Your Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Phone Holder for Running

A woman running with her phone. If she chose between the Garmin Vivoactive 3 vs 4, she may want to get the 4 to play music.

Today, we are more attached to our phones than ever. And if you’re going to lace up your shoes and hit the road, that means you need a good running phone holder.

Why You Need a Phone Holder for Running

If you’re going running, you’ve got three options when it comes to your phone: leave it at home, hold it in your hand, or get some kind of phone holder.

If you’re a minimalist, you might think that it’s better to leave your phone at home. You don’t have to worry about carrying it, and you can be completely free of the myriad of interruptions caused by having a cell phone. Do you want a phone call or text message to intrude on your zen?

But here’s the problem. It’s not safe to run without your phone. If you fall and hurt yourself, you’re going to want a way to call someone to pick you up. And if you go trail running, you’re definitely going to want to have a phone handy in case you get lost.

If you’re worried about interruptions, set your phone to do not disturb for the duration of the run. You won’t hear or feel a thing. The only thing to worry about, then, is how to hold it.

Which leads us to option two. Why can’t you just hold your phone in your hand?

I’ll admit it, this was me for quite some time. I spent years without a legitimate phone holder, and I just carried it with me in my hand.

This isn’t the worst idea, but it has its flaws.

For one, you can’t carry something else you might need – like water.

It also gets tiresome. I was fine on shorter 30 minute runs, but at 45 minutes to an hour – or especially my two hour long run – I simply got tired of holding it. I’d pass it from one hand to the other, and it became a nuisance to deal with.

Then there’s also the unlikely but unfortunate event that you fall. You’re going to want to use your hands to brace your fall, and if you’re holding on to your phone that won’t end well. You’ll either toss your phone to free up your hand, land on the phone itself, or land on your knuckles because you’re holding on to the phone too tightly. Hopefully you never fall. But it happens to the best of us.

That leaves option number three – getting a phone holder for running.

This will keep your phone secure. It’ll free up your hands for other things. And, if you choose the right one, it will be almost as if you didn’t have your phone with you at all.

With that in mind, let’s talk about what features you’re going to want to look for in a running phone holder.

Features to Look for in a Running Phone Holder

When you’re choosing something to hold your phone while running, you need to think about a few things:

  • Does it hold your phone securely?
  • Is it comfortable to wear for long periods of running?
  • Can you conveniently gain access to your phone?
  • Does it look nice?

First, consider how secure your phone is in the phone holder.

You don’t want it to jostle around and fall out. Is it the right size for your phone? Does it hold it snugly in place? Is it liable to slip open or move? Is it held in place by velcro or elastic?

Next, consider how comfortable it is. If you’re going to be running for a while, you don’t want to use anything uncomfortable. I like an armband, but some people find it to be a nuisance.

You’ll also want to think about whether or not it’s convenient to access your phone. Maybe you want to see who’s calling you in the middle of a run, or you might want to take your phone out of its holder to take a picture. Or you need to reach the controls for your podcast or music.

Finally, does it look nice? This may matter more or less to some people, but fashion is something to consider. If you’re too embarrassed to wear something, it doesn’t really matter how well it holds your phone.

Types of Phone Holders for Running

With that in mind, there are a few different kinds of phone holders. Each one has its pros and cons when you consider these various features.

My favorite is the armband. My phone fits into a sleeve on the armband, and there’s a flap that closes over it. It’s secure, and there’s no way it can come out. I’ve found it to be fairly comfortable, and I run ten to twelve miles with it. I’d say it looks fairly fashionable.

My main complaint is accessibility. It’s awkward to take the phone out and replace it, making it annoying to take an impromptu picture along a trail run. Some people also find it very uncomfortable to have the phone on their arm, and I suppose this would be increasingly problematic if you have weak arms.

A woman wearing a belt phone holder for running.
Running belts can be convenient, but they look a little silly.

Another very popular type of phone holder is the belt. These belts wrap around your waist, kind of like a giant armband. Your phone slips into a pocket, and most belts have additional pockets for other things (think keys, wallet, money, etc).

The advantage here is that the weight of your phone is attached to your center of gravity. You won’t notice it nearly as much as you will when it’s attached to an extremity. As a result, it can be more comfortable, especially for people who dislike armbands.

Personally, I think they look silly. But you’ll have to make your own choice about fashion. They look like fanny packs to me.

A third option is to buy shorts with a built in phone pocket. You can find compression shorts with pockets on the side for your phone to slip in. These are convenient and comfortable, and for the minimalist it’s probably a good choice.

Man putting a phone into his running shorts with a built in pocket.
Shorts with a built in pocket are a great choice for minimalists, but make sure they’re secure.

I’ve never used them, but my main concern would be security. The phone slides in the pocket and is held by the compression, and I’d be afraid it would pop out – especially if I was running fast.

For women, there’s the similar option of a sports bra with a built in phone pocket. This transfers the weight to the middle of your back instead of your leg, but otherwise it’s essentially the same as the shorts. It might be a little more difficult to access your phone while running, though.

A final option would be a trail vest or backpack. Trail runners often wear larger vests or backpacks to carry supplies, and these vests can easily accommodate a phone along with water and snacks.

If you’re out for an all day trail run, this could be a great idea. But I don’t think it’s the most comfortable option for a speed workout or a short jog, and you might look a little silly jogging down the street with it.

Our Top Five Picks for Running Phone Holders

You’ll have to decide for yourself what takes priority for you – security, comfort, convenience, or fashion.

But here are some of our top picks for running phone holders in different categories. Any of these will work well, and you can choose the one that best fits your needs.

Flip Belt – The Original Running Belt

The Flip Belt is a super popular choice for runners looking to hold their phone secure.

Whenever some asks on /r/running for a suggestion, you can be sure that multiple people will chime in with the Flip Belt. When you put it on, the pockets face out. You put things in, then flip it over – hence the name. This holds everything nice and secure. This is also one of the more fashionable belts that does not look like a fanny pack.

One downside is that once you flip the belt over, your phone isn’t easily accessible. That could be a nuisance if you want easy access. The Flip Belt also isn’t the cheapest option, although it’s not crazy expensive (around $25 to $30).

Check out the original Flip Belt on Amazon.

Universal Armband by Yunyilan

This phone sleeve is my personal choice for holding my phone.

It’s simple and effective, and it gets the job done for $10. There’s a flap that covers the top of the phone once it’s in the sleeve, and it holds it snug against my arm. It doesn’t slip off or bounce around. The sleeve stretches, so it should accommodate most phones (I have a Google Pixel 3).

The only downside is accessibility. It’s hard to get the phone in and out of the sleeve while it’s on your arm, so you have to take it off to get to your phone. I usually put my phone there and forget it, but this isn’t the best choice for someone who wants easy access.

Check out the Universal Sports Armband on Amazon.

Pinkbomb Mens Two in One Shorts with Phone Pocket

If you’re going to go with the shorts with a built in pocket, this is an excellent choice.

They’re look nice, and you won’t have to carry anything extra. Great for the minimalist. The phone slips in and out fairly easily, so it’s got an edge in terms of accessibility. The outer shorts also have a zipper pocket, which is great for holding your keys.

The pocket is big enough to hold large phones (like the iPhone Plus), and the compression will hold it snug. With almost 3,000 ratings on Amazon, the overwhelming majority are five stars. People are happy with it.

You also need to buy running shorts anyway, so why not combine compression shorts, workout shorts, and a phone holder into one $20 item?

Check out the Pinkbomb Mens Two in One Shorts with Phone Pocket on Amazon.

Here’s a similar pair of two in one shorts for women on Amazon.

Water Buffalo Hydration Pack

Finally, if you want a running vest or backpack, check out this hydration pack from Water Buffalo.

It’s fairly small, as far as backpacks go. It will hold your phone and any other accessories in a snug little pocket. It’s a tight fit, and it’ll be about as comfortable as a backpack can be while running.

The hydration bladder holds 2 liters of water, too, which should be more than enough to quench your thirst throughout a long trail run. If you need to carry water anyway, this is a great way to kill two birds with one stone.

The pocket is on the back of the hydration pack, so you’ll have to forego a little convenience.

Check out the Water Buffalo Hydration Pack on Amazon.

What’s Your Phone Holder of Choice?

So what do you do to carry your phone while running?

I’m curious to hear your choice and your reasoning. Drop a comment below, and share your thoughts.

Your Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Phone Holder for Running

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