A Brief History of the Resurgent Fanny Pack

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If you first heard of fanny packs when they were basically a fashion statement (in the 80s and 90s), then you might be surprised to learn that they’d been here before then, too.

And you just can’t keep a good piece of fashion down.

It was 1954 when Sports Illustrated first advertised a leather pouch ideal for skiers, hikers, equestrians, bicyclists, or basically anyone who could benefit from having their food, sunscreen, water, or other exercise necessities mounted right on their hip.


Though they’ll run you around $95 today, back then you could nab a fanny pack for just $10, and they remained popular among outdoor enthusiasts for quite some time.

The 80s and 90s saw it become a fashion statement, with Nike and Gucci and everyone in between creating fanny packs that were more hip and decorative and for anyone (no exercise or outdoor time required). They fit right in with a fashion culture that suddenly made athletic and leisure apparel wearable in everyday life.

In recent decades they’ve become more of a dorky dad thing, or maybe a joke that hipsters enjoy playing on the absolutely no one who cares.


Why has the fanny pack enjoyed so much popularity over the years, though, and why is it making a comeback?

It turns out there’s a very obvious and sensible reason behind it all – humans need to carry stuff around.

A 5300-year-old mummy found in 1991 had a leather satchel around his waist that contained a sharpened piece of bone and flint-stone tools, and every human between them and us has had a reason to wear or tote small bags full of necessities along with them.


Skiers and photographers brought the fanny pack into vogue in the modern world, with a need for food, money, flares, lenses, etc to be on hand and easily accessible at all times. Like most trends, however, the overexposure in the 80s and 90s killed the cash cow – with sports teams and banks and schools and everyone in between plastering freebies with their logo, people soon had enough.

However, cyclists, hikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts have quietly kept on keeping on, wearing the useful packs while on their regular outings… and here we are. Designer labels are again offering high-end pouches, and fanny packs are credited with a 2018 surge in accessory sales.


Which is all to say, while you may never see people wearing them with their track suits on a regular Tuesday again, it seems safe to say that the fanny pack is a useful tool that will always have a comfortable niche among humankind.