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 and 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.
There’s a specialized fanny pack for almost every use, so we rounded up 14 of our favorites for you to consider.
At the end of our comprehensive review, you’ll find our buyer’s guide with helpful tips on how to find the best fanny pack to fit your needs. We’ve also included a specs chart for comparing bags and an FAQ section.
The Best Fanny Packs of 2023
- Best Overall Fanny Pack: Mountainsmith Tour Lumbar Pack
- Best Budget Fanny Pack: Jansport Fifth Avenue Fanny Pack
- Best Running Fanny Pack: Nathan Peak Hydration Waist Pack
- Best Everyday Lightweight Fanny Pack: Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole Mini Hip Pack
- Best Backpacking Fanny Pack: Thrupack Summit Bum Classic
- Best Around-Town Fanny Pack: BAGGU Fanny Pack
- Best Fishing Fanny Pack: Patagonia Guidewater Hip Pack
Mountainsmith Tour Lumbar Pack
- Capacity 9 L (Men’s), 6 L (Women’s)
- Dimensions 11.5" x 10" x 5"
- Weight 1 lb., 9 oz.
- Number of pockets Three external, two water bottle, two hipbelt
- Large capacity
- Water bottle pockets
- Comfortable, padded back
- Front compression attachment system for stashing a jacket
- Can get heavy if packed full
- Not an everyday fanny pack
Jansport Fifth Avenue Fanny Pack
- Capacity 2.5 L
- Dimensions 6” x 12.5” x 4”
- Weight 4 oz.
- Number of pockets One main zippered, one front
- Comes in many different colors and patterns
- No inner security pocket
- No breathable mesh back
Nathan Peak Hydration Waist Pack
- Capacity 0.25 L
- Dimensions 12" x 6" x 5"
- Weight 6 oz.
- Number of pockets One zippered stretch, one water bottle
- Minimalist running pack for water and essentials
- Comfortable and ergonomic fit with minimal bounce
- Includes a water flask
- Angled bottle holder allows for one-handed access
- Very small capacity
- No pocket for storing a jacket
- Expect some bounce while running
- Specialized, sporty look
Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole Mini Hip Pack
- New version is made from all recycled materials
- Can stuff into its own pocket making
- Made of 70-denier, 100% recycled ripstop nylon for durability and weather resistance
- Minimal capacity
Thrupack Summit Bum Classic
- Capacity 2.5 L
- Dimensions 9" x 5" x 3"
- Weight 3.5 oz.
- Number of pockets One zippered, one drop-in
- Highly customizable
- Can be worn five different ways
- Made by thru-hikers, for thru-hikers
- High-quality materials
- Certain accessories sold separately
- Interior pockets are quite small
- No exterior pocket
BAGGU Fanny Pack
- Large capacity
- Simple and stylish
- Made of high-quality recycled materials
- BAGGU will send a strap extender for free
- No padding on strap
Patagonia Guidewater Hip Pack
- Capacity 9 L
- Dimensions 13" x 9" x 9"
- Weight 1 lb., 6 oz.
- Number of pockets One external zippered, one internal zippered
- Very large capacity can fit all your fishing essentials
- Nylon with a PU face coating and a TPU back coating makes this a durable and waterproof pack
- Exterior loops and webbing for additional gear carry space
- Large, technical fanny pack not meant for everyday wear
- Can get heavy if packed full, making it more difficult to hike with
Dakine Hot Laps 5L Hydration Waistpack
- Capacity 5 L
- Dimensions 12" x 7" x 4.5"
- Weight 1 lb., 3.2 oz.
- Number of pockets Two zippered body, one zippered hipbelt
- Includes a 2 L water reservoir
- Large capacity for layers, snacks, and tools
- Air mesh back panel keeps you cool
- Too bulky for running
- Bladder takes up a lot of space when full, limiting the capacity for storing other items
Fjallraven Kanken Hip Pack
- Capacity 2 L
- Dimensions 7" x 4.7" x 3.5"
- Weight 4.7 oz.
- Number of pockets Two zippered front, one zippered back
- Tough canvas design
- Available in many different color schemes
- Not 100% waterproof
- Great carrying capacity for everyday use or for quick day hikes or dog walks
- Stylish, fun colors
- Made of repurposed nylon
- Thin webbing hipbelt
- Can’t order specific color combinations – each bag is unique
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Versa Fanny Pack
- Capacity 2.25 L
- Dimensions 2.25" x 6" x 9"
- Weight 3 oz.
- Number of pockets One zippered main, one front, one back stash
- Made of waterproof, high-quality materials
- Compatible with backpack waist belts and sternum straps
- Good for backpacking or everyday wear but not enough features for a day hike
- White model gets dirty quickly
North St. Pioneer 9 Hip Pack
- Made in the U.S.
- Comes in an array of stylish designs and colors
- Can be made into a bicycle handlebar bag with purchase of an attachment kit
- Made of high-quality, durable, and recycled materials
- Bike attachment kit sold separately
SoJourner Fanny Pack
- Simple design with three pockets for organization
- Comes in fun colors and patterns
- Made of cheap materials
- Too simple to be useful in the outdoors
Monos Metro Sling
- Made with high-quality materials
- Comes in a vegan version
- Interior fabric made from recycled plastic bottles
- Not hybrid for any outdoor activities
Fanny Pack Comparison Chart
|Fanny Pack||Capacity||Dimensions||Weight||Number of Pockets|
|Mountainsmith Tour |
|9 L (Men’s), 6 L (Women’s)||11.5″ x 10″ x 5″||1 lb., 9 oz.||Three external, two water bottle, two hipbelt|
|Jansport Fifth Avenue |
|2.5 L||6” x 12.5” x 4”||4 oz.||One main zippered, one front|
|Nathan Peak Hydration |
|0.25 L||12″ x 6″ x 5″||6 oz.||One zippered stretch, one water bottle|
|Patagonia Ultralight Black |
Hole Mini Hip Pack
|1 L||8″ x 4.75″ x 2″||3.5 oz.||Two zippered|
|Thrupack Summit |
|2.5 L||9″ x 5″ x 3″||3.5 oz.||One zippered, one drop-in|
|BAGGU Fanny Pack||1.7 L||6.5″ x 8″ x 2″||5.7 oz.||Two zippered|
|Patagonia Guidewater |
|9 L||13″ x 9″ x 9″||1 lb., 6 oz.||One external zippered, one internal zippered|
|Dakine Hot Laps 5L |
|5 L||12″ x 7″ x 4.5″||1 lb., 3.2 oz.||Two zippered body, one zippered hipbelt|
|Fjallraven Kanken |
|2 L||7″ x 4.7″ x 3.5″||4.7 oz.||Two zippered front, one zippered back|
|Cotopaxi Bataan||3 L||11″ x 5.5″ x 3″||4 oz.||One zippered|
|Hyperlite Mountain Gear |
Versa Fanny Pack
|2.25 L||2.25″ x 6″ x 9″||3 oz.||One zippered main, one front, one back stash|
|North St. Pioneer |
9 Hip Pack
|2.65 L||9″ x 6″ x 3″||5.7 oz.||Two zippered|
|SoJourner Fanny Pack||3.4 L||11.5″ x 7″ x 4″||6 oz.||Three zippered|
|Monos Metro Sling||1.8 L||10.2″ x 5.5″ x 1.9″||12 oz.||One zippered|
Why You Should Trust Us
The staff of GearJunkie has been around the block, and we aren’t afraid to admit we’ve been on the fanny pack train for a while now. From carrying essentials on day hikes to mountain bike laps where a backpack would be cumbersome, fanny packs make our outdoor adventures more enjoyable, and we’ve come to know a good pack when we see one.
Miya Tsudome is one of the primary gear testers on this review and uses over a decade of experience in the outdoors combined with years of writing gear reviews to help you make the most informed purchasing decision for your fanny pack needs.
Living in Bishop, Calif., on the flanks of the Sierra Nevada mountains, Miya spends many days out hiking and backpacking where having a good fanny pack always comes into play. And, she knows what to look for in one to take around town on her daily errands and walks.
She and the other testers on this review spent weeks assessing the qualities of all the fanny packs in this lineup, with the hopes this information will help you wade through the plethora of different fanny packs on the market to find the one that’s best for you.
Buyer’s Guide: 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 a few considerations to help you pick the perfect pack.
First and foremost, how do you plan to use your pack? Do you need something sleek for travel or a carryall for hiking? Or is water capacity of utmost importance? These are important considerations.
What you’ll use your fanny pack for the most will determine what type of fanny pack to buy. Take care to look at each pack’s specifications closely, as some of them will specialize in a certain activity, while others are more hybrid.
While the classic way to wear a fanny pack is on your hips with the bag facing the front, there are actually a few different ways to wear one which will change based on the weight of the pack, personal preference, or activity.
Larger bags for everyday use can be great to wear across the body. Some packs in our review, like the Thrupack Summit Bum or Hyperlite Mountain Gear Versa, can be fitted onto your backpack hip belt or attached to your bike as a bike bag. Some packs are heavy and are better worn on the back of the hips rather than the front for less awkward carrying.
Not all fanny packs are created equal. It’s important to note the capacity of a pack before purchasing as well as look at the number of pockets the pack has to make sure it’s going to be the right fit for your needs. We tested fanny packs ranging from ultra-lightweight to the 9-liter Mountainsmith Tour and Patagonia Guidewater Hip Packs.
Some packs only have one major compartment, while others have a variety of pockets, pouches, and even water bottle holders. Consider what level of organization you’re looking for in a fanny pack.
While nylon is a popular fanny pack material, it certainly isn’t the rule. Many innovative packs utilize high-tech fabrics to gain water resistance and durability or simply add some flash.
On the technical side of the spectrum, the Dyneema composite material of the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Versa gives it exceptional durability, while the TPU of the Patagonia Guidewater Hip Pack makes it 100% waterproof. We were also impressed with the Jansport Fifth Avenue Fanny, which is a budget pick still made with 600-denier ripstop fabric – a highly durable material.
Fanny packs also often integrate other textiles into their design to add special functionality, such as a stretch mesh used in a water bottle pocket or a neoprene divider that adds structure to the pack.
From zippers to drop pockets to water bottle hostlers, there are a number of different ways to tote around your kit in a fanny pack. In any zippered pocket, look for high-quality YKK brand zippers that will last longer than their generic counterparts. Some will even be water-resistant.
A drop pocket won’t have any type of closure to keep things secure, but often these can be handy for quickly tossing a phone into while you’re out and about. We also greatly appreciated whenever a fanny pack included an internal compartment with a key loop to clip our keys to.
Because most fanny packs can only carry so much (the average across the packs we tested was 3.5 liters), large padded waist straps aren’t often needed. Many will use a simple webbing hipbelt, brought together with a single side-press buckle.
There are some fanny packs, like the larger Mountainsmith Tour and Dakine Hot Laps, that offer slightly more padding in their straps and even include pockets that add to the overall capacity.
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, whatever the activity.
You can wear a fanny pack however you like! There are a number of different ways you might choose to saddle up your fanny pack, including across your waist (with the pack at the front or back) or worn as a crossbody bag.
Worn at the front of your waist can provide quick access to essentials, while a fanny pack worn at the back carries better if you choose to run with your pack. There are also fanny packs, like the Thrupack Summit Bum, designed to integrate with your backpack hipbelt.
It all boils down to geographic slang! While calling it a fanny pack or waist bag is common with American English speakers, British English speakers will often call them bum bags. Other terms we’ve come across include lumbar packs, hip packs, and rump rucks (all right, we made that one up).
In many ways, fanny packs often are safer than purses when it comes to traveling internationally where pickpockets may be an issue. Because they are buckled around your waist as opposed to slung over a shoulder, they are much more connected to your body.
Fanny packs, often by default, will close with a zippered entry, which while not 100% secure can be a deterrent to prying eyes. And positioned at the front of your waist, fanny packs allow you to keep your valuables in view at all times.
A fanny pack like the Monos Metro Sling is styled for travel and includes smart design features such as a hidden full-length zip on the back of the pack for things like a phone, wallet, or passport.
It would be simple to say nylon, but the truth is there are a variety of textiles fanny packs can be made from that lend themselves to different uses. There are even different types of nylon. For example, TPU-backed nylon creates a 100% waterproof pack that is ideal for fishing.
Also, consider the Monos Metro Sling, a pack available in either nylon or a vegan leather option as well as the Cotopaxi Bataan, a fanny pack made from 100% repurposed nylon.
Fanny packs are exceptionally useful for activities where you might want quick access to a number of essentials. From backpacking trips where you might store a map, compass, and a snack to exploring a new city and keeping your wallet and boarding pass secure, fanny packs are made to make things easy to grab on the go.
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