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Rain Blanken

Step Away from the Fanny Pack.

By July 10, 2008

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Fanny Pack I recently visited Kings Island near Cincinnati, OH to ride the new Firehawk coaster. During the 2 hour wait, I had plenty of time to take in what both tourists and locals were wearing to keep cool for a day at the park.

The hottest item at the park was the mini backpacks. While the older set and un-hip moms clung to their pooch-tastic fanny packs, the younger group remained clued in to the hideous dork effect. With a mini backpack, you can stash your stuff and even wear it backwards on most rides. I saw a couple of cute handmade mini-packs that were customized with The White Stripes and Yoda patches.


July 11, 2008 at 2:35 am
(1) D says:

I had to laugh when I read this! I recently went to an amusement park with my daughter, wearing a fanny pack. As I strapped on my fanny pack that morning, I said to a friend, “I’m going to be the uncool dork mom today.”

July 11, 2008 at 8:31 am
(2) Rain says:

Guilty! With three kids, my chances of having worn a fanny pack in the past are pretty good. It doesn’t usually happen…but that’s mostly because my mother comes along and wears hers, graciously acting as our pack mule for the day.

The last time I visited a theme park, my fiance successfully lost his keys, so I’m going to be sporting that mini-backpack on our next trip.

July 11, 2008 at 8:34 am
(3) Dinah says:

Oh my gosh! I think that fanny packs are so unflattering! I’m trying hard enough to make my waist look small without having a man-made pooch hanging off of me. If I ever really had to wear one, I would turn it to my side. That’s at least a LITTLE better. Can’t anyone make a cute fanny pack?

July 11, 2008 at 9:20 am
(4) Jen Adkins says:

You are bringing back horrible memories of my youth! ha! And sadly, my husbands family goes as low as calling them “butt packs”. Ew! I agree, they are helpful, but really, I just can’t do it.
Have you ever seen the little packs sort of like these that you put inside your shirt and/or pants? They are used for traveling overseas mainly. It’s a safe way to keep your passport and ID/money without it being visible?

July 11, 2008 at 9:20 am
(5) Bob Strauss says:

Here’s a question for you, DIY girl–whatever happened to those Chinese food takeout backpacks (you know, the ones shaped like the obtuse rhomboids you get your white rice in?) I used to see them all the time in New York a dozen years ago, and now nothing. I thought they were really funny, and good conversation starters.

July 11, 2008 at 9:21 am
(6) Elaine Lemm says:

Question from over the pond – Fanny Pack, do I understand that to be a Bum Bag as we call it here in the UK. We certainly would never use your name – it has a totally different connotation…! The bum bag is very uncool here also, many preferring a mini back back. Cheers, Elaine

July 11, 2008 at 9:23 am
(7) Colleen says:

You mean fanny packs aren’t cool?

Just kidding. They are hideous. I’d rather carry a bag or purse. I love those mini packs, though. I might actually try to make one!

July 11, 2008 at 9:30 am
(8) Lahle Wolfe says:

I will have remain uncool. I carry glucagon pens, epipen, and diabetes testing supplies, fast sugars for three of us. And now, I also have to carry “reward” treats for our medical service alert dog everywhere we go. We sometimes make the service dog carry some of the gear but he gets hot and tired.

I have tried backpacks and find they feel to heavy after a while and are not as quick to get into in a crisis moment. Fanny packs are easy to access and work well on rides.

So how about you offer some cooler options than the standard navy blue or black fanny pouches we “medical” travelers need? I am sure these utilitarian devices could only be improved!

July 11, 2008 at 9:31 am
(9) Bob Strauss says:

suggested alternate names:

derriere device
heinie holder
keister karrier

July 11, 2008 at 9:34 am
(10) Ashley says:

There are some non-hideous fanny packs you know…granted they’re like $5,000 and from Chanel.

Just saying.

July 11, 2008 at 9:42 am
(11) Zanna says:

I got a sling backpack for each family member this year for vacation. That way each person was responsible for hauling their own junk – I didn’t end up hauling 5 waterbottles, assorted sunscreens, tourist attraction flyers, wallets, etc. Everybody had their own. It was great. Next time I might try to make my own though — these weren’t as sturdy as I would have liked.

Debbie from Sewing has a pattern, if you’re serious about trying to make one Colleen. http://sewing.about.com/od/freeprojects/ss/stringbackpack.htm

July 11, 2008 at 9:58 am
(12) diyfashion says:


You are right on that note. I think that anything we wear to be prepared for the health and safety of our families is automatically uber-cool, just so you know!

My son has extreme asthma attacks, so we bought him a cool see-through Spiderman bag to keep his breathing machine in. It makes the whole thing friendlier for him and helps us to transform a treatment into a fun experience.

If I had to carry around a fanny pack for him (he has severe allergies and the epipen may be in my future…) I would slap a big red cross symbol on it just like in the cartoons, or maybe a patch of a hot nurse or a fairy dressed up like a nurse. Oh, I wonder if I could find a Tinkerbell patch and give her a nurses hat?

Now you have me thinking…

July 11, 2008 at 10:02 am
(13) Connie G. says:

I dare to be unstylish when I am walking! I wear a fanny pack because my ipod is one of the old, clunky thick kind. I must have it centered on my body or my back hurts. I also carry my pepper spray in it. Maybe I could increase my coolness factor by adding cool patches to it? :)

July 11, 2008 at 10:13 am
(14) diyfashion says:

Okay, now I’m *really* thinking. Connie said that her fanny pack was for pepper spray, and I started thinking of little pepper shaker patches, and then I though, ‘Oh ha, it’s like a little home for her wicked pepper spray!’

Wouldn’t it be cute if fanny packs looked like little houses? How Strawberry Shortcake is that? There could be little embroidered iPods, pens, and cell phones looking out of the windows.

By the way, why can’t fanny packs be shaped like cool things such as a couple of cherries, or like an animal character that’s hanging onto you? That would be cute to have a little monkey bag instead of something square and frumpy. Has anyone seen any like this? (Maybe for kids? heehee.)

July 11, 2008 at 10:15 am
(15) Randall says:

In decades past I must confess I liked the idea of the fanny pack as a man’s alternative to carrying a purse. Having said that, I could never bring myself to wear one because a) they do look dumb and b) I don’t want to carry “stuff” anyway.

Connie; your ipod could go in a belt pouch and your pepper spray should be in a holster on your belt anyway. I mean what are you going to say to a mugger… “wait a sec while I get my pepper spray out of my fanny pack”?

July 11, 2008 at 10:20 am
(16) Deb says:

Elaine, LMAO! omg. British English is very funny. I know, I know. I, too, am guilty of wearing the horrible fanny pack. I’m forever fiddling with it, changing positions, which probably just makes it MORE noticeable.

I love the little bags with long straps that I can sling, but most of them aren’t big enough for a cell phone, keys, and lipstick. Oh yeah, and pepper spray.

July 11, 2008 at 10:21 am
(17) Nick Greene says:

If I don’t wear my fanny pack, what will I have to match my black socks I’m wearing under my shorts and sandals?

July 11, 2008 at 10:25 am
(18) Megan Romer says:

I want them to be popular SO BADLY; they’re so damn convenient. Or they look like they are, anyway. I haven’t worn one since I was 8, so I can’t actually remember. I’m mostly thinking about music festivals… the idea that you can carry your schedule, a pen, your money, a pack of wet wipes (a festival must-have), and still dance!

I also kind of hate mini-backpacks. They remind me of 9th grade. I generally just go with a teardrop bag or messenger bag, and complain about it. :)

July 11, 2008 at 10:41 am
(19) Jessica Harlan says:

Another mother in my “mommy-group” wears a fanny pack and I have to admit, I sometimes envy her for it… it must be nice to not have to be hampered by a purse or a backpack while you’re chasing your little one around the playground.

Any advice on cute mini-backpacks? I have an old Coach microfiber one (in solid black), but It’s probably time to retire it.

July 11, 2008 at 10:53 am
(20) Saad says:

In Europe you see a lot of leather fanny packs. I wouldn’t be surprised if people weren’t selling bootleg Coach or Dooney and Burke fanny packs over there to the tourists! I definitely wouldn’t be caught wearing one and if I ever had the crazy notion, then my wife would definitely remind me how silly they look.

I don’t think I could don a mini back pack though. Maybe on a teen or woman, but on a grown man like me, it looks like I hijacked something from my toddler’s closet.


July 11, 2008 at 11:14 am
(21) diyfashion says:


Gotta admit that I feel sorry for guys sometimes. Seems like even if you fellas carry around a backpack, it very soon gets called your ‘man purse’.

July 11, 2008 at 11:33 am
(22) Jerri Ledford says:

As “uncool” as fanny packs might be, they are far safer than backpacks. In fact, I recommend them, because it’s much harder to have your fanny pack pickpocketed. Backpacks are easy targets, so if you’re carrying cash, credit cards, or anything with identifying information, stick to the dork-look. It’s tons safer!

July 11, 2008 at 11:41 am
(23) Arthur says:

Be careful if you plan to wear a fanny pack, dorky or not, to a Six Flags park. At many of the coasters, you’ll be required to remove it and stow it in a pay-as-you-go locker conveniently located at the ride (or give it to a non-riding friend). If you tote it from coaster to coaster, you’ll have to pay an additional locker fee each time. What a racket!

July 11, 2008 at 11:46 am
(24) diyfashion says:


It looks like this is another point for the safety side! With a fanny pack. your stuff is right there in front of you. I havn’t heard any cases of fanny pack snatching.

July 11, 2008 at 11:57 am
(25) Wendy B says:

As a walker, a water bottle carrying fanny pack is a handy piece of gear. It’s not smart to carry a water bottle in your hand for any amount of time – carpal tunnel, neck and shoulder repetitive strain, etc. But I’ve switched to a mini-backpack with a hydration bladder and sipper tube. That way I can drink anytime while walking. For use in town when not walking, I take out the water bladder and sipper tube and it looks like any other mini-backpack.

July 11, 2008 at 12:28 pm
(26) Ingrid T says:

No matter how useful, the fanny packs tend to fall into the mom jeans genre of what-not-to-wear. It’s funny because I agree with Megan that some mini backpacks aren’t any better. I use messenger bags — with some complaints. But walking around town with a fanny pack makes you too easy a target, since that’s the uniform of most tourists.

July 11, 2008 at 12:38 pm
(27) Charlie says:

Being the urban hipster that I am, I’m rarely without my sleek black messenger bag.

OK… it’s actually a diaper bag. And I’m actually a suburban stay-at-home dad rarely without my one-year-old daughter. But the messenger-bag style bag works well for me, and has eliminated the need for any alternate derriere device.

July 11, 2008 at 12:41 pm
(28) Faith says:

This really brings back memories. I live in Ohio and go to Kings Island yearly and remember when my dad used to wear a fannie pack there! I was a pre-teen then and thought that was so “uncool”. It’s so funny to know that people still wear them, or that they still decide to make them!

July 11, 2008 at 1:08 pm
(29) Franny Syufy says:

I really need to find an alternative to the little old lady purse I haul around. I used to chew out my mom for doing the same thing. It’s much too heavy and it makes me look like a sitting duck for a snatch & grab.

I’ve tried the fanny pack, but I wear it around the front rather than the back. Unfortunately, it was too small for all the things I need to carry in it.

Your jeans booty bag looks like it has possibilities. With the belt loops still attached, instead of a handle, I could use and extra-extra large belt to turn it into a fanny pack, maybe with a zipper on the side. The pockets would be great for an i-Pod, cell phone and maybe my new Flip videocam.

I don’t have to worry about carrying cash because I spent it all on my toys. ;)

July 11, 2008 at 1:11 pm
(30) SusanAdcox says:

Thank goodness I’ve reached the age where convenience is more important than style! I use a fanny pack a lot of the time when I’m going somewhere that involves walking and I have the grandkids. It’s more important to me to have my hands free than it is to look good. And most of the bags that you sling over a shoulder slip off when you bend down to pick up a kid. As for Randall’s comment about hanging I-pods and pepper spray on a belt, grannies don’t wear belts. Belts require waistlines!

July 11, 2008 at 1:13 pm
(31) Brandon says:

As a former Walt Disney World manager, I cannot tell you how many fanny packs I saw at Disney, but it was about the most unattractive thing I ever saw.
If I ever meet the fanny pack inventor, I think I will have words unsuitable for a kid-oriented theme park experience, like “WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING?” :) Okay, I’ll be nice now.

July 11, 2008 at 1:21 pm
(32) Naomi says:

Are mini-backpacks really preferable to fanny packs? I don’t see it… and I don’t think that I’ve actually seen a mini-backpack in a long time- 10 years? Is this a regional thing? I live in the NYC metro area.

July 11, 2008 at 1:33 pm
(33) Lynne says:

WOW have I been uncool! Even my mother donned the mini-backpack before I lost my fanny pack. But this is the midwest, and fashions tend to lag behind the coasts. So for those of you who learned about mini-backpacks long before I did – visit Minnesota. You will look totally hip! Curiosity has caught me. Since I travel a lot around the globe, and may have forgotten to bring my last fanny pack to the Goodwill, what is the connotation of the term fanny pack if I accidentally resucitate it and stoop so low as to call it that in England?

July 11, 2008 at 2:01 pm
(34) Stan says:

Not a problem for me. I never got into the fanny pack thing. Looked dorky from the git go. Off the subject, but the same thing goes for those people you see wearing the wireless cell phone ear plug thingies.

July 11, 2008 at 2:02 pm
(35) Rachel Hagan says:

That’s so funny. Though they may be practical, they are pretty unflattering. The little Gucci one may be an exception though :)

July 11, 2008 at 3:11 pm
(36) Nancy says:

I have always wanted to know how to make these! Thanks for the pattern. I see mini-backpacks everywhere here.

Tip for travelers: Use the mini-backpack for tissues, maps, etc. Keep the important stuff in a money belt. Obviously this won’t work in a water park, but you wouldn’t bring your passport there, anyway.

July 11, 2008 at 3:52 pm
(37) Sukhmandir Kaur says:

Is this the little strap around the middle device that I use at our windblown beach to keep my keys in. I wear mine in front just under by belly  a few times each decade.

July 11, 2008 at 4:02 pm
(38) Sherri O. says:

While I will admit to wearing a fanny pack in the past, it has been a long-long time! I now prefer a backpack I made that is similar to the link you shared, except I made mine out of colorful bandanas!

July 11, 2008 at 5:06 pm
(39) Shelley says:

I am guilty of wearing a fanny pack, except I have the pack hanging off to the side in front vs. adding more padding to my butt. You have convinced me that I must change my ways. A small, stylish backpack would probably actually be better for me given my lower back problems.

Our local PTO sells inexpensive back packs that are like the one you’ve linked to on About Sewing, but I think my daughter would enjoy sewing up her own back pack.


July 11, 2008 at 5:23 pm
(40) Lisa Taylor says:

OK…I’m not trying to be SoCal hip or anything, but I don’t think I’ve seen fanny packs at any stores around here since the early 1990s. After I had my 1st baby (who’ll be 18 on Monday), I became a purse-backpack person. This is for relieving my aching shoulder and back that I get with a regular bag, and I like having both hands free. I also like to walk perfectly balanced. They usually come in black or brown leather, but I found a nice one from Nine West at Macy’s that has a blue print. Aren’t you glad you know this info? I do, however, recall seeing many a fanny pack (and guys in tanks or wife beaters) at the Kennywood amusement park in Pittsburgh.

July 11, 2008 at 5:39 pm
(41) Suzanne says:

The worst look with a fanny pack is people who wear a sweater or jacket over it and it makes a big lump under their clothes. How unattractive is that? Women who wear it like that look pregnant – then again it could be a way to get offered a seat on the bus. A backpack or messenger bag is much more attractive.

July 11, 2008 at 9:03 pm
(42) Susan says:

They’re hideous! And a surefire giveaway that you’re a tourist. But I don’t think backpacks are any better for anyone over 10 years old. What I crave in summer is a nice Eric Javits squishee bag.

July 11, 2008 at 10:23 pm
(43) Donna says:

My fanny never needed the extra padding, so I always avoided those fanny packs. But I love my mini backpack, except when they give me a hard time about it in museums. The guards make me take it off because they’re afraid I’ll clumsily bump into a picture. Anyone else ever have that problem?

July 12, 2008 at 1:18 am
(44) Jenn says:

I feel so old and un-hip.

Do you have any way to create a hip backpack out of a fanny pack?

July 12, 2008 at 1:50 am
(45) Kendra says:

I used to love wearing my hot-pink fanny pack way back in junior high. These days, I stick to a purse or messenger bag, even though it gives my a stiff neck because I pack SO much stuff into it. What can I say? I suffer for fashion…

July 12, 2008 at 5:08 pm
(46) NSGill says:

For me, it’s one more reason not to go to an amusement park. I like my shoulder bags and totes.

July 12, 2008 at 5:28 pm
(47) Neko says:

Spot on with this article! Another alternative is the cloth messenger bag. Wear one over the shoulder and everyone looks at is as clothing! I have boarded airplanes and they don’t even count it as a carry-on!

July 12, 2008 at 6:58 pm
(48) Kallie / Asian History says:

In answer to the question about why Britons would never say “fanny pack,” the word “fanny” means feminine anatomy in British slang. Of course, “bum bag” sounds like a homeless person’s accessory to Americans. We are indeed separated by a common language!

July 12, 2008 at 10:13 pm
(49) Bonny says:

Gosh, I’d never be caught dead wearing a fanny pack. Mind you, I wear a baby backpack all over the place, but I find my son’s wiggling hands in my hair more of a conversation piece. :)

October 16, 2008 at 8:56 pm
(50) Ames says:

Fashion Upward version of Fanny Packs – and dare I say even “sporty”? It’s called a DayPack and every backpacker/hiker type person is familiar with it. Find it at Walmart or Diamond Brand etc. Mine has two “pouches” for water bottles, which are provided of the nalgene type, and a pouch for things like car keys, wallets, ipods etc. It’s fabulous because even if you’re just going out for a quick hike, you still are supposed to take first-aid and emergency items with you. Yah, it’s a bit bulky, but it is very trendy and sporty — another option are those camel packs that mountain and road bikers use, they’re very compact and go on your back to carry water bladders and more things than you’d be able to fit in a fanny pack or daypack.

February 26, 2010 at 7:15 pm
(51) Robert AhTye says:

You will have to pry my cold stiff hands away from me before I let go of my fanny bag no one wears them nowadays perhaps true but I do!

July 13, 2010 at 11:30 pm
(52) Jack says:

I’m still waiting for an acceptable alternative to the fanny pack. I carry my ipod, phone, camera, eyeglasses case, pens and other small items. It’s too much for me to carry around in my pants pocket and be comfortable. But there is also not enough items to justify carrying around a backpack/messenger bag. If I was a woman I could get a smaller purse but being a guy it seems my only options are 1) Wear the FP and be made fun of 2) Carry a larger backpack with a lot of empty space (which has always made me more uncomfortable than carry a full backpack) 3) Leave items that would enhance my trips at home.

May 27, 2012 at 9:32 pm
(53) Paul says:

I would like one, but only to carry my handgun.

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