I came upon the GrabBag by accident; didn’t even know it existed until a few weeks ago. I had been thinkering about using a small fanny pack for the GrizzlyMan, to keep map and food instantly accessible, and thought that such a thing might be useful for backpacking as well. On-the-go accessibility is an ongoing problem with backpacks. Absent Aarn packs, which I’d be more inclined to try were they less expensive, I’m not aware of any design which deals with the need to get at lots of stuff while hiking, easily, head on. Hip belt and side pockets have taken great strides, but are imperfect solutions, usually being small, insecure, hard to get at, or all three. As it turns out, the GrabBag is a better way.
It also looks really silly, but that is the nature of anything which can serve as a fanny pack.
The GrabBag weighs 4 oz with a fair bit of the very long main webbing strap cut off. It’s an oddly potato-shaped pocket designed to be attached to the right shoulder strap (above) and clipped to the left. The main zip is a #5, there’s a mesh organizer pocket within the main pocket, and a stretch pocket on the outside. The backing is lightly padded and covered with 3D mesh.
The positioning of the bag on the pack harness is ideal. It’s easy to open with one hand, out of the way of arms and hands while on the move, and less prone to interfere while bushwacking than stuff in side pockets. As a hip pack, it works innocuously well.
Notice the right-hand shoulder strap attachments above. Also note the buckle tucked almost out of sight behind the mesh and padding. This mates with the 3/4″ long strap when in butt-pack mode.
The long strap. Not only is it adjustable, so that there isn’t a huge length of webbing dangling down when wearing it attached to the pack harness, but the excess strappage tucks neatly behind the padded panel. Paying $25 may seem daft for something so small and simple, but is well worth it when you think of the thoughtful detailing and exacting construction.
The stock pack comes with a nifty buckle for the left shoulder strap which mates both of the above in one piece of plastic. I lost it almost immediately. Osprey sent this replacement post-haste. Serious points for prompt and free replacement, a few points subtracted for the cheesy stitching. While I didn’t lose mine while it was attached to the strap, the tendency of this little buckle to jump ship while not under tension is something worth watching. On a long trip it might be worth rigging something like the above without the slots, and putting it semi-permanently on the shoulder strap.
Not only will the GrabBag be great as a fanny pack for evening strolls, fly fishing, and so forth while on trips, it works easily with every pack in the quiver. It might lift the burden for the MYOGer to produce her own side and hipbelt pockets, which are often a time and materials consuming nuisance to both design and sew. It will make the pack feel a bit warmer in hot weather, and having to undo three buckles to take off the pack is a bit much, but overall it does a modest but important job so well that I’m immoderately enthused, and plan on using it constantly. I’ll keep this space updated accordingly.