The humble bum bag is the ultimate retro accessory, one that is most commonly associated with the 1980s, when practicality was so synonymous with fashion trends that leg warmers were all the rage. And the bum bag is not that different.
As an adjustable bag that is large enough to fit your essentials but small enough not to be bulbous, it’s an incredibly useful wardrobe staple for day trips, holidays, and of course, festivals.
It also renders you entirely hands-free, which can be great for all the photography, museum visiting and partying that you intend to do this summer.
But not all bum bags are equal. Some are so ginormous they make it almost impossible to style them, while others are miniscule and therefore useless because they can’t even hold your smartphone.
Size isn’t the only thing that matters; pockets are essential. We know that it’s rare for a woman’s pockets to be deep enough to fit anything useful inside them, so why should we deprive ourselves when it comes to our accessories?
The more varied the storage space in your bum bag, the better. This gives you different sections for your phone, keys, credit card and lip balm.
There are some incredibly luxurious options – think ones by Balenciaga and Gucci – but you needn’t drop hundreds of pounds to find a decent bum bag this season. Here’s our pick of the best bum bags to get you through an activity-packed summer.
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Hunter original bum bag: £35, Hunter
There’s a reason why Hunter is the brand you immediately think of when you think about festivals. Sure, you might know them more for their wellies (worn by Kate Moss, Alexa Chung et al), but their bum bags might be just as iconic. This one is the perfect size and boasts three separate compartments ready and waiting to hold all of your necessary items, with one large central pocket (put your phone and disposable camera in here) and two smaller ones (ideal for loose change, debit cards and lip balm). It also has a rigid structure and comes in a cool colourway of black, red and white with Hunter’s recognisable logo stamped on the front. It will go with almost any outfit and actually elevate it rather than dilute it, which is a rare thing in the world of bum bags.
Ellesse lenx cross body bag: £15, JD Williams
This style is a bit slimmer than some of its counterparts, making it more of a fashion item than a practical one. But it is nonetheless a worthy investment thanks to its comfortable padded waist strap. You should be able to easily fit three or four essentials in here. It’s also rather long in terms of the bag itself, meaning you can wear it strapped over your shoulder as opposed to your waist for an extra retro feel.
ASOS Design scuba bum bag with rose gold: £15, ASOS
This is an easy and affordable bum bag, albeit with minimal storage space. There is just one central zip pocket, but it’s very roomy and will give you enough space for everything from sunglasses to sun cream. The rose gold detail on the zip and the buckle give it added glamour, while the scuba material means it’s very easy to clean – so no need to worry about any accidental cider spills when wearing this one to a festival.
Dickies x Eastpak bum bag: £35, Dickies
This is essentially a backpack masquerading as a bum bag. That’s no bad thing, of course, because it means you have ample storage and its thick waist belt is comfortable enough for you to wear all day without any discomfort. There’s a main front compartment and an additional Velcro pocket with a soft tartan lining. But the best thing about this bum bag is its zipped back pocket. This will obviously be pressed up against your waist, providing you with the ultimate place to securely store your most treasured belongings, without fear of them falling out or being snatched by pickpockets. It’s made from durable polyester and cotton, meaning it will withstand any unpredictable weather conditions. A solid choice, overall.
Burberry small logo print bum bag: £350, Burberry
A classic design from a classic British brand, this bum bag takes its inspiration from the 1990s and can be easily clipped around your waist with an adjustable clip belt. There’s an exterior zip pocket (great for safely stowing away your debit card) and a very bold logo emblazoned on the front – just in case you forgot where the bum bag was from. It’s a bit smaller than some of the other bum bags listed here, so think of it as more of a fashion accessory and don’t rely on it to store all of your belongings.
Topshop Barney red mesh spot bum bag: £18, Topshop
There’s only two sections for storage in this bum bag, one in the centre and a small zipped pocket at the front that is probably too small to fit anything other than your house keys. That being said, its design makes it unique. Mesh lining makes it incredibly light to carry and the bright red polka dot exterior makes it the ultimate playful fashion staple. It also has two zips on the waist strap, but these are purely decorative and add to the accessory’s 1990s grunge look.
Quicksilver corduroy bum bag: £22, Quicksilver
It’s not every day that you come across a corduroy bum bag, which makes this product stand out almost instantly. Its creamy biscuit shade is neutral enough to go with almost any outfit, but it also wins points in the practicality department thanks to a front zip pocket and a back zip-up pocket, which, again, is incredibly useful for super safe storage. The black waist strap is adjustable, of course, and there’s a Quicksilver logo on the front for extra detail.
The verdict: Bum bags
It has to be Hunter for the win on this occasion, the festival aficionados really do know what they’re doing. It ticks all the boxes in terms of size, comfort and style. It’s also durable and well-made, putting it on par with the extortionate designer options, despite its very reasonable price.