Once widely ridiculed (okay, still sorta ridiculed), the waist pack aka bum bag aka fanny pack aka lumbar bag aka belt bag is a under appreciated piece of essential outdoor gear. With a small footprint yet voluminous design capable of carrying a serious load, it's ideal for day hikes, mountain and city biking, fly fishing, and pretty much any other activity where a spare layer and snack may come in handy. Sure, the stigma still lends itself to 'dad on vacation', but with many forward thinking brands making nifty iterations, the functionality of fanny packs is something that's making it come back in style. There's plenty to chose from these days.
No two fanny packs were created equally; each are carefully designed for a specific use in mind, whether that be durability or general use. When choosing a fanny pack, just like any other piece of outdoor gear, it's best to keep in mind your intended activity is—mountain biking, day hiking, fly fishing—and what features best suit that activity—waterproof, pockets, rolltops, you name it.
Looking for a trusty belt bag to hold just the essential phone, wallet, and keys? Or for a replacement backpack—equipped with everything under the sun and enough room to haul a Nalgene? The following are our favorites for each specific adventure so you can choose the best fit for you. All aboard the bum bag bandwagon!
Best Fanny Pack for General Outdoors: Klättermusen Eldner 2L Waist Pack
Easily the most technical on the list, the maximalist Eldner from Swedish outdoor outfitter Klättermusen is an instant favorite. With mesh pocks, a bungie tie-down, and a quick-release buckle, it’s Scandinavian in all the right ways.
Capacity: 2L SHOP NOW
Best Fanny Pack for Day Hiking:
Gregory Nano Waistpack
This low-profile, easily adjustable, and pocket-plenty Nano Waistpack is a great choice for the day hikers in the crowd. With reflective webbing loops for increased visibilty plus a comfortable quilted back panel, this ranks as our top pick for our weekend warrior reader.
Capacity: 2L SHOP NOW
Best Fanny Pack for Distance Hiking:
Montbell Trail 4L Lumbar Pack
Our low-key favorite outdoor brand, Japan’s Montbell never disappoints with highly practical, kinda-nerdy, and always considered designs. The Trail Lumbar Pack hits the nail on the head, and features adjustable lash on points for extra storage of a rain layer, trail towel, etc.
Capacity: 4L SHOP NOW
Best Fanny Pack for Everyday Carry:
Baggu Fanny Pack
Baggu is known for their quirky patterns & lightweight materials; and this sling bag is no different. From leopard print to burnt orange, this pack has what you need to add a lil' spark to your everyday. The adjustable strap makes it a versatile piece, allowing you to it on your hips or across your shoulder. Plus, it has two zip pouches for maximum organization. The most fashionable option on this list IMO.
Capacity: 2L SHOP NOW
Most Durable Fanny Pack:
Pack NW Ridegline Rolltop Hip Pack
Rolltop bags scream 'outdoorsy' like nothing else and we love it for that. Made in the USA, this bag is padded, has lots of interior compartment storage, and an expandable main compartment. Available in Cordura or X-Pac fabric.
Capacity: 5L when typically packed SHOP NOW
Best Fanny Pack for Fly Fishing:
Orvis Waterproof Hip Pack
The jack-of-all-trades pack; there nothing this hefty waterproof option can't tackle (pun intended). It's designed for multiple hours of handsfree wading. It's roomy, large enough for any accessories you might need in addition to your fly fishing gear in addition to the gear station on front for your zinger, nipper, and forceps. Waterproof flexseal zippers and TPU coated 500D nylon fabric ensures there's no water getting into this puppy.
Capacity: 7L SHOP NOW
Best Fanny Pack for Bike Commuters:
North St Pioneer 9 Hip Pack
This hip pack handmade from 1000 denier Cordura is a little different and better for it, with the detachable hip belt feature. Removing the belt allows you to attach the bag onto your bicycle handlebars around town or for use as a dopp kit when we get to travel again. The loops also allow you to attach to any belt you may have in addition to the belt that comes with it.
Capacity: 2.7L SHOP NOW
Best Fanny Pack for Designers and Artists:
Topo Designs Quick Pack
One of the larger packs on the list, the Topo Designs Quick Pack has lots of nooks and crannies—excellent for carrying a little watercolor set or a journal to your favorite local overview—in addition to your essentials of course.
Capacity: 7.3L SHOP NOW
Best Fanny Pack for Photographers:
Porta Brace Lens Case Hip Pack
One of the more pricey on the list, but for good reason. This 1000-Denier Cordura contructed camera bag is multifunctional, and will keep up to 3-4 lenses protected and water-wicked. Like any great camera bag, there are adjustable dividers to play around with in the main compartment. Made in the USA, this bag also has a highly adjustable waist strap and quick release buckle for easy on and off while you're on set.
Capacity: NA SHOP NOW
Most Packable Fanny Pack:
Matador Hip Pack
Matador started with the invention of a simple item: a packable pocket blanket, a waterproof surface to sit on that fits in your pocket. Ever since, the Colorado brand has been delivering consistent high-quality, ultralight gear. This hip bag packs down to the size of a small lemon, so you can have it ready whenever you need it.
Capacity: 2.5L SHOP NOW
Most Reliable Fanny Pack:
Mystery Ranch Full Moon Hip Bag
Introducting the most well-rounded bag on this list: The Mystery Ranch Full Moon Waist Bag. Large enough to hold your essentials, plus maybe even a small book and your 32oz water bottle, this pack is our top pick for its balance of form & functionality with a price tag under $40! As one raving reviewer puts it: "[this bag is] something truly beautiful and useful in this age of excess!"
Capacity: 6L SHOP NOW