The Do-It-All Fanny Pack

The fanny pack gets a bad rap among the general public when it comes to fashion, but it still has a prominent place in the whitetail woods.

The Do-It-All Fanny Pack

I’m not ashamed to admit it: I love wearing a fanny pack while deer hunting. I don’t care if it’s laughed at by the fashion police, I’m not trying to win a beauty contest in the whitetail woods. Side note: Online research for this article revealed that most companies shy away from the term fanny pack today. Instead, you’ll find product names such as waist pack or lumbar pack.

The specific fanny pack I use 99 percent of the time when pursuing whitetails was given to me at least 20 years ago by Jim Crumley, inventor of Trebark Camouflage in 1980, which is to say, he got the ball rolling on modern camo for deer and turkey hunters. I had the chance to bowhunt whitetails on Crumley’s wooded property in Virginia, and in his basement he had a collection of clothing and gear that can only be described as a hunting camo museum. 

Crumley showed me some of the first Trebark garments, including the original white Dickies shirts and pants that he tie-dyed brown and gray. He achieved the distinctive Trebark pattern over the brown and gray backgrounds by drawing with an odorless black marker.

As he took me through the history of Trebark, he grabbed a fanny pack in one his newer camo patterns (Trebark Bigwoods), and I immediately fell in love with the pack’s simple but effective seven-pocket design. I guess he could sense my enthusiasm for the fanny pack, because he said, “Dave, if you promise to use it and not store it in a closet, you can have it.” Since that day, it’s been with me in the woods almost constantly.

The author’s ancient fanny pack, given to him by Trebark Founder Jim Crumley. It has three zippered pockets on each side (two small and one medium) and one larger zippered compartment in the back.
The author’s ancient fanny pack, given to him by Trebark Founder Jim Crumley. It has three zippered pockets on each side (two small and one medium) and one larger zippered compartment in the back.

Fanny Pack Advantages

There are times when a daypack is necessary, but for most trips into the whitetail woods it’s too large. Small items such as rangefinders, grunt tubes, and wind checkers can easily get lost in a daypack. A fanny pack of the correct size and design, however, keeps all these items easily accessible. In a treestand, I sometimes hang my fanny pack on a tree step or branch, but if the tree diameter is similar to my belt size, then I’ll attach it to the trunk with the waist strap.

Most of the time I’ll wear the fanny pack as I climb trees, but if I have it loaded with some heavier gear, such as an Ozonics unit, then I’ll attach it to my bow hauling rope.  

What gear do I carry in my Crumley fanny pack? Because I’ve used it for so many years, I can recite the items in order, from left to right (seven pockets):

  • bow hauling rope
  • rangefinder
  • gutting knife, pelvic bone saw, field-dressing gloves
  • grunt tube, pruning shears, bow release, face mask, neck gaiter, gloves
  • compass, wind checker
  • wallet, phone, headlamp
  • bow hook

As you can see from my gear list, only a few pockets contain more than two items. The biggest compartment (grunt tube, pruning shears, etc.) is full during my hike into the woods, but then I put on the bow release, facemask, neck gaiter and gloves after I get settled in my stand. I place the grunt tube and rangefinder in two pockets of my jacket. Everything has a place so I’m not guessing when seconds matter.

Online research doesn’t show any similar seven-pocket fanny packs available today for hunters, so if my old-school model someday falls apart, then I’ll be forced to modify my current gear-carrying system. But that’s okay because several of the 2020 waist pack designs look good, too. (Another option for me is to call Mr. Crumley and beg for a replacement from his camo collection!)

I encourage you to try a fanny pack during the 2020 deer season. I think you’ll appreciate traveling light and having all your gear at your fingertips.

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