What Are The Best Ways to Carry Water When Running?

Last Updated: June 1, 2022

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We can all agree that running is dehydrating, which is why most of us carry our own water bottle during long runs. Some runners stay hydrated by stashing bottles in bushes along the routes or using a route with water fountains along the way.

However, with most water sources being questionable these days, most runners prefer to carry their water with them during a run.

The simplest way to carry your water while running is by holding the water bottle in one hand. However, if you have a large bottle, it can be hard to get a comfortable grip and can throw you off your form and pace.

Luckily, there are many other practical options for runners to carry water during a run.

Here are the best ways to carry water when running:

Handheld Bottles

Some coaches say that a handheld bottle will throw off your weight unless you have one on each hand or switch hands regularly for weight distribution. However, for short to medium runs, a handheld bottle is more convenient because you don’t have to strap belts on your hips or have a pack on the shoulder. Besides, it’s easy to take a quick sip without slowing down and fill your bottle at aid stations when racing.

Another benefit with many water bottles today comes with a hand strap that allows you to relax your hand without dropping the bottle. Also, they come in a range of sizes, and you can have one for each hand for better weight distribution and double the capacity.

Many athlete handheld bottles are designed to fit the palm and curve of the hand. This, combined with a pointed opening, allows runners to point them near the mouth and squeeze the bottle to drink or squirt the face.

Some water bottles, like the Nathan Handheld water bottle, come with a phone case where you can just slide the phone in. Besides, the 18-ounce handheld has double-wall insulation that keeps your water or liquid cooler longer than standard bottles. You can also find handheld running bottles for longer runs like the Nathan SpeedMax Plus, which is also more affordable and has large expandable zippered pockets for small essentials. Keep in mind that greater capacity comes with more weight.

Nathan Handheld Water Bottle

Nathan Handheld Water Bottle

Nathan SpeedMax Plus Handheld Bottle

Nathan SpeedMax Plus Handheld Bottle

If you just want a simple eco-friendly design, check out the Brimma Premium Sports water bottle, a good option that is easy to carry and use with a one-click proof lid.

Reasons to buy

  • Perfect for short runs
  • May come with a case to hold essentials like phones and keys
  • They are more affordable than other options

Reasons not to buy

  • Large bottles can tire out the arms in long runs

Running Belts with Water Bottle

Hydration waist belts are a great option for long-distance runners who want to stay hydrated. Some belts can hold multiple smaller bottles around the waist, but the most common come with a single bottle across the lower back. Waist belts are an excellent way to carry your water on the run because it’s hands-free and won’t cause a sweaty-back feeling like hydration vests or backpacks.

Pay attention to the style of the belt. Belts with two bottles on each hip provide the most balanced fit like the Nathan Hydration Running Belt. Others like PYFK running belt waist packs offer an angled bottle with a zippered pocket for versatility. However, ones with a zipper pocket in the back can make retrieving and returning water bottles on the run a bit awkward. 

Nathan Hydration Running Belt

Nathan Hydration Running Belt

PYFK Running Belt

PYFK Running Belt

Reasons to buy

  • Hands are free to move and swing
  • Can be adjusted to fit personal body type
  • It can hold multiple bottles where runners can have various hydration options – you can have water and electrolyte beverages.
  • Most waist belts have extra pockets for keys, cell phone, keys, and ID
  • You get easy access to hydration, and it doesn’t get in the way of your running

Reasons not to buy

  • Some may bounce while running and cause chaffing and discomfort
  • Some belts can be too low, interfering with hip movements

Backpacks

Long-distance runners may need to have plenty of water, food, and security gear. A hydration backpack is more preferable in this case because it provides the space without interfering with your hand swing and movement. A good running backpack should allow you to have several water bottles and can also accommodate personal items like smartphones and snacks.

There are two types of runners that may need a backpack. For a long-distance runner, you need a lightweight pack that can hold water and food enough to fuel a long run. For a commuter runner, the pack should hold a small bottle of water or two and other gear you need for a day in the office.

Check out the CamelBak HydroBak Hydration backpack that offers plenty of room for a few bottles. This 50 oz. hydration pack is designed for more effortless loading and refilling with a twist top and handle. The backpack also features a secure zip pocket for essentials.

The CamelBak Octane hydration backpack can be a great option for long-distance running because it has a 2-lite reservoir and plenty of storage options to carry all the essentials during your longer runs. It’s extra-lightweight with a 3D vent mesh for breathability. It also comes with an attached safety whistle to use in case of emergencies.

CamelBak HydroBak Hydration Pack

CamelBak HydroBak Hydration Pack

CamelBak Octane Hydration Pack

CamelBak Octane Hydration Pack

Reasons to buy

  • Distributes the weight across your back
  • They can carry plenty of water
  • Offers multiple pockets to stash all on-the-run essentials
  • It does not interfere with the hand swing

Reasons not to buy

  • A backpack that’s too heavy can force a runner to lean forward, which shortens the stride.
  • There’s a potential for chaffing.

Running Vests

Running vests are a practical solution to carry your phone and personal belongings while out on the run. These vests come in various sizes and shapes, each designed to fit a specific need, from hidden compartments that can accommodate gadgets to water bottles and even others that aim to keep you warm. Running vests comfortable to train with and are often adjustable around the waistband to enhance the comfort of wearing one. 

The Runitude running vest is an excellent pick for anyone looking for a chest pouch to hold their phone while exercising. Its lightweight design makes it comfortable, weighing in at a mere 5.6 ounces. It features a weatherproof and waterproof chest pack designed to minimize shaking around stored phones. This running vest has a reflective grey material and light straps to make you stand out while running in the darkness. 

Freetrain V1  provides added security and comet while running, and it has an adjustable waistband to keep the vest snug. The running vest brings safety and practicality together with its reflective prints for safe night runs and breathable holes to allow heat to escape from your chest. You can use the center pouch to store phones, and it can fit up to the iPhone 11 pro max, or you can use the two side pockets for smaller devices. 

Runitude Running Vest

Runitude Running Vest

Freetrain V1 Vest

Freetrain V1 Vest

Reasons to buy

  • Running vests provide practical weight distribution to the center of the body.
  • They are more discrete and provide more reflective surface area to keep night runners visible. 

Reasons not to buy

  • Running vests can trap heat around your chest, especially during prolonged exercise and long-distant running. 

Hydration Thigh Holsters

Thigh holsters provide a refreshing approach to carrying water on the run. Most thigh holsters can fit more than one water bottle on each thigh, which acts as extra weight to tone your upper legs. Your hydration thigh holst5er will also come in handy when you are out for other exercises such as climbing and cycling, thanks to its secure carrying capability. 

Drop leg water bottle holsters are made of premium quality nylon giving thanks extra durability and strength to withstand prolonged use in rough conditions. This holster has an adjustable design with straps that you can adjust to fit firmly onto your thigh. The stretchable straps hold your water bottle snuggly such that it remains in place, making it easy to get to when you need to take a sip. 

Hikers and trail runners will love the Fitletic water bottle holster with its pair of eight-ounce water bottles. This bottle holster is also compatible with most running belts. The included water bottles are contoured to give them a natural grip for quick sips while running. With its quick-draw design, you can also quickly access and replace water bottles from the holster. These bottles also feature quick flow race caps and quick-draw, enabling quick one-handed drinking while running. 

Drop Leg Water Bottle Holster

Drop Leg Water Bottle Holster

Fitletic Water Bottle Holster

Fitletic Water Bottle Holster

Reasons to Buy

  • Thigh holsters are easily accessible while running, and they can securely hold your water bottles on each thigh.
  • The extra weight helps tone up your thigh muscles while staying hydrated. 

Reasons not to Buy

  • The water bottles can become cumbersome to run with, especially on long instances.

Wrap up

Carrying water during medium and long runs can be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful run. Whether you decide to use a handheld, a belt, or a backpack, these ways can help you narrow down your choices. Ensure the method you use is suitable for your running purpose and how much water you will need.

Hydrate and keep running.

Just getting started with running? Check out our guide on choosing your first pair of running shoes to get the most out of your runs. If you’re looking for a way to track your performance make sure to check out our complete guide on GPS running watches.

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