What water-toting fanny pack is good for day hiking?

My wife has decreed that we shall hike the Grinnell Glacier one day this fall, a 12 -mile round trip. I 53 years old and not an avid hiker. To meet her challenge I'm spending the summer on the treadmill and stair machine. I'd like to get some sort of fanny pack for each of us, the type that holds two bottles of water. What features/specifications should I look for? Any particular brands? Jeff Mount Prospect, IL


You’ll love the hike, Jeff! Plus, it’s a good target=. You might even find that you like this hiking business and make it part of a year-around fitness program. Besides, if nothing else, Glacier National Park is just so spectacular that you can’t help but enjoy yourself. One of the most fascinating things about the park is that there are so many remnants of past climate zones there. Bits of West Coast rain forest, Canadian boreal forest, Great Plains grasslands, all jammed together with more typical Rocky Mountain Ponderosa pine forests. Fascinating, and especially noticeable along Lake McDonald.

Mountainsmith Tour Lumbar Pack

Anyway, I digress. Fanny packs— or, to use the more dignified name, “lumbar packs." There are a few pretty good ones. One is Marmot’s Walkabout Lumbar Pack ($65;, which is designed with a mesh back panel that spreads the load around as much as possible. It holds 625 cubic inches, enough for a light jacket, gloves, a hat, and lunch. And blister kit. Two side pockets can handle your water bottles—and you’re gonna need at least two quarts—and a removable shoulder strap also lets you sling it over your shoulder. Marmot’s Highlander ($80) is a little larger at 1,000 cubic inches and has shoulder straps that take some of the weight up and over the shoulder and off the back, which can be a good thing. At that point, though, you might as well buy a small backpack.

Mountainsmith is a company that sort of defined the modern lumbar pack, and it’s still a big player in that small market. So take a look at its Tour Lumbar Pack ($70). It has 660 cubic inches, two zippered compartments, and side pockets for bottles. External loops and attachment points let you seriously overload it.

Now get back on that treadmill!

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Filed To: Day Packs
Lead Photo: courtesy, REI
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