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Running with a Fanny Pack

I’ve carried concealed long enough to remember when fanny packs were cool. Like many things in life, there is a cyclical nature that brings things back in style. The thing to consider is why a fanny pack may be important or even worth discussing for concealed carry. The answer is simple: It lowers a barrier to entry for many who are still not comfortable carrying on body, and it can provide a method suitable for certain activities where belt or pocket carry are less optimal. There are a lot of reasons why this barrier exists; it could be that one’s current wardrobe doesn’t accommodate an armed lifestyle, it could be your body type is not ideal for on-body carry. The biggest reason seems to be adopting an armed lifestyle that accommodates someone’s current lifestyle.

So, what is so appealing about a fanny pack and why should you consider them? The fanny pack provides a convenient all-in-one system, alternate load-bearing method and modern, stylish appeal.

I’ve been a big believer in living my life and being armed in the process. This allows me to enjoy all that life has to offer without limiting my activities because of fear. Going armed is not without its challenges, but being more open to alternate-carry methods and firearms has been a huge part of my success. At some point, the need to adapt to the situation and the environment becomes necessary. Instead of saying I can’t carry, ask “how would I carry?” In the performance of my duties overseas I had to carry in some tough locations. I didn’t get to pick the wardrobe all the time. This planted the seed early on for me to be more flexible and creative in my problem-solving for how I would carry. I was open to options even if they were not so popular amongst my peers.

When fanny packs first became popular as a carry option back in the 1980s and ’90s, there were not a lot of choices, and I struggled to find one to fit my needs. I not only wanted the firearm to be secure, but also protected from negligent discharges. When exploring off-body-carry options, the two most important considerations are security and protection. The firearm must be secured and stationary through a wide range of body movements. It must not shift or move around while in the fanny pack. Instead, it must stay in the exact same position for the same reason we want our on-body holster in the exact same position: to facilitate a smoother and faster draw. The trigger must be protected not only from the trigger finger, but other foreign objects and debris. Throwing the firearm into the fanny pack or any other off-body-type bag without protecting the trigger is a recipe for disaster. Some fanny packs are large enough to allow other items, such as spare magazines, in the main compartment. If the trigger is protected, that’s one thing. If not protected, do not risk a negligent discharge.

Blackhawk’s fanny pack can be worn multiple ways and provides rapid access to a holstered pistol. It also looks like today’s fashionable offerings.

The first time I really used a fanny pack was overseas in a combat theater. While secure in our compound, it was uncommon to carry a rifle. But I hated being unarmed, so I would constantly carry my pistol in a fanny pack. If I went to the gym, ate in the chow hall or even when I took a shower, I was armed. I would literally clip it to the shower curtain rod while rinsing off from the day’s activities (obviously this would not be a good idea stateside). I wasn’t too impressed at first, but as time went on it grew on me both overseas and at home. I sourced a similar fanny pack to the one I was issued overseas for my daily needs. While I was much more likely to carry concealed on-body domestically, there were still plenty of times a fanny pack was a good idea.

One of the homes we lived in was a two-story with the kids’ bedrooms located on the second floor. Not every noise is cause for alarm or fully jocking up (naval term for gearing up) with full kit. Sometimes it was to console one of the kiddos after a bad dream or from not feeling well through the night. What I didn’t like was not having access to a firearm once upstairs. In a sense, I was trapped except for the emergency escape ladder we had in case of fires. It was nice to have a fanny pack secured in a lock box upstairs. Another instance where I came to appreciate them was traveling as a young family. There were many times the family would tag along on training trips so we could travel and see the world together. It was great, but there was always something unnerving about leaving a firearm on the nightstand with the kids sleeping in the same room. I would leave the firearm secured in the fanny pack to keep their curiosity at bay. If I really wanted to deny unauthorized access, I would secure the zippers with a small travel lock and hang the fanny pack in the closet. So, you could say I have a lot of affection for what the fanny pack brought to me and my family over the years.

A major advantage to a fanny pack is the “all-in-one” carry system. You can load up the pack with just the essentials; i.e. a pistol. Or, you can have all sorts of supporting equipment to aid in dealing with the unknown. Some examples aside from the pistol would be a spare magazine, flashlight, tourniquet, OC spray and folding knife, to name a few. I also added the aforementioned travel lock, spare batteries for the flashlight and a set of earplugs. Should the need arise, I can grab the pack and clip it on—or throw it over my shoulder—and I have a self-contained travel load out. Of course, a lot will depend on the size of the fanny pack and the size of the pistol. While there are some fanny packs large enough to fit a full-size pistol, it does tend to stand out in public. Finding a fanny pack of modest size that could accommodate a compact pistol is nice, but a subcompact pistol will fit even better. Smaller pistols are more comfortable for extended wear and put less stress on the pack.

A lot of your choices will have to do with how well the fanny pack carries the pistol and the ease of access. Most will feature a rip-cord-style deployment sequence, meaning there is a cord or toggle accessible from the outside that when pulled firmly will apply pressure to the zippers, thereby providing access to the pistol. It is important to obtain a firing grip on the pistol while secure in the fanny pack. There may be a retention strap or thumb break that needs to be defeated to draw the pistol. Safe, dry-fire practice is strongly recommended before taking this setup into the wild. Further, an alternative method of carrying the fanny pack is shouldered, meaning the pack is worn across the shoulder region, underneath one of the arm pits. No matter the method, invest in lots of safe practice.

full fanny pack

While it may be tempting to load up your pack with extra gear, be sure it’s not too heavy to comfortably carry. Tactical-looking models offer some storage benefits, but often require sacrificing discretion.

There are those days when I might be going to the gym, or some sort of athletic activity such as jogging or riding a bike, even walking the dog, where it is nice to have an alternate load-bearing system to my standard on-body method. Sure, I could adjust my wardrobe or activity to accommodate being armed, but I much prefer the “live your life” mindset. So, I’m quite fond of grabbing the fanny pack and running out the door. As mentioned earlier, it is nice to have an all-in-one system that is truly grab and go. Should the need arise to investigate a bump in the night, strapping on the fanny pack and deploying the accompanying pistol will not only provide supporting equipment, but also a means to secure the pistol in case of any hands-on activity.

Since fashion is cyclical, we are seeing the fanny pack making a comeback, albeit mostly for fashion and not form related. This doesn’t mean we are not afforded the same fashion sense the rest of the world is coming to adopt. With more and more fanny packs making their way into the fashion scene, it means they are becoming more and more commonplace. This strongly favors blending in with the public at large. When it comes to selecting a fanny pack, ensure it has the lowest profile or furthest styling from a tactical bag. Sporty colors and a benign external appearance are advantageous. Keep in mind how many are carrying the fanny pack. Most are carried facing the rear, hence “fanny,” or, as is becoming more popular these days, as a shouldered bag. No matter how you wear it, you must check to make sure you are prepared to rapidly deploy the firearm from these positions. Practice lots with the preferred carry method before committing to it.

Generally, the old becomes new again. In this case, the fanny pack has made a strong re-emergence. We can take advantage of this trend and have an alternate-carry method. It offers a great grab-and-go format. It has the capacity to carry the firearm and supporting gear. It is an alternate load-bearing system for those times an on-body method might not be the best choice. It provides an easy and decent loadout. With it becoming more popular in a variety of circles, it is more widely acceptable in public. Strapping a fanny pack over the shoulder will attract far less scrutiny these days, affording a lower-profile appearance. Those who wish to carry off-body have sound options and tactics to support an armed lifestyle with a fanny pack. They have been an option in my carry methods for a long time.

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