Fanny packs, waist packs, hip packs — whatever you call them, the ubiquitous 90s accessory is back in vogue. While fashion designers are actually incorporating these into their runway shows, the real place the hip pack shines is in motion. Whether on the trails or on the road, a waist pack is an easy, lightweight alternative to a hefty backpack or a hydration pack while riding. The fanny packs of years past filled with pens, snacks and an autograph book (let’s be honest, I never wore mine anywhere besides Disney), are updated with pockets and longer-lasting fabric and clips.
While you can sport one of these pretty much anywhere these days, the two places where you’ll get the most use out of it is on day hikes and on a mountain bike. When you’re walking up a mountain for just part of a day or even a full day (if conditions allow), there’s absolutely no need for you to carry a huge pack. Essentially, all you need is a water bottle, snacks and an extra layer.
For ripping up trails, a hip pack is an easy way to ditch cumbersome backpacks. Any core repair items and snacks can go in the pack along with pressure gauges, tools and CO2 canisters. Some hip packs for cycling now come with hydration options inside, so you can fit water in there as well. It’s an easy way to take a load off your back and bike.
Hiking Hip Packs
Patagonia Lightweight Travel Mini Belt Bag
Patagonia’s pack folds up into itself, so you can stash it in a larger pack for traveling purposes until the day calls for its usage. The ripstop nylon fabric and padded back make further add to the pack’s durability and comfort respectively.
JanSport Fifth Avenue 2L Lumbar Pack
The JanSport Fifth Avenue pack is one of the originals. It’s simple and durable, and features two liters of space. And if you happen to brush up against any rocks, the 600D polyester material will take it in stride.
Osprey Talon 6
The dual pockets on the Talon 6 are ideal for water bottles, and the extra pockets along your hips hold all the tiny essentials like keys or a pocketknife.
Camelbak Repack LR 4 Hydration Pack
A hip pack that stores your phone and water is gold. A magnet keeps the hydration straw in place so you don’t have to worry about it dragging on the ground or getting stuck in the trees.
High Sierra Tokopah 3L Waistpack
This pack features four individual pockets, so there are separate ones for your sunnies, phone, keys and any layers you take off. The reflective attachments are key if you’re hitting the trails early in the day or coming down late at night.
Biking Hip Packs
Mission Workshop The Axis
We tested The Axis on the Kingdom Trails in Northeastern Vermont, and it was selected again and again over the other ones we had. The minimalist design combined with rugged materials makes for a pack that’s easy to wear and comfortable all day long.
Eagle Creek RFID Tailfeather Waist Pack
Eagle Creek’s packing cubes keep us organized when we’re traveling, and the brand is bringing that same mentality to its hip packs. Thanks to lockable zippers, you don’t have to worry about your things falling out, and the padded breathable mesh back channel keeps the air circulating.
Deuter Pack Pulse Four Exp
With a dedicated water bottle pocket, phone pocket and space for an additional layer, the Pack Pulse Four Exp allows for plenty of ogranization. The ripstop material and three-liter capacity make this ideal for the bike.
Dakine Hot Laps 2L Hip Pack
The Hot Laps pack is ideal for singletrack laps. Dakine cracked the code on the ideal hip pack: abrasion-resistant fabric, a fleece lined pocket and loads of internal pockets. Pop out the bonus side pocket and throw in an extra water bottle if needed.
EVOC Hip Pack Race 3L
The EVOC Hip Pack Race 3L is a pro at keeping your back cool thanks to a ventilated flap system — simply tighten the cord to keep it closer to your body or add some slack to feel a breeze.
High Above V.3 Cascadia
High Above mountain bike hip packs are some of the best on the market. And they’re serious pieces of outdoor gear — despite the tagline and lighthearted feel of the brand’s website. Each High Above hip pack is designed and sewn in Bellingham, Washington. They come in three different models that vary in size and can be outfitted with an optional water bottle holder. Each material that High Above uses has been obsessed over and combined into a product that’s built to go the distance.