Best Fanny Packs of 2021
Our favorite fanny pack is the Jansport Fifth Ave. This timeless classic comes in a number of fun colors and patterns — most of which come with a monochrome strap, which we appreciate. Beyond aesthetics, this pack is well made and durable with a narrow, highly adjustable waist strap. This design is versatile - as the pack can be worn like a sling bag, or around the waist. When worn in a traditional way, the Jansport is low-profile and doesn't bounce around when walking. Plus, the Fifth Ave is one of the more reasonably priced packs in this review, adding to its appeal.
It was hard for us to find many downsides to this pack since our testers liked just about everything about it. Compared to some of the more stylish packs in this review, the Fifth Ave might feel a bit lackluster. Though it comes in many bright colors, its overall design and shape are low-key, which could be seen as a flaw to some. Also, the buckle on the waist strap lies on the hip bone. For us, this didn't cause any issues, but discomfort could arise over time.
This slim, low-profile option is one of our favorites; owing a lot to its overall aesthetic. The Tinyat Travel Waist Pack is a stylish, slim pack that is available in numerous unique color and pattern options. We tested a bright yellow one with pineapples on it — the whole thing is vaguely reminiscent of a banana. This pack won us over with its useful pockets, including an internal zip pocket and a low-profile external pocket that rests on the backside of the pack. This pack is well made, with a solid, adjustable waistband and a durable feel. With such a great design and a stylish aesthetic, we were surprised that it came with a reasonable price tag.
The major downside to this pack is its size. It's narrow and slim, which is great for its overall fit and for all-day comfort, but this also means that the Tinyat has a limited carrying capacity. We also found that fitting wide objects, like a small notebook or portable battery pack, is challenging in this sleek pack.
Normally, when we think of fanny packs, we think roller skates, 90s dads, and modern-day festival-goers. The Herschel Fourteen, though, puts the class back into a category of bag that was traditionally deemed "nerdy". This on, though, is sleek and stylish, with a monochrome design that is available in a number of color options. We loved the striped red and white lining and the leather zipper pull on our test model. Besides aesthetics, the Herschel is comfortable and sleek. We appreciated its simplicity, with a single pocket and a one-way zipper. It is also highly adjustable, which allows for multiple carrying options.
The major downside to this pack is its small carrying capacity. Herschel claims that this pack has only a 1-liter capacity, and we believe it. It's just big enough for a wallet, a phone, headphones, and Chapstick. Which, for some outings, especially in the city, is plenty. For some, though, this could be a bit limiting. We also had a small issue with the plastic holder meant to contain extra webbing when the waist belt is cinched down. This plastic buckle didn't hold the extra webbing very well and we noticed that it kept falling out when walking around. Not a huge deal, but we did prefer packs with an elastic keeper for extra webbing, rather than the plastic clip that the Herschel uses.
If multiple pockets are your thing, the WATERFLY Slim is for you. This pack is like the cargo pants of fanny packs. It has four pockets — one main pouch, a secret back pocket, and two small outer pockets. We liked having these two small pockets for small items like Chapstick and train tickets. The materials used in the construction of this pack are durable, high quality, and fairly water-resistant. We also liked how this pack fits comfortably and lays flat against the waist.
The WATERFLY Slim is a very narrow pack, which is great for hiking and all-day wear, as it is low-profile and comfortable. The downside to this design is that it doesn't fit a very wide variety of items. Even our standard leather wallet was almost too wide to fit comfortably into this pack. Additionally, this pack has an overall small carrying capacity, which limits its use as well.
Fanny packs have really seen a revival in recent years with festival-goers and concert crowds. The ability to carry your belongings hands-free makes all-day festivals all the more enjoyable. For us, there are a few key features that make the SoJourner fanny our favorite choice for all-day or multi-day events. First is the SoJourner's relatively roomy carrying capacity. This fanny more than fit our standardized hip pack "kit", with room to spare. We also appreciated the three zippered pockets of varying sizes to keep items organized. The fact that this one comes in lots of fun patterns and color options is an added plus. Additionally, it is very affordable. The SoJourner is ready to accompany you to your next all-day party.
Though it was comfortable for all-day use, the Sojourner has no padding in the bag itself. This wasn't a huge issue for us but could be a concern if comfort is your main priority. We also found the fit to be a tad off on this one. Its shape is tapered so that it is wider at the top than the bottom, which causes it to bounce around when walking. We preferred to wear this one in front or on the side, rather than in the back because its shape is not flattering.
It should come as no surprise that the Adidas National Waist Pack was our go-to for any athletic endeavor. We appreciated the relatively roomy bag, the extra padding on the back, and the durable waist belt. The bag itself was large enough for us to stash snacks, a phone, and a lightweight wind jacket for hikes. The extra padding made it comfortable for all-day use, whether worn in the front or the back. The Adidas waist belt is very adjustable and comfortable when worn either over the shoulder or around the waist. We also liked that the excess webbing is kept in place with a sleek, elastic keeper as opposed to a plastic buckle.
For some, the two pockets could feel limiting, as many of the other fannies in this review have three. This limits the organizational capabilities of the pack. But for hikes, we found that a larger main compartment was more important. Some of our testers also had issues with the shape of this pack, claiming it was unflattering. Its round design is perhaps not as flattering as a more tapered pack but works well when slung over the shoulder.
The Veckle Clear Waterproof is not only highly functional for its claimed use (sporting events), but it is also quite a fashion statement. This see-through bag serves as an ideal stadium pack since its clear design allows for a quick pass through security checks. The clear plastic material is also conveniently very waterproof, for the unlikely event of your neighbor at the football game accidentally sloshing beer into your lap. It also has three pockets and a fairly large capacity to suit all of your organizational needs. We also found that the clear design makes accessing items easier since you can always see where things are.
Overall, we found this pack to be fairly comfortable. The buckle is placed just in front of the hip bone, so there's no pressure on the hip bones when the pack is worn in the back. We did find that the plastic material starts to feel uncomfortable against bare skin after a while, especially when sweaty.
The Fitter's Niche Holographic is an ultra-slim, super-sporty waist pack for active folks. This pack has an elastic waistband and a very slim profile. This means that it lacks adjustability and has a small carrying capacity — basically enough space for your phone, headphones, keys, and a few cards. This pack is just begging to be worn out on the town for a full day, or night, of dancing. Its slim design will lay flat when you're really getting down. Plus, the bright color options will jazz up any party outfit. We also like that this one comes with a headphone port, for times when you need to create your own dance party.
The biggest issue with this one is its small carrying capacity. It only holds a few items, and even then, it starts to feel full quickly. Also, the lack of adjustability in the waist belt limits the body types this pack works for.
With three zippers, a highly adjustable waistband, and a very reasonable price tag, the Everest Signature is a great, basic pack. Its no-frills design and aesthetics are matched with a reasonably comfortable fit. The waist belt is also highly adjustable, which makes it fit a wide range of body types and means it can also be worn over the shoulder. This versatility is another plus. Finally, the Everest Signature is one of the most affordable packs in this review.
Our biggest issues with this pack had to do with the overall construction and quality of materials and the shape of the pack itself. In terms of quality, we found that the waistband was made from a fairly rough, thick webbing that was not only hard to adjust but uncomfortable against the skin. We were also not crazy about the overall shape of the pack. Though it has three pockets, the Everest Signature doesn't have a very large capacity, and we often had a hard time fitting all of our items inside.
For a major budget option, look no further than the BuyAgain Quick Release pack. This three-pocket waist pack is one of the most affordable options we reviewed. It comes in tons of color choices and has a simple design. Its biggest assets are its price and its storage options. The waist belt is narrow and fairly comfortable, but the pack itself lacked the flair and style found in many of the other packs we tested.
The shape of this pack makes it fit strangely, especially when packed. It's tapered at the bottom so that it flaps when walking fast or running. Also, this pack lacks the adjustment range that many of the other packs have, limiting its versatility. Overall, we felt that there are better-made products out there, with similar price tags and cooler designs.
Why You Should Trust Us
Our lead tester Jane Jackson has over three years of experience testing all types of bags — from massive backpacking backpacks down to the humble fanny pack. She knows the ins and outs of pockets, zippers, straps, and buckles. Plus, she's an ardent fanny pack user and has been for years. From attending numerous multi-day music festivals in her early twenties to taking on many international trips in Asia and Europe to rock climbs and hikes closer to home, Jane has always found a use for a good fanny pack.
These bum bags accompanied us on a wide variety of hands-free activities. We wore them on quick trips to the local watering hole, where we only needed a few small items. we also took them into the wilderness, where they carried the necessities like sunscreen, Chapstick, and snacks. From our past experience, we compared these new fanny packs to our old favorites for international travel. We assessed their design — making notes about zippers, pockets, materials used, and overall construction. We made sure to check the waist belt of each one, noting which packs were adjustable and which ones were not. These side-by-side tests, combined with our previous experience with all things fanny pack, helped us create a comprehensive, unbiased assessment of the top packs on the market.
Analysis and Test Results
To come up with scores for each pack, we divided our tests into four different metrics. Our most heavily weighted metric is carrying comfort. These packs aren't worth much if they aren't comfortable to wear. Next, we scored each pack in the following three categories: feature set, which includes zippers and pockets; aesthetics, where we assessed the overall construction of the pack, plus the shape and design; and finally, adjustability, where we discuss strap-length. In the following paragraphs, we not only delve deeper into our testing process for each of these metrics but also highlight which packs were the stars in each category.
For this metric, we considered three main aspects of design that influence the overall comfort of a hip bag. The buckle placement, strap material and width, and the feel of the pack itself against the body were all incorporated into the scoring of this metric. Packs with a buckle that rests right on the hip bone generally scored a bit lower, since this has the potential to cause chafing and pain after a while. The BuyAgain and Everest Signature both have buckles that rest right on the hip, lowering their overall score. The Adidas National and the Tinyat Travel both have buckles that are slightly forward of the hip, which made them more comfortable overall.
The waist straps on almost all of these packs are made of nylon webbing. Some are rougher than others, which also can cause chaffing and just generally feels less comfortable. We loved the feel of the waist belt on the Adidas National as well as the WATERFLY Slim. Both of these packs had softer, slightly narrower webbing than we preferred. In terms of padding and general feel, the Tinyat and the WATERFLY Slim both felt great against the body, whether worn in front or back. These packs are long and narrow with a tiny bit of padding in the back, which makes them low profile and comfortable. The Veckle Clear was one of our least favorites in this metric because the plastic material felt a bit sticky against the skin, especially on warm days or when exercising.
In this metric, we spent a lot of time assessing the pocket configuration of each pack. We took detailed notes on the performance and construction of zippers and we also considered the size and position of pockets. Most of the packs in this review have three pockets. We appreciated the internal zippered pocket on the Tinyat for an extra layer of security for ID cards and cash. The WATERFLY Slim has four pockets — three zippered and one with a Velcro closure. We liked having the two small pocket options on this pack for stashing small items like Chapstick or tickets. On the other end of the spectrum is the simple and straight-forward Herschel Fourteen, which has only one main pouch with no extra pockets. We appreciated this one for quick outings around town when we weren't worried about keeping lots of items organized.
We also spent a lot of time fiddling with waist belts, buckles, and webbing when assessing the packs. Since the majority of the fannies we tested are highly adjustable, they typically come with a method of securing the excess webbing. This is usually either an elastic band or some sort of plastic clip or buckle that keeps the extra webbing out of the way when the pack is fully cinched down. Our favorite packs, like the Adidas National and WATERFLY Slim, use a simple elastic band to secure the extra webbing. The Herschel Fourteen uses a plastic clip to secure excess webbing, which we found to be ineffective.
Though this is a fairly subjective category, we considered the overall construction of the pack plus the number of color and pattern options available. We also passed out the packs to our friends to see which ones were popular and which ones fell short.
Our top scorer in this metric was the Herschel Fourteen. This pack is classy and simple, plus it comes in a ton of color options. Its tapered shape is flattering and lays flat, whether worn in front or in the back. We felt like it was hard to go wrong with this one as a fashion statement. Our runner-up in this category was the Tinyat Travel, which has a slim, narrow shape that contours to the body well. It also comes in a wide variety of colors and fun patterns, which we love.
The lower-scoring packs in this metric fell short because of their shape and overall design. The BuyAgain pack had a rounded shape that we found to be fairly unflattering when worn in the back. It also had a basic, slightly clunky design that left us a little disappointed. The SoJourner, though it comes in lots of fun patterns and colors, also fell short in terms of shape and fit. It is tapered so that it is narrower at the bottom, which makes it feel floppy and top-heavy.
A pack that is highly adjustable means that it not only fits a wider variety of body types, but it also means that it can be worn in numerous, creative ways. The downside to the super-adjustable options is that they have tons of excess webbing when fully tightened down. The packs with the largest range are the Everest Signature, the Herschel Fourteen and the BuyAgain. The waist belts on these three packs measure to be 48 inches, 36 inches, and 33 inches, respectively.
The least-adjustable packs are the Veckle Clear and the Fitter's Niche, which only have 28 inches and 22 inches of range, respectively. The Fitter's Niche pack has quite a bit of elasticity to it, but this band tended to dig in when worn too tight.
Our mission with this review is to not only guide you toward the perfect modern fanny pack to suit your on-the-go needs but also to remind the world that these packs are a highly functional and fashion-forward accessory. Though they haven't gotten the respect they deserve in the past, we feel that we are in the midst of a fanny pack revolution. If reading this review doesn't convince you that these packs are a convenient way to carry your personal items, we don't know what will. Whether you're heading out for an afternoon hike or its day six of a week-long music festival, a fanny pack has your back and will keep your supplies safe and easy to access. We hope that our enthusiasm for fanny packs will inspire you and guide you toward the right pack to suit your needs.
— Jane Jackson