Dakine Hot Laps 5L Review: A Fanny Pack Apologia

The fanny pack—or lumbar bag or hip pack or whatever you want to call them—I’d been pretty adverse to the concept when my brother gave me one last Christmas. I’m not proud. I was an ungrateful shithead. I didn’t even try to hide my disappointment and derision for the gift. Well, now I hardly go on a ride without it.

So I submit my humble review—and brotherly apologies—for the Dakine Hot Laps 5L* bum bag, or whatever-the-hell:

To establish my credibility (or not) and engender some sympathy and understanding (certainly not) let me first indulge in a largely irrelevant rant. I admit that I never wear jerseys with the pockets on the back—or jerseys at all really. I’ve rarely worn chamois(es?). I don’t really go in for the whole dedicated cycling kit. I like gear—particularly clothing—that is practical for multiple use scenarios. Multi-use gear. That’s what I like. Except where necessity demands—the bike itself, for instance (hard to ride without one)—I tend to steer clear of expensive gear with utility limited to a single activity to avoid unnecessary clutter and to keep the costs of my pursuits low(ish).

Enter the giant waist bag. It seems like a single use scenario piece of gear to me. And worse, a faddish one. I already have a small day pack. Why would I need a butt pack? Can you see reason in my resistance? Please validate my nonsense so I can feel better about being a turd gift recipient! 

I get it. I don’t wear a backpack while on my bike—if at all I can avoid it—because the back is a big area of skin that is great to leave relatively unburdened so air can flow across it and help keep me cool while riding. The fanny pack mostly accomplishes that while still allowing the rider to carry some essentials that might be difficult to hang from the bike itself, or can free up space in frame bags for other bits and bobs. 

But the real beauty of Dakine’s belt bag is that everything in it is very accessible. I can grab things pretty easily without stopping and without looking. Unless I’ve absolutely packed it chock-full of stuff, the internal organization in the main pocket keeps things clean. And it didn’t take long to get accustomed to where everything fits. Now I don’t need to go digging for whatever it is I’m after. Necessities are right at hand—or just behind my back, I suppose. I have snacks, tools, spare tube, phone, wind breaker, all within easy reach.

Another handy feature, especially for mountain biking, is the ability to carry more water. With the limited water bottle mounting options on modern full suspension mountain bikes, a bag that doesn’t stretch across my whole back, but can easily carry a bit of water, is perfect. Admittedly, I use this feature less on the gravel bike. The full water bladder does add considerable weight to the bag, and can make it feel a little saggy if it isn’t belted down tight (the compression straps can help keep the load close to the back), or when I’m in a more upright position. 

Inside the hydration pocket you’ll find the expected features. There’s a place to hang the bladder to keep it from bunching up as it’s used. There’s a port for the drinking hose at one side of the pocket. There’s also a magnetic attachment on the hose that secures the bite valve to another magnetic fastener on the hip pad of the belt. Plus when you don’t need the extra water, the bladder is easy to remove and then you have a big ol’ pocket for more snacks!

Dakine’s Hot Laps 5L also comes in (or used to) an excellent color/pattern choice (shown in photos) that is reminiscent of 90s trapper keepers or something. Clearly the best feature. The pack is good. I’m a bum bag believer.

*Important note: 5L (five liters) is the volume of the bag, not the volume of the water bladder inside. The bladder holds 2L.

Disclaimer: as always these words were not solicited. I was not paid. These are my own ideas and opinions.