We use cookies to allow us and selected partners to improve your experience and our advertising. By continuing to browse you consent to our use of cookies. You can understand more and change your cookies preferences here.

Home & garden.

When you click on a retailer link on our site, we may earn affiliate commission to help fund our not-for-profit mission.Find out more.

11 October 2021

Best running armbands and phone holders

Running armbands and phone holders can help you track your workouts, listen to music and keep your phone secure. See our recommendations
Joel Bates
A woman running wearing a running armband and headphones

A running armband or phone holder is essential gear for runners. You can concentrate better on running when you're unencumbered by your phone, keys or credit card, and a running armband or phone holder can also be a lifesaver if you need your phone in an emergency.

Running has become an even more popular form of exercise for those wanting to get out of the house to keep fit, especially when until recently lockdowns had kept gym doors closed for so long.

But unlike the treadmills at the gym, the great outdoors has no handy storage spots, which is why you'll need the best running armbands or phone holders to keep your valuables secure.

In January 2021, we used our daily exercise quota to put 10 popular running armbands from the likes of Nike, Decathlon, Sweaty Betty and more to the test.

We pounded the pavement and park over a distance of 57km to find out which of these running armbands and phone holders are the most comfortable, secure, durable and easy to use.

Prices and availability last checked: 4 October 2021.

Running in the countryside

What is the best armband for running?

Every runner is unique, so as well as finding the best running armband or phone holder, you should also think about where you'd like to hold your phone and if you think armbands are good for running.

We ran with each armband strapped around the left arm bicep, but you might find it more comfortable around your forearm, or not on your arm at all. You might prefer a running belt or even a phone holder for your chest. It's about finding what works best for you.

Only logged-in Which? members can view the running armband test results below. If you're not yet a member, you'll see an alphabetically ordered list of the running armbands we tested. Join Which? now to get instant access to our  recommendations below.

Armpocket Racer running armband for phone

Armpocket Racer

Cheapest price: £25.19, available at Armpocket, also available at Amazon

Sizes available Small (18-28cm), medium (25-38cm), large (33-46cm)

Screen window dimensions 6 x 10.5cm (W x H)

Maximum phone height 14cm

Additional pockets One: inside the phone pocket for keys/cards

Headphone ports Three: bottom-right, bottom-left, bottom-centre

The Armpocket Racer had the thickest padding of all the running armbands we tested. A well-padded armband doesn't necessarily mean a comfy armband, though, so we wore it both on bare skin and over clothing to find out how securely it stayed put during a run.

Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

Decathlon Kalenji Big Smartphone Running Armband

Cheapest price: £8.99, only available at Decathlon

Sizes available One size, 18-44cm

Screen window dimensions 8 x 15.5cm (W x H)

Maximum phone height 17.5cm

Additional pockets None

Headphone ports Three: bottom-right, bottom-left, bottom-centre

Decathlon's Kalenji running armband can fit some of the largest smartphones you can buy in its phone holder, such as Apple's largest phone ever, the iPhone 12 Pro Max. This makes it unique among those we tested.

It has a strong plastic seal at the top of the phone pocket to reduce the chances of your phone falling out. 

We put it through our tough durability tests to see if the strap can also be relied on to keep the phone holder on your arm. Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

Gritin Phone Armband G3223A

Gritin Phone Armband G3223A

Cheapest price: £6.99, available at Amazon

Sizes available One size (extra loop attachment included for larger arms), 23-42cm

Screen window dimensions 7.5 x 15cm (W x H)

Maximum phone height 16cm

Additional pockets Two: on the back of the armband for bank cards, on the side of the armband for keys

Headphone ports Six: top-right, top-left, top-centre, bottom-right, bottom-left, bottom-centre

The outside of the Gritin Phone Armband G3223A is made of neoprene rubber, which is especially useful for preventing water from soaking into the armband. As well as testing it through jogging, we also soaked this running armband to find out how quickly you can expect it to dry if you get caught in a downpour during your run.

Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

Nike Lean Armband

Cheapest price: £14.99, available at Argos and Sports Direct, also available at Amazon

Sizes available One size, 27-37cm

Screen window dimensions 7.5 x 14cm (W x H)

Maximum phone height 15cm

Additional pockets None

Headphone ports Six: top-right, top-left, top-centre, bottom-right, bottom-left, bottom-centre

Nike's Lean Armband is a stripped back design with no fancy features or extra pockets, but comfort and durability are what really make the best running armbands.

Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results to find out if we think Nike has got the basics right. 

RevereSport Lightweight Running Armband

Cheapest price: £14.99, available at Amazon

Sizes available One size (extra loop attachment included for larger arms), 25-40cm

Screen window dimensions 7 x 13.5cm (W x H)

Maximum phone height 16cm

Additional pockets Two: on the back of the armband for cards, on the side of the armband for keys

Headphone ports Six: top-right, top-left, top-centre, bottom-right, bottom-left, bottom-centre

At the centre-bottom of the screen window on RevereSport's armband there's a spot that works with fingerprint scanners, which is very handy if you need easy access to your phone when running. We took this and other important ease of use factors into account in our tough tests.

Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

Ronhill Phone Armband RH-003282

Cheapest price: £22, available at Cotswold Outdoor and Runner's Need

Sizes available One size, 26.5-32cm

Screen window dimensions 6.5 x 13cm (W x H)

Maximum phone height 15cm

Additional pockets None

Headphone ports Five: top-right, top-left, bottom-right, bottom-left, bottom-centre

We were pleased with how responsive our touchscreen was through the screen window of the Ronhill Phone Armband RH-003282. We also judged it on how easy it was to attach, how securely it stayed on, and how quickly it dried when soaked.

Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

Sweaty Betty Media Armband

Cheapest price: £20, available at Sweaty Betty

Sizes available One size, 25.5-32.5cm

Screen window dimensions 7 x 14cm (W x H)

Maximum phone height 15cm

Additional pockets None

Headphone ports Four: top-left, top-centre, bottom-right, bottom-centre

Sweaty Betty's Media Armband has rubberised dots on the inside designed to help with sweat wicking and keeping the armband in place during exercise. We ran with it over the top of clothes as well as on bare skin to see if there was a difference in how secure it was.

Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

Tune Belt AB91

Cheapest price: £21.99, available at Cotswold Outdoor and Runner's Need

Sizes available One size, 23.5-31cm

Screen window dimensions 7.5 x 15cm (W x H)

Maximum phone height 16cm

Additional pockets None

Headphone ports Four: open top, bottom-left, bottom-right, bottom-centre

There's a gap at the bottom of the screen window on the Tune Belt AB91 which, although handy for accessing a fingerprint scanner, makes it much easier for water to get inside.

Is this enough of a con to put us off recommending it? Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

WEIQILE Running Armband Phone Holder

WEIQILE Running Armband Phone Holder

Cheapest price: £5.99, available at Amazon

Sizes available One size, 20-36.5cm (approximately – the band is elasticated)

Screen window dimensions Doesn't have a screen window

Maximum phone height 15cm

Additional pockets One: miscellaneous use

Headphone ports One: top-centre

If storage is more important than using your phone's touchscreen, the WEIQILE Running Armband Phone Holder is likely to catch your eye. Instead of a screen window there's a large extra zip pocket that you can easily store items, such as keys and cash, inside. We weighed up the usefulness of this extra pocket as well as other key ease-of-use factors in our tough tests.

Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

How we tested these running armbands

We took all 10 of these running armbands out for a 30-minute run, and conducted ease-of-use and water-resistance tests at home. We only ran in dry, mild conditions to avoid any undue impact from adverse weather.

Sticking to a set time rather than a set distance ensured that an equal time was spent with each armband, and eliminated any performance-related elements that would come with setting specific distances.

Ease of use

Comfort and security aren't the only things that make a good running armband.

We closely assessed and rated each for how easy it was to put on and adjust, put a phone into the phone holder, use a phone through the screen window, and to use any extra pockets.

Comfort and fit

When running you should be able to focus purely on the exercise and nothing else.

When we tested each running armband running we assessed how comfortable each was to wear on bare skin and over a sleeve, and checked for how much each armband wobbled or slid down during use.

Sweat wicking and water resistance

None of the armbands we tested claim to be waterproof, but all should provide basic splash protection so your phone won't be at risk if you get caught in the rain. They also shouldn't take too long to dry if they do get wet thanks to rain or sweating.

We sprayed each armband 15 times with a spray bottle to simulate the sort of water exposure you might face when out in the rain and were pleased to find that almost all of them protected the phone from getting wet.

Very few of them dried quickly after soaking, though, so we factored in speed of drying into our assessments rather than water resistance.

Damage to adjustable strap on running armband
This adjustable strap became fluffier and weaker after being attached and detached 100 times

Build quality and durability

As with all consumer products you'll want to buy an armband that lasts.

We checked for any tears or loose stitching and tested the durability of the strap by attaching and detaching it 100 times to see if you can expect any deterioration after wearing it for lots of runs.

Some armbands lost a significant amount of strength and became fluffy, whereas others weren't impacted by this test at all.

Head to our exercise equipment buying guide to kit out your home gym with the best gear you can buy.

Five things we learned testing running armbands and phone holders

  1. Hardly any armbands dry quickly – after simulating a spell of rain by spraying each armband with a water spray bottle 15 times, every armband took at least 20 minutes to dry. More than half of those we tested were still wet after 50 minutes.
  2. Your phone should be safe from milder rain – during our rain simulations we checked to see if any water reached the phone inside, and in almost all cases the phone stayed dry despite how much liquid hit the outside.
  3. Armbands worn over clothing are less secure – although some armbands stayed in place both on skin and over clothing, we found they were generally more prone to sliding down when worn over the top of a sleeve.
  4. Fluffy Velcro doesn't mean weaker Velcro – after detaching and reattaching the straps 100 times some became fluffy, but this didn't always mean they were becoming weaker. Some armbands were just as strong despite the fluffiness, making it more of a cosmetic issue rather than a serious practical one.
  5. Not all screen windows are touch-friendly – there was a big mix in how responsive our phone touchscreen was through the screen window. With some armbands it was as responsive as when holding the phone in your hand, and for others the touchscreen wasn't responsive at all.

Track your workouts accurately with a Best Buy fitness tracker.

Running armband and running belt

Are running armbands or running belts better?

As running is such a unique experience for each user, deciding which phone holder is best for you can be tricky until you try them out. But here are a few key things to consider:

Running armbands

  • Easier interaction with your phone – as long as the screen window works with your touchscreen, you can easily tap away on your phone without having to fiddle around with taking it out and putting it back in.
  • Phone sizes can be prescriptive – armbands are often unable to fit phones of every size comfortably in the pockets. Make sure to check the screen window dimensions and maximum phone height an armband can take before you buy it.
  • There are limits on what you can carry – your arm can only fit so much, so if you're keen to take extra items like water bottles or energy gels you'll find armbands limiting.
  • They're fiddlier to put on – using one hand to secure something to your arm isn't as easy as using both to fix a belt around your waist. Some armbands can be quite tricky to attach and adjust, especially when you're on the go.

Running belts

  • One size often fits all – running belts usually have larger pockets that can fit more than just your phone, so the size of your phone is often less of a key factor when choosing a running belt.
  • Some have water bottle pockets – if you like to keep hydrated during runs a running belt could be the best option for you. Some have integrated pockets that are specially for water bottle storage so you don't have to run holding your bottle in your hand.
  • They can get in the way – as running belts are larger and you'll likely be carrying more items in them they can prove more cumbersome, especially if you're sprinting or running on inclines.

Compare our mobile phone reviews and see which are the best running headphones

Woman running with a water bottle and headphones

Should you carry water while running?

If the weather isn't too hot and your run is less than 30 to 45 minutes, you probably don't need to carry water provided you're well hydrated ahead of your run.

However, if it's hot outside, you sweat a lot, or if you're just going for a lengthier run carrying water is a very sensible thing to do.

Dehydration can give you a headache and ruin your run at best, and can cause some very severe health conditions, such as heatstroke or seizures, at worst.

Different people lose fluid at different rates, so if you're unsure how much water you should be drinking you should try weighing yourself before and directly after a run and find out what the difference is.

If you're 500g lighter after a run, for example, you've got 500ml of water to top-up.

It's not a good idea to drink your fluids all at once, though, as over-hydrating is bad for your health and your body will most likely reject most of the liquid instead of using it to hydrate you.

Spacing out your hydration equally over a longer period is a good way to ensure you get the most out of the water you're drinking.

For example, if you'd lose one litre of fluid during a 60-minute run, you should aim to drink around 250ml every 15 minutes to keep optimally hydrated.

The rate you lose fluid during exercise can vary, so if you want to be precise it's worth reweighing yourself every now and again to see how you should adjust your hydration.

See our picks of the best reusable water bottles.