If you find most running belts too bulky for your needs, the Nathan Gel Pak is an excellent solution. Though designed to carry GU energy gels, capable of holding 5 or 6 of them, the belt is also just the right size for most smartphones—and you’ll still be able to squeeze a couple gels in anyway.
The multi-pocketed system included in the Gel Pak is actually remarkably versatile, given its extreme compactitude. The entire pouch portion of the belt is only 5 inches tall in the middle, sloping down to 4 inches near the ends, with an 8-inch length. The main zippered pocket is where you’ll put most of what you’re carrying, and its dimensional design, with tightly-woven mesh floor, allows for considerable storage. The interior valuables pocket, complete with hook-and-loop closure, allows you to safely store ID or cash separately from all the gels or other accoutrements. A built-in key ring keeps your personal locksmithery from jostling about and scratching things you don’t want scratched.
And then there’s yet another pocket—external to the entire apparatus, an open-topped pouch made of “Power Stretch” mesh. This is designated, in the gel-centric official description, as a trash pocket, and it certainly works well for that purpose. If you’re using energy gels, you’ll find yourself in possession of a handful of sticky wrappers post-consumption. Rather than carelessly littering, or tucking them back into the main pocket as environmentally-conscious users of other belts are often forced to do, you can easily slip them into the external pouch. But this pocket can serve alternative purposes. If you own an iPod Nano, for example, you’ll find it’s just the right size—insert it upside-down, with the receiver pointing vertically, for convenient voice control.
The belt itself is made of limited-stretch elastic, with a featherweight buckle for one-size-fits-all action. Guides along the length of the belt allow you to tuck away excess strap. The back panel of the pocket, as well as the portion of the belt on either side, is constructed from a lightweight, breathable mesh that wicks away sweat while you run. This feature not only keeps the belt from being uncomfortably warm, but also serves to keep pouch contents dry, making it perfectly safe to keep your phone inside no matter how sweaty you get.
And while the Gel Pak comes in only one color—black—what it lacks in sartorial variety is made up for in safety features. The reflective Nathan logo provides increased visibility during dusky runs, but if some mishap does befall you on the trail, the Pak has you covered. An incorporated waterproof card provides a place to fill out ID, contact and medical emergency information, so whether you’re stricken unconscious or somehow lose the belt, Samaritan passers-by can easily help you out.
The belt can be purchased at several real-world retailers, from the company, and from numerous online stores.