testing the best hiking fanny pack

Best Hiking Fanny Pack 2023

August 29, 2023 – A well-designed hiking fanny pack in the 1-3L range is both highly useful and extremely versatile. Keep your valuables safe, your phone at the ready, and your snacks or essentials on-hand. Wear it while traveling, running errands, or on the trail. Use it with, or without, a backpack. Replace or supplement hip belt pockets. Attach it in sternum strap mode. Wear it as a shoulder bag. There’s nothing a good waist pack can’t accomplish!

This guide is a mixture of our favorite hiking fanny packs, evaluated based on performance, price, stats, and in some cases, retro-style. While we don’t claim to have tested every model on the market, we’re confident that this batch is excellent, so shop with peace of mind. And while you’re here, why not check our guides to the best backpacking backpacks, best fastpacking backpacks, or best ultralight daypacks!

When purchasing through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Here’s why you can trust us

Hiking Fanny Pack Quick Picks

We break this buyer’s guide into three distinct categories based on buyer preferences. The first category is standard models with a traditional look and feature set with a modest price tag. The second category priortizes vibrant, retro style without skimping on performance, quality, or sustainability. The third category focuses on modular, ultralight models made with top of the line Dyneema fabric, and the ability to transition between fanny pack and chest storage modes.

Simple, Affordable, Effective

Retro-Style, Vibrant, Sustainable

Ultralight, Dyneema, Modular

Hiking Fanny Pack Comparison Table

Volume (L) Weight (oz) Price ($) Material
Patagonia Black Hole Mini 1.0 3.5 35 Recycled Nylon
HMG Vice Versa 1.3 2.7 59 Dyneema
Gossamer Gear Bumster 1.5 3.1 28 Robic Nylon
Cotopaxi Kapai 1.5 5.0 28 Repurposed Nylon
Zpacks FUPA 1.7 2.8 75 Dyneema
REI Trail 2 2.0 4.3 30 Recycled Nylon
Topo Designs Mountain Waist 2.0 8.0 49 Recycled Nylon
Jansport Fifth Avenue 2.5 4.5 30 Recycled Polyester
HMG Versa 2.5 4.3 79 Dyneema

Simple, Affordable, Effective

REI Trail 2 Waist Pack

  • Volume: 2L
  • Weight: 4.3 oz
  • Price: $30
  • Fabric: Recycled Nylon

Choose the REI Trail 2 for an exceptional blend of performance, value, weight, features, and sustainability (shop now). REI makes killer basics and this hiking fanny pack is no exception. The Trail 2 holds two liters, which is a sweet spot bullseye, so there is plenty of room to store essentials, on-hand accessories and a few snacks. What’s more, it’s made entirely with a recycled nylon outer and recycled polyester liner. Features include a bucket-style main compartment, zippered outer stash pocket, and a flat pocket accessed from the exterior of the interior face.

Jansport Fifth Avenue

  • Volume: 2.5L
  • Weight: 4.5 oz
  • Price: $30
  • Fabric: Recycled polyester

Choose the Jansport Fifth Avenue (shop now) for an everyday carry and/or hiking fanny pack that is as classic and comfy as it is versatile. The 2.5L Fifth Avenue is on the large end of the volume sweet spot spectrum, and has a winged transition from the pack body into the hipbelt that eases pressure on the waist. It features an external zipper compartment, in addition to the main compartment. It’s a mainstream best seller for reason – it just works!

Gossamer Gear Bumster

  • Volume: 1.5L
  • Weight: 3.1 oz
  • Price: $28
  • Fabric: 70D Robic Nylon

Choose the Gossamer Gear Bumster (shop now) for a well-balanced, simple, ultralight hiking fanny pack at a great price. 1.5L is our preferred sweet spot for storage capacity, and 3 oz is the sweet spot for weight. Long story short, Bumster hits the bullseye. The main compartment is augmented with a key clip and two bonus mesh pockets. An additional flat-ish zippered compartment is accessible from the interior face. The 70D Robic nylon is durable. The nylon webbing waist belt cannot be removed for the purposes of clipping into a pack. 

Retro-Style, Sustainable, Fun

Topo Designs Mountain Waist Pack

  • Volume: 2L
  • Weight: 8.0 oz
  • Price: $49
  • Fabric: Recycled nylon

Choose the Topo Designs Mountain Waist Pack (shop now) for insanely rugged durability, versatile functionality, and exceptional retro style. This hiking fanny pack is made with a combination of burly, thick-as-all-get-out 200d/400d recycled nylon, plus extra large zipper hardware and zipper pulls making it nigh indestructible, if not a bit heavy, and great for cold-weather handling with winter gloves. The color-blocked design is eye-catching and sure to draw compliments. Features include a main drop compartment and zippered frontal compartment.

Patagonia Black Hole Mini Hip Pack

  • Volume: 1L
  • Weight: 3.5 oz
  • Price: $35
  • Fabric: Recycled Ripstop Nylon

Choose the Patagonia Black Hole Mini Hip Pack (shop now) for a small, lightweight hiking fanny pack in great colorways that’s made with recycled materials. It features a front external pocket for small items like a tube of lip balm or sunscreen. The main compartment houses a key clip and security pocket, which can be inverted, forming its own stuff sack. However, this feature is unimpressive – in what scenario is that actually helpful? The 1L size is great for hiking in, as it minimizes weight and bulk, but pushes the boundaries a bit for how small it’s worth going. We wouldn’t want any less than one liter. Nonetheless, Black Hole Mini is a beloved fanny pack design, gets rave user reviews, and is preferable to the full size 5L Black Hole which is clunky and too big for hiking when you also carry a pack.

Cotopaxi Kapai Hip Pack

  • Volume: 1.5L
  • Weight: 5 oz
  • Price: $28
  • Fabric: Repurposed Nylon

Choose the Cotopaxi Kapai Hip Pack (shop now) for its unique, eye-catching, one-of-a-kind colorways built with pre-consumer repurposed materials for an eco-friendly spin. This hiking fanny pack offers 1.5L of storage by way of a zipper top entry main compartment, and zippered stash on the exterior front. A nylon webbing loop affixed to the upper makes for easy pickup. At 5 oz, it’s a bit heavy for our lightweight tastes, but only slightly. Its 1.5L volume is the perfect sweet spot for ease of mobility while walking and for just $28, Kapai is priced to move.

Ultralight, Dyneema, Modular

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Versa

  • Volume: 2.5L
  • Weight: 4.3 oz
  • Price: $79
  • Fabric: Dyneema

Choose the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Versa (shop now) for a full size, 2.5L, Dyneema hiking fanny pack, which sits at the large end of the volume sweet spot range. This model fits all your essentials and then some, and keeps them dry and protected in a vessel of waterproof, stronger-than-steel wunder fabric. Inside the Versa’s main compartment is a mesh storage security pocket. A front external pocket holds extras like lip balm, and a bonus drop-in pocket sits on the backside for frequently accessed items. What’s more, you can remove the nylon webbing waist belt and attach the Versa to your backpack shoulder straps for on-chest convenience. Read more in our full-length Hyperlite Mountain Gear Versa Review.

Zpacks Front Utility Pack Accessory

  • Volume: 1.7L
  • Weight: 2.8 oz
  • Price: $75
  • Fabric: Dyneema

Choose Zpacks Front Utility Pack Accessory (F.U.P.A.) for an ultralight, nearly waterproof hiking fanny pack. Or remove the modular nylon webbing hip belt and attach FUPA directly to your backpack (shop now). FUPA holds 1.7L of gear, right in the sweet spot. It includes an interior compartment mesh pocket for wallet and keys, and an exterior drop pocket for frequently accessed items like your phone. What’s more, it has a padded, spacer mesh back panel for extra comfort. The high price tag – $75 – is because of the waterproof and tough-as-nails Dyneema fabric. The boxy shape is a bit odd looking, but the performance is so exceptional that we’ll forgive them. F.U.P.A. is made in the USA.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Vice Versa

  • Volume: 1.3L
  • Weight: 2.7 oz
  • Price: $59
  • Fabric: Dyneema

Choose the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Vice Versa (shop now) for 1.3L of ultralight, minimalist, modular, highly-water-resistant accessory storage. This sleek hiking fanny pack is made with DCF 50 fabric which is exceptionally durable and waterproof. It has a key clip and one security pocket inside the main compartment. Remove the nylon webbing hip belt straps to incorporate it into your backpack shoulder straps. And weighing less than 3oz, Vice Versa is exceptionally ultralight weight. 

testing the best windbreaker pants, janji transit tech pants for review in patagonia

Pro Tips for Buying and Using a Hiking Fanny Pack

Inclusion Criteria, Volume Sweet Spot, & Price Discrepancy

Our inclusion criteria for a hiking fanny pack is pretty straightforward. Is the fanny pack lightweight? Durable? Comfortable to wear for extended periods of time? Versatile? Durable? Good looking? Can it be transitioned from working in conjunction with a backpacking setup to touring cities? We picked 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.

We believe two liters, plus or minus half a liter, is the sweet spot for hiking fanny pack volume. One liter is as low as we’d go, three liters is as high as we’d go. Size down if you only want to store essentials and a quick snack. Size up if you want to store essentials, multiple snacks, and keep a bit of contextually relevant gear on hand for easy access (map, head lamp, charger, etc).

There’s a pretty big price discrepancy on this list. Most bags seem to be about $30 while models from ultralight brands are around $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 and smaller production runs. And waist packs made with Dyneema Composite Fabric (DCF) will also be more expensive, like the HMG Versa. This fabric has a higher cost of production than nylon, but a durability-to-weight ratio that’s hard to beat, and it’s waterproof.

General Fanny Pack Use

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 phone, 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. Waist packs are also experiencing a resurgence with cyclists, day hikers, and as an everyday fashion accessory for those going about town. For this reason, we have included a number of picks based on their retro 90s appeal.

versa hiking fanny pack

How much volume does a hiking fanny pack need?

We recommend models in the 1-3L range. 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 a hiker wallet, filter, charger, snacks, headlamp, and a few other miscellaneous items. 3L models can even fit a camera! However, we recommend against 5L sized hiking fanny packs, and “hydration fanny packs” which are too small hold a complete hiking kit (so you’ll be carrying a pack anyway), bulky and awkward to hike with, and are too big to use in conjunction with a backpack.

camera gear and waterproofing

Waterproof or not?

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 or dry ditty sack. None of these models are truly waterproof, but many have waterproof or DWR-treated fabrics and highly water-resistant zippers. The Dyneema models are extremely water resistant, but still not dunkably waterproof.

hmg versa fanny pack

Pairing a hiking fanny pack with a hip belt-less backpack, or below a backpack’s hip belt

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. You may also wish to supplement your pack’s hipbelt storage with a hiking fanny pack for even more easy access to snacks and gear.

modular fanny pack as sternum strap storage

Wearing it as sternum strap storage

If a hiking fanny pack is designated as modular, that’s likely because you can remove the webbing waist belt and attach it to the shoulder straps of your pack to create storage in front of your rib cage. 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 and how the fanny pack interfaces with your body, and your backpack. 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.

Best Hiking Fanny Pack Conclusion

We highly encourage you try out a hiking fanny pack! They’re so useful, versatile, and generally affordable, that you really have no excuse. Try one out on your upcoming hikes or travels and we promise you won’t regret it!