The Hunter's Fanny Pack
By Chuck Hawks
First, let's define "hunter's fanny pack." I am referring to a fanny pack dedicated specifically to carrying the basic necessities for a hunter in the field. This is not your daily wear fanny pack, a concealed carry fanny pack, or a jogger's fanny pack. The hunter's fanny pack should be stored loaded and ready to go.
The hunter's fanny pack differs from other fanny packs because of the nature of its use. It must be made of a "quiet" material, so as not to alert game to the hunter's presence. It must be neutral (earth tone) in color with no flashy red, yellow, purple, pink, lime or other bright colored accents, so that it is not spotted by wary animals.
My favorite fanny pack materials are silent, brushed tricot fabric and soft, finished leather. Leather is a quiet material and it is usually dyed black or dark brown, which are ideal colors for use in the field. The illustration below depicts a Blackhawk hunter's fanny pack made of silent, water resistant, brushed tricot fabric.
Illustration courtesy of Blackhawk Hunting Packs.
In size, "medium" is an appropriate choice. Small packs probably won't carry enough gear and a large fanny pack, if filled (and somehow fanny packs always wind up full), is pretty heavy for long term comfort, unless you have a strong back and are in good physical condition.
Whether made of leather or some quiet fabric, the hunter's fanny pack should be durably constructed of reasonably heavyweight material, so that your gear is not lost because it wears through a lightweight fabric or a poorly sewn seam splits open. Some of the possible contents are expensive (knives, binoculars, a hand held GPS unit, etc.) and could spoil a hunt if lost.
This fanny pack should also be quiet to open; noisy closures like Velcro should be avoided. A fairly course zipper with metal teeth makes a suitable closure, as it can be opened slowly and quietly. Some flaps secured by snaps can also be opened and closed quietly.
A hunter's fanny pack usually does not need to be completely waterproof (submergible), but it should be reasonably water resistant. You don't want its contents to become a soggy mess in inclement weather. Zip-Lock freezer bags can be used to keep essential items dry inside of a fanny pack. Again, finished leather is an example of a sufficiently water-resistant material, particularly when treated with a water-resistant product such as Scotch Guard or any number of leather specific products. Various synthetic or treated fabrics are equally or more water-resistant.
The hunter's fanny pack should have a wide, comfortable and easily adjusted belt strap to distribute its weight, as it will probably be heavier than, say, a jogger's fanny pack. The fanny pack's belt strap is also a natural place to hang sheath knives, compact binocular cases and the like, so insure that it is up to the task. A quick release buckle is a convenience, but it must be secure when fastened and it should be small enough to pass through things like the belt loops on knife sheaths.
A fanny pack with a large central pocket is necessary, as it will carry the most stuff and the biggest items. However, two or more smaller pockets are handy to keep small items separated so that they can be located quickly when needed.
What kind of items are usefully carried in a hunter's fanny pack? Stashed inside my hunting fanny pack is a Cutter snake bite kit, 1-ounce bottle of insect repellent lotion, pair of leather shoelaces, water purification tablets, NovaTac 120T flashlight with a fresh battery, book of matches, tweezers, a very small first aid kit, pocket pack of Kleenex, Leatherman Tool, one 30-gram bar of compressed Trioxane heating fuel, butane lighter, emergency thermal (space) blanket, about 30 feet of small diameter nylon cord in a zip-lock bag, my hunting license with tags and a pen to fill out the tags. Loaded, this fanny pack weighs about one pound.
I should add that hanging from the fanny pack's belt strap (and adding to the total weight) are my Savage Hunters Edge knife, Leupold compact binoculars, Leupold RX-1000 compact rangefinder and a small case for 10 spare rifle cartridges.
That brings up one of the most important aspects of the hunter's fanny pack: keep it light for comfort.
Copyright 2006, 2009 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.