Adotec Ab Bag Front Pack Review

Adotec Ab Bag Review

Adotec is a cottage backpacking gear manufacturer located in Canada that specializes in Dyneema front packs that are attached to backpack shoulder straps. The Ab Bag is one of their smaller models and can serve double duty as a fanny pack, but they also make quite large ones called GearGuts that combine bottle and gear storage and can be worn as standalone day packs. While the Ab Bag can be used as a fanny pack, it is first and foremost a front pack with a suspension system that is much better than all the fanny packs out there masquerading as front packs.

Specs at a Glance

  • Weight: 26 g (bag) + 16 g (attachment straps)
  • Size: 12″ width
  • Volume: 3.6L (roughly the size of two large hip belt pockets)
  • Material: Dyneema DCF (1.4 oz)
  • Straps: Includes 2 x pack attachment straps and a longer webbing strap to use as a fanny pack

Front packs have many uses: they can balance your load when hiking, they’re great for storing frequently used items like gloves, hats, snacks, and maps, and to keep your valuables in easy reach when traveling. With a volume of 3.6L, the Ab Bag is roughly the size of two large hip belt pockets but of far greater utility because the space is combined and contiguous. For example, I can store a wind shirt, a sunhat, gloves, suntan lotion, sunglasses, a sandwich, snack bars, map, and headlamp in an Ab Bag easily. It’s great keeping this gear easily at hand, so I keep moving without having to stop, take off my pack, and dig through it each time I need something.

I typically carry a hat, a headband, a pair of fleece gloves and waterproof shell mitts, and snacks in the Ab Bag and still have room to spare.
In winter, I carry a few “microlayers” including a hat, a headband, a pair of fleece gloves and waterproof shell mitts, balaclava, sunglasses, and snacks in the Ab Bag. I’m constantly rotating between these so it’s handy to have them upfront so I can access them without stopping.

The Ab Bag is made with Dyneema DCF which is seam taped and comes with a water-resistant zipper. The zipper has two sliders that have cord pulls which makes it easy to open with either hand. This makes the Ab Bag effectively waterproof from falling precipitation, but not from submersion.

The Ab Bag attaches to the webbing below the padded section of your shoulder straps, making it compatible with any backpack.
The Ab Bag attaches to the webbing below the padded section of your shoulder straps, making it compatible with any backpack, with or without a hip belt or sternum strap. Shown here with a Gossamer Gear Gorilla 50 backpack.

The Ab Bag comes with straps to attach to your backpack, that are compatible with ANY backpack that has two shoulder straps. The straps attach to the webbing straps that run from the bottom of the shoulder strap to the backpack and not on the padded portion. It positions the Ab Bag over your tummy and works even if your backpack does not have a hip belt or a sternum strap. I don’t know of any other manufacturer using this same attachment system for a front pack, but it has some distinct advantages. They’re video is instructive.

I like the Ab Bag front suspension system much better than the fanny packs that slide over your hip belt or sternum strap like the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Versa Fanny Pack or the Zpacks Front Utility Pocket Accessory. They have a tendency to fall off when you unbuckle your sternum or hip belt strap. While you can use a fanny pack independently as a front pocket, it sits too low on the hipbelt for my taste and makes it hard to see my feet. I also prefer the fact that the Ab Bag remains attached to my pack on one side, even when I take off my backpack, making it much harder to misplace and lose.

The Ab Bag also comes with a longer webbing strap, so it can be used as a fanny pack. But the key difference between it and all the other fanny packs out there is that it’s deliberately designed to be a front pack. If you have a waist larger than 36″-38″, you might want to ask for a longer webbing strap though. It runs a little short.

The Ab Bag includes a longer webbing strap so you can turn it into a fanny pack.
The Ab Bag includes a longer webbing strap so you can turn it into a fanny pack.

If there’s a universal downside to a front pack like the Ab Bag, it’s that it makes taking off and putting on your backpack more involved because you have to release and engage an extra buckle. You don’t have to release or engage both sides though, just one. Still, it helps if you can color-code your front buckles (sternum strap, hip belt, front bag) to make it easier to tell them apart.

The Ab Bag retails for $75-80 USD/$95-100 CAD which is pretty steep considering you can make one for about $10 with a little ingenuity if you’re willing to forgo the Dyneema DCF. Wanda Rice has a nice article called  DIY Wet Ribs: Three Sample Projects with some useful tips on how to proceed.

But if you’ve been trying to use a fanny pack as a front pocket and are dissatisfied with the results or if you have a backpack where it’s difficult to attach shoulder strap pockets, the Ab Bag from Adotec is the solution to your problems. I normally use a front pack like this just in winter, but the Ab Bag is so convenient and portable between different backpacks, that I might just start using it year-round

Highly Recommended!

Disclosure: Adotec donated this product for review, but we would have purchased it anyway.

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4 comments

  1. I use an OMM chest pod for similar functionality.
    Handy quick access map pocket on back side.
    Really comfy carry on chest as long as you don’t put heavy items in it.

  2. Although heavier, I’ve had good luck modifying Mountain Smith lumbar packs for chest or ab carry.

  3. We use the AARN balance bag system and love it. This might be worth a try for training when I don’t want to over use my AARN.

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