It all started back in the early 1980’s. I was in Japan studying Japanese art and culture. I had an incredibly wonderful experience and came back to the states sporting a new look. No, I wasn’t wearing a kimono. But I was wearing a fanny pack! It was a small one and made of beautiful smooth black leather. Everyone in Japan wore one. But not in the States. Back then, almost no one had seen a fanny pack, much less was wearing one. I got all kinds of questions about where I got it. And lots of people thought it looked funny. Back then, women were still carrying purses the size of carry-on luggage, and men kept bulging wallets, a la George Costanza, in their rear pants pocket!
But I loved my fanny pack and wore it everywhere. A few years later in the 1990’s, it seemed like everyone was sporting a fanny pack. And then the fad died. For years, I never saw people wearing them. But now they seem to be back in style again. Some people call them lumbar bags, some call them hip packs, and I’ve heard others calling them waist packs. But to me, they are all fanny packs!
These days I mostly wear one for hiking and taking long walks. But they sure have become more versatile and popular. And throwing a small one in my luggage is a given, seeing as how when getting to know a new city, I love to walk long distances or go out for a run. 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 shoulder straps or unreachable zippers.
Sure, using a fanny pack can be nerdy, but in a good way. They are not for everyone, but do have a certain appeal. I especially recommend them to my health/fitness clients who have shoulder or neck issues. It can feel like such a relief to take the weight of a backpack off your shoulders. That’s what actually got me thinking about writing this post and recommending some different types of fanny packs. In talking with my clients, I realized anyone who travels might be interested in knowing about the best fanny packs, whether they use them when they travel or at home.
Before I make any specific fanny pack recommendations, let’s talk about HOW to pick your fanny pack.
Primary use. As with all travel and gear purchases, it’s best to start with the HOW. How will I use the fanny pack? That may seem obvious, but not always. Do you need something for travel, for hiking, or for running/biking? What will you carry in your fanny pack? Do you want something that is a bit dressier? These are questions to ask yourself.
Front or back? Do you plan to wear your pack on the front or back? I see people wearing theirs on the front and it’s often for security reasons. Most packs you can switch to front or back. If it’s a larger pack, they can be awkward to wear on the front of your body.
Pull out the tape measure. This suggestion may sound weird. Most bags do fit different body types and sizes, but some don’t. Measuring will help you pick the right pack for your body making wearing one more comfortable.
Here are the fanny packs I recommend. See what you think.
If you do any running, hiking, or walk long distances, this pack is light and comfortable. You’ll have enough space to stash a snack, water bottle, keys, and phone. It’s one of the few fanny packs that seem to stay comfortable around the waist without loosening and slipping.
If you’re an REI product loyalist, this pack is a great choice. It’s comfortable to wear because of the padding. Like many mesh pockets on packs these day, they don’t really work well for holding water bottles. But you can put your water bottle in the pouch section and zip it up. The mesh pockets are better used for smaller items you’ll want access to.
On my last trip to Hawaii, I noticed one of my friends had upgraded some of her beach gear. She was sporting one of these. I asked her about it and she said, “It’s a dry bag fanny pack!” She loves it! The Seal Pak is great for anything water related, so that makes it a good choice for travel, too! Put your stuff in the bag, roll the top down, and enjoy your day! Your gear stays protected. It’s a watertight bag, not completely waterproof, so I wouldn’t put it UNDER water for any length of time. My friend told me that if you close it properly, it will be fine in the rain or if it falls into the ocean and you fetch it out quickly.
When I went to Buenos Aires last year, one of my friends wore this fanny pack everywhere she went. I’ve used Eagle Creek products and have always been impressed. My friend say this is the best fanny pack for travel. There’s a place for your passport, fleece lining in the front zippered pocket for safekeeping of a phone or small camera, and RFID protection to keep your passport and credit card information secure. You even have the option of locking the main zippered pouch, but this could very well launch you into a new level of geeky tourist. Let’s just say my friend fell into this category :) It is a great security-focused choice for a fanny pack!
This fanny pack looks the most like my all leather one from back in the 80’s. Dakine products are always fun and creative, and they’ve kept the price point on the fanny pack quite low. This pack is super easy to throw in your luggage for traveling. Its size makes it practical for carrying keys, credit cards, and phone. It’s small enough that you’ll never find yourself carrying a heavy fanny pack or too much stuff!
So there you have it! My personal history, ideas about, and recommendations for fanny packs. Do you use one? If you have one you’d recommend, please let me know. I’m always looking for recommendations for my clients.