Hip pockets on Backpacks

This article is an excerpt from Stephen Regenold’s story on VentureThere.com covering “Five Gear Innovations” from the past five years.

It is a rare day outdoors that I will wear a backpack without a pair of zippered hip pockets on the belt. These small gear holsters — now seen on backpacks from a dozen or more major pack makers — are a no-brainer innovation and a logical use of wasted empty space on the side of a hip belt.

On hikes, adventure races, backpacking trips, mountain climbs, and even long bike rides I stuff the hip pockets full with energy food, sunscreen, lip balm, a lens cloth, and other items I need quick. The convenience factor is high. But the pockets also save substantial time — you rarely have to take your pack off when all the essentials of a hike are so close at hand. These pockets should be mandatory features on most backpacks for wilderness use, that’s my opinion!

Caveat: On rare occasions — including for me once while bushwhacking in an orienteering race — a hip pocket can come unzipped if its zipper pull is snagged in the brush. The potential to lose small essentials is high if the zipper is opened or you forget to pull it closed after grabbing something on the go.

—Stephen Regenold

“Five Gear Innovations”

Stephen Regenold

Stephen Regenold is Founder of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of five, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.

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