The modern-day family pack

Fanny pack, belt bag, bum bag, whatever you call it, I think you know what I am talking about – those pouches worn on the waist of middle aged tourists in the late 1980s and ’90s.

I’ve done my best to resist the fanny pack but I must admit that I do like the convenience of roaming hands free while on vacation. I’m not a big purse gal and try to only carry the necessities with me when I am out and about.

Since I’ve started marathon training I’ve noticed that the so-called “fanny pack” has evolved. Runners, walkers and bicyclists all are wearing them.

They are a much slimmer and stylish pouch and they no longer are called fanny packs, belt bags or bum bags. You will find these pouches by the name SPI belt (Small Personal Item), iFitness belt, Go Belt, FlipBelt and other various names.

Regardless of the name, each of these belts are light weight, has at least one pouch and fit securely around your waist.

I’ve had the opportunity to test out several of these belts and the feature I like the most about them is that each and every one of them can be discreetly hidden underneath your shirt. Something you couldn’t say about that bulky fanny pack.

The SPI belt, iFitness belt and Go Belt all have an adjustable elastic waist band with one or more expandable zippered pouches connected to them. The SPI belt is great for only carrying one item such as keys or a cellphone.

I found my SPI belt to have a little less room than the other belts, but I guess that’s why they call it the Small Personal Item Belt.

The iFitness belt has one pouch as well but has additional features that athletes might find appealing. In addition to the pouch, there are several loops on the outside of the belt to give you easy access to GUs and other race fuel a runner might need. The silicone grips on the inside prevent it from slipping or riding up as you run.

Unlike the other belts I’ve tried, the iFitness belt has the ability to securely hold one or two water bottles. Not only is this great for athletes but can come in handy for travelers too. Speaking of athletes, the iFitness belt also comes with toggles so you can secure your race bib to it without having to put safety pin holes in your shirt.

The Go Belt is my personal favorite. Although I can not attach a water bottle to it, it does come with the toggles to secure my race bib. My Go Belt is from Hippie Runner. Like the SPI Belt, it is lightweight and fully adjustable. My favorite feature is that is contains two fully expandable zipper pouches. The larger, expandable pouch is sure to fit any size smartphone. I can fit my camera in the pouch as well.

The smaller pocket is great for my iPod and ear buds (when not in use) or my car key (keeping it safe from rubbing up against my phone or camera in the other pocket). I like that the waist band is only one inch wide. This prevents me from feeling like I am wearing an overwhelming utility belt.

The last belt I tried was the FlipBelt. Unlike the previous belts, the FlipBelt is not adjustable (it comes in size extra small to extra large) and it does not connect around the waist like the other belts. The FlipBelt is one continuous piece of material that you literally have to step into. The FlipBelt feels like an additional waist band. There are no zippers either.

Don’t discount this item quite yet though. The FlipBelt is fabulous. I felt like a kangaroo wearing my Flip Belt. The belt is one continuous pocket and I filled it to the max. Inside I stuffed my wallet, cellphone, camera, keys and iPod and I still had room for more (and this was in an extra small belt). I had all this around my waist and under my shirt and you couldn’t even tell it was there. Even though there are no zippers on this belt, all of my items felt very secure.

Even if you are not a runner, bicyclist or hiker, any of these belts could be useful to you anytime you want to be hands-free yet need to keep a few personal items with you. These belts are great to wear at the beach and they come in several colors and patterns, so you might be able to find one that matches your swim gear, to a ball game or out shopping.

Any one of these belts could be the perfect companion for traveling. They are the perfect size to fit your passport, cash and credit cards. Since it fits around your waist, you won’t have to worry about keeping an eye on your bag at the airport. It’s such a little item but has so many uses.

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