Buying a Fanny Pack in 2011: an experiment in self-reliance

Seven weeks ago today I broke my ankle. The short version is: I’d been training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for six months (I’m bad-ass like that) when during one of my classes, I stumbled during a takedown and landed awkwardly with my own ass on my right ankle (I’m clumsy like that). I cracked my tibia, fibula and some other ankle bone that I don’t know the name off. For the next six weeks I was in a cast and had to crutch around everywhere, not putting any weight on the injured ankle.

As you can imagine, this created loads of inconveniences. I couldn’t walk, couldn’t drive, couldn’t take out my own trash or go grocery shopping. For years I’ve prided myself in being self-sufficient and independent. And after a year of muay Thai and half a year of jiu jitsu, I was starting to feel physically strong for the first time.

And then, suddenly, I wasn’t.

I became utterly dependent on my amazing friends and family who have been driving me around, bringing me food, helping me clean, etc. etc. etc. I understand that I’ve been very lucky. But also – it totally fucking sucks. Like, so hard you guys.

So what can you do when life hands you those shitty apples? You learn to do what you can. It’s all about the small victories. Can I carry my trash down the stairs and around the other side of my apt building while hopping on one leg and using crutches? Nope. Not unless I want to break my other leg. But I can balance on one crutch and sweep up the litter in front of my cats’ litter closet and then drag my shower stool out of the tub and sit on that while I scoop the litter and then hop up and wedge my left crutch into my armpit and let that carry the weight of my body while I hold the trash bag of used litter in my left hand and hobble the 6 feet to the trash can. I can do that. It’s gimpy and pathetic and tiring and makes me sweaty, but it is something I can do. So you can goddamn guarantee I’m going to do it.

Along those lines, I’ve had to come up with creative and embarrassing ways to carry stuff. For the most part, I can get around my apartment by putting stuff in plastic bags with handles that I can grab while still holding the crutches. Most of my food has been eaten out of Tupperware containers that I can fill up in the kitchen and then carry out to the living room in a plastic bag. It’s like getting take-out, except I don’t have to leave the house!

My purse, however, was more of a problem. I usually carry a small shoulder bag, which fits snugly into my armpit. But the crutches were in the way of that, and I kept having to make my friends carry it for me (I think John looked best with it, just sayin). So then I tried carrying a backpack, but the straps of that were also taking up precious armpit space and it was throwing off my crutching rhythm. I could have tried a messenger bag, but I didn’t want anything swinging around and getting tangled up in the crutches.

So really, the choice was clear:

                                                         (photo by John Collier)

Yep, that’s a fanny pack.

The thing is, fanny packs are really convenient. They snap on like a belt and you don’t have to use your hands or your armpits (which are surprisingly valuable real estate) OR your friends to hold them. That’s a win in my book. And they’re right there at waist level. They allow easy access to my wallet and keys and I don’t even have to take it off to open it. My purse and backpack can’t claim the same.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. It’s not 1989 anymore, so where the hell does one find a fanny pack in this day and age? The answer is, of course, ebay.

I started my search, expecting to find fluorescent relics of our most embarrassing decade. And they had some of those (for only $5 plus shipping!). But I was surprised to find they also had a variety of updated looks as well. Which led to the thought: who, besides broken and shameless people like me, were buying these things?

China. China is buying and selling the shit out of some fanny packs. This is why they’ll take over the world someday; because their arms and hands are free from baggage. All the (relatively) cool ones I found were all modeled by hip-looking young Asian men and were being sold out of Bejing.

I narrowed it down to a few:

I thought this was cute and clean-looking. I think the attraction was that it looks more like a purse that is strapped to your waist (as opposed to a neon, watermelon-shaped, backpack material monstrosity). But it looks a bit stiff, like it might stab you in the stomach while you’re sitting (not being a hip Asian man, I wouldn’t be able to rock it on my side like in this picture). Let’s try another.

This one is cute and sporty (I have a thing for Puma bags) and doesn’t look like your grandma’s fanny pack. Also, it is clearly labeled as an “amazing item” so it’s hard to imagine going wrong with that. Still, I was hoping for something a little more rugged. Something sturdy and enduring and maybe even a little adventurous. I wanted the Indiana Jones of fanny packs.

YES. A thousand times, yes.

So I ordered this baby from China and it arrived within a week. I was relieved to see it looked just like the picture and seemed made of sturdy material. Then I noticed this tag on the inside of it:

This company understands its target market.

Indeed, this is technically a fanny pack. But I prefer to think of it more as a hip satchel. Or maybe a wallet holster. Or perhaps a shutthehellupbecauseIcancarrythismydamnself sack.

So, anyone else want to own up to having one of these?


18 thoughts on “Buying a Fanny Pack in 2011: an experiment in self-reliance

  1. I can’t own up to having one of these, but I’m starting to wish I could. I WANT the Indiana Jones of fanny packs! You may have found yourself a fanny pack sister…Love the post.

    1. Excellent! We can get matching fanny packs and buzz our heads together for bjj. That’s how we’ll announce that we’ve officially stopped giving a shit 😉

  2. I have a black nylon job with the Welsh dragon embroidered on the front pocket! I wanted it for holidays, cause you do a lot of walking and sweating and its handy! Its not near as cool as yours, so I might have to look some more! (yes, I got mine on ebay!)

  3. a) I love the two tags “hip asian men” and “hip satchel” – are there asian men on your hip? or are you trying to convince yourself that your satchel is cool and modern? Love the word play!

    b) “This is why they’ll take over the world someday; because their arms and hands are free from baggage.” That is my favorite quote! But also everything after the “Virginland” pic made me laugh too.

    c) So I look good wearing a purse, but I don’t get photo credit? What kind of sick world do we live in?

  4. I have scanned ebay for fanny packs, or bum bags as they are called over here…fanny is another part of the anatomy over here! (and you wouldn’t wear a pack on it!) I wanted the pink Hello Kitty one, but I think I’m going for a tan canvas job that has a place for a water bottle! My dragon is cool, but doesn’t really hold very much. I saw yours! They have lots of interesting styles, one is as big as your whole back and holds two water bottles! They say its for climbing…So I’m not allowed to have one….

    1. Haha! Nice! That is hilarious and uncomfortable to think of a pack for THAT kind of fanny. I had actually looked into a water bottle fanny pack awhile ago to take while hiking, but decided on a very small backpack. Good luck! Let me know if it’s awesome.

  5. Hell, yeah! I admit it, I have one, and I use it. Someday the fashion police are going to take me down for it, but in the mean time, it’s convenient, hands-free, and impossible to leave behind. Oh, and I do muay thai, too. No major injuries yet, but today I stuck my face in front of my instructor’s fist. Just call me Grace. :-/

  6. Ok I just found this through FB and it is totally cracking me up. 🙂 My mother in law once gave us fanny packs for our birthdays… source of many family jokes since then. But then I started going on long bike rides and needed something to stick to my handlebars to hold my phone/keys/ipod, so I actually used it. So I guess I’m owning up!

    1. Thanks Lauren, that’s awesome!! I think maybe that’s what makes us adults now – we’re willing to use embarrassing things because they’re practical. Keep rockin that fanny pack!

  7. Oh my, I really like your WHITE FANNY PACK!!! Where did you bought that & for how much? I want to have one FOR REAL!!! I used to collect fanny packs as well…

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