Many hikers and backpackers like to attach extra accessory pockets to their shoulder straps and hip belts to provide extra storage and help organize their gear so it can be accessed quickly without removing their backpack. Extra water bottle sleeves, camera bags, phone pockets, or extra hip belt pockets are available and commonly used for this purpose, including ones that come from companies other than your pack’s manufacturer. Most accessory backpack pockets are designed so they can be used on any backpack but it’s important to understand how they’re attached, whether they’ll stay bounce-free and secure, and how easy they are to remove or switch to another backpack.
Here are the top 10 backpack accessory pockets we recommend in 2022.
1. Hyperlite Mountain Gear Shoulder Strap Pocket
Hyperlite’s Mountain Gear’s (HMG) Shoulder Strap Pocket is a waterproof pocket made with Dyneema Composite Fabrics that is perfect for carrying a Smartphone, point-and-shoot camera, or travel documents. It has a built-in sleeve that can be used as a hiker wallet as well as an external mesh pocket that will hold a phone securely, even when you take off your pack or it falls over on the ground. It’s easy to attach to packs with daisy chains on the shoulder straps with the included gatekeeper buckles. Works best with packs from HMG, Zpacks, ULA, and Granite Gear, among others.
The Gossamer Gear Shoulder Strap Pocket has a three-way velcro attachment system that is compatible with just about any backpack under the sun. It’s available in a medium size that is compatible with most Smartphones and a large size if you want still more storage. Made with water-resistant Robic Nylon, these pockets have a second mesh sleeve on the outside which is great for stashing sunglasses or snacks for easy access. This pocket works well with all backpacks, especially those that don’t have daisy chains on their shoulder straps like packs from Osprey and Gregory.
Can’t reach your water bottles when you get thirsty? That’s not a problem if you attach your water bottle to your backpack shoulder strap. The Chicken Tramper Ultralight Gear (CTUG) Water Bottle Sleeve can attach to backpack shoulder straps that have a daisy chain in front or a hydration hose keeper loop making them compatible with just about every backpack in existence. The sleeve is available in two sizes and compatible with 0.7L and 1L Smart Water Bottles (a hiker favorite). Durably made with X-Pac, these sleeves are attached at the top and bottom so your bottles won’t fall into the dirt when you bend over to tie your shoe.
The Gossamer Gear Hip Belt Pocket is a simple zippered pocket that is universally compatible with any backpack hip belt. It has two elastic loops on the back and gear loops at the ends that can be used to prevent the pocket from sliding back and forth along the hip belt (clips or cords, not included). Made with Robic Nylon, these pocket are water resistant and have a hook inside to secure your keys.
The LiteAF Hip Belt Pocket is a four point attachment system with two elastic loops on the back to fit over your hip belt and two end clips to lock it in place and prevent it from moving back and forth. It has a 1L capacity and is made with waterproof and seam-taped Ultra 200 fabric with a YKK water-resistant zipper. This pocket only available in a black color. Also, check out LiteAF’s fanny packs, which are optimized for use with the anchor points on LiteAF packs but may still work with your hip belt. They’re available in custom print colors and patterns to let your freak flag fly.
The Mountain Laurel Designs Pack Pocket has a three-point attachment system with an elastic band on the back to slide over your hip belt and Z clips on the ends that can clip to a hip belt daisy chain, gear loops, or can be tied off with a piece of cord to prevent the pocket from moving back and forth. This pockets is available in Ultra 200 which are durable waterproof fabric and has a water-resistant YKK zipper on the front. It has a capacity of 0.74L/48 cubic inches and is available in grey, only.
The Superior Wilderness Designs Hip Belt Pocket has a four point attachment system that includes two elastic bands on the pack that can slip over any hip belt and Z clips on the ends that can clip to a hip belt daisy chain, gear loops, or can be tied off with a piece of cord to prevent the pocket from moving back and forth. This pockets is available in EcoPak or Ultra 200 which are durable waterproof fabrics, and has a water-resistant YKK zipper on the front. It has a capacity of 0.8L/50 cubic inches and is available in different colors.
Hilltop Pack’s Roll-Top Fanny Packs expand when you need more storage or roll-down when you need less. It’s such a simple idea, you have to love it! These fanny packs, which have a storage capacity up to 4L, can be strapped in between your backpack shoulder straps, worn lower in front of your waist, or worn as a regular fanny pack. When used over your chest or waist, they’re great for carrying all of your food for the day, a camera, sunscreen, hats, gloves, etc. The top of the bag closes with snaps as well as the roll top for maximum security and waterproofness. They’re available in waterproof fabrics including Ecopak and Dyneema, with the option of custom printing.
The Zpacks Multi-Pack is a large pocket that can be used as a chest pocket, a fanny pack, top lid on roll-top backpacks, or as front pocket attached to your shoulder straps or hip belt. Its value in its versatility and the fact that its available in waterproof and seam-taped fabrics, including Dyneema and Ultra. Zpacks also makes smaller volume pockets that are worth a look including the Front Utility Pack Accessory (FUPA).
The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Camera Pod is an accessory camera pocket that can be hung from your backpack shoulder straps or hip belt. It has 8 points of attachment that allow a user to custom fit the pod virtually anywhere on a backpack and comes with two mini-carabiners, that are optimized for attaching it to daisy chain webbing or gear loops. The camera pod is available in two sizes: a regular/small that fits most smaller mirrorless and point and shoot cameras including Sony ?6000 Series, Canon EOS M6, and Sony RX100 cameras; and a large size that fits most professional mirrorless and DSLR cameras with a medium zoom or kit lens including Sony A7 Series, Canon EOS Series, and Nikon Z Series camera systems. It’s made with 1/4″ closed cell foam padding for shock protection, waterproof Dyneema fabric with a water-resistant zipper, and comes in a white or black color. It also makes a good chest pocket if you want something that’s large as well as multi-purpose.
There are a number of different ways to attach extra pockets to a backpack shoulder strap or hip belt. Some of these are universal in that they can be attached to any backpack and some are limited by the anchor points available on the backpack shoulder straps or hip belts such as daisy chains. In any event, you can often overcome these limitations with a small of cord to secure a pocket or prevent it from bouncing too much.
Here is a selection of setup videos from the vendors listed above to give you a sense of what is involved and whether it will work with your backpack (or you need to kludge something up).
Gossamer Gear Shoulder Strap Pocket/Hip Belt Pocket Setup Video
Chicken Tramper UL Gear Water Bottle Sleeve Setup Video
Hilltop Roll-Top Fanny Pack Setup Video
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