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. 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 hip pack for almost every use, so we rounded up 10 of our favorite fanny packs.
Review: 10 Best Adventure Fanny Packs
Best Fanny Pack for a Day Hike: Mountainsmith Tour Lumbar Pack ($60 on Sale)
Long known for making bomber lumbar packs, Mountainsmith’s Tour pack lives up to that reputation. It has plenty of features and is just the right size for a day hike. For hydration on the trail, each of the side pockets holds a 32-ounce bottle. Or you can stash one with water and one with snacks for fast access on the trail.
The bungee cord is great for storing a rain jacket, and the padded back provides plenty of comfort. The interior foam-padded pocket keeps your tablet (or beloved Kindle) safe, and the hip pocket can hold a large smartphone.
In response to user requests, Mountainsmith created men’s and women’s packs with a gender-specific fit. The women’s has a 6L capacity, and the men’s has a 9L capacity. Our testers found both remarkably comfortable and well-suited for both on-trail adventures and everyday general use.
The Best Party FannyPack: KAVU Washtucna ($40)
This newly released pack is ready for a good time. The main compartment has a two-way zipper, which makes finding gear a cinch. And the side release buckle held the pack snugly in place.
And in case you hadn’t noticed yet, it comes complete with a detachable canned beverage holder. Best of all, it’s quality made and extra versatile. Side cinch straps make it easy to carry extra gear, and the separate compartments allow for quick organization. All in all, it’s a great pack for biking around town, hanging out with friends, or everyday use.
The Best Running Fanny Pack: Nathan Peak Hydration Waist 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.
The extended side panels hug the body for a jiggle-free run, and the expandable zippered pocket keeps essentials at hand. We especially like the included SpeedDraw Flask and the angle of the bottle pocket. It makes it easy to grab and stash your water on the go.
The Best Lightweight Fanny Pack: Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole Mini Hip Pack ($29)
This popular pack is perfect for travel, festivals, minimalist hikes, walking the dog, or everyday use. The ripstop nylon fabric is impressively light, yet strong. And we like how quickly it dries when wet. The strap doesn’t offer any padding, but that shouldn’t be a problem because the small nature of this 1L pack prevents heavy loads.
As an added portability bonus, the pack folds into its own pocket when not in use. It’s perfect for stashing in your carry-on just in case or keeping as a backup in the car. It’s available in a variety of colors.
The Best Fishing & Photography Fanny Pack: Mountainsmith Dry Tour Lumbar Pack ($180)
For adventurers that don’t fear water, be it rivers or snow, the Dry Tour Lumbar Pack may be the best option. From Mountainsmith, the Dry Tour is a waterproof lumbar pack with a roomy interior pocket and thick, comfortable pads that feel great all day long.
This one is minimal in design, with a central pocket, smaller pocket inside, and one last small exterior pocket. And it’s submergeable thanks to waterproof zippers and fabric.
Mountainsmith markets the Dry Tour for fishing and water-laden activities. But the pack carries so great that it hasn’t stopped us from taking it on multipitch rock climbs, hikes, and splitboard tours. At $180, this pack is expensive. But it’s also one of the most technical and capable on the list.
The Best RFID Travel Fanny Pack: Sherpani Qube ($45)
This sleek pack is ready to jet-set around the world. The 2L capacity is just enough to hold your passport, phone, and essentials without being too bulky. And the DWR-coated outer easily sheds light rain and water.
What makes it stand apart, though, are the anti-theft features. With a locking zipper, RFID protection, and anti-slash fabric bottom, you’ll feel good knowing your valuables and info are safe.
The Best Dry Bag Fanny Pack: SealLine Seal Pak ($50)
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 of time. If it’s closed properly, though, it will easily withstand a quick fall off the SUP or rainy-day hike.
The Best Hydration Fanny Pack: Dakine Hot Laps 5L Hydration Waistpack ($56 on Sale)
Want to stay hydrated but prefer the lighter, cooler freedom of a waist pack? Meet the Hot Laps Waistpack.
This pack holds a 2L hydration pack so you can enjoy hands-free sipping while also toting extra food and gear in the zippered pocket. We found it the perfect capacity to hold water, a bike tool, snacks, and a spare tube. And the magnetic buckle did a fantastic job holding the hydration hose in place.
This pack is a great choice for for mountain biking and lightweight hiking. 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 to the flowy singletrack and are looking for a hydration waist pack option, this bag is for you.
The Best Made-in-the-USA Fanny Pack: North St Pioneer 9 Hip Pack ($68)
Made in Portland, Oregon, the Pioneer pack features a removable belt, comes in a variety of stylish colors, and even has a lifetime warranty. We’ve been using this pack for several years now, and it still looks as good as it did on day one.
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 2.6L capacity will hold plenty of gear, and the DWR exterior finish gives it water-resistant protection. It’s a great choice for fanny pack aficionados looking for a quality made-in-the-USA option.
The Best Budget Fanny Pack: SoJourner Fanny Pack ($14)
This no-frills fanny pack gets the job done. And the $14 price tag is hard to beat. The nylon fabric is strong enough to withstand regular use and easily wipes clean. And while it’s not waterproof, it does offer some water-resistant protection. So you can rest assured knowing your phone is safe in a rain shower.
This pack is great for traveling, biking to meet friends for a microbrew, and, of course, keeping it weird at music festivals all summer long (check out some of the wild prints available). 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. And for something even smaller, check out this two-pocket fanny pack for $12.
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 can do both, 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.