Best Sling Backpacks For Travel & Adventure

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.

The lowdown on the Sling Backpack

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.

Carrying around a backpack is great for your back as it is better in evening out the weight. But trying to get things out of a backpack can be the most annoying thing to do. Try doing it when you're stuck in a cramped train or going through a crowd of people without hitting someone else. Taking a seat usually means having to take off your bag, too.

A messenger bag, on the other hand, is easier to manage when you need to get stuff out. But messenger bags are usually a bit smaller, and it's not like you can carry a heavy load on one shoulder the whole day.​

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.​


Outdoor Master Packable Sling Bag

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.

Best Jewelry Organizer
Aeropress Portable Coffee Maker Bag

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.

Product Information

  • Weight: 0.33 pounds
  • Dimensions (packed): 8 inches (H) x 6 inches (L) x 1.5 inches (W)
  • Dimensions (unpacked): 10 inches (H) x 18.5 inches (L) x 7 inches (W)
  • Colors: Black, Red, Army Green, Blue, Purple, Ocean Green and Rose Red (pink)
  • Capacity: 12L
  • Features: Phone pocket on strap, External pocket, Secret Inner Pocket, Side Pocket for water bottle, D-rings and Hook on strap
  • Material: Nylon

PROS

  • Lightweight and foldable for easy storage
  • Several pockets for different items
  • Big enough for daytrips or light hikes

CONS

  • Not waterproof
  • Structure doesn't hold shape if not fully packed

Adidas Capital Sling Backpack

Adidas is a global lifestyle brand, and they have nifty bags for the traveler, too. Their well-built bags with lots of useful features are excellent for traveling.

The Adidas Capital Sling Backpack is thoughtfully made to be the most convenient and durable pack for any kind of sport or outdoor activity. This polyester bag comes with a Lifetime Warranty, which means it is built to last. If it doesn't, then you're covered.

It measures 13 x 15 x 20 inches and weighs 1.2 lbs, which is considerably light given its material. There are two external pockets meant to organize your gear, and several internal zippered pockets for organization, and and a padded tablet pocket.

Minipresso Portable Coffee Maker

The bag opens on the side with two external zippers. There is also a buckle on the side of the bag with an adjustable strap that compresses the bag if needed. There are two straps on the front of the bag with loops where you can hook or attach other items.

The body strap has padded Air mesh back panel so it doesn't get too hot against your body. It also has a small pocket for small items, but not big enough for your phone. The strap also has a buckle - you can swing the strap over your head when you're ready to go, and simply snap the clip open to lay your bag down. Unfortunately, the strap placement is fixed, so it will only go on your right shoulder.

Product Information

  • Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Dimensions: 13L" x 15W" x 20H"
  • Colors: Black, Black/Grey, Black/Shock Pink, Black/Solar Yellow/Shock Pink, Bold Blue/Black/Grey, Heather Granite/Scarlet/Black
  • Features: Two external pockets, internal zippered pockets, padded tablet pocket, padded Air mesh back panel on strap, strap buckle
  • Material: Polyester

PROS

  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Many compartments for gear and gadgets
  • Simple, no-fuss design

CONS

  • Strap is affixed on right shoulder
  • Not waterproof
  • No waterbottle pocket, but can be hooked on front loops

KAVU Rope Sling Bag

KAVU is an american-based company that specializes in unique and quirky outdoor lifestyle items

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​.

Handpresso Espresso Travel Coffee Maker
Handpresso Espresso Travel Coffee Maker

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.

Product Information

  • Weight: 2.5 pounds
  • Dimensions: 11L" x 20H"
  • Colors: 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
  • Features: Two vertical zip compartments, two key or cell phone pockets, padded back​
  • Material: Polyester

PROS

  • Water Resistant
  • Comes in a variety of designs to fit any kind of personality
  • Small in size, but big enough for daily necessities
  • Comfortable rope strap

CONS

  • Not enough external pockets, no hooks
  • Strap is affixed to right shoulder
  • A bit heavier than other bags


Patagonia Atom Sling

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 0.6 lbs at the size of 19 x 11 x 3 inches. The material is also treated with Durable Water Repellent finish and made of 100% recycled polyester.

The bag features an ergonomic design with a three-point harness. This makes the Atom Sling perfect for any activity that requires you to move, even running to catch a flight, while keeping your hands free to do anything.​

Staresso Coffee Maker

Its tear-drop shape is specially designed to position the load behind the shoulders. It has a large, zippered main pocket with a mesh and stretch-woven inner pocket for smaller items. There's another pocket on the shoulder strap that can fit a mobile phone or other valuables.

The shoulder strap and back feature breathable, moisture-moving 3-D spacer mesh pads to keep you cool even while adventuring under the scorching sun.

There are also buckles on the front to adjust the compression of the bag. These can also be used to lash or hook items on. It also comes in fun color combinations: Black, Smoulder Blue w/ Glass Blue, Big Sur Blue, Carve Coral, Gem Green, Ink Black, and Yurt Yellow.

While there are definitely excellent features for any kind of travel or outdoor activity, this bag misses one important feature for that purpose - a pocket for your water bottle.​

Product Information

  • Weight: 0.6 pounds
  • Capacity: 8L
  • Dimensions: 19 x 11 x 3 inches
  • Colors: Black, Smoulder Blue w/ Glass Blue, Big Sur Blue, Carve Coral, Gem Green, Ink Black, Yurt Yellow
  • Features: Three-point harness, zippered main pocket, mesh and stretch-woven inner pocket, pocket on the shoulder strap, moisture-moving 3-D spacer mesh pads, front buckles
  • Material: 100% Recycled Polyester

PROS

  • Water resistant
  • Three-point harness to keep the bag secured on your body regardless of activity
  • Build of the bag and materials used were chosen specifically for outdoor activities and travel

CONS

  • No water bottle pocket
  • Strap is affixed on the right shoulder, BUT designed to sit behind the shoulders and distribute the weight evenly

Dakine Hub Sling Pack 15L

Dakine is another outdoor brand that caters to a wider range of outdoor activities and sports. They also have a wide range of travel-related items, including bags and accessories.

The Dakine Hub Sling Pack 15L is a rugged pack built for the great outdoors, or someone who simply has a lot of stuff to carry around.

Its main compartment opens up on the side, where you can lay your bag completely horizontally like a duffel. There's a separate padded iPad compartment as well. It has two interior and two exterior detail pockets. It has an extra front security pocket, wherein a snap keeps the zipper in place. Sneaky thieves will have a hard time getting access to your valuables even if you can't see what's behind you. There's also another pocket on the shoulder strap that's big enough for more than a mobile phone.

Bodum Insulated Stainless-Steel Travel Press

The bottom of the pack also features a handle so you can grab your bag from any side.

The Hub Sling Pack comes in three colors: Black, Marker Camo, and Sportsman. The black version is a bit more upscale, made of 1200D Polyester with PU coating. The Marker Camo and Sportsman are made of 600D Polyester. While the black version will be much more durable, all versions are made to be water resistant.

While most sling backpacks are made to be slim, the Hub Sling Pack is a bit more bulky at 18 X 10 X 7 inches. For the most part, this can be an advantage if you're looking at longer travels or more extreme hiking. Though it doesn't come with a load of straps and hooks that turn it into another kind of bag, the structure is made for you to easily reach around and get what you need from your pack.

Product Information

  • Capacity: 15L
  • Dimensions: 18 x 10 x 7 inches
  • Colors: Black, Marker Camo, Sportsman
  • Features: Main compartment, iPad compartment, two external zippers, two internal zippers, security front pocket, shoulder strap pocket, bottom bag handle
  • Material: 1200D or 600D Polyester

PROS

  • Sturdy and made to handle wear and tear
  • Roomy and spacious for all your belongings
  • Water resistant
  • Several pockets and compartments for smaller items and organization

CONS

  • No water bottle pocket
  • Can be too bulky for a light day around the city
  • No loops or straps to attach or hook items if necessary

To Sum It All Up

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.

About the Author Roger Timbrook

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!

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