By Jason Boyle
The Uno Belt is part of FuelBelt’s new Helium line. All belts in the Helium line feature Helium Hex-Foam that “has specifically designed air channels to increase breathability and performance, which allows the athlete to stay cool during warm conditions.”
FuelBelt was founded in 1997 by Vinu Malik, when he made the first hydration belts while training for the Boston Marathon. Today the brand is a part of the Implus conglomerate which features “innovative footwear, athletic, and outdoor accessories” brands. FuelBelt continues to promote the “best and lightest in hydration and performance gear.” You can find more information on the company and their products at their website.
The Uno Belt is feature packed for a small lightweight belt. The rear of the belt has an elastic holster for the 16 ounce BPA free contour bottle with a softsilicone burst valve, an angled zipper pocket and elastic mesh pocket.
The front of the belt features a removable rectangular shaped zipper pocket. The pocket is zipped onto the front of the belt and held in place with a Velcro closure on the lower edge of the back of the pocket. The back of the pocket also has a small elastic pocket that can be used to store trash and a hole for a headphone wire to pass through. Both the front and back zippered pockets look like they have waterproof style zippers for weather protection.
The belt also has reflective decals and piping on both the front and back to help with visibility when running in the dark.
The belt is held in place via two straps that connect through a buckle under the front pocket. There are 4 buckles that the straps can pass through to customize the fit for any waist size. The straps are held in place via Velcro fasteners.
I tried on the belt, and it is pretty intuitive to put on. One of the straps has to be pulled out of the buckle and then refastened to put it on. The Velcro fastener seems to hold tightly.
The front pocket is smartphone compatible. I can easily get my iPhone 6s with my UAG case into zippered pocket. I have a hard time getting my work iPhone 7 into the pocket with the discount case that is on it. The case for my work phone is a little larger than the case on my personal phone. There seems to be plenty of room in the front pocket once my phone is placed inside. I think the limiting factor for getting in a large phone is the zipper. It is short and only runs along the top. If it made the turn it would be much easier to get a phone in the pocket.
The elastic bottle holster is a little challenging to use while moving. I am hoping that it is just extra tight because it is new, but on a practice run, I had to slide the back of the belt in front of me to get the bottle in. This is an area I will focus on during my review.
The angled zippered back pocket is large. I easily fit my iPhone 7 in the pocket with room to spare. The elastic mesh pocket on the front of the zippered pocket is large as well. I can easily fit in a package of chews and several gels. The access to the mesh pocket seems small, and +this is another area I will evaluate closely in my field testing.
I will be using the FuelBelt Uno Belt over the next couple of months hiking and running here in New Orleans and abroad. I will evaluate the Uno running belt on comfort, durability and usefulness. This concludes my initial review, please check back in about a month for my update.
Final update – FuelBelt Uno Belt August 28, 2018
I did my best to put the FuelBelt Uno Belt through the wringer this summer. I used it for over 225 miles of hiking and running, mostly in the hot humid 90 plus degrees summer here in New Orleans. I also used it hiking on the beach in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, and while running a 5k in Nashville, Tennessee. The temperatures have been in the from the upper 80s to over a 100 during an extreme heatwave. Humidity has been 90% and I don’t think I have not been completely soaked with sweat since February. I did use the Uno Belt during a few runs with light rain, but mostly it was running in full sun or at night.
I evaluated the FuelBelt Uno Belt on three main criteria – comfort, durability and functionality. Comfort is my first criteria because I think it is one of the most important. If the belt is not comfortable while running, then I am not going to wear it. That was not a problem with the Uno Belt because it is very comfortable. The Helium Hex-Foam is soft against my skin and does a good job of wicking sweat away from my body. It was so hot that I routinely ran without my shirt on and I had no chafing from the foam belt.
The triangle shaped pocket on the back is fairly comfortable as well. I generally carry two cell phones with me – a personal iPhone 6s and a work iPhone 7. I find that I like to put them both in the triangular zipper pocket on the back. They did not bounce and did not cause any chafing issues in this configuration.
The front pocket was comfortable as well and I did not really notice any of the items I kept in there bouncing or causing any issues while running or hiking.
I only had one comfort issue with the belt and it was with the bottle. I dropped the bottle on the pavement and it scuffed the hard plastic on the bite valve. This scuffed portion would irritate my arm and my back depending on how I had the bottle in the holster. I generally just turned the bottle so that the scuffed portion did not bother me.
The second criteria I evaluated the Uno Belt on is durability. I feel like 225 miles of use has given me a good idea on the durability of the belt – in short it is great. It literally looks exactly the same as the day that it arrived. I was concerned that the Velcro connection on the belt would eventually wear out and not stick. I have to say that the Velcro connection is just as tight and strong as when I first started using the belt. The zippers and pulls on the front and back pockets still operate smoothly and show no signs of wear. The mesh outer pocket on the back is still intact with no issues. I really did not expect the belt to be as durable as it is. This is a definite win!
The third criteria I used in my evaluation was functionality. In my opinion the belt is great for marathons or other races where you will have aid stations every five miles or so. The 16 ounce water bottle was adequate for most of my runs, but there were times I wished I had more. I did find that it became easier to put the bottle back in the holder after some use, but it still stayed secure and never came out.
The included water bottle was functional. I liked how the water bottle had a large opening, so I was able to fit ice cubes into the bottle in order to have cold water during my runs. The hard bite valve and the softsilicon burst valve were not my favorite. I like to drink Coke on my longer runs and I tried putting some in the water bottle. This was a mistake. The softsilicon burst valve continually opened, soaking the side of my shirt and my body with Coke. I ended up just chugging the bottle to keep that from continuing to happen
I liked to store nutrition in the front pocket and in the mesh pocket on the back of the belt. The front pocket is huge and easily held Tailwind sticks, gels, and waffles. The mesh pocket on the back was best for gels or Honey Stinger chews because I had to squeeze them through the small opening.
The reflective piping on the belt also made it very useful for night running. The belt really lit up when lights from a car or bike passed over it.
Overall, I have been very pleased with the FuelBelt Uno Belt. It fits a niche in my running closet when I am running for an hour or less by myself or if I am running races with frequent aid stations.
This concludes my review of the Uno Belt.