best in class

The 11 Very Best Fanny Packs

They can be used on date night, while hiking, or even as a hands-free diaper bag.

Photo: Marcus McDonald
Photo: Marcus McDonald

In this article

Whether I’m going for a walk, dancing at a festival, or meandering through the airport, I carry a fanny pack almost every day. I love how a fanny pack allows me to carry my essentials hands-free (I can fit my phone, water bottle, keys, money, and some teeny SPF into my favorite Dagne Dover fanny pack), while also keeping a close eye on them. And it’s a truly versatile accessory a fanny pack can be dressed up for date night, thrown on while hiking a mountain, or even used as a hands-free diaper bag.

Call it a belt bag, bum bag, or a waist pack, I’ve tested many options over the past two years. The best ones will be made of a sturdy material like polyester or neoprene, and can handle being stuffed full (and a little rain) as you run errands. They’ll also have been designed with convenience and security in mind — I like my fanny packs with plenty of pockets and thoughtful organization, so I can keep track of my keys and money, and not have to entirely unpack the thing just to find a piece of gum.

To find the most stylish (but still functional) fanny packs, my fellow Strategist writers and I tested several on trips, walks, and hikes. I then also asked more than a dozen fashionable people, including models, photographers, stylists, for their favorite fanny packs, too. If you don’t want to scroll through all the options, you can click any of the links below to jump straight to the fanny pack that sounds right for you. And if you’re looking for something a bit larger, read my guide to weekender bags and carry-ons.

What we’re looking for

Material

The material will help determine the functionality of your fanny pack. Water-resistant ones like nylon and polyester will ensure your things stay dry. Leather and neoprene, which can be hand-washed with light detergents, are easier to clean. I’ve noted the material of each fanny pack so you can pick the one that’s right for you.

Closure

Whether it sits above your hips or across your chest, each fanny pack has a specific way it closes. A buckle closure is typical, but a few on this list are unique in their design.

Strap length

Most fanny packs have adjustable straps to tighten or loosen them to fit your size or activity needs. But some have a limit on how long they go, so I’ve made note of that wherever I can.

Best fanny pack overall

Material: Neoprene | Closure: Buckle closure | Strap length: 36 inches

I’ve been using this fanny pack for a year — it’s become my go-to on daily walks. And while we at the Strategist love the neoprene backpacks, carry-ons, and work totes from Dagne Dover, I especially like the small details in this fanny pack. For example, the bag’s key clip. I’m known for scrambling around my bag, sure that this time I’ve lost my keys for good — only to find them wedged between my SPF and claw clip. The key clip makes my keys easy to find right inside the bum bag, which also has an equally handy back pocket for cards. I also like how it holds its shape even when I’ve stuffed it full of my essentials (it has a slightly spongy exterior, so it doesn’t look skew-whiff with a water bottle inside.)

Strategist editor Maxine Builder uses the brand’s fanny pack because its “logo is hidden on the backside, in relatively small print,” making it more discreet than her other fanny pack, the Lululemon Everywhere Belt Bag. “It also feels a little less sporty, so it’s a nice ‘going out’ option,” she adds. It’s this versatility (it’s a day to night fanny pack) combined with the thoughtful touches, generous capacity, and squishy comfortable fit that make this my favorite fanny pack — even with its higher price point considered.

Best less-expensive fanny pack

From $17

Material: Polyester | Closure: Buckle closure | Strap length: 50 inches

Jansport is a reliably good brand. I used its backpacks for several years throughout college, and its fanny packs are made from the same 600-denier polyester that carted my books around school. Although it’s the cheapest bag on our list, it’s still just as durable as bags quadruple the price. And it comes in a nice range of colors and styles (including a lilac and camo). “JanSport is known for its high-quality sports bags,” agrees stylist and designer Alljahni Mack. ‘It will add a “beautiful splash of color to your outfit and is compact for an active day spent hiking or working out.” The bag also has one of the longest straps of all the fanny packs listed here, so it’s a good choice if you’re plus-size or broad-shouldered.

Best fanny pack for travel

Material: Recycled polyester | Closure: Buckle closure | Strap length: Not listed

I can’t get enough of Patagonia’s Black Hole range. I’ve named their duffel my favorite weekender bag for two years in a row, and their waist pack has all the features that I love in a smaller package. That is not to say, however, that the Patagonia waist pack is “small.” My first thought after receiving it is that it felt more like a sling than a fanny pack — especially on my five foot five frame. It’s both waxy and cushioned, which makes it water-resistant, but not so stiff that it doesn’t fit comfortably against the body. It also has a five-liter capacity, and an additional pocket to stow a water bottle on the side (so you don’t have to rummage through your belongings every time you want to take a sip). There’s also two pockets, one for smaller essentials like cards and keys, and the larger back pocket. This is where Charlotte Stone keeps training treats and doggy treats in it on daily walks with her two dogs. She describes the bag as “ridiculously functional.”

Best fanny pack for errands

Material: Polyester and nylon | Closure: Buckle closure | Strap length: 41.7 inches

Lululemon makes some of my favorite gym bags, and like those larger bags, this belt bag maximizes function and style. There was a time it was perennially out of stock (it’s very popular with tweens), but now you can regularly get your hands on one of its 14 colorways. As well as a larger, front-facing pocket, it has a discreet back pocket which is great for storing a phone, some cash, or credit cards. Inside the main pocket there is also a mesh-pocket, so everything inside is easy to see without too much jiggling around. Builder finds the Lululemon branding on the front “a little embarrassing at times,” but it’s small enough to go unnoticed. She says that it fits all of her necessities for everyday errands, including a sunglasses case, wallet, phone, and car keys, and she can “easily sling it across my chest.” Plus, “it’s fairly sturdy” and “water-resistant,” so she can wear it in a rainstorm and not worry that anything will get soaked.

Best surprisingly roomy fanny pack

Material: Nylon | Closure: Buckle closure | Strap length: Choice of either 34 or 45 inches 

I was surprised by how much fits inside the Baggu fanny pack. Inside its two pockets, there’s space for a 16-ounce water bottle, a book, and your other fanny-pack essentials (think phone, keys, lip gloss). Photographer Jacq Harriet even told me that this bag can hold her chunky 35-mm. camera, and is strong enough too: It’s made from a sturdy nylon. “It holds pretty much everything, like a Mary Poppins never-ending bag,” she says. It also comes in a massive range of eighteen colors, and is definitely my favorite-looking fanny pack of any on this list. (I’ve got my eyes on the limited edition Hello Kitty pattern.)

Best leather fanny pack

Material: Leather | Closure: Belt closure | Strap length: 29–45 inches

I’ve heard lots about this fanny pack from Clare V. — two of the people I interviewed name-checked it, and model Brooklyn Decker even recommended it to us as one of the things she can’t live without. Instead of a buckle closure (like the Dagne and Dover model, for example), it closes like a belt with a simple gold buckle. It fits your phone, keys, wallet, sunglasses, and other little essentials like lip balm or minis. Decker got it as a gift from a friend and uses it whenever she’s running around or just soaking up the great outdoors. Iva Pawling, the co-founder and CEO of Richer Poorer, owns it in three different colors and wears it daily: “Clare’s designs are everyday gear with a hint of cool and whimsy, which make them perfect.”

Best fanny pack for parents

$21
Photo: retailer

Material: Nylon | Closure: Buckle closure | Strap length: 21–34 inches

Parents, allow me to point you to this belt bag, which writer Sarah Hoover uses as a minimalist diaper bag. Hoover explains that, after her first baby, she “discovered that, for day-to-day excursions, a fanny pack is far superior to any proper diaper bag.” At first, she would carry two diapers, a Ziploc of wipes, and an extra onesie in the bag. But as her son has grown, her load has actually gotten lighter — with more space to spare for her own essentials, like a ChapStick and credit cards (which she keeps in the front pouch of the fanny pack). “Paravel’s pack, in its austerity and attention to smart design, goes well with jeans and simple dresses, but has a price that makes me not too worried if it ends up with a little baby puke on it,” Hoover says.

Best (faux) leather fanny pack for parents

Material: Vegan leather | Closure: Buckle closure | Strap length: 33–49 inches

After being sent this diaper bag–fanny pack combo by Kibou, it has become Strategist senior writer Lauren Ro’s “go-to.” While it’s technically meant to act as a compact replacement for a diaper bag — it has space for diapers, a waterproof pocket for wipes, plus a built-in changing mat in the back — she has begun using it as her everyday bag, she says. “What makes it convenient for baby use is what makes it great for everyday life: Everything you need is easily accessible, and it’s small enough to not get in the way,” she adds. Ro says she especially likes the pocket in the front with cardholders, which lets her grab her credit card without having to dig. She also likes that it’s made of easily wipeable vegan leather. “It’s just big enough to carry the absolute minimum: The main compartment fits my wallet (which is admittedly fat), phone, keys, a small bottle of hand sanitizer, lip balm, and a mask,” she says. “I take it everywhere, and it’s convenient for when I need to be hands-free, whether that’s at the grocery store, chasing my toddler around the neighborhood, or at protests.

Best fanny pack for running

Material: Neoprene | Closure: No closure | Strap length: Strap in S–XL

Most runners want a fanny pack that’s as sleek as can be. This bag from FlipBelt is just that. It’s slim, and made from a firm neoprene that sits snugly around your hips (and doesn’t move around while you’re on the go). It’s the right width to fit a phone and a few essentials, but not so bulky it’ll be an annoyance while you’re running. It can also double up as an anti-theft fanny pack, says Molly Fergus, who is the general manager of TripSavvy. “I’ve considered using this as a money belt when I’m in crowded areas. It could easily hide underneath a baggy shirt, so your passport, cash, and CDC card — perhaps the most valuable item of the three — are safely hidden,” she explains.

Best larger fanny pack for running

Material: PU-coated ripstop | Closure: Buckle closure | Strap length: Not listed

If you need a little bit more room, you might be better suited to this larger but still svelte sling bag from Janji. Frequent runner and Strategist writer Jeremy Rellosa told me it’s the best thing he bought in the whole of 2022. It’s more convenient than a running vest, while still having enough space to store keys, a phone, and running essentials like a water bottle, a spare T-shirt, and some snacks. “One of my favorite things to do in New York is to go on a long run with friends to some food destination, eat there, and then take the train back home. This pack is perfect for those excursions.” The bag also has a hidden cross-body strap, meaning it can transform from a fanny pack to a sling worn on the back — whichever way you prefer to wear it.

Best fanny pack for festivals and raves

Material: Polyester | Closure: Buckle closure | Strap length: 54 inches

I went to three festivals last summer and a fanny pack was essential. I wanted something durable and showerproof — summertime or not, I was still in Britain. This Carhartt waist pack ticked both boxes and was roomy enough for my phone, keys, money, snacks, and a little tube of sunscreen. You can hook water bottles and a packable rain jacket onto two loops sewn onto the bag, too. It’s since seen me through several raves and events. Though you can cram a lot inside the waist pack, it’s not cumbersome on a busy dance floor and looks understated thanks to its simple slate-gray polyester shell.

Some other fanny packs we’ve written about

Our experts

Gabby Beckford, travel writer
Maxine Builder, Strategist editor
Brooklyn Decker, actress and model
• Bethany Everett-Ratcliffe, content creator of Twenty Something
• Molly Fergus, general manager of TripSavvy
• Jacq Harriet, photographer
• Sarah Hoover, writer and art historian
Alljahni Mack, stylist and designer
• Dominique Pariso, Strategist writer
• Iva Pawling, co-founder and CEO of Richer Poorer
Lauren Ro, Strategist senior writer
• Jeremy Rellosa, Strategist writer
Charlotte Stone, women’s-footwear designer

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The 11 Very Best Fanny Packs