There was a time when fanny packs were little more than a goofy accessory you put on when you’re trying to look like a holdout for 80s fashion. Over the years, though, people have warmed up to the actual value of a small, hands-free pack that you can wear unobtrusively, as it lets you keep what you need for a short day out within easy reach.
Whether you prefer to call it a hip pack, a waist bag, or a belt bag, the fanny pack is no longer a novelty accessory. Not only can you wear it nowadays without hearing a snide remark every half hour, you can get it a number of styles, sizes, and builds, allowing you to find the exact kind of hip pack that perfectly suits your needs. Want a small and light pack to carry a barebones haul of supplies? You can find that. What about a bigger one to keep all your EDC gear, along with a change of shirt and a few extra stuff? Yes, you can find one of those, too. Need a waterproof one to keep your gear safe in the rain? There’s definitely a fanny pack for the job.
These are some of our favorite fanny packs.
Carhartt Cargo Series Hook-N-Haul Hip Pack
This waist bag has a rectangular profile that measures 10.5 x 5.75 x 2.75 inches (width x height x depth), allowing it to fit gear that requires a bit more horizontal room. You know… stuff like hand tools, small power tools, and even photography equipment. There are pockets inside the main compartment for organizing items, as well as a zippered pocket out front for small items you want to stash separately and even loops on each side for hanging additional gear. If you want a fanny pack for carrying tools when doing handyman work, this looks like the perfect bag for the job.
It’s made from Cordura ripstop with a DWR finish, with YKK zippers and triple-needle stitching, so the bag itself seems pretty sturdy. The webbing, by the way, probably maxes out for 40- or 41-inch waists, so it’s not quite so friendly for those with a little more weight in the midsection.
This small belt bag is pretty standard for the category, with a zippered main compartment, a zippered front pocket, and an adjustable strap that can accommodate up to 40-inch waists. The webbing isn’t the toughest, by the way, so this is strictly for carrying reasonably light gear, but what you really want to get it for is the integrated water-resistant mat integrated into the strap, which you can roll out any time you want to plop down on a dirty surface, making it useful for camping, picnics, concert festivals, and all sorts of outdoor activities.
This 3-liter fanny pack has a simple and straightforward style, with a dual-zip front closure, ripstop nylon shell, and reinforced adjustable hip belt with a buckle closure. Inside, it has two mesh pockets for segregating the contents, allowing you to better organize your gear. It’s constructed the same way as other products in the Del Dia collection. That is, they randomly put together various colors of the fabric, webbing, zippers, and buckles, turning out unique-looking bags that either tastefully combine colors or playfully put together hues like it’s some DIY fashion straight out of a teenager’s bedroom from the 80s. Either way, it’s a fun way to carry gear throughout the day.
With enough capacity to carry the contents of a small shoulder bag or a mid-size clutch, this 3.5-liter pack offers enough room to sustain you through a busy day out. Heck, it’s big enough to carry basic hygiene products, a change of shirt, and a small towel if you want to use it instead of a small duffel for a gym workout. Plus, there’s a small front pocket sized perfect for phones and other small items.
It has a generously-sized waist strap, too, allowing it to fit even plumper 50-inch waists, all while wearing comfortably across the torso if you prefer to wear it sling-style, although we do wish they went with an elastic keeper for the webbing as the plastic buckle doesn’t do the job quite as well. The style is tasteful, too, with a choice of monochrome colors that keeps any trace of 80s-style multi-color patchwork out of sight.
It’s reasonably water-resistant, by the way, so it should keep your gear dry through spills and light rain. Problem is, while water doesn’t penetrate inside, the exterior shell does stay wet for a bit as it doesn’t dry quickly, so you’ll want to keep that in mind during rainy days.
If all you want is a small bag to hold a small stash of gear while you go about your day, this good-looking waist bag from Lululemon should do the trick. With a 1-liter capacity, it won’t let you pack much, which should keep it light and very unobtrusive, although it should fit most EDC ensemble, from your sunglasses and wallet to your phone and car keys to a pocket knife and a couple other small items. It has a mesh pocket to allow for some organization, while the water-repellent nylon fabric should keep your gear dry even in inclement weather.
Designed for hiking, this rugged waist bag mirrors the aesthetics of your standard camping backpacks, all while providing enough capacity to let you haul a day hike’s worth of gear. It has a 9-liter capacity, allowing you to pack a whole load of tools and supplies, with two side pockets sized for a 32-ounce water bottle each, a front compression pad where you can awkwardly-shaped items, a back panel stash pocket, a zippered pocket on the front panel, bottom compression straps that can hold a rolled-up jacket, and waistbelt pockets that can fit most smartphones. Because it’s going to carry a hefty amount of gear for something that simply hangs on to your waist, it comes with the same load compression system used in the outfit’s backpacks, which, in this case, distributes the weight evenly around the waist, so the bag wears in a stable manner while you’re on the move.
If you’re going to hit the water for some recreational adventures, this is the waist bag you want to have on hand. Waterproofed to IPX7 standards, this pack will keep your gear bone dry in any weather, keeping water from entering even when it’s dropped in the water. Granted, it won’t float, so you’ll have to figure out a way to retrieve it if it sinks, but your gear will not be soaking the whole time.
A 9-liter capacity allows you to pack it chockful of useful items, whether you’re going out fishing, kayaking, or rampaging through a river on a motorboat while wrestling crocodiles along the way. There’s an internal zippered organizer pocket to separate smaller items, which can be removed in case you don’t need it or want it hung at one of the multiple loop straps on the front and sides of the bag instead, as well as webbing pockets sized to hold water bottles. While designed for wearing on the hips, it comes with an additional strap you can attach to the corner loops for wearing it both on the hips and across the torso – very useful when you’re using it to carry really heavy gear.