Listen, we can dance around what to call the fanny pack—a.k.a., the sling bag, crossbody bag, bum bag, shoulder bag, etc. But let’s not kid ourselves about what it is. Even the best fanny pack is, simply, a fanny pack. And it’s useful as hell.
Once shorthand for a whole era of ill-advised style decisions, the fanny pack has re-emerged into our good graces, a product of menswear’s gorpy overhaul and the realization that there are many funkier, weirder, wilder ways to dress (or carry a bag) than a buckle-on pocket in 2021. Lately the pendulum of sartorial public opinion is acting more like the second hand on a clock—jorts are back, FYI, and trucker hats are re-ascendant. “Cool” is on pause. Wear whatever you want.
But if you still need some convincing when it comes to the fanny pack, let it be this: the fanny pack is functional and versatile. When a backpack is too sweaty and a shoulder bag of some sort cramps your [pharmaceutical ad voiceover] active lifestyle, the fanny pack steps in to store all your necessities: keys, Chapstick, sunglasses, hand sanitizer, AirPods, mask, backup mask, and more. Wear one around your waist like a dad trying to puzzle out where the visitor’s center is on a large map. Or sling it over your body in, like, 13 other ways. Any of them beat praying that the tote bag you haphazardly hung on the edge of your bike’s handlebars won’t jam itself into the spokes mid-cruise. (We may or may not be speaking from experience here.)
Point is, the fanny pack is back, though it never left and it does not need your forgiveness. It just wants to serve you, ably and effectively. Like the humble fanny pack, we also strive to be useful here at GQ Recommends, so we turned up 19 of the best men’s fanny packs on the market. Enjoy.
The Best ’90s Sports Star Fanny Pack
Nike’s all-killer, no-filler fanny pack is just trying to do its job, ma’am. Its main pocket is spacious but not a black hole, and we appreciate the subtle blacked-out Swoosh, particularly in a sea of fanny packs that like to scream loudly. This is the equivalent of the team captain who leads by example. It gives off a real “first guy into the gym, last guy out” energy. Even if your favorite sport is jostling your way through a crowded Whole Foods on a Sunday afternoon.
The Best Sleeker-Than-It-Should-Be Fanny Pack
Everlane ReNew transit bag
Not too long ago, Everlane gave the fanny pack the Everlane treatment, stripping the bag down to its essential elements and leaving nothing but streamlined design in its wake. Made out of 100 percent recycled polyester that looks like it should cost a lot more than it does, this is the fanny pack you buy if you worship at the altar of logoless practicality—and that’s doubly true if you’re an especially cost-conscious believer.
The Best Fanny Pack Flex
Prada’s history of elevating mundane materials—and nylon, in particular—to the realm of high fashion goes back a long time. In the late ’90s, the Italian brand launched Prada Sport, a then-groundbreaking line of casual-leaning sportswear that presaged the rise of athleisure [shudders quietly] by well over a decade. The brand’s sportier offerings, like this soft-sheen belt bag, remain a hallmark of modern design, particularly for diehard Prada stans who prefer the brand’s simpler stuff over its more look-at-me printed pieces. (Don’t worry, that legendary enamel triangle logo is there!) Even after all these years, Prada still makes nylon feel special.
The Best Backpack-Replacing Fanny Pack
Filson ripstop nylon waist pack
If you’ve owned a Filson bag at some point in your life, you probably still own a Filson bag—they’re legendarily long-lasting. While that one probably remains mothballed until travel picks back up or your work commute resumes in full, you can buckle up this sturdy fanny pack and leave nothing behind. Dual, cinchable water bottle (or travel coffee cup?) holsters, seven pockets, and a clip-on shoulder sling mean this bag’s ready for action. And if you’re looking for something more compact, Filson’s got you covered there, too.
The Best Affordable Fanny Pack
Herschel Seventeen Waist Pack
The brand that does quality baggage at a “wait, that’s all?” price unsurprisingly makes a no-frills, deeply affordable fanny pack. Herschel’s might not come with all the flashy bells and whistles some of its counterparts do, but when it looks this good who cares? A cobalt blue colorway and a hint of camo by the pocket ensures not a single menswear-loving soul—at the airport, drugstore, or anywhere else you avail yourself of its pocket space—will have a waist as tastefully decorated as yours.
Plus 14 More Fanny Packs We Love
Snow Peak X-Pac Nylon Belt Bag
The Batmobile, but for your waist.
Porter-Yoshida & Co. Force 2way Belt Bag
Military-inspired, meticulously-crafted, made in Japan—just about everything you could ask for in bag (and in general, honestly).
Lululemon Fast and Free Run Belt
For runners, cyclists, and anyone else on the move.
Bottega Veneta Nylon Belt Bag
A bona fide It-(belt)-bag.
Story Mfg. Snail Stash Bag
Learning to crochet is hard. Buying this bag is easy.
Patagonia Black Hole Waist Pack 5L
Made for outdoor adventurers and aspiring outdoor adventurers alike.
Satta “Sacoche” Sling Bag
Everything looks cooler with a hint of paracord roping.
Camiel Fortgens Cotton Hand Bag (was $280, now 43% off)
Yohji Yamamoto “Discord” Crescent Bag
As dark and drapey as the rest of your wardrobe.
Phipps x Millet Nuetre Chalk Bag (was $79, now 38% off)
A climber-style chalk bag, but for spare change and your phone charger.
Issey Miyake Easy Pleated Belt Bag
Eastpak x Raf Simons Waist Pack (was $209, now 50% off)
A playground staple combined with the fashion know-how of one of the most beloved designers in the game today? Sold.
Palace Deflecto Logo belt bag
It’s hard to credit the fanny pack’s revival to one brand, but suffice to say Palace and its peers at the top of the streetwear food chain had a lot to do with it.