price: $119.95, $134.95
Have you ever wished that you had a jetpack to propel you faster on your run? Now you can get one (except the fuel will be water or electrolyes, not flames)! Orange Mud’s HydraQuiver Vests are made for trail running, and include hard water bottle quivers for quick access and refilling (no handling a flaccid soft flask) during races. Another benefit is being able to calculate how much you’re drinking since you can see it. The one drawback is you have to be flexible enough to remove the bottle from the quiver by reaching over your shoulder in a half cow face pose (for those yogis out there). So, start working on that shoulder mobility. Depending on the style, you can carry 24-48 ounces of water, with either the one or two-waterbottle quiver option. You can stow snacks in the pockets atop the shoulders, and the chest pockets hold more gear. These hydration and gear packs are designed to sit high on the back, for maximum air circulation and can fit almost every torso size since they feature adjustable straps both under the arms and across the chest.
This is the most svelte waist pack we’ve found. It blends in with the waistband on your shorts if it’s not weighed down, and there’s plenty of stretch to fit Flipbelt waterbottles, wallets, and even a waist running light. They come in a rainbow of colors as well as reflective materials for nighttime visibility. Water and snacks stay put without bouncing, but it can take some work to extract. This is one of the best options to carry water that won’t chafe, it just might take some more time to hydrate yourself on long runs. This belt can also double as a comfortable minimalist travel pack to hide your cash!
This waistbelt is another option that doesn’t burden you with pokey buckles. Instead, it’s a stretchy band with grippy rubber on the edges that ensures the belt slips over your hips and doesn’t ride up, just be sure to order on the larger size. The three sizes available range from small to large, and tend to run tight. Side straps allow you to tighten the belt. The elastic fits snug around the waist or hips and has a zippered pocket for your phone, an accessible compartment for waterbottles, and even straps to cinch on collapsible trekking poles. A soft flask is included with the running belt, and it can hold most flasks up to 20 ounces. . There are also two smaller pockets with velcro closures for nutrition or keys.
Trailmix Plus Hydration Belt
With two holsters for 10-ounce flasks, this ergonomic waist pack is comfortable and balanced. The thick, stretchy strap and rugged buckle don’t pinch. Plastic cases around the bottles keep them from bouncing, though fully filled may still move a bit. The center pocket is compartmentalized to contain a phone in the zippered section and a handful of snacks or other essentials under a velcro flap. Elastic cinches on either side hold rolled-up layers for hands-free running. The mesh fabric on the pocket will help you stay aired out, even when the pack sits against a sweaty lower back. This was one of our favorites for a reason—it’s simple, convenient and everything is accessible on the move.
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