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8 Different Types of Belt Bags

Discover the many uses of belt bags and how you can turn them into a stylish accessory in this article.

Woman wearing belt bag.

The prospect of spending an entire day out on the town can be exciting. But it also presents you with the challenge of wear to put your stuff. I tend to use one of my many man-bags when I leave my home office and go out for a coffee in the city center.

However, this is not practical if I know I will be part of events and activities that require serious physical exertion or will be in a situation that makes having a bag on my shoulder uncomfortable. For these occasions, I prefer a belt bag. I have as great a collection of belt bags as I do shoulder-worn bags (I can’t stand backpacks and refuse to use them).

A belt bag is a great accessory for men and women. There is much to say about them, and this article I will explore the various types of belt bags and related information.

What is a belt bag?

Women's bright belt bag.

A belt bag is also known as a fanny pack. It is a small pouch bag that is worn like a belt around your waist and secured using buckles and a tri-glide slide strap that allows you to adjust it for comfort.

Belt bags first became all the rage in the 90s, then subsided for a while, and have recently made a comeback. The sudden re-emergence of the belt bag has much to do with the shift towards casual and laidback fashion. The easy—some might say ragged—look is both functional and stylish nowadays.

Belt bags are comfortable, stylish, and flexible. It is the perfect bag to take with you for day-to-day walks through a city you may be visiting or to events you may be part of in your own city. For example, I recently used a belt bag when I participated in a march last autumn.

I was out there for at least 8 hours. The bag was light enough not to overburden me and spacious enough for me to carry all my necessities. That is the thing about the belt bag.

Because it sits between the mini bag and the large shoulder bag, it offers just the right versatility for people who want to walk, watch, and even protest hands-free.

Types of belt bags

Black leather belt bag.

Belt bags come in many forms, sizes, and colors. However, the most important way for belt bags to be typed and categorized is according to material. Here are the most common kinds:

1. Mesh

Mesh is made from a woven or pattern knit of knotted materials that leave openly spaced holes between fabrics. This material is versatile and sturdy, and it can be made from myriad textures, including cotton, nylon or interlocking chainmail links. These types of bags tend to emphasize style over qualities such as softness or sturdiness.

They are perfect if you intend to spend the day at a fashionable beach or you want to go running in a popular park.

2. Leather

Brown leather belt bag.

Leather is almost universally loved as a material. It is sturdy, durable, and reliable. Leather is also soft to the touch and easy to wear with different colors.

Belt bags can be made of genuine leather or artificial leather, which nowadays looks like the real thing. Leather bags come with a minimum of flair as the material stands out best all on its own.

Buying a leather belt bag will cost you a pretty penny. If you go with leather made from the tanned hides of skinned animals, you should be aware of this fact, which may go against your moral or political beliefs.

3. Nylon

This is one of the more common materials used in belt bags. It is cheap fabric made from thermoplastic silk polymer. One of the great advantages of a nylon bag is that it holds its shape.

The downside to nylon is that it is not particularly durable and tears easily. Nylon tends to be inexpensive. But if you buy a nylon bag, you should know that it will have a short shelf life.

4. Canvas

Red canvas belt bag.

Yes, belt bags are even made of canvas. I did not know this until I went shopping for one recently. Canvas is not a raw fabric; it is a type of knit.

The material is most commonly made from cotton or linen and comes in a plain-woven style. Canvas is durable, flexible, and water-proof. It is a good belt bag for daily use or when you need to carry out around heavier items.

Fashion houses are experimenting with this material to make more and more interesting shapes and patterns.

5. Vegan

This is another great innovation in belt bags. Vegan leather is an environment and animal friendly alternative to genuine leather. It has even begun to replace fake leather bags that are loaded with the kind of chemicals that do harm to the environment.

Some of the most interesting and stylish vegan bags use pinatex and grain-based leather. This is also called biopoly oil leather.

Pinatex is made from pineapple leaves. It is 100% vegan, eco-friendly, waterproof, protective, and highly durable. It is a good investment and will last you for years to come.

A belt bag made of biopoly oil leather is also a good investment. Its appearance is very convincing. You will not notice the difference between it and real leather.

6. Straw

Straw belt bags have a classic feel to them. The material is woven to create a chunky yet elegant knit. This is the kind of bag that is perfect for a picnic or a day spent at a family barbeque in the park.

These bags are sturdy and have defined frames and clean clear lines. The material itself can be dipped into all kinds of hues and colors. Designers have come up with all kinds of variations, which makes the material playful and lends the belt bag an air of rustic chic and light-hearted formalism.

7. Vinyl

Although not as common as those above, vinyl is an option for a belt bag. They do, at first glance, look like leather bags. But they are in fact made of rubberized plastic.

One of the great things about vinyl is that it is waterproof. This is a great belt bag to use during a rainy day.

8. Polypropylene

This is another great bag material that is good for the environment. These bags are also versatile and reusable. These bags are great for a shopping trip in which you will only buy a few things.

They are easily washed, and you can fold them for use on your next shopping trip. They are a great substitute for plastic bags, which are being banned in certain cities.

A brief history of belt bags

Woman putting her phone in her belt bag.

The idea of a belt bag goes back a long way. The basic form of the bag can be traced back to the antiquity of many cultures. In North America, the Native American buffalo pouches was an early kind of belt bag.

The more modern and recognizable belt bag of today has its roots in the 1990s. The character of Carrie Bradshaw in the hit HBO series Sex and the City did more to popularize the belt bag than any other person or event. The television show often showed the fictitious New York writer in scenes wearing the bag.

It soon set off a trend that consumed the world. A trend that, nearly as fast, suddenly died at the end of the decade.

Around the beginning of the last decade, the belt bag re-emerged. It started with women. They were sick of carrying stuff—cards, wallet, lipstick, cell phone—and wanted a way to fit all their stuff in one place while remaining hands and shoulder free.

The belt bag was the obvious answer, and demand once again soared for this accessory. Soon companies were making belt bags for both men and women. It helps urbanites stay sporty and chic, whether they are going for a country hike or a stroll through the city.  

Today, the belt bag is not only praised for its aesthetic qualities, it is also appreciated for its versatility. Contemporary belt bags can be worn across the hips or slung over the shoulder cross-wise (which is how I wore mine during the march).

It is hard to believe that after they first went out of style, belt bags were considered uncool. They are now a must-have item for anyone who wants to be hands-free during the course of a day spent out on the town or in the countryside.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Red stylish belt leather bag.

What should I look for in a belt bag?

Belt bags consist of more than just a pouch and a strap. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors and include a variety of accessories. However, these are some of the things you should focus on when purchasing your bag:

1. Material

You probably have a good idea of when you will use the bag. If you like to meet up with friends to walk through the city and drop in at fashionable places, then a leather or mesh bag might suit you best. If you hike, bike, and run, then you should consider a nylon or canvas bag.

2. Size

It is important to get this right. If you plan to use a belt bag when you go to the gym, then you want something that is small and compact. If you intend to use it for extended outings, then you may want a bag that is larger and more spacious inside.

3. Compartments

The more compartments, the better. One of the best things about the belt bag that I used is that it contained many little pockets and compartments. These little divisions added to the general spaciousness of the bag.

I was able to stick my phone and cards safely in these pockets and larger things such as my book and water bottle in the main compartment.

4. Adjustable strap

Hands-free should mean exactly that: hands-free. You should be able to adjust the strap on the bag so that you can move as though it were part of your body. The last thing you want is to have to constantly fidget with it on your shoulder or hip.

When can I wear a belt bag?

Woman wearing casual outfit with belt bag.

I have already mentioned some of the occasions above. But here is a rundown of some of the best times to wear a belt bag:

1. Hiking

Hiking belt bag.

It is great for keeping snacks and gear handy. In this instance, a large and waterproof bag will help you keep your essentials safe.

2. Biking

Most bike shorts don’t have pockets, and wearing a backpack is burdensome and annoying. Riding with a belt bag will give you a place to store your phone and keys.

3. Running

Belt bag for running.

Belt bags have come a staple in the running community. These tend to be worn on the hip, and they allow you to avoid carrying any unnecessary bulk that might interfere with your form. Some of the smaller belt bags are most suitable for this kind of activity.

4. Festivals

Marches may also be included in this category. If you are facing a long day among a large crowd, it can be difficult and tiring to have a large pack on your back. Belt bags are a perfect alternative.

They allow you to carry your essentials in a non-burdensome way.

5. Traveling

Belt bags do not normally count as carry-on luggage. This gives you the option of carrying even more stuff on the plane, though you will still have to send the belt bag through the security scanner.

6. Sporting events

Sporting venues and stadiums have cracked down on bag size. Long gone are the days when you can bring large bag packs into a stadium. Using a belt bag is an easy to carry essentials and ensure you stay within size restrictions.