For the jogger, fisherman, birder, skier . . . a fanny pack for every
They may sound like the newest wrinkle in reducing aids for the
broad-beamed. But fanny packs are a comfortably compact way to tote
basic supplies on day outings.
The idea isn’t new. Fanny packs were developed in the 1960s
by ski patrolmen to carry first-aid supplies. What is new are all the
special-purpose fanny packs now on the market, with designs for joggers,
fishermen and river-runners, bird-watchers, photographers, horsemen, and
cyclists, as well as hikers and skiers.
There are small packs for incidentals. Larger ones, with
capacities ranging from 500 to 1,000 cubic inches, are big enough to
carry everything you’ll need on a dayhike. So-called convertible
or expandable fannies, which grow into large-capacity day packs or small
backpacks (up to 2,000 cubic inches), cost $30 to $100.
Why use a fanny pack? A pack that rides on your hips instead of
your shoulders offers several advantages:
–It puts the weight squarely onto some of the body’s
strongest muscles (around the pelvis), allowing you to carry heavier
loads comfortably while reducing neck and shoulder strain. (Some hikers
report easing of lower back pain as well.)
–The lower center of gravity means more stablity for skiers and
–You don’t have to take off the pack to get at the
contents–a plus for anglers, horsemen, photographers, river-runners,
skiers, even harried mothers in supermarkets. Just loosen the hip belt,
slide the pack to the front, unzip, and reach in for wallet, camera,
snacks, or rain gear.
Specialized designs. Fanny packs come in an array of designs;
seven are shown on these pages. Fabrics range from lightweight nylon
(ideal for runners) to durable waterproof cordura or ballistics cloth.
Joggers can choose from several designs with pockets for water
bottles and reflector stripes for night running. One model for
long-distance runners holds a small insulated plastic tank for water.
A bicyclist’s model doubles as a handlebar bag.
Photographers have several choices (check photographic supply
shops) with removable foam inserts and dividers for lenses and camera
Convertible fannies. A fanny pack that expands into a rucksack
(shown at right) is a compromise. We found some weightsaving features
presented problems, such as unpadded shoulder straps that dig in. Also,
with the rucksack in use, you can’t swivel the attached fanny pack
around. Some users handle this by wearing a fanny pack with a separate
The right fit. Make sure the hip belt has a wide enough range of
adjustment for you. Is the belt padded and wide enough to support a
heavy load comfortably? Does the buckle (usually plastic) release
Access. Will you be able to load and unload quickly? Is the
fabric “slippery’ (as nylon is), so you can slide the pack
around to the front easily?
Padding. Is there enough padding so you won’t feel the sharp
contours of your camera or tackle box?
Ride. When loaded, does the pack feel as if it’s hanging out
too far or falling off? Better models offer compression straps to pull
the load tight or have canted bottoms to tilt contents inward.
Seans and zippers. Make sure seams are double-stitched at stress
points. Zippers should be smooth-tracking plastic.
Where to shop. Many of the types pictured here are sold in–or can
be ordered through–stores specializing in running, backpacking, and
Three packs may be hard to find. The oversize one is made by
Expeditions International, Box 1040, Hamilton, Mont. 59840. For the
camouflage, write to Eastpak, Box 471, Haverhill, Mass. 01830, or Eddie
Bauer, Inc., 1330 Fifth Ave., Seattle 98101. The inflatable pack is
made by Sima Products Corp., 4001 W. Devon Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60646.
Photo: Ski-touring pack ($30) includes organizer for ski wax kit,
Photo: Oversize pack ($25) has four zippered compartments, a
padded, contoured back
Photo: Camouflage design ($13), for bird- and wildlife-watching,
holds binoculars, field guides
Photo: Lightweight fanny pack for runners ($37) includes two 1-pint
Photo: Inflatable watertight vinyl pack ($28) keeps gear dry for
Photo: Basic fanny pack ($10), with zip-open top, suits a variety
Photo: Two-in-one fanny pack ($40) expands into rucksack for larger
loads. Rucksack extension folds out of top compartment