Pockets to Fanny Packs: Review of 6 UL Backpacking Accessories!

Katie Kommer

Fanny packs are back, baby. You may have seen more and more thru-hikers and ultralight backpackers donning this stylish accessory over the last few years, but there’s much more to the fanny pack than fashion. 

Pack accessories are becoming the premier way to compliment an ultralight backpacking setup. Furthermore, many pack companies now offer upgrades to their packs like hipbelt pockets or chest pockets depending on each hiker’s needs. 

These extra pockets and accessories don’t only give you more space, they also help you crank out miles. Keeping your snacks, phone, and water accessible while hiking eliminates the time you need to stop while on trail.

Over the past few weeks I’ve tested out a handful or popular accessories from some of our favorite brands, and here’s what I think: 





Best Use

Gossamer Gear Bumster

3.1 oz


Versatile everyday or with an ultralight pack

Gossamer Gear Bottle Rocket

1.35 oz


Backpacking, hiking 

Westbound Gear Fanny Pack

2.6 oz


Everyday, hiking/ backpacking, biking

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Repack

1.4 oz


Cooking while ultralight backpacking

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Shoulder Pocket

1.4 oz


Ultralight backpacking/hiking

Superior Wilderness Designs Hip Belt Pocket

1.2 oz


Ultralight backpacking/hiking




Gossamer Gear Bumster: 

Ultralight Backpacking Accessories Review Pockets UL Fanny Packs

Functionality: 4/5 stars 

So far, I’ve been able to carry *almost* everything I need for quick access while hiking and biking in the bumster. It’s meant to be ultralight and have room for just the essentials, so I am usually able to squeeze in sunglasses, keys, a couple snacks, and my phone. 


Versatility: 5/5 stars

The bumster is unique as far as fanny packs go because of its multiple wear options. You can use it like a simple fanny pack, or across your back/chest as a sling. This is super helpful and personally my favorite way to carry a “purse” while romping about the city. 


Necessity: 3.5/5 stars

With large hipbelt and chest pockets, you may not need a fanny pack. I find myself using a fanny pack more for short hikes, urban walks, and bikes than during backpacking trips because I already have a well-pocketed pack. 


Gossamer Gear Bottle Rocket: 

Ultralight Backpacking Accessories Review Pockets UL Fanny Packs


Functionality: 5/5 stars

This is 100% the most legit piece of gear I own. I’m already baking in the Utah summer, and this simply clips to the outside of my shoulder strap and lets me drink while hiking. Less stops = more time to swim at camp. 


Versatility: 4/5 stars

This is pretty much a one-use accessory. Although, the mesh is quite stretchy and accommodates up to a one-liter water bottle. 


Necessity: 4/5 stars

I wasn’t expecting to like this accessory as much, but after I used it once, it always made it into my pack. The only other way to be able to drink on the go with this much ease is a water bladder with a straw, and those have never suited me well. This version is even closer to your face, without gross clean up or frozen straws. 


Westbound Gear Fanny Pack: 

Ultralight Backpacking Accessories Review Pockets UL Fanny Packs


Functionality: 4.5/5 stars 

I rate this pack as slightly more functional than the Gossamer Gear Bumster because it’s a tad bit bigger and I really like the top zipper. The Bumster has a front zipper, which makes it slightly more difficult to access my stuff and rifle through it while I’m on the move. 


Versatility: 3.5/5 stars

This works as just a fanny pack, so the Bumster is definitely a more versatile product in general. 


Necessity: 3.5/5 stars

Again, I don’t really use fanny packs that much while I’m backpacking because of the design of my backpack. However, it’s easily become my favorite everyday essential that I’ve taken on countless bike rides, urban hikes, and brewery tours. I’ve even paired this fanny pack with the Bumster as a sling to double up on what I can carry. Everyday ultralight goals = achieved. 



Hyperlite Mountain Gear RePack:  

Ultralight Backpacking Accessories Review Pockets UL Fanny Packsb


Functionality: 5/5 stars 

This product works exactly as it’s intended to. It rehydrates food even better than many brand’s individual packaging does, and it keeps your food warmer longer. Furthermore, it’s built with a handle and keeps you from burning your hands. You can also use a shorter spoon or fork, because you won’t be digging into the depths of a freeze-dried food bag to scrape out bits. 


Versatility: 3.5/5 stars

This product is intentionally designed for one specific purpose. That is to offer a solution to how to rehydrate food safely and efficiently when you either make your own dehydrated food or repackage branded freeze-dried meals. If you’re a cold soaker, don’t cook at all, or don’t mind larger food bags then it’s not going to make a big difference in your camp experience. 


Necessity: 3.5/5 stars

If you routinely repackage food into Ziploc bags, this is an absolute necessity. On the JMT I would put each repackaged meal into one Backpacker’s Pantry bag I ate out of continuously (gross), and I really wish I had known about this. However, many hikers that I know don’t need a product like this because they cold soak or cook out of a stove and pot.


Hyperlite Mountain Gear Shoulder Pocket:


Ultralight Backpacking Accessories Review Pockets UL Fanny Packs


Functionality: 4.5/5 stars 

Again, HMG kills it with the thoughtfulness behind each product’s design. Their shoulder pocket easily buckles onto any backpack strap and creates another easy access point for essential items. My sister borrowed it on a backpacking trip (her first ever!) and loved having a spot to keep her phone close for photos. She had a bit of trouble getting it to a spot where it didn’t bounce around in her way, but there are straps for tightening it to your liking. 


Versatility: 4.5/5 stars

I absolutely love removable accessories like this. It works with any pack, and I frequently bring it on day-hikes where my pack doesn’t have any great access points. It’s big enough for either a cell phone and a few small things, or a ton of small essentials like chapstick, snacks, or sunglasses. 


Necessity: 3.5/5 stars

So far I’ve only used this myself on day-hikes because again, my backpacking pack is well equipped with accessible pockets. However, it is a great accessory to loan around when backpacking with friends or family. 


Superior Wilderness Designs Hip Belt Pocket:

— Review for this product is done by Maggie Slepian


Ultralight Backpacking Accessories Review Pockets UL Fanny Packs


Functionality: 4/5 stars 

My favorite pack came without hip belt pockets, so I went with the Superior Wilderness Designs hip belt pockets. The folks at SWD were super helpful in figuring out the dimensions of my hip belt and tacking, and made sure the attachments on the pockets would fit the belt. These are large enough to fit snacks, a filter, and a phone, but not so big they feel bulky or clunky on the hip belt. My only issue with the functionality of this product is that I’ve found the end clips pretty hard to secure. 


Versatility: 4/5 stars

This hip belt can also be used as a wallet, however you first have to be able to get the clips undone. Though it’s a very straightforward product, there is versatility in the fact that these can be attached to any pack whether you’re traveling, backpacking, or thru-hiking. They’re also inexpensive and come in a variety of fun colors. 


Necessity: 5/5 stars

Hip belt pockets are an absolute must for me, and this one performs extremely well. The zipper is watertight and secure, and the X-Pac material is also waterproof and durable. Because my go-to backpacking pack doesn’t have a hip belt pocket, I never hit the trail without this accessory.  


More Recommended UL Backpacking Accessories

Ultralight Backpacking Accessories Garage Grown Gear


This review roundup is by no means a complete list of all of the pockets, fanny packs and other ultralight backpacking accessories on the market. The GGG Team personally vouches for these other options made by small brands: 


Continue Hiking with Reviewer Katie Kommer >>> @katelyn_ali/

Gear reviews

1 comment

Kim Kremer

Kim Kremer

I have the Summit Bum. I opted for the “laughing kittens,” and boy howdy am I glad I did. It’s a delight to see weary hikers smile at those adorable kittens.

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