Best Lumbar Waist Packs for Hiking


Osprey Tempest 6

Osprey Tempest 6

On shorter hikes with stable weather you might feel a little silly bringing a huge backpack (which has to be packed sufficiently to provide stability) only to carry some water and a snack in it. On the other hand, you will always want to have your hands free rather than carrying water bottles, accessories etc. This is where a lumbar waist pack will serve you superbly. If you have back or shoulder problems, a lumbar waist pack can be recommended as the weight of the pack and its content will be carried by your hips rather than your shoulders. You will thus have a better balance and it will be easier to walk with a healthy straight posture. Carrying a waist pack rather than a backpack will also prevent you from getting a sweaty and sticky back which even the most superbly ventilated backpacks cannot completely avert. On warm summer days especially women will also appreciate the possibility of wearing tank tops with thinner straps as a lumbar waist pack, unlike a backpack, will not rub against the bare skin on the shoulder blades.

A lumbar waist pack of course has its limitations; it is not for every hiking trip – or for everyone. If you prefer to bring nearly everything you own for hiking, climbing or mountaineering trips, a waist pack is not for you (instead have a look at our list of the best daypacks). Carrying a waist pack truly means lightweight hiking, where you bring what you need and nothing else. A precondition for bringing a waist pack rather than a backpack is stable weather – whether it being good or bad. You can of course tie a light rain jacket or sweater around your shoulders or hips if you don’t need it, but otherwise it is not advisable to only bring a waist pack along if you expect to be changing between layers of clothing for varying weather conditions.

Below we have chosen the five best lumbar waist packs available. We have steered clear of “fanny packs” – which are waist/hip packs carried on your front rather than back, as they are too small to carry water bottles etc. without being in the way.

1. Buying a Hiking Waist Pack – What is important?

Water capacity:

The most important thing to bring for any longer-lasting outdoor activity is water. If you know that you will be passing by sources of drinkable water on your trip, you don’t have to bring much more than a half-liter bottle, but otherwise it is crucial to bring enough water to stay sufficiently hydrated. This is especially important on warm summer days where you can easily become dizzy or disoriented when dehydrated. How much water you need depends on your speed, body weight and the weather. As a general rule you should drink 33ml of water pr. kg bodyweight pr. day, but more when you are exercising and/or in very warm climate. For this list we have prioritized waist packs which can carry 1 liter of water or more. The majority of them come with water bottles or hydration reservoir included, but you can of course replace with your favorite bottles of aluminum etc. For more information about hydration on hiking trips check out our article How much water to take on a hiking trip. To learn more about benefits and shortcomings of hydration reservoirs read our article Hydration Systems Vs. Water Bottles.

Material:

Lumbar waist packs for hiking should be made out of durable materials and offer some basic weather protection. The backpanel should, like on a backpack, provide some ventilation.

Pockets:

Although waist packs self-evidently can only contain a few accessories and a snack besides water containers, they should have conveniently placed pockets which allow you to arrange your necessary gear.

Gender:

Lumbar waist packs can easily be worn by both genders – no matter the model. A few brands, like for example Osprey, have made slightly diverging models for men and women respectively, but we would dare to suggest that any women’s model can be worn by a male and vice versa. This is not to diminish the efforts of Osprey and others, but simply due to the fact that lumbar waist packs are meant for carrying relatively small loads unlike backpacks where it might be smart to choose a model that serves your body shape best.

2. The Best Hiking Waist Packs Review

Best Lumbar Waist Packs for Hiking

Best Lumbar Waist Packs for Hiking

  1. Osprey Tempest/Talon 6
  2. Ultimate Direction Kavity
  3. MountainSmith Tour
  4. Camelbak Tahoe LR
  5. High Sierra Classic 2 Series Ridgeline

Comparison

Feature/Product Osprey Tempest/Talon 6 Ultimate Direction Kavity MountainSmith
Tour
CamelBak Tahoe LRHigh Sierra Classic 2 Series Ridgeline
Dimensions22 x 31 x 16 cm33 x 20 x 13 cm27 x 29 x 11.5 cm15 x 20 x 36 cm24 x 22 x 11.5 cm
Weight290 g 395 g730 g280 g318 g
Capacity6 liters4.7 liters9 liters5 liters + 1.5 liters reservoir3.5 liters
Size of included water bottles 2x 600 ml2x 600 ml/1.5 liter hydration reservoir2x 500 ml
Fits waists/hips61 – 127 cm63 – 112 cm71 – 122 cmUp to 111 cm61 – 140 cm
Osprey Tempest 6

Osprey Tempest 6

1. Osprey Tempest 6 and Talon 6

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Climbing
  • Running
  • Cross country skiing
  • Mountain biking

At BestHiking we have only had positive experiences with both the Talon 44 backpack and Talon 22 daypack, so we were delighted to learn that Osprey has made lumbar waist packs for men and women – the Talon 6 and the Tempest 6 respectively. The two packs are basically identical apart from color options. For holding the two included 600ml water bottles there are padded bottle sleeves with bungee retainers and side stabilizers. The pack has a front zippered sunglass pocket, 2 zippered hipbelt pockets and the Horizontal StraightJacket™ compression system to stabilize and compress loads for less bounce. For comfort, the hipbelt has a slight stretch and the backpanel is equipped with Osprey’s signature Airscape system. Osprey Tempest 6 is available in dark grey, magenta and tourmaline green, while the Osprey Talon 6 comes in black, orange and blue.

 

Pros:

  • Lightweight pack
  • The Talon 6 was deemed as the best bum bag by the British magazine Trail running in 2015.
  • YKK buckles

Cons:

  • Included water bottles do not have flat bottoms.

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Ultimate Direction Kaviti

Ultimate Direction Kaviti

2. Ultimate Direction Kaviti

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Climbing
  • Running
  • Mountain biking
  • Cross country skiing

The Kaviti waist pack from Ultimate Direction is an optimized combination of the two previous Ultimate Direction waist packs Katoa and Naviti. Also the fabric is different as the Kaviti waist pack is made out of mesh and durable Ripstop Nylon. In terms of storage, this waist pack has a large main compartment as well as a smaller front pocket with internal organizer, which has a bungee cord from which you could hang an additional water bottle, folded t-shirt etc. On the breathable and moisture-wicking Cool Wick Air Mesh belt you have two sweat-resistant hip pockets which are large enough to fit a SmartPhone. The two water bottles are placed in each their mesh side pocket and can be further secured with the bottle-lock bungee system. The Ultimate Direction Kaviti waist pack is available in dark green and blue.

 

Pros:

  • Durable materials
  • Pockets

Cons:

  • Price

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MountainSmith Tour

MountainSmith Tour

3. MountainSmith Tour

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Running
  • Tactical use
  • Hunting
  • Mountain biking
  • Everyday use

Mountainsmith prides itself of having created the Tour waist pack which allegedly “helped start the craze in the 80’s”. The Tour pack has, however, been updated since and is now made of 610d Cordura® HP and 210d Nylon Embossed Liner with YKK zippers for great durability. Unlike the other waist packs on this list, the Tour pack comes in more muted colors (namely Dark Camo, Barley and Hops) which make it suitable for hunting and tactical activities. At the same time it has a casual design as well as a shoulder strap which makes great for everyday use. Besides the main compartment, the waist pack has a backpanel stash pocket, interior zipped pocket, zippered front panel pocket with key clip and a hip belt pocket (big enough for smartphones Iphone 6+ and Galaxy S6). The bottle pockets can hold bottles with a volume up to 1 liter, but none are included. The Mountainsmith Tour waist pack has the biggest capacity (9 liters) on this list and is also among the heaviest. However, Mountainsmith has three even bigger waist packs Day, Drift and Daylight, which all have capacities bordering that of a daypack. All Mountainsmith waistpacks are strapette-compatible.

 

Pros:

  • Delta Compression System load adjustment
  • Pockets
  • Removable shoulder strap
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Comes in 5 colors and 3 camouflages

Cons:

  • Weight

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Camelbak Tahoe LR

Camelbak Tahoe LR

4. Camelbak Tahoe LR

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Climbing
  • Cross country skiing
  • SUPing
  • Running
  • Mountainbiking

The CamelBak Tahoe LR is slightly different than the other waist packs here, as it is a hydration pack with an internal Antidote reservoir (included) and a long tube to drink from when needed. The tube can be attached to a lanyard (also included) which you can hang around your neck so you can drink without using your hands. As there are internal compression straps securing the reservoir, it won’t start to slosh around in the bag as you gradually drain it. The Antidote reservoir features a quick-seal cap, lightweight fill port, Big Bite valve, HydroGuard technology, PureFlow tube and an easy-to-clean wide-mouth opening. The pack is made of quick-drying durable 70D diamond clarus nylon, while the backpanel is covered with open mesh for great breathability. Besides a main compartment, the waist pack has two mesh side pockets for smaller objects and a bungee cord in front. The CamelBak Tahoe LR was originally designed with SUPing and other water activities in mind, so it comes with features such as a safety whistle and a paddle holster, but none that would be of inconvenience for hikers.

 

Pros:

  • Lightweight pack
  • Reservoir compression

Cons:

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High Sierra Ridgeline

High Sierra Ridgeline

5. High Sierra Classic 2 Series Ridgeline

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Climbing
  • Running
  • Mountain biking

High Sierra has five waist packs in their line – Diplomat, Passport, Ridgeline, Express and Envoy. For this list, we chose the Ridgeline which was redesigned in 2014.  The High Sierra Classic 2 Series Ridgeline is made of Mini-Hexagon Ripstop 300 x 250-denier Duralite with a water-resistant coating. For storing your stuff, the Ridgeline has a big main compartment with an accessory pocket, a zippered front pocket and two small sleeve pockets (for power bars, keys etc.) on the padded waist belt. Besides being padded, the backpanel and sides of the belt are covered in HEX-VENT mesh to wick perspiration away. To keep the load stable there are adjustable compression straps on the sides of the bag. The High Sierra Classic 2 Series Ridgeline is the cheapest lumbar waist pack on this list, which makes it a good option for the occasional recreational hiker or even the more hardcore hiker, who wants to test the concept of a waist pack on the trails before investing in a better model. Available in black, grey and blue.

 

Pros:

  • Good pockets
  • Price

Cons:

  • Average backpanel ventilation

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