You need a bag that can hold all your things. You'll probably grab a backpack to carry around as much stuff as you can. Or you already have a messenger bag that can stay by your side. You can easily pull out whatever you need and keep a better eye on your belongings. You do know that you can get the best of both worlds, right? That's why sling backpacks exist.
Mouteenoo Sling Backpack
Maxpedition Kodiak Gearslinger
Sure, a backpack or a messenger bag can work well enough, but you don't have to deal with the little inconveniences all the time.
Enter, the sling backpack. They're bigger than most messenger bags, and easier to handle than most backpacks. The best ones also have the many pockets, straps, and hooks of a travel backpack without the bulk. At the same time, sling backpacks have a more streamlined design, so you can still use them as daypacks as you would a messenger bag.
Not convinced? Here are some of the best sling backpacks you can take on your travels or on your daily commute. Most of these designs are also gender neutral. Everyone can look stylish while staying comfortable.
If the previous backpack I showed you wasn't really the safest option, then this is the complete opposite of it. Pacsafe is generally a brand that manufacturers anti-theft bags; this includes cut-proof fabrics, lockable zippers, hidden compartments and RFID safe pockets.
When it comes to the Venture safe in particular, you get all of the features above, as well as a slash-proof carry strap. If you’re frequently riding public transport, or are just paranoid that someone might try to rob you, then this is one of the best sling backpack you can buy.
This is a small backpack, but not too small – it can still fit a 10” tablet without any issues. The shoulder strap is made from perforated material, and it is ventilated quite well, which makes this a good option for hot, sweaty summer days.
This Pacsafe backpack has two compartments; there’s the larger main compartment that features an organizer panel, with an RFID safe pocket, a tablet sleeve, a couple of pen holders and a larger mesh zippered pocket. And there’s a smaller front compartment, which has a key clip, another zippered pocket and a phone/small tablet sleeve inside.
In addition to those two, this pack also has a front shove-it pocket – a stretchy compartment that you can use to stash a spare layer of clothing.
The Venturesafe is a great backpack for people who need the functionality of a proper pack, but just don’t carry enough items to fill one up. And it has the advantage of being one of the safest bags that exist in the world.
Want a sling pack that has all the functionality and capacity of a traditional backpack? Especially the men will enjoy this one from Mouteenoo.
This sling backpack can actually fit a 15.6” laptop in the padded sleeve, which is pretty insane. So, if you have a large laptop and you’re looking for something practical and affordable for the daily life, this is definitely an option you should consider.
In addition to the laptop sleeve, this pack also has a tablet compartment on the front, a phone pocket on the shoulder strap, a quick-access hipbelt pocket and a side water bottle pockets. And that is not all; there is another smaller zippered compartment on the front panel, as well as a pocket behind that.
The organizational options are great, and this pack is a good choice for all of you that like to keep all of their smaller items separated.
One downside of the pack is that there is no information on what material exactly it is made from. All they say is that it is made from water-resistant material, so I can’t really tell you whether or not this is going to be durable.
Another thing I don’t like that much is that the strap is sewn onto the backpack. It’s not reversible, and it is designed to fit over the right shoulder; if you’re a lefty, that could be an issue. But at least the backpanel is quite comfortable; it has spaced out panels, that feel soft against your back, and which allow air to flow so you don’t get too sweaty.
KAVU is an american-based company that specializes in unique and quirky outdoor lifestyle items.
Patagonia is another US-based company that specializes in outdoor wear and gear. They focus on sustainable products built for what they call the "silent sports": climbing, surfing, skiing and snowboarding, fly fishing, and trail running. But no matter what the bag is mean for, it's a great fit for travel too!
With this brand promise, the Patagonia Atom Sling is built exactly for your outdoor activity of choice. It weighs just 10.1 oz and measures 17 x 10 x 3 inches. The material is also treated with Durable Water Repellent finish and made of 50% recycled polyester for the exterior, and 100% for the interior.
It features a great system for carry your everyday essentials and offers two different compartments that are super easy to reach while on the move.
The asymmetrical harness also means that it hugs the body closely meaning you can carry it all day without stress. Inside is also a smart padded tablet sleeve, so you can comfortably carry yours without stress.
The outside of the bag also has two helpful compression straps which means you can carry a lot, or a little, and still have the bag hold the contents nice and tight, no matter what you are doing.
And in case you are walking in the heat, or just doing a little exercise, it has a breathable mesh that helps wick away the sweat, just in case.
The last handy feature worth mentioning is the small pouch on the front which allows you to stash often used items such as you wallet, phone or even your sunglasses.
The Catapult sling pack by Timbuk2 a good everyday option. It’s large enough to fit an 11” laptop or tablet, which is pretty great for a sling backpack. And it features multiple pockets, so you can actually organizer your belongings in this small bag.
The exterior of this pack is made from Cordura Canvas material, which is very durable. The pack features flap over Velcro closure, with a small external pocket on its front. This is the only thing I’m not crazy about – Velcro isn’t really the safest material, especially when you’re carrying this on your back.
When you open it up, you get access to the so-called main compartment, a large zippered pocket and two smaller slip pockets. There is a dedicated spot for all your everyday necessities, which is a huge bonus for me.
In addition to that, the Catapult 2.0 also features Timbuk2’s iconic beer bottle opener. It’s a convenient feature for outdoor trips and barbeques, or for pretty much anyone who is frequently in a situation where they desperately need a bottle opened and can’t find one.
This sling pack also has a large zippered pocket on the top, which is accessible from both its front and back sides. The let’s-call-it-backpanel is padded, and it should feel quite comfortable against your back.
The shoulder strap comes with a strap pad, and it is both adjustable and detachable. And this small sling pack even features a grab handle, which is really convenient.
OutdoorMaster, as the name suggests, sells all kinds of gear for outdoor adventures. You can find a lot of items here for both water and land activities. Prices aren't so bad, either, which is why their Packable Sling Bag is at the top of the list.
The OutdoorMaster Packable Sling Bag is a 12L pack that is incredibly lightweight at just 0.33 lbs. It's meant to be foldable into a tiny pouch so you can stow it away without taking up too much space. When laid flat, it measures 8 x 6 x 1.5 inches but can expand to 10 x 18.5 x 7 inches.
The padded strap has a front pocket where you can store your phone, and a side pocket for a water bottle. The bottom of the shoulder strap also connects to the bag with a hook, so you can easily shift the bag to sit on your right or your left shoulder. You can also use these rings to attach your sling backpack to a larger bag or luggage.
There's an external pouch on the bag for more storage, but also a secret inner pocket for your valuables.
The bag is made of nylon which makes it lightweight and foldable, but this has some disadvantages. It's not waterproof, first of all. The pocket for the water bottle also tends to sag if the bottle is full and heavy, but the bag is not packed enough to hold its shape.
It comes in five colors: Black, Red, Army Green, Blue, Purple, Ocean Green and Rose Red (pink). OutdoorMaster also offers 6 months 100% satisfaction guarantee warranty.
The Yuoto sling pack is one of the more affordable options. It doesn’t have too many cool or high-tech features, but it does have a really hot price tag (under $25). So, if you want a sling pack just for the sake of it and don’t really care for anything fancy, this is a great option for you.
It is one of the larger sling backpacks you can find, and it has a total of five external compartments. The main compartment is the largest one, and it can easily fit a 10” tablet, as well as a few other items. There is a smaller zippered pocket on the front panel of this pack, as well as another larger compartment behind it.
And you also get a stretch water bottle pocket, which can easily fit a 16-ounce bottle. In addition to that, this sling pack has a phone pocket on the shoulder strap, as well as a hidden zippered pocket right behind the backpanel.
Overall, you will definitely have plenty of space for your everyday necessities, and you will even be able to organize them!
The backpanel is padded and covered with breathable mesh, so you shouldn’t get too sweaty when you’re wearing this sling pack. The same goes for the shoulder strap, which features an adjustable (ambidextrous) position.
There’s one thing I don’t like that much about this sling backpack, and it is the grab handle. It’s a plain webbing handle, and it is very small. This is not going to be comfortable if you actually have to carry the pack in your hand, and that’s a downside for me.
This is the perfect sling backpack for all you GoPro/Action camera junkies! If you’re always carrying it with you, then this is just the pack you are looking for.
The pack has a main compartment with padded walls, which will protect your action camera at all times. This is also means that the pack has pretty good impact and shock resistance – in case you drop it on the floor, the padding should keep your camera from breaking or getting damaged.
The main compartment is actually spacious enough to fit a DSLR camera, so it’s a good choice for lots of hobbies that include expensive electronics. The backpack also features a hidden compartment in the back, which is also padded, and just the right size for your lenses or action camera accessories.
Because that other compartment is on the lower part of the backpanel, the pack won’t be remarkably comfortable to wear. Sure, it is padded, but there’s no breathable mesh covering it, so there’s a chance you could get sweaty.
However, the shoulder strap has both, so at least that part of your body will stay cool and dry.
The Incase sling pack also features a faux fur lined compartment for your iPad, as well as a couple of smaller zippered pockets for your other necessities. It lacks a water bottle pocket, but I don’t really mind that, since this is not a generic, everyday type of bag.
If you are looking for a waterproof sling bag then this compact and lightweight option from Waterfly is worth checking out. They have thought of almost everything including space for your tablet in one of the two main compartments of varying sizes. It is also easily adjustable via the shoulder strap, which also has space for your phone. So, it's simple to grab it on the go.
The front compartment also has some great organising capabilities to help store those smaller, harder to find items that always slip down the bottom of the pack.
The other great feature of this sling pack is that you can move the strap from left to right, depending on your carrying preference.
It's made from a water resistant nylon, so is not exactly "waterproof" in the sense of taking a shower with it, but it will certainly be better than one that is not. And, the shoulder strap has some nice breathable material so you won't get super-sweaty on the go.
The KAVU Rope Sling is a nifty bag meant for everyday use. It's small in size, but it expands to fit your necessities for a day hike, including your shoes.
The best part about this bag is it's made of 600D polyester that makes the pack water resistant. The rope strap is unique in design and in comfort as its soft material keeps it from digging into your shoulder too much.
The bag has two vertical zip compartments, two key or cell phone pockets, and a padded back.
The KAVU Rope Sling measures 20" x 11" and weighs 2.5 lbs. Though the weight is due mainly to the thick material, it may start feeling a little heavy at the end of the day.
It comes in a variety of both subdued and quirky designs: Black Topo, Brick, Busy Livin, BW Plaid, Camo, Campground, Deep Teal, Driftwood, Electric Lily, Firecracker, Fly Fish, Island Ikat, Majove Oasis, Natural Diver, Navy Camper, Paradise, Snow Timber, Sunset, Surfs Up, Tangerine, Taupe, Top Water, Trail Marker.
It doesn't have as many pockets, rings, and hooks as some of the other items on this list, but the KAVU Rope Sling is a great bag to carry around as you explore the city or go on a short hike.
If you’re trying to find a rugged and durable sling backpack that can withstand any outdoor condition, then the Kodiak is what you’re looking for. This looks like a regular outdoor backpack, designed to get you through extreme environments and weather conditions. But it only has one shoulder strap.
Which is supposed to go over your right shoulder, and unfortunately is not reversible. And that’s pretty much the only serious downside. The backpanel is padded and features spaced out ridges, which allow your back to breathe, while the shoulder strap is both padded and covered with breathable mesh.
The main compartment of this pack is very spacious, and has several pockets inside. In fact, this entire backpack has about 23 liters of capacity, which is more than enough to get you through a day in the outdoors.
It features several external compartments and pockets, including a dedicated sleeve for a hydration reservoir. In addition to that, there are several daisy chain webbings all over the front of the backpack, which you can attach bulky gear to, with the help of a carabiner.
The Maxpedition Kodiak is an insanely rugged outdoor backpack. If that is what you’re looking for, then you will definitely enjoy it. But if you’re more interested in a simple, everyday sling backpack, then this is not really the right option for you.
The Metrosafe is another excellent anti-theft sling pack by Pacsafe. But it has a different design than the Venturesafe I showed you earlier – this one is actually available in several different styles, including both a regular backpack as well as a cross body bag.
It’s a very popular option, because it is an amazing everyday backpack. It’s large enough that you can fit all of your on-the-go must-haves inside, and it has plenty of different pockets and compartments that allow you to stay organized throughout the day.
In addition to that, this has all of the anti-theft features you would expect from Pacsafe – RFID blocking pocket, cut-proof fabric, slash-proof straps and lockable zippers.
The main compartment of this pack is spacious, and it features the RFID blocking pocket for your wallet, as well as a 10” tablet sleeve. There is also plenty of room between those two pockets.
If you’re all about staying organized, then you will love the front compartment of the Metrosafe. It has an organizing panel, which includes a sleeve for a smaller tablet (7”), pen holders, slip pockets, a key clip and another zippered pocket.
Unfortunately, there is no water bottle pocket on this pack, and that’s a shame. I’m also a bit sad that they removed the cell phone pocket on the shoulder strap that was features in the earlier design – but I guess the backpack is more secure this way.
With all of the sling backpacks so far, the main focus was on functionality and efficiency. We haven’t really talked about style and fashion – just because something is really functional, doesn’t mean you will like it if it’s not well-designed.
That’s where the Texbo leather sling backpack comes in – if you want something that’s cool and fashionable, then this is the bag you should get. It is made from genuine, full-grain cowhide leather, which is incredibly soft to touch. The pack is available in two colors, both of which look stunning to me.
However, keep in mind that this is not a rugged or insanely durable backpack; leather scuffs, and if you want this to look new and gorgeous for a long time, you will need to take care of it. Just like you would take care of your favorite leather shoes.
It is also not going to be remarkably comfortable, because the backpanel is all leather. But it is still pretty functional, since it has multiple compartments and pockets.
That includes a spacious main compartment, a smaller front compartment, two zippered pockets on the front, a smaller zippered pocket in the back and a detachable pouch.
Another thing worth mentioning is that this backpack actually has expandable capacity, which is a unique feature.
A sling backpack can be your new bestfriend if you'll be running around endlessly, whether it's in the city, along a trail, or on top of the mountain. Keeping your hands free to do things other than hold your bag in place is a convenience many travelers overlook.
If you're shopping around for a new sling backpack, keep in mind what you'll be using it for. There are many designs and features loaded on these bags nowadays, so choose the one that will best fit your purpose. In the end, whether it's simply for your everyday stroll, or specifically for outdoor activities, a sling backpack is a convenient way to keep all your belongings in place while you enjoy your travels.
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!