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Fanny Packs Are Back, And These Are Some of the Best

Graphic: Shep McAllister

They’re baaaaack!

Even if you only remember a smidge of the 90s, chances are excellent that you recall fanny packs, the oft-colorful pack that sits on your, well, fanny. These days, the ubiquitous item has received a modern makeover with retailers calling them everything from waist packs and hip packs to lumbar packs and shoulder slings. Regardless of the verbiage, this mom-and-dad-friendly pack can be a great bet for outdoor playtime: hands free, easy access, and zero weight sitting on your shoulders.

Now, which one to get? Read on, dear friends. And welcome to the Twilight Zone.

Mountainsmith Tour Lumbar Pack

The Mountainsmith Tour Lumbar Pack comes from a company that’s long been known for making great fanny packs, even when they were out of fashion.
Graphic: Shep McAllister

Mountainsmith has long been known for its lumbar packs, so the king of the fanny pack is reveling in this new trend shift. Two side pockets each hold a 32-ounce water bottle and the hip pocket easily stashes away an iPhone (do it for the ‘gram!) Ultra durable Cordura fabric means the Tour can take a proverbial beating while on the trail.

High Sierra Tokopah Waist Pack

The High Sierra Tokopah Waist Pack is a budget friendly option that’s great for low-impact hikes and runs.
Graphic: Shep McAllister

The Tokopah is classic High Sierra: simple, effective, and budget friendly. Four zippered pockets (two larger, two smaller) hold everything you need for a mellow day hike, and the padded back panel sits comfortably next-to-skin. Reflective accents are a nice tough for dawn patrol days, as is the bonus loop for a blinker light.

Mystery Ranch Hip Monkey

The massive Mystery Ranch Hip Monkey has an 8-liter capacity, and could even hold a six-pack of cans.
Graphic: Shep McAllister

Mystery Ranch makes bomber backpacks, so it’s no surprise that they excel in the hip pack department too. The deceptively trim fit boasts an 8-liter capacity, easily swallowing enough gear for a day hike (or, as Mystery Ranch says, a six-pack of beer, but we have yet to test that theory). As with the Tour, the Hip Monkey uses Codura fabric to ensure foolproof durability.

Snow Peak Active Mesh 2Way

The Snow Peak Active Mesh 2-Way is actually a backpack that stows inside itself to create a fanny pack.
Graphic: Shep McAllister

It’s pricey, but the versatility of the Active Mesh makes this a great option for travel enthusiasts. The mesh backpack stows inside itself to create an easy-to-wear fanny pack when a full pack isn’t needed. Two zippered pockets and 8 liters of space will store the essentials for day of sightseeing, but the polyester fabric likely means this is an option best left off the trail.

Osprey Talon 6

The A uses the company’s BioStretch material for a comfortable and conforming fit.
Graphic: Shep McAllister

Osprey knows packs, and the Talon 6 (or the Tempest 6 for women) is a great example. The hip belt uses BioStretch, the brand’s proprietary fabric that uses EVA foam perforated with large holes underneath a layer of mesh. What does it mean? It means the Talon breathes well, sits comfortably, and conforms to your body. Two water bottle pockets (plus two included 19-ounce bottles) and a dual-zippered panel means you have plenty of space to go the distance.

Kavu Women’s Stroll Around

Available in a variety of colors and designs, this small Kavu pack is great for casual strolls around the park.
Graphic: Shep McAllister

Sometimes you need a little fun in your life and the Stroll Around offers just that. The colorful waist pack is the least technical option on the list, but that’s because it’s built for enjoyment, not performance. A zippered main pocket stows away a cell phone, snacks, and car keys, while and exterior Velcro flap pocket offers up bonus storage. Adjustable straps.

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About the author

Heather Balogh Rochfort

Heather Balogh Rochfort is an outdoor expert and full-time freelance writer and author in the outdoor industry.