5 Benefits of a Fanny Pack for Thru-Hiking and Backpacking

Trail TalkAbby Evans
Why Fanny Pack Benefits Thru-Hiking Ultralight Backpacking GGG Garage Grown Gear

 

I wore a fanny pack every single day during my Appalachian Trail thru-hike. I wore it so much that the logo wore off, the lining on the inside deteriorated and the zipper broke — but it still made it the whole trail. Below are 5 reasons you might want to add a fanny pack to your gear kit for thru-hiking and/or backpacking. 

More Storage

When I was hiking, my fanny pack was the never ending pocket for all the things I needed to be able to access quickly and didn’t want to store in my backpack. On a day-to-day basis, the contents were: my phone, headphones, a tick remover tool, a lighter, a knife, Deet, sunscreen, a cork roller ball and my resistance band for stretching. 

Whenever I saw a cool bird or another sweet view, I could easily unzip my fanny pack, take a quick picture and keep hiking. 

 

Why Fanny Pack Benefits Thru-Hiking Ultralight Backpacking GGG Garage Grown Gear

 

The tick remover tool came in handy more than once, funnily enough, always for other hikers. There would be an exclamation in a shelter as someone found a tick on their leg, and I’d come over to give them my handy tick remover tool. 

Headphones were essential for me to find motivation as I hiked. I usually liked walking to the sounds of the forest in the morning, but would transition into listening to music as the day went on, so I liked to have them somewhere I could easily snag them. 

I lived in Deet and sunscreen on certain sections of the trail in the dead of summer. Having quick access to them was the difference between sun poisoning and thirty mosquito bites or having a pleasant afternoon at camp. If I can’t reach it easily, I’m not as motivated to apply it when I’m hiking.

 

Why Fanny Pack Benefits Thru-Hiking Ultralight Backpacking GGG Garage Grown Gear

 

The same goes for my stretching equipment: the cork roller ball and the stretch band. If I can’t get to them easily, then there’s no way I’ll do my stretches. Stretching saves me a lot of pain in the morning and prevents overuse injuries later on down the line. It’s a lot easier to do as long as you make the tools to do it easy and accessible — such as storing them in a fanny pack.


Easy Access to Snacks

I struggled with eating on my thru-hike. I lost twenty pounds and was extremely fatigued throughout the day due to a calorie deficit. It was concerning. To fix this issue, every morning I would fill my fanny pack with snacks and make a goal to finish them by the end of the day. Usually, I would stuff two Clif Bars, a honeybun, and five packs of gummies inside of it. 

In between stopping for lunch and dinner, I would make a point to eat as many of the snacks as I could. Whatever I didn’t finish, I would make myself eat after dinner to keep my weight and energy stable. My fanny pack single-handedly helped me to maintain my weight and energy as I hiked, simply because it made my food more accessible.

 

Why Fanny Pack Benefits Thru-Hiking Ultralight Backpacking GGG Garage Grown Gear

Great for Side Quests

There were many times when I dropped my backpack to go explore a side trail or see a cool view. I wouldn’t want to carry my whole pack down a mystery trail — I had no idea if there was going to be an incline that would tire me out significantly more with twenty pounds on my back. So, instead, I would grab my fanny pack and head off for a short little jaunt to explore a side trail. Sometimes, if it was to grab water, I would put my Sawyer filter in my fanny pack as well and just carry a Smart Water Bottle in my hands. 

It was a lot more fun to scramble over rocks wearing just a fanny pack sans backpack. Bringing my phone with me saved me from getting lost on a side trail on numerous occasions. Whenever I was unsure about the path, I pulled it out of my fanny pack and checked FarOut.

 

Why Fanny Pack Benefits Thru-Hiking Ultralight Backpacking GGG Garage Grown Gear

Town Purse

A fanny pack is awesome for town runs. I used to write down notes of food I was craving while I was hiking and then check those hiker-hunger fueled cravings while perusing the aisles of the local Dollar General. I also would make lists of exactly how much food I needed until the next resupply point so I could avoid over resupplying. In those situations, my fanny pack acted as my wallet — and a stylish addition to any set of loaner clothes, even a onesie.

 

Why Fanny Pack Benefits Thru-Hiking Ultralight Backpacking GGG Garage Grown Gear

Day Hikes, Dog Walks & More!

I still use my fanny packs on day hikes and walks around the neighborhood with my dog. On day hikes I like to use it to carry snacks and a water bottle so I can walk around hands-free to enjoy the trail. On dog walks, you can stuff it full of treats and poop bags. I also will still take it to the grocery store or to run other errands, as easy access to money and my phone remains as valuable as ever in these situations. 

 

Why Fanny Pack Benefits Thru-Hiking Ultralight Backpacking GGG Garage Grown Gear

 

A fanny pack was one of my most essential pieces of gear on my thru-hike. It helped remind me to eat and do my exercises, and allowed my setup to be more organized and accessible as I was hiking. My fanny pack even held twenty mayonnaise packets once. The only question is: what will yours hold?

 

 

Why Fanny Pack Benefits Thru-Hiking Ultralight Backpacking GGG Garage Grown Gear
Fanny Packs

 

 

Abby Evans, or S.W. Fireball Queen of the Salamanders, enjoys thru-hiking, jumping in mud puddles and catching salamanders. When they're not doing these three things, they love to write about their on-foot adventures. They recently finished the Appalachian Trail and they're looking forward to the Pacific Crest Trail next summer!

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1 comment

Kerry

Kerry

Excellent and well thought out reasons for using a fanny pack on a through hike. You didn’t address the “mechanics” of wearing one with a backpack. I assume you put the fanny pack on first followed by your backpack? This places the fanny pack buckles squarely in between your lower back and the pack. Did this ever cause you any discomfort? Also, did you have any difficulties donning or removing your backpack while wearing the fanny pack? Thanks.

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