The Fanny Pack

An Essential Tool for Preparedness

February 10, 2022

I rarely leave the house without my phone, wallet, keys, pocket knife, flashlight, watch, hat, small Swiss army knife, pen, pocket notepad, a handkerchief, and a gun easily accessible on my person, and with the exception of the handkerchief (which I haven't trained myself to use) and the gun (which I hope to never have to use) I use just about every one of these things every day. If I don't have these things with me I feel unprepared because I am unprepared but there are of course times where it is neither practical or possible to carry all of these things all the time and when you become accustomed to having that many tools on you it becomes really annoying to find yourself in a situation where you need a knife and don't have one.

I've been living with this problem for a while but it wasn't until I went skiing again that I decided it was time for me to solve it. When I ski I only have one pocket that I trust to keep things in and I have a minimum of three things that I need to have on me, my phone, keys and wallet. But my phone is the only thing that I actually need to use while on the slope, my keys are just so I can get back in the car and I just have my wallet in case I need to buy anything or if I die in an avalanche my body can be easily identified. I'll use my phone throughout the day to listen to music and do normal phone things. Keeping all these things in the same pocket means that when ever I access my phone I run the risk of my wallet or keys falling out of my pocket, which under normal circumstances isn't a big deal but when you're suspended in the air on a chairlift thirty feet above a creek covered in five feet of powder you realize that anything that you drop is never going to be seen again. That is not a good risk to take.

So I decided that I needed to solve this problem and I began looking for a bag that I could securely wear on my chest that I could take skiing to safely store my phone, keys, wallet, a knife and some snacks (most of the other things I usually carry aren't needed or legal to carry where I ski so they could be left out). After a month or so of looking in stores around town for something that could fill this role I decided to break down and order the Fieldcraft Survival fanny pack (whose product page does a terrible job showing off its features). At first I was looking for something that would have exclusively been a chest pack, but with the exception of a 511 bag announced at Shot Show (which they foolishly didn't have available at the time of their announcement, when I might have actually bought it) I couldn't find anything that fit what I thought I wanted and thankfully my focus shifted towards fanny packs that could be worn on the chest.

In the past few years fanny packs have come back into style as men have realized how useful a purse is for women but don't want to be caught dead with anything that resembles a purse. I'm not entirely sure what prompted this realization, maybe because they've been popular in Asia longer than they've been back in style here it could be a product of K-pop, maybe it is a product of the lockdowns that tricked many into believing they needed to have fancy fabric over their faces and constantly sanitize their hands so the fanny pack became a good place to keep that stuff, it could have come from people who served in the military and have become accustomed to chest rigs, or maybe it came from guys wanting to conceal a gun at the beach. However they came back and it isn't all that important how they came back but the important thing is that they are a great tool that more and more people are starting to use these days and you've probably seen someone wearing one within the last few days (although a lot of people wear them like slings rather than around the waist).

Like I've already demonstrated fanny packs are great for situations where you don't have all the pockets you are used to having, like when you are skiing or at the beach; working out is another great example for this, if you're running you probably want your phone and keys with you but having them dangling in the terrible pockets of your shorts is a bad idea, and if you're at the gym you shouldn't trust valuables like your keys or wallet in a gym locker plus to maximize the long-term effectiveness of your workouts you should be keeping a workout journal to track how much weight you're lifting for how many reps so that you can see your progress and make sure that you're actually pushing yourself to do better over time rather than just doing the same thing every week.

Sure you could keep your stuff in a normal backpack that you use for all sorts of things in situations like this but that's how you loose your stuff, I've lost a couple flashlights, a knife and my movie flash drive that way. They could either fall out while you're accessing something else in there or you could simply forget that you put them there and simply leave it in the bag for months. When you put something somewhere that you don't usually put it don't trust yourself to remember that it is there. A fanny pack whose main purpose it to temporarily house things that usually belong in your pockets is a great way to prevent this from happening.

As I started thinking about using a fanny pack more I began to realize that it would allow me to easily carry more things that I don't usually have with me but need to have on occasion. I obviously carry a gun with me and some extra ammunition would be nice but another thing that a lot of people in the concealed carry space advocate for is carrying first aid equipment like tourniquets and stuff like that. If one carries the tools to end a life it only makes sense that they should carry the tools to save a life as well. I don't currently carry any first aid equipment with me but now that I have something that I could use for that it is something that I can consider. Multitools are another thing that a lot of people carry that I don't, there have been times where I would have used one but not enough for me to justify going out of my way to get one. My main complaint with carrying a multitool is that they are typically too big to keep in your pockets without compromising something. Having a bag that I can carry a multitool in eliminates that problem and makes it another thing that I can consider. There are plenty of other tools like permanent markers, bit drivers, lighters, tape, fixed blade knives, and random lengths of paracord that lots of people like to always have on them that I don't but now have the option to because I have a good fanny pack.

But something that may be more important to consider having with you than traditional tools are charging devices. People these days have become incredibly reliant on their phones and they often forget how easily it could be drained of battery and useless. Regardless on your stance of how big of a role a smartphone should play in someone's life you have to agree that the ability to make a phone call in an emergency and have reliable communication throughout an emergency is essential. I once had to help out some family members with a disabled car on the side of the highway, when I got there one of their phones was at about 4% battery and the other was at 2% and they couldn't charge them with the car because the car couldn't run. You should keep a small battery bank that you can charge your phone with in your car and if you have something like a fanny pack that you can easily take a lot of places then you should keep one in there as well along with a charging chord for your phone and a wall adapter. If you are reliant on technology you should be concerned about how you are going to charge your devices when you aren't at home in a self reliant way.

And there are more tech things you could carry with you with a fanny pack. I used to always have a pair of wired headphones in my pocket but I stopped because they kept wearing out in my pockets so now I only take them when I know I'm going to use them, but they are also something that I can forget. In a bag they are safe. Flash drives and other portable storage devices can also have a safe place to live in a fanny pack and those can be used for all sorts of things. Then if you really wanted to you could fit a small hand radio in one of those things.

Now after reading all of this you may think that I'd advocate for having a small bag with all of this stuff in it with you at all times. I don't. The stuff in your bag should not be things that you need to access within seconds at any random but frequent moment, in most cases it would be perfectly acceptable to keep it in your car and only take it out when you anticipate needing something out of it or are doing something where you can't reasonably keep the things that you usually keep in your pockets in their normal place. On top of that if you spend most of your time in cities you have to realize that bags are often searched and in many places it is just a normal part of life that you can't argue with. Of course nothing I've mentioned here should be something that shouldn't be permitted in any building given you're a trustworthy person, but we live in a trustless society now, you can't even bring toothpaste onto a plane without a government agency thinking you're a terrorist. You never know what an unarmed security guard is going to want to confiscate, and you never know what an armed police officer is going to mistake for something illegal. If you have a bag of any size it is best only to take it into familiar buildings, you should always avoid having your property searched by people who have no reason or right to do so.

In my research of fanny packs I found that the one place you should always have one with you is not in the city but in the wilderness where I have come to believe that you should always have a fanny pack on your person. Imagine this: You're on the Pacific Crest Trail traveling from Mexico to Canada and as you're going along you need to poop so you drop your pack and find a good place to do it one or two hundred feet off trail, then once you're done taking care of your business you aren't 100% sure where you came from, you're suddenly in a survival situation with no tools, no food, and no shelter. If you have a well prepared fanny pack on you then you should get out of it fine, you'd have a map and a compass with you and you'd be able to figure out that you were traveling north before going off trail where you took a right so if you just follow your compass west you should run into the trail again and be able to find your stuff. Then if you couldn't find your way back for some reason you should still have a decent knife, lighter, headlamp, compact emergency blanket, and maybe even some snacks on you to help you survive the night or nights until you get yourself back to safety.

You may find this story unrealistic but it is far from that; hundreds, if not thousands, of people are reported missing in national parks every year and not all of them get found. People underestimate how easily you can get lost in the wild. There was one time where I was camping as a kid and after getting camp set up a friend and I went probably only 200 feet west to check something out. It was incredibly dark and when we were done checking out whatever it was we'd walked over there for we couldn't see our campsite, not even the light from the fire. To walk back to camp we ended up going north northeast rather than straight back east because we couldn't tell where we'd came from and we ended up finding other campers 100 yards north of our group. Everything turned out fine for us but it very easily could have been much worse if circumstances were different. When it is so easy to find yourself in a survival situation you should never go anywhere without the minimum tools necessary to help you survive, those all can fit in a fanny pack so you have no excuse not to have them with you at all times in the wilderness.

A lot of backpackers are beginning to adopt fanny packs these days. For a long time they've struggled to find a good place for small but important things in their backpack like knives, maps, compasses, lights, snacks, and ponchos, I've had this struggle as well no backpack has a good pocket to keep a variety of small things like that but a fanny pack is perfect for it because that is what it is built for. Plus when you go to sleep at night you can unload your pockets into it so that you know where they are in the morning which can be a big problem if you sleep without a tent like I often do.

Anyways, I think I've done enough rambling on about fanny packs by now, in fact I'm getting a bit tired of calling them fanny packs but there is really nothing better that I can call them. Mine came in the mail the other day and I'm still in the process of getting it set up the way I want it but I think for now I'll be keeping a notepad, permanent marker, extra pen, a general purpose knife, lighter, multitool, headlamp, and some phone charging stuff in there while being sure to leave room for other things like my phone and wallet and other random stuff that may need to live in there temporarily for various reasons. I plan to keep it in my car when I'm out and about and I'll also make sure I have it with me at work and whatnot. If you're curious on how it works out for me then feel free to shoot me an email in a couple weeks or months to ask about it, or if you have any thoughts on what else should be kept in a fanny pack then feel free to tell me as well.

The scout motto is "Be Prepared" and it is a good motto to live by, a well equipped fanny pack is a great way to be and stay prepared in today's crazy world and I hope it is a tool that you consider utilizing in your life.