The name 'fanny pack' is derived from the fact that they were traditionally worn facing the rear above the buttocks, for which fanny is a slang term in North America. Despite the name, many do not wear fanny packs on their rear because they are easier to pick pocket and harder to access. In the United Kingdom and Anglophone Oceania, the term 'bum bag' or 'belt bag' is used for this product (as fanny is slang for the vagina or, more correctly, the vulva in those territories).
Today, fanny packs are often worn by hikers and bicycle riders. Fanny packs are used by travelers and were more popular during the early and mid 1990s. They can be slung either forward, to the side, or to the rear of the wearer. One of the primary advantages of fanny packs is that they are hands-free. This makes them great choices over purses not only for travelers, but also for some people with disabilities, and those who have mobile professions.
Fanny packs reached the peak of their popularity in the late 1980s and early- to mid-1990s. Today, however, fanny packs are considered unfashionable by most people. Weird Al Yankovic, for instance, mocks the wearing of fanny packs in his song "White & Nerdy." Many consider the fanny pack a sure mark for an out-of-place tourist, invoking the traditional tourist stereotypes known around the world.
An organization for advocates of maintaining fanny pack fashion is the FPAA (Fanny Pack Association of America). With over one million members, this is the most popular and widely known organization of fanny pack lovers.
The handiness and ease of opening of fanny packs has also resulted in them being used as holsters for storing loaded handguns. Many manufacturers make fanny packs that are designed for concealed carry.
For some, their resurrection is a form of ironic retro fashion. In this way, the fanny pack has made something of a comeback among youth in recent years, this time termed a pouch. Many top designers such as The North Face, Gucci, Prada, Coach, Marc Jacobs, The Good Witch Closet, and Louis Vuitton have taken the opportunity to resurrect and redesign the fanny pack.