We’ve listed the top 10 fanny packs from big-box brands, as well as cottage-industry manufacturers. Most of these waist packs are compatible with backpacking packs, and some of the in-line models for branded fanny packs can clip on to the backpack. The packs on our list range from $20 to $70, weigh just a few ounces each and have 1 to 3+ liter capacities.
These aren’t limited to one use. We’ve included info on what packs are best suited for day hikers, backpackers, cyclists, and travelers, and many of these packs can cross over into all territories. Consider this your unbiased roundup… warts and all, of the best fanny packs for 2020.
Fanny Pack for Hiking & Everyday Use
Thanks in part to many backpacking and travel plans being put on the back burner this year, and also to the resurgence of 90’s fashion, fanny packs are back in style. And of course, they are ideal to carry all your stuff for local outings, everyday carry and eventually travel. Since we need to keep more on hand than ever, including masks, hand sanitizers, and gloves, a fanny pack can be a perfect accessory when you need to bring all those items in addition to the phone, keys, and wallet.
Technical Fanny Pack for Backpacking & Hiking
Fanny packs have certainly proved their worth for day hikes and long-distance backpacking, particularly among the ultralight crowd. They can be used as town bags, to replace hip belts, and to keep high-value items (and snacks) close at hand during long days on the trail.
Waterproof Fanny Packs
There are a number of packs in this guide that keep your stuff dry in rain. Note that when we list waterproof fanny packs, this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re entirely seam-sealed and can be submerged without getting your gear wet. It means the fabric is waterproof for close to it, and it has water-resistant zippers. These will keep contents mostly dry in rain (for a while but not forever). The Exception is the SeaLine Seal Pack, which is essentially a dry bag you can wear around your waist.
Pro Tips | Pick the Right Pack | Use it Well
At the end of this guide, we’ll give you some great PRO TIPS on how to pick the right pack and how to use it best. This includes What about the price discrepancies?, General usage, How much volume do you need?, Waterproof or nah?, Wearing it on a sternum strap, and the advanced topic The magic combination of a waist pack and hip belt-less pack.
Quick Picks for Fanny Packs: Everyday Use
- Best Classic Pick: Jansport 5th Avenue: Often found for less than $20, this classic fanny pack has remained pretty much unchanged since the 80’s — and that’s a good thing!
- Best Budget Pick: BuyAgain Fanny Pack: At $9, the BuyAgain Fanny Pack is an amazing value for a fanny pack that will meet most folks’ needs. It has three zippered pockets, is large enough to carry everyday goods, and weighs just 5 ounces. Plus, it comes in a ton of colors!
- Best Everyday Use Pick: Patagonia Black Hole UL. The low price and lightweight of the Patagonia Black Hole UL makes this a great all-around pack for people who don’t need a lot of extra space. The small zippered outer pocket is handy for separating items like headphones and credit cards.
- Best All-Purpose Pick: REI Co-op Trail 2 Waistpack: A good all-around pack with a functional design, reasonable price, and backed by REI. Uses recycled materials. REI continues to make well designed, value-oriented gear under their own brand.
Quick Picks for Fanny Packs: High-Tech Models
- Best On Its Own: Hyperlite Mountain Gear Versa: The price tag on the Versa might be wince-inducing, but the careful craftsmanship, DCF construction, 3-liter capacity, and organization of this fanny pack make it worth the splurge and perfect for day hikes when you don’t need to carry a full pack
- Best Minimalist Pack: Hightail Designs UL Fanny Pack: Under 2 ounces, simply designed, and durable. This pack is perfect for the ultralighters out there.
- Best in Conjunction with a Pack: Gossamer Gear Bumster: Not too wide as to get in the way of a pack, but has the capacity and organization for town days during long-distance hikes. Perfect for keeping valuables and snacks close at hand, and for going into trailside stores or walking away from your campsite a bit.
Best Fanny Pack for Hiking & Everyday Carry
Low cost, functional waist packs that get the job done!
These are the packs you carry to the park, strolling around town, or running errands. The great thing about these packs is that you can also use them for technical carry, but they’re ideal (and inexpensive) for daily use.
BuyAgain Fanny Pack | Amazon
g/L: ~50 g/L
Volume: ~2.5 L
Weight: 4.5 oz, 125 g
Material: 600D poly
HIGHLIGHTS: Amazing value in a fully functional, 3 pocket, larger volume pack. Huge color choice!
Amusingly Rolling Stone has this as one of their top fanny packs — but with good reason. At $9 the BuyAgain Fanny Pack is an amazing value for a fanny pack that will meet most folk’s needs. It has 3 zippered pockets, is large enough to carry a bunch of stuff, has durable 600D poly fabric, and at around 5 oz it’s a decent weight. Sure it’s not waterproof and isn’t the very lightest but who’s complaining when it costs 3x-5x or less than most of the competition. Oh, and it comes in a zillion colors!
PROS: Inexpensive, larger capacity, tons of fun colors.
CONS: Less expensive construction and materials won’t be quite as durable, e.g. adequate but not bomber stitching
BEST FOR: Daily walks, errands around town, but is still a solid choice for long hikes
Jansport Fifth Avenue Fanny Pack
MSRP: $20 (often on sale)
g/L: 51 g/L
Weight: 125 grams, 4.4 ounces
Material: 600D polyester
HIGHLIGHTS: Who wouldn’t want to rock this 80’s classic? And of course, it’s an honest hiking fanny pack too!
The Jansport Fifth Avenue Fanny Pack fanny pack is not backpacking specific, geared instead towards hands-free travel, days spent exploring a new city, and general convenience. The waistbelt is adjustable but not removable, and this pack is best used on its own. The top opens for easy access, and the pack comes with one additional front pocket for organizing.
PROS: Inexpensive, classic styling, gets the job done
CONS: Materials aren’t as technical as others on the list, not
BEST FOR: Travelers, people heading on a day tour who want to keep their essentials close at hand without carrying a backpack
Patagonia Black Hole UL
g/L: 99 g/L
Weight: 99 grams, 3.5 ounces
Material: RipStop Nylon
HIGHLIGHTS: Bright, fun colors adds a pop to your setup. Small size, inexpensive
The low price and light weight of the Patagonia Black Hole UL makes this a great all-around pack for people who don’t need a lot of extra space. The RipStop Nylon fabric has DWR finish, but the zippers are not water-resistant, so keep that in mind if you stash your phone and cash in here. This can be worn slung over your shoulder or around your waist, and the small zippered outer pocket is handy for separating items like headphones and credit cards.
PROS: Convenient size, fun colors, main pocket and smaller pocket for organizing
CONS: 1-liter capacity might be small for some hikers; not waterproof
BEST FOR: UL hikers who don’t need a ton of extra space; travelers looking to keep valuables close at hand.
REI Co-op Trail 2 Waistpack
g/L: 61 g/L
Weight: 122 grams, 4.3 ounces
Material: Nylon, polyester (recycled)
Waterproof: No, but face fabric has DWR coating to repel some moisture.
HIGHLIGHTS: Recycled materials, functional all-around use design, good price
The REI Co-op Trail 2 Waistpack highlights REI’s strength as a gear manufacturer: Taking the best elements from sometimes overly designed packs, and creating a functional, simple model with everything you need and nothing that you don’t. With two additional pockets aside from the main compartment, a highly adjustable waistband, and a wide main opening, this pack is a great size and comfortable shape for local walks and holding your necessities on a day hike or in-town outing. And of course, it’s “green” with recycled materials and backed by REI.
PROS: Inexpensive, good mid-size, design made from recycled materials
CONS: A few mentions of fabric tears after prolonged use
BEST FOR: Day hikers who want a mid-size pack with a simple, reliable design and a good price
Herschel Seventeen Waist Pack
MSRP: $29.99 (often on sale around $20)
g/L: 56 g/L
Weight: 198 grams, 7 ounces
Material: heavy duty Polyester
Waterproof: Highly water resistant, waterproof fabric, storm flap on main pocket zipper, weather resistant front zipper, but some seepage thru the un-taped seams during long rain
HIGHLIGHTS: Fashion and function are not at odds with this very capable pack. Low cost, large capacity, water resistant, durable with good hardware. Up to almost every use from long hikes to around town. It has a striped Hershel liner and a lifetime warranty.
The Herschel Seventeen Waist Pack is a classically styled waist pack that can be worn around the waist or shoulder. It comes in fun colors, has good volume & water resistance, and a wide mouth for the main compartment. This waist pack is a classic, with decades of Hershel experience in functional, simple bags that get the job done. This model has solid, detailed construction with durable materials, nicely bound seams, and super beefy hardware with the promise of longevity thanks to the lifetime warranty.
PROS: Inexpensive, large capacity, multi-functional, durable, nicely made
CONS: It weighs 7 ounces, one of the heavier models out there
BEST FOR: Travelers or hikers looking for a very durable and low cost waist pack that holds a fair amount of stuff. Great for stashing keys, phone and a bunch of other essentials while out for the day — either a long hike or running errands around town.
Mountainsmith Knockabout Lumbar Pack
g/L: 56 g/L
Weight: 206 grams, 7.25 ounces
Material: 610D Cordura
HIGHLIGHTS: Largest capacity pack in this guide. Can be worn around the shoulder as a sling or on the waist as a fanny pack.
The Mountainsmith Knockabout Lumbar Pack is unique in that its hybrid waist/shoulder sling bag. It can easily swing around from the back to the front, with different carry methods. Its large capacity and plenty of organization features make this a great solution from all-day hikes to everyday carry. The back panel has a hidden pocket for your most valuable items, and multiple pockets are perfect for organization. Plus, it comes in plenty of fun colors.
PROS: Inexpensive, variable uses from short day trips to all-day-long hikes, large capacity
CONS: On the heavier side.
BEST FOR: Outings where you need to carry a fair amount of stuff. Flexibility to use a shoulder bag.
Best Fanny Pack: Technical Hiking / Backpacking
These packs do it all but with more features, better fabrics and higher tech. The are either waterproof or highly water-resistant. Of course, that added performance (and usually lower weight) comes at a higher price. They can be used for longer day hikes or in conjunction with a backpacking pack.
Gossamer Gear Bumster
g/L: 59 g/L
Weight: 88 grams, 3.1 ounces
Material: 70D Robic Nylon custom weave
Waterproof: Yes. Robic fabric and water-resistant zipper.
HIGHLIGHTS: Easily compatible as a chest pack, large capacity for longer outings
The Gossamer Gear Bumster pack easily holds a phone, keys, wallet, and snacks, ideal for town days on the trail or long days hiking in conjunction with a pack. The zipper is water-resistant and the material is PU-coated to help keep your small items protected. The exterior has dual daisy-chain attachments for gear attachments, though this is more optimized for days at the crag as opposed to the trail or in-town expeditions. This is the larger version of the Hipster and will work better for hikers looking for a larger capacity.
PROS: Affordable, secure zippered back pocket, flexible materials, easy to wear as a chest pack
CONS: Clamshell opening doesn’t span the entire pack; steeply angled sides reduce the volume
BEST FOR: Hikers or travelers looking for a lightweight, inexpensive, versatile option with a mid-range volume
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Versa
Amazingly Versatile | Nearly Waterproof Fanny Pack
g/L: 37 g/L
Weight: 83 grams, 2.9 ounces
Waterproof: Yes. Built DCF fabric and has a water-resistant zipper.
HIGHLIGHTS: Large capacity makes it perfect for a standalone day hiking pack. Very water-resistant!
The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Versa is the company’s first foray into fanny packs. This sub-three-ounce model has one of the lowest grams-to-liter ratios on this list and is highly water-resistant, thanks to the rugged DCF construction. The use of the 3.5 ounces/yard DCF means this is one of the pricier packs on the list. Some users might have trouble using this pack in conjunction with backpacks, as it’s on the larger side (9” wide) and will cover smaller user’s torsos. You can fit plenty of gear plus a small water bottle in here, and avoid carrying a pack.
PROS: Extremely lightweight, multiple pockets for organizing, waterproof construction, large capacity
CONS: Pricey; can feel clunky on smaller users; larger size means it can be difficult to use in conjunction with a backpack.
BEST FOR: Hikers using this pack on its own, not in addition to a hip-belt-less pack.
High Tail Designs UL Fanny Pack
g/L: 16.5 g/L
Weight: 43 grams, 1.8 ounces
Waterproof: Yes. DCF fabric is highly water-resistant.
HIGHLIGHTS: Minimalists Dream, super low gram-to-liter ratio, water-resistant, large capacity for weight.
Also one of the lowest grams-to-liter ratios, the High Tail Designs UL Fanny Pack is a cottage-industry pack that is highly water-resistant, as well as the lightest overall on the list. We love it’s nearly waterproof design and large capacity for its weight.
PROS: Extremely lightweight, backpacking-specific construction, durable DCF construction
CONS: Somewhat pricey, no external pockets
BEST FOR: Ultralight hikers looking to replace their hip belt with a fanny pack
SealLine Seal Pak | Waterproof Fanny Pack
g/L: 36 g/L
Volume: 4 L
Weight: 5 oz, 142 g
Material: Polyurethane-coated polyester
Waterproof: Yes, watertight roll-down and waterproof fabric
HIGHLIGHTS: The most waterproof fanny pack on the list, large capacity
SealLine Seal Pack hip pack is great for getting out in a canoe, kayak, or other boats, or for heading out on a day with potential precipitation. This pack will protect your wallet and phone and has plenty of space for a small water bottle and a few snacks. It has D-ring attachments to secure it to your boat or a pack and is made from a trusted gear company specializing in waterproof items.
PROS: More waterproof than others on the list, large capacity, secure attachments
CONS: Still not supposed to be submerged, rolltop closure can be clunky
BEST FOR: Boaters or people who want to protect their gear from the elements
MLD Burro Waist Pack
g/L: 37 g/L
Weight: 97 grams, 2.9-3.4 ounces
Material: RipStop nylon
Waterproof: Yes. Waterproof fabric and highly water-resistant zipper
HIGHLIGHTS: Large size and organization make it great for day hikes
The Mountain Laurel Designs Burro is easily compatible with Mountain Laurel Designs packs as a sternum pack, hip belt pack, on its own around your waist or shoulder. This is one of the most versatile packs, worn and secured in a variety of ways and featuring enough space for wallet, snacks, even a water bottle. Stretchy front and back pockets provide more storage and organization space, and the structured sides allow users to really cram gear in every available inch.
PROS: Multiple pockets, versatile usage, compatible with MLD packs, made in the US
CONS: Rather wide, and can feel bulky for smaller users
BEST FOR: Hikers out on long hikes who want the storage space and high degree of gear organization afforded by this extra pack. And for this carrying an MLD pack who want to integrate a fanny pack on hip belt or sternum strap.
Peak Design Field Pouch
g/L: 52 g/L
Weight: 156 grams, 5.5 ounces
Material: Canvas (Waxed 500-denier Kodra shell)
Waterproof: Somewhat. Waxed fabric is will do a great job of shedding water, and the fold-over lid prevents water from entering the main compartment
HIGHLIGHTS: Fast camera access for photographers, specialized design for fragile gear
The Peak Designs Field Pouch is different than others on this list, as it is designed specifically for protecting cameras and other “fragile” gear. It has lined pockets, attachment points for a camera clip, and a sizing specific for carrying cameras and associated gear. The shell is weatherproof, the seams are reinforced, and the six stretchy interior pockets will keep all accessories and fast-access items organized. Note that this pack is too small for many larger cameras — but a crop-format mirrorless camera (e.g. Sony a6x00, or Olympus) with a not too long lens should fit. A clip attachment will work better for the camera body and lens while storing the accessories in this pouch.
NOTE: This pack does not come with a waist belt. You can use Peak Designs carry strap (separate purchase), your pack’s hip belt, your own belt, or the sternum strap on a pack.
PROS: Ideal protection for camera gear and other items that need a soft, protected interior; highly organized with six separate pockets
CONS: Designed specifically for camera gear, so not as versatile. No hip belt supplied.
BEST FOR: Hikers and travelers carrying camera equipment who need a protected lining.
Hiking Cameras: See our top-rated Best Camera for Hiking or Backpacking 2020 for more information on the best cameras and how to use them on the trail.
Best Fanny Packs Inclusion Criteria
Our inclusion criteria is pretty straightforward. Is the fanny pack lightweight? Durable? Comfortable to wear for extended periods of time? Can it be transitioned from working in conjunction with a backpacking setup to touring cities? We looked for fanny packs ranging from one to three liters, with multiple options for organizing, and that could pull double duty. Bring these fanny packs backpacking (perfect when paired with a pack that doesn’t have a hip belt) and use them for traveling… get into museums, keep your valuables close, fit your wallet, phone, even a small camera in there.
There’s a pretty big price discrepancy on this list: bags seem to be either under $30 or $70. As most of these models are relatively similar in form and function, why would you choose a pack that costs more than double a comparable model? Some of the price discrepancy comes with cottage-industry branding. Manufacturers in the US (Pa’lante Packs, MLD) have a higher cost of manufacturing than models made overseas (Jansport, Patagonia). Packs made with Dyneema Composite Fabric (DCF) will also be more expensive, like the HMG Versa pictured on the left. This fabric has a higher cost of production than nylon, but a durability-to-weight ratio that’s hard to beat.
Tip | The general use of a waist pack
A waist pack is a small pack (1-3 liters) that sits snugly over your hips, used either in conjunction with a backpack or on its own. Over the past few years, ultralight backpackers have started using waist packs along with their hip-belt-less packs to store their camera, wallet, valuables, and other quick-access items on the trail. Waist packs can also be useful for backpacking packs that have a waistband but no hip belt pockets, such as the Oprey Exos and Eja. Waist packs are also experiencing a resurgence with cyclists, day hikers, and somewhat absurdly, on the runway (we’ll see how long that lasts).
The weight difference between the one of the larger packs on our list (MLD Burro Waist Pack, 2.6 liters and the smallest capacity Patagonia Black Hole and High Tail Designs UL Fanny Pack) 1 liter, is just over one ounce. So for an ounce, you can get more than double the capacity for not a lot of bulk, as all of these packs sit comfortably on the waist. A one-liter pack can comfortably hold a few bars, a small headlamp, and a phone, while a pack in the two-liter range can fit hiker wallet, filter, charger, snacks, headlamp, and a few other miscellaneous items.
This is kind of a no-brainer. Chances are you’ll be protecting your most high-value items such as phone, headphones, and wallet in your waist pack, so you’ll want to keep them dry. If you opt for a less water-resistant model, it isn’t a huge deal to protect them in a Ziploc bag. None of these models are truly waterproof, but many have waterproof or DWR-treated fabrics and highly water-resistant zippers.
There are pros and cons to this approach. Your gear will be pretty much the same amount of accessible as it would be around your waist, it’s just a matter of personal preference. Photographers might like the vantage point and the ability to clip their camera to the outside of compatible packs (Peak Designs Field Pouch), but note that attachment modifications might need to be made with certain models to secure the waist pack between your shoulder straps.
Ultralight hikers love to tout the benefits of hiking with a pack light enough that they don’t need a hip belt. The obvious question is then why would you use a fanny pack as opposed to just getting a backpack with a hip belt and integrated pockets? If you’re hiking with a light enough load that you don’t need a hip belt, you might still want the convenience of gear stashed around your waist. If you’re hiking with something like the MLD Burn or the Pa’lante V2, a fanny pack can be an easy way to add an extra few liters of easily accessible storage space to your pack while having it be portable for town days. Some of Osprey’s most popular packs like the Exos and Eja don’t come with hip belt pockets, so a fanny pack can take the place of those easily accessible, organization spaces.
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