Call them what you will – waist packs, hip packs, lumbar bags – it all boils down to the same thing: a fanny pack.
All the rage in the ’90s and the topic of much ridicule in the decades since, hip/waist/fanny packs are almost certainly here to stay. Heck, more than that, they’re making a strong comeback.
And for good reason. From fishing to trail running, travel to bike commuting, fanny packs prove endlessly versatile and useful.
Even the skeptics among us have to admit: fanny packs are pretty great. Whether you want to carry a snack, pack your phone, stash hydration, or speed through airport security, a fanny pack helps you do it all without the hassle of slipping shoulder straps or unreachable zippers.
In fact, there’s a fanny pack for most every use, so we rounded up 10 of our favorites.
Review: 10 Best Adventure Fanny Packs
1) The Running Pack: Osprey Rev Solo Hydration Pack ($40)
Trail runners and endurance athletes rejoice, this pack was meant for you. The streamlined design keeps it light and comfortable, while still having enough space to hold a snack, water bottle, keys, and phone.
As our editor explained, “The lightweight and breathable waist belt is barely noticed. It was so comfortable that I forgot I had it on. In fact, it took 15 minutes after I got home until I noticed I was still wearing it.”
2) The Adventure Photography Gear Pack: Peak Designs Field Pouch ($40)
Whether shooting professionally or snapping pics for fun, the field pouch will keep your memory card, power cords, batteries, and accessories organized and protected. The scratch-free, padded felt interior protects delicate camera gear and we really like the waxed canvas outer.
One of our favorite features, though, is the outside attachment point where smaller cameras can directly clip on, keeping all your adventure photography gear in reach and easily accessible.
3) The Fishing Waist Pack: Simms G4 Pro Hip Pack ($180)
This bag does everything a fishing pack should. It keeps your gear organized, allows for easy one-handed access, and doesn’t get in your way while casting and reeling in the big one. The fold-down workspace gives you a convenient mid-river workbench and the compression straps easily handle a jacket.
We like to use the pack with the shoulder strap for a bit of extra support, but you can remove it. Best of all, the taped seams on the bottom keep everything dry during river crossings. This fishing fanny pack is a win for anglers everywhere.
4) The Day Hike Waist Pack: REI Co-Op Trail 5 Waistpack ($40)
This is a great pack and we can’t deny we like the reasonable price, too. I was surprised with how comfortable it fit; the padding manages to add cushion while still molding nicely to your body. The mesh pockets don’t fit water bottles that well. But you can do what I did and zip your water into the pouch, and fill the mesh pockets with snacks, chapstick, and other quick-access items.
5) The Dry Bag Fanny: Sealline Seal Pak ($48)
It’s a dry bag, it’s a fanny pack, it’s both! The Seal Pak is a favorite for boating, and a great choice for travel and everyday use. Stash your keys in the zippered compartment, toss in your daily essentials, roll the top down, and carry on knowing your gear will stay protected.
Note, it’s a watertight bag, not completely waterproof. Meaning you shouldn’t fill it with valuables and submerge it for any length. If it’s closed properly, though, it will easily withstand a quick fall off the SUP or rainy-day hike.
6) The Globetrotter Travel Fanny Pack: Eagle Creek RFID Tailfeather Waist Pack ($49)
This is the best fanny pack for travel. There’s a place for your passport, fleece lining in the front zippered pocket for safekeeping of a phone or small camera, and RFID protection to keep your passport and credit card information secure.
You even have the option of locking the main zippered pouch, but this could very well launch you into a new level of dorky tourist. Instead, just fill it with your travel essentials and get ready for a day of hands-free, secure adventure.
7) The Hydration Waist Pack: Camelbak Flash Flo LR Belt Hydration Waist Pack ($60)
Want to stay hydrated, but prefer the lighter, cooler freedom of a waist pack? Meet the Flash Flo Belt. This pack holds a 1.5L hydration pack, so you can enjoy hands-free sipping, while also toting extra food and gear in the zippered pocket.
This pack is a great choice for lightweight hiking and, if you get the pack cinched down perfectly in place, a fun option for mountain biking. Be forewarned, though, it’s not good for running. The larger capacity inevitably leads to a lot of bouncing around and fighting with the straps. But if you’re heading out on a hike and are looking for a hydration pack waist option, this bag is for you.
8) The Bike Pack: Seagull Bags Trail Buddy ($65)
The Trail Buddy is a sleek pack full of features. After testing, our editor noted, “While anyone who travels light would be a fit for this bag, the Trail Buddy is made with the cyclist in mind. Two Velcro straps on back give you the option to secure it on your handlebars, but like all fanny packs, the Trail Buddy belongs around your hips.”
There’s even a spot to attach your u-lock and the Cordura exterior keeps it impressively water-resistant. From biking around town to hitting the mountain bike trail, this pack should be your go-to for two-wheeled adventure.
9) The Made In USA Fanny Pack: North St Pioneer 9 Hip Pack ($57)
Made in Portland, Ore., the Pioneer pack features a removable belt, comes in a variety of stylish colors, and even has a lifetime warranty. It’s not the most technical on the list, but it is a great chameleon.
Use it as your daily fanny pack, hook it on the handlebars of your bike, or fill it with toiletries for a functional dopp kit. The 5.6L capacity will hold plenty of gear and the DWR exterior finish gives it water-resistant protection. A great choice for fanny pack aficionados looking for a quality made-in-the-USA option.
10) The Classic Fanny Pack: Dakine Hip Pack ($22)
I’m pretty sure Dakine is partially responsible for the first wave of fanny pack fans; they’re certainly keeping the throwback flame alive with fun prints and a classic design. Plus, the $22 price is hard to beat.
This pack has been great for traveling, biking to meet friends for a micro-brew, and, of course, skating with the bros. I like that it holds just enough to be useful (keys, cash, credit card, and phone), but has limited space so you’ll never find yourself toting around an awkwardly heavy fanny pack. It’s a solid, practical pick that won’t break the bank.
How To Pick The Perfect Fanny Pack
Now that you’ve seen how awesome fanny packs are, you want one but don’t know which to choose. Here are three considerations to help you pick the perfect pack.
- Primary use. First and foremost, how do you plan to use your pack? Do you need something sleek for travel, a carryall for hiking, or is water-capacity of utmost importance? These are important considerations. Take a minute and visualize your fanny pack future.
- Front or back. Do you plan to wear your pack on the front or back? Most packs you can switch around, but the larger they are the more awkward it is to wear them on the front. Keep this in mind when choosing.
- Pull out the tape measure. It’s always a good idea to take your measurements and check the pack specs. Most bags fit a variety of people but some packs don’t cinch down small enough for petite packers while others run surprisingly small. Measuring will help you pick the right pack for your body to maximize success and comfort.
Now it’s time to buckle up and get ready for a life of fanny pack adventures. We’ll even let you call it a lumbar bag or hip pack if it makes you feel better. Just get out there and enjoy the awesomeness that is hands-free packing.
Have a favorite fanny pack we missed? Let me know in the comments for future updates to this article. Thanks!