Fanny Packs and Fans

Taking a hint from cyclists, skiers and campers, the street-wise are wearing fanny packs--also known as belt pouches, hip packs and walking packs. They come in a wide range of sizes, shapes and colors, and hold everything from portable phones, Walkmans and walkie-talkies to small change, wallets, mid-shopping-day lunches or paperbacks.

Mike Lieberman, manager at Oshman’s, says his fanny packs “are a very big item,” especially popular with people traveling to Europe. A few years ago, Lieberman only saw campers buying them, but today the packs are popular for everyday use.

Made by several manufacturers, including Outdoor Products, JanSport and Caribou Mountaineering, the packs range in price from $4.99 to $19.99. They are generally made of heavyweight nylon; some have multiple exterior pockets.

Says Art Heller, buyer at the Surprise Store in Tarzana: “We sell them to everyone, from kids going to camp to 70-year-old men and women who wear them when they walk.” Some people fill the fanny packs with weights for a heightened workout, says Heller, whose store “sells a lot of them,” he says.


The fanny packs are hard to misplace, lightweight and probably more resistant to theft than are purses or other pouches that are not strapped to the body.

According to one woman walking down Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks: “It leaves my hands free for other things.”