Day Lumbar Pack
But purpose-built fanny packs? Sure—they're handy things. I often use a small one while mountain biking, and bigger models are quite capable of handling day-trip loads. Mountainsmith, for instance, built its early reputation on fanny packs and still makes some good ones (although they call them "lumbar packs"). An example: the Mountainsmith Day Lumbar pack ($75; www.mountainsmith.com). It'll hold more than 1,100 cubic inches of stuff—plenty for even a long day hike. Mesh side pockets hold water bottles, or you can retrofit it with a hydration bladder. Ultimate Direction's Tandem HHS ($65; www.ultimatedirection.com) is a little smaller at 65 cubic inches, and holds two sport bottles plus a jacket and lunch. Arc'Teryx also gets into the lumbar-pack act with the Q10 ($110; www.arcteryx.com), which is about the same size as the Tandem but has a slightly beefier suspension/belt system to handle pretty dense, heavy loads.
Of course, ultimately a small backpack will often make more sense. After all, a fanny pack may let you carry what you think you need, but what if you need more than the absolute minimum? As in, what if you end up out overnight with a sprained ankle, or helping someone with the same? Not that you need to carry 30 pounds on a day hike, but I always think it prudent to have a little more along than the bare essentials, just in case. A pack such as Osprey's small-sized 1,600-cubic-inch Aether 30 ($79; www.ospreypacks.com) is just the ticket.
What's the well-clad day hiker to wear? Find out in Outside's 2004 Buyer's Guide.
Support Outside Online
Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.