Dust off your Walkman and plug in the car phone, because the fanny pack is back!
There is no shortage of gear to review – lighter shoes, warmer gloves, cozier onesies – but the fact of the matter is there is one accessory that has become woefully forgotten; relegated to the stuff of legend: the fanny pack.
That’s exactly why I leaped at the opportunity to take the weather-resistant Trail Buddy hip bag for a spin. Let’s not kid ourselves, “hip bag” is just Millennial-speak for fanny pack, and that ends here. This pack could well be the second coming of the curiously fashionable, yet unquestionably utilitarian fanny accessory line.
Seagull Trail Buddy Review
Made by Seagull, the Trail Buddy ($65) has a no-frills design that gives it a minimalist aesthetic and cuts out unnecessary additions that can plague larger packs. It’s not the biggest fanny I’ve sported, nor the smallest, but it is the most sleek.
Two pockets with cinch straps are all you get – one large compartment in back, big enough for spare tubes, a hand pump, or in my case, three pint glasses and a rolled-up shirt. The front pocket is a standard flat compartment, suitable for a wallet, phone, and a pair of front-row tickets to Def Leppard.
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.
When I tightened it to my bars, I found the waist buckle, with its thick, slack straps, hung uncomfortably close to the front tire – possibly unsafe, definitely uncool – which for a fanny pack, is really saying something.
When used the old-fashioned way, however, the Trail Buddy performs admirably. The fit is snug and didn’t shift at all while I rode. Best of all, it fends off moisture with a stiff, Cordura exterior and water-resistant zippers. This helps keep the inevitable fanny sweat from soaking into the rear compartment.
I even tried it under running water – both the bag and zippers kept the interior dry.
The only odd feature was the U-lock strap along the back – essentially just a loop stitched across the bag. I was skeptical to say the least, expecting to hate riding with my lock pressed against my back.
But after riding around with the lock resting in the loop, which is just narrow enough to prevent the shackle from falling through, I found no discomfort.
The same could not be said when I attempted to stow the U-lock while using the bag in the handlebar configuration. The balance of the bag was way off and the lock made a racket bumping against the bars. Once again, the Buddy belongs around your waist.
All in all, the Trail Buddy is a stout stout addition to the fanny pack lineage. Because it has so few features, substantial attention has been given to each one. It’s simple and sleek, and snug – exactly what you look for in a fanny – with just enough room for the stuff you need and not enough to sag or flop around as you ride.
I wouldn’t recommend it as a substitute for bike bags on your touring rig, but for getting around in warm months when a backpack is too much burden (or proclaiming to the world that the ’90s are alive and well) it’s great for traveling with the bare essentials. Just don’t call it a hip bag.