Fanny Packs: Hiking Essential

Without a doubt my favorite piece of outdoor gear is the fanny pack. While the fanny pack is perhaps most critically acclaimed as a holder of change, keys, phones, and sunscreen, this backpacking accessory is more than just a extra pocket for the elderly: it's an organizational dream.

As someone who always packs minimally for trips, every item that accompanies me is intentional. If I ever question somethings utility, chances are it gets left at home. For a long time I thought of fanny packs as a needless accessory that, while convenient, did not merit the extra physical space or mental energy. However, after some poking and prodding from a fanny pack loving friend of mine, I relented and gave it a try. There is no going back to a pre-fanny pack life now. I'm hooked!

How to use a fanny pack right:

First off, identify 5-10 small items that you use consistently both while hiking and while in camp. Some examples of your “go to” items could be:
-Lighter
-Multitool
-Chapstick
-Sunscreen
-Headnet (if in a buggy region)
-Headlamp
-Compass
-Bandana
-Eating Utensils
-Map
-Water purification (iodine, polarpure, aquamira…)

These items can certainly change, and if you are noticing yourself not using one of your fanny pack item very frequently, take it out and put it back into your main pack. If you find yourself using something frequently that wasn't originally in your fanny pack, add it into the mix and see how it goes. Through this process of trial and error you will relatively quickly develop an effective system of “go to” items for your fanny pack. You will find yourself constantly connected to your essentials, and very infrequently rummaging through your pack. Increased organization - decreased frustration.

While in camp, I rarely take my fanny pack off. It is small and unobtrusive, and taking it off frequently detracts from the usefulness of always having your “go to” items near by. With such a fashionable and functional accessory, why would you want to take it off while in camp? It's utility is in its accessibility.

While hiking however, you have options. I personally enjoy hiking with my fanny pack on, and i do not feel inhibited by its presence. Wearing my fanny allows me the ability to less frequently rummage through my pack, and it means I can access things quickly without the need to stop. Yes, there can be logistical difficulties associated with wearing a fanny pack and a backpack simultaneously. Packs with larger hip belts can make it difficult to find room for a fanny pack, and fanny packs with big buckles can be uncomfortable when positioned between your backpack and your back. The key to this is positioning, trial and error, and making sure your fanny can work with your pack. Not loving the idea of hiking with your fanny pack on? Clip it around your pack, tuck it in your brain, or place it at the top of your pack. That works too.

While many larger expedition packs have brains that turn into fanny packs, these huge honking monstrosities are not what I am referring to. The fanny packs I am endorsing and advocating for are small, minimalistic, and if you're super fancy, waterproof! They do not exist to hold your raincoat, snack, and tarp, they exist for the basics. Here are some examples of fanny packs I have come to enjoy:

If after all this you are still wondering why I'd want a fanny pack instead of simply relying on the brain of my pack, give the fanny pack a try and see the truth for yourself. fanny packs are at the corner of function and fashion, and these handy accessories are just looking to be reclaimed by backpackers everywhere!!


Written by Lloyd Vogel: Lloyd is a avid fanny pack wearer and owner of Big Outdoors. When he is not running Big Outdoors he is galavanting around outside.