Fanny Pack Face-Off: 7 of the Best Adventure Packs for Your Waist

Let’s get one thing straight. I love fanny packs. And I’ve got no shame in my hip pack game. There are two main reasons why I will—and very often do—proudly don this highly functional (and fashionable?) piece of gear that’s typically reserved for middle school math teachers on a field trip to Disneyland:

  1. I’m a minimalist (and lazy) and only want to carry the bare essentials when I’m hiking, biking, walking, whatever. If I’m not bringing a hammock or a picnic on a hike, I’ll gladly ditch the backpack, spare myself all that back sweat, and strap on a fanny pack. 

  2. I love water, especially when I’m working on my fitness. I faint easily so have to stay hydrated. I need to carry lots of water, but usually that’s the only big item, along with smaller essentials like my phone, keys, snacks, and chapstick. So fanny packs are just the right size.

Today is International Fanny Pack Day (yeehaw!), so we’re rounding up some of the very best hip packs out there from all the brands you know and love, including The North Face, CamelBak, Cotopaxi, Fjallraven, and more. 

The author modeling fanny packs in Mammoth Lakes and Yosemite National Park

To no one’s surprise, all fannies are not created equal. Each of the fanny packs we tested—it’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta…—serves its own unique purpose. We won’t pick favorites, but we will tell you how they differ and who they’re made for. We also used an iPhone (and beer) in several photos for scale.

Got fanny questions? We got fanny answers. Hit us up in the comments below, and our fanny experts will help advise which fanny’s right for you.

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two girls wearing fanny packs hiking in joshua tree national park
The author (left) with a fanny pack friend in Joshua Tree National Park

Camelbak — Podium Flow Belt

I was most excited to try this fanny pack. I have a similar one circa 2011 from REI. It’s still in great shape after getting lots of use (see above photos), but since it’s so old, the pockets were designed for smaller phones, so I hardly use it anymore. Time to upgrade!

The Podium Flow Belt is the perfect option for someone who wants to carry a bottle of water and just the essentials. The water bottle sleeve makes this fanny pack a favorite among mountain bikers who need to stash just a few small items and appreciate a little extra hydration out on long rides. The fanny pack is lightweight and small enough that it doesn’t get in the way.

What we love

The water bottle actually stays in place. The sleeve has an elastic ring around the top that tightens around an indentation near the top of the water bottle, holding it in place, which is rather important so it doesn’t flop out when you’re running, walking or pedaling. (My REI fanny pack doesn’t have this, and any time I bend over to tie my shoe or pick up something, the bottle flops out.) It’s also easy to access the bottle while you’re on the go. It’s set on a diagonal so you can effortlessly slide it in and out without much thought or effort. Like most things in life, it favors righties.

Mud cap. As you’d expect from CamelBak, there’s a toggle on top of the water bottle to let water flow or not, reducing accidental spillage and allowing you to open and close it without touching the part your mouth touches. The real nifty addition here is the mud cap. I’m not afraid of dirt and (most) germs, but the mud cap covers the mouthpiece to help keep out dirt and dust.

Perfect for

Those looking for a minimal fanny pack that allows you to carry extra water and just the essentials in terms of cargo. The Podium Flow is great for short hikes/runs/bike trips.

Specs

  • Pockets : There are two. One large zipper opening has two mesh side stash pockets and a clip for keys. Also on the exterior is a smaller front zipper pocket, perfect for keys, chapstick, etc.
  • Storage: 21 oz of water and 2 liters (120 cubic inches) of cargo
  • Weight: 6oz
  • Extras: There’s a reflective strip along the pack for extra visibility. Not huge, but a nice touch.

Camelbak Podium Flow Belt fanny pack from above

Camelbak Podium Flow Belt fanny pack with an iphone showing size and scale

Camelbak Podium Flow Belt fanny pack from the back

CamelBak — Repack

CamelBak’s other popular fanny pack, the Repack, is a step up from the Podium Flow in terms of storage and water capacity (and price, obviously). The Repack has your traditional CamelBak water reservoir tucked into its large interior pocket. It’s super easy to get in and out to refill, and holds 1.5 liters, which is enough for a couple hours of hydration depending on the activity and weather.

The water reservoir has a fast flow rate for better hydration. A magnetic tube trap keeps the big ol’ straw secure around your waist and easily accessible on the go. In no time at all, I could reach down and—without looking—detach the straw, drink, and easily return it back to it’s magnetic home. 

What we love

ALL. THAT. WATER. Not only does this fanny pack carry more water than any other pack we tested, it’s easy to get to while you’re in motion, which means you’re more likely to stay hydrated. 

It also can carry a legit amount of stuff. See below.

Perfect for

Those looking for a happy medium between fanny pack and backpack. If other fanny packs are too small and you don’t want to carry a full backpack, the Repack is a great option, ideal for longer hikes/runs/bike trips. 

Specs

  • Pockets: Oh, yeah!
    • Belt pockets: On the belt on either side of the main pocket is a smaller pocket. One side is a zippered pocket with enough fabric to expand out a bit to hold a chunky multi-tool or the like. The other side is a taller yet slimmer pocket with an elastic top. No zipper, but it’s met with an another elastic piece of fabric that flaps over to cover it and keep contents snugly inside. In our experience, it was tricky to get anything out of this pocket, and at the same time, it’s not quite as secure as a zipper. It’s nice to have variety of pocket sizes, though.
    • Main pocket: Most of this pocket is used up by the water bladder, but there is a separate compartment that can hold a fair amount of stuff like sunscreen, map, phone, or small camera even.
    • Front pocket: Here’s where things get fun. The front pocket unzips from the top and bottom (I know!) and has velcro on one side. Unzip, flap open from the side and you’re met with a collection of compartments. There are two open-top sleeves (likely where you’d put your cell phone) and on the inside of the flap is a zippered, mesh pocket with a hook inside.
  • Storage: 1.5 liters of water (50 oz) and 2.5 liters (150 cubic inches) of cargo
  • Weight: 10oz
  • Extras: There’s a reflective strip along the pack for extra visibility. Not huge, but a nice touch.

CamelBak Repack fanny pack from the side showing the mouthpiece

close up of the CamelBak Repack fanny pack magnetic snap for the mouthpiece

CamelBak Repack fanny pack from the top showing the water reservoir and straw

CamelBak Repack fanny pack open with an iphone inside showing the size and scale

CamelBak Repack fanny pack with the front pocket open

The North Face — Explore BLT Fanny Pack

Don’t tell The North Face folks, but $65 for the large and $49 for the small is a steal of a deal for this bad boy. I tested the large, and it’s exactly that. It’s made from 900D Base Camp polyester material, which feels thick, sturdy, and what one would assume to mean durable. Time will tell.

The Explore BLT is described as a crossbody-style fanny pack, meant to be slung over one shoulder. I tried it on my lower back, too, and it was quite comfortable with padded lumbar support and thick waist straps. Though, the more weight it holds, the harder it is to stay up/in place.

What we love

The size. This pack is the largest fanny pack of the bunch, by a bunch.

Perfect for

Traveling or an everyday carry when I’m bringing my camera along. Sometimes I don’t bring my camera on outdoor adventures because I don’t want to deal with a backpack, but this is a nice compromise. With the crossbody style of the Explore BLT, everything’s right at your fingertips, and I can easily take it out and put it away while also storing everything else I’d need for the day.

Specs

  • Pockets: Two spacious compartments.
    • Front pocket: The front pocket unzips on three sides, allowing you to fully open the face to access whatever’s inside. It also creates a little shelf to place and keep gear (or food) clean and off the ground. Inside, there’s a mesh pocket with a zipper, a narrow slide compartment, and a wider slider with a loop on top.
    • Back pocket: This is the main pocket and can hold a good amount of gear. It’s big enough for water bottles, snacks, phones, cameras, chargers, medium size notebook, etc. Inside is a mesh zippered pocket with a key loop.
  • Storage: 5.74 liters (350.3 cubic inches) of cargo
  • Weight: 1 lbs 6 oz
  • Fun extras:
    • The top exterior and down the sides a bit has velcro. I wasn’t sure why, but apparently it’s for patches sold separately by The North Face so you can customize your fanny pack. Sure, okay.
    • Daisy chain webbing on both waist straps (four loops on each) allows you to clip on carabiners or key rings and attach any number of things.

The North Face Explore BLT Fanny Pack front pocket open

The North Face Explore BLT Fanny Pack hip belt

The North Face Explore BLT Fanny Pack main pocket open

The North Face Explore BLT Fanny Pack front pocket open with iphone to show size and scale

Hyperlite — Versa

This fanny pack is all about efficiency and functionality. But mostly, versatility. The Versa does away with fancy fanny pack bells and whistles and focuses on what matters most—securely carrying your stuff in a variety of ways.

What we love

It’s (mostly) waterproof. The bag is made of durable Dyneema Composite Fabrics DCH50, which on its own is waterproof, but with zippers and stitching, you end up with a water resistant fanny pack, helping to keep what’s inside safe from rain or snow.

It’s spacious. The main compartment is very spacious and best of all, it’s one big open space allowing you to carry larger items like a camera, plenty of food and snacks, beanie or sunglasses, or even a small water bottle.

Easy-to-get-to pockets. Three simple, straightforward pockets without any fuss. See more below.

It’s light. Clocking in at 0.18 lbs without straps (that’s less than 3 oz), this fanny pack barely adds any extra weight to your load.

Removable straps. The main design goal here is versatility. The 1” waist strap is removable in case you want to use the pack as a sternum pack or attach it to your backpack at the hip belt. In this case, the belt wings can be tucked into the back pocket of the pack.

Perfect for

Those looking for a versatile pack that’s made for more than just your fanny. The Versa is intended to be used with backpacks and can add some essential space or just easy-to-grab options for carrying essentials.

Specs

  • Pockets: Three highly functional options that are easy to get to for organizing your gear.
    • Main pocket: This main compartment is seriously spacious and can fit bigger bits of gear and essentials. The clamshell shape of the top-loading zipper is essential here. There’s nothing worse than having a big ol’ compartment that you can barely access (looking at all you duffle bags out there). The zipper here rounds down on both sides about ⅓ of the way, really allowing it to open up so you more easily see and grab what you’re looking for.
    • Front pocket: This zippered compartment is perfect for a cell phone but it can hold even more.
    • Back pocket: This is a little bonus pocket to stash items you may need often or quickly. There’s no zipper or closure, so you can easily grab or stash things like a phone and map.
  • Storage: 2.25 liters (137.5 cubic inches) of cargo
  • Weight: 2.91 oz (0.18 bs) without waist strap

Hyperlite Versa fanny pack

Hyperlite Versa fanny pack pocket open

SealLine — Seal Pak Hip Pack

SealLine makes some of the best waterproof dry bags out there—from big, medium, and small to duffles and fannies, oh my! The Seal Pak Hip Pack comes in a variety of bold colors, but it’s more than just a pretty face.

This affordable waterproof pack will keep your valuables and electronics safe whether you’re kayaking, canoeing, SUPing, waterfall chasing, boating, etc. It’s made with 100% waterproof materials with welded seams and a roll-down closure that firmly keeps out the elements. 

What we love

It’s versatile. The best park of the Seal Pak Hip Pack is the removable waist belt, turning it into an everyday dry bag if you don’t need to wear it. It also has shoulder strap attachment points, making it more functional for different settings and needs.

We can kayak with a camera and without abandon! While the pack is not designed to be submerged in water, I’d be comfortable bringing a camera on a kayak, canoe, boat, etc. 

Perfect for

Anyone who likes water activities and wants to make sure their electronics are protected. I’ve left my camera behind on so many adventures because it’s not worth risking it, so this will definitely become a go-to piece of gear for me.

Specs

  • Pocket: Two.
    • Front pocket: The front pocket offers easy access to keys, money, etc., though it’s not quite big enough for my iPhone 11.
    • Inside pocket: Where the magic happens. It’s one big ol’ compartment and can fit a generous amount of gear even after rolled down—water bottle, snacks, electronics, etc. 
  • Storage: 4 liters of cargo
  • Weight: 5 oz

SealLine Seal Pak Hip Pack

SealLine Seal Pak Hip Pack closed

SealLine Seal Pak Hip Pack with lid open

SealLine Seal Pak Hip Pack with lid open

Cotopaxi — Bataan Del Dia Fanny Pack

The waste-saving waist pack.

Cotopaxi is one of my favorite brands. Their bold colors—and combination of—makes outdoor gear fun and interesting. I get more compliments on my Cotopaxi clothes than anything else ever in life.

Cotopaxi is also a very eco friendly brand. The (Re)Purpose Collection, which includes the Del Dia bags, are made with leftover fabric from other companies’ production runs. They use the high-quality fabric that was destined for landfills to create one-of-a-kind products. No two Del Dia products are alike. Seriously, check out all the color combos on their website. I love companies who help reduce waste, so this is a waist pack I can really get behind.

What we love

The color. Need I say more? Even the zippers and buckle clasps are two different colors.

It’s lightweight. The fabric is a super lightweight remnant nylon, so it barely feels like you’re wearing a bag around your waist.

Yet spacious. Inside, there’s plenty of room for your phone, wallet, snacks, water bottle, sunglasses, etc. I sometimes pack up my Cotopaxi windbreaker and stuff her in. 

Perfect for

Fun and funky folk who like to make a statement with their gear or clothes choices. It’s a perfect everyday pack and lightweight enough for adventuring. And, it’s perfect for people who are passionate about supporting companies that do their part to help save the planet and give back to the people. Annnnd, the Bataan Del Dia makes a great gift for anyone who isn’t afraid to wear a colorful fanny pack loud and proud.

Specs

  • Pocket: One and done.
    • Front pocket: The front pocket unzips all the way around, which we love. It lets you see and grab what’s inside without fishing around blindly. There are two internal mesh pockets, a perfect place to put your wallet or keys for easy access.
  • Storage: 3 liters (183 cubic inches) of cargo
  • Weight: 4 oz

Cotopaxi Bataan Del Dia Fanny Pack

Cotopaxi Bataan Del Dia Fanny Pack

Fjallraven — Kanken Hip Pack

Fjallraven’s Kanken line features its world famous backpack, as well as a range of other carriers like laptop and toiletry bags, travel wallets, art totes, and even a mini cooler. The brand new Kanken Hip Pack follows the same classic style for a practical, everyday use fanny pack that’s also great for travel.

The Kanken’s time-honored popularity is in part due to the durable fabric called vinylon F (for fiber). It’s a synthetic material that behaves like a natural material, especially when it gets wet. Unlike natural materials, vinylon doesn’t need a polyurethane or silicone coating to become water resistant. This strong, durable fabric is created to be water resistant and perfect for travel bags and packs that might take a beating or get stuffed into overheads and under seats.

What we love

The color. I opted for the “ochre” color, which is deep goldenrod yellowish color. On the flip side, as much as we love this vintage yellow style, I wore it with jeans a few times and the dark blue denim color seriously rubbed off. The jeans had been washed several times, so I was surprised to see it happening so quickly. It didn’t deter me—who sees the inside of the fanny pack anyway?—but something to think about if you’re also drawn to this color.

The size. It’s a pretty small, compact design. It easily fits a phone, keys, chapstick, flask, and sunnies. Anything else, you might need to size up.

Perfect for

Those looking for a stylish EDC (everyday carry). It’s great for travel, road trips, music festivals, etc. As a minimalist, the Kanken is just the right size for keeping only what I absolutely need close by. After I took it on a short road trip, I ended up using it as my everyday “purse” for a few weeks (worn mostly slug over my shoulder but often times as a proper fanny pack). It’s also perfect for completing that hipster vibe and of course those living in the PNW. Pairs well with vests.

Specs

  • Pockets: Three pockets get the job done.
    • Main pocket: A sturdy zipper that extends about half way down on either side opens up side to see everything inside. There’s a side compartment (sans zipper but with a key clip) to keep things better organized like cash and keys.
    • Front pocket: With a flap protecting the zipper from , the front pocket is slightly less accessible but nice to have to separate other belongings. We found ourselves not needing/using this pocket most of the time.
    • Back pocket: Where you’d keep our phone or wallet. It’s the perfect size and has a zipper to make sure your belongings aren’t going anywhere. Contents are easy to grab and more protected since it’s against your body.
  • Storage: 2 liters (122 cubic inches) of cargo
  • Weight: 4.7 oz
  • Fun extras:
    • Identification label inside where you can write your name and contact info in case a good samaritan finds your misplaced fanny.
    • Top handle for more carrying options.
    • Reflective logo tag.

Fjallraven Kanken Hip Pack next to a beanie and iphone

Fjallraven Kanken Hip Pack fanny pack

Fjallraven Kanken Hip Pack fanny pack

Fjallraven Kanken Hip Pack fanny pack

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