Essential Gear: the Fanny Pack

The fanny pack has long been my favorite piece of faux leather gear.  Why something so 1980s?, you might ask.  I prefer the term “timeless.”  And regardless of the era of your camera, as an OMB filmmaker you’re going to need some essential items with you at all time, especially if you are shooting run-and-gun style.

This past Spring, I did just that for two straight weeks, on a television show called Addicted (TLC and Discovery Fit & Health, 9pm Tuesdays).  The episode we shot, “Theresa,” required us to run-and-gun with a homeless drug addict wherever she might roam, and we didn’t have time to run back to the car for gear.  The alternative–wearing a backpack–can become cumbersome after a few hours, and your back is already supporting the weight of the camera.  It’s also more difficult to pull items from a backpack, since you have to put down your camera and take it off to access its contents . So, if you can pare down your essential items to fit (and you can), I recommend a bare back and fanny pack.

After a few days of shooting, I converted my fellow Addicted shooter, Jason Tongen (who you may notice also goes by JT) to the fanny pack. Here is an example of what we might carry in the model you see in the picture above:


  • Sony Z7-U battery
  • tapes (Addicted is shot to tape)
  • lens cloth
  • AA batteries for wireless lav
  • mountable light (at night)
  • releases
  • pen
  • granola bar

But wait, there’s more.  There are two more uses for the fanny pack.  If you are shooting on a monopod, many shooters like to shorten the device and hook it into the fanny pack, giving the camera extra stability, and taking the weight of the camera off of your shoulder.

The third use of the fanny pack is for organization.  Within my camera bag, I keep a fanny pack with my audio gear (listed below).  With all of it in one place, I can quickly pull it out and mic a subject.  And if I’m on a shoot where I don’t need audio, I can take it out and it’s all together for next time.  In my audio fanny pack you’ll find:

  • Sennheiser wireless set with cable
  • Sonotrim wireless mic with assortment of clips
  • 9 volt batteries and tester
  • moleskin and/or medical tape for mic attachment
  • emergency earbud headphones
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