Looking for a versatile sling backpack for travel and day-to-day use?
There are seemingly endless daypack and backpack options out there.
On top of having a quality travel backpack for when you’re moving around, sling backpacks are a great option for a daypack or anytime you are in need of a small, easy to access bag.
There is no doubt I still prefer my Osprey daypack for certain activities such as hiking and outdoor adventures.
However, when just wandering around cities or general travel use sling backpacks are hard to beat. They are incredibly easy to access, small and comfortable for carrying. Plus, they tend not to scream tourist like a backpack does.
Best Sling Backpacks 2018
|Pacsafe Metrosafe LS150 Anti-Theft Sling Backpack||7 L / 1.18 lbs||Nylon/Polyester||Yes||$$
|KAVU Rope Bag||12 oz||100% Cotton||No||$$$
|OutdoorMaster Sling Bag||12 L / 1.10 lbs||Lightweight canvas||Yes||$
|Patagonia Atom Sling Bag||8 L / 10.1 oz||630 Denier 100% nylon||Yes||$$$
|ENKNIGHT Waterproof Chest Bag Casual Sling Bag||15 L||Ripstop nylon||Yes||$
|Red Rock Rover Sling Pack||9 L / 3 lbs||600 Denier Polyester||No||$$
|Lowepro Slingshot Edge 150 AW Camera Sling Bag||1.54 lbs||Polyester||Yes||$$$
|Altura Photo Camera Sling Backpack for DSLR||1.1 lbs||n/a||No||$$
|Under Armour Compel 2.0 Sling Bag||16.4 L / 1.6 lbs||100% Polyester||Yes||$$
|SEEU Waterproof Sling Bag Backpack||20 L / 7 oz||Water repellent tear resistant polyester||No||$
- Best Sling Backpacks 2018
- Best Sling Backpack Reviews
- Pacsafe Metrosafe LS150 Anti-Theft Sling Backpack – Best Anti-Theft Bag
- KAVU Rope Sling Bag
- OutdoorMaster Sling Bag – Best Budget Option
- Patagonia Atom Sling Bag
- ENKNIGHT Waterproof Chest Bag Casual Sling Bag
- Red Rock Outdoor Gear Rover Sling Pack
- Lowepro Slingshot Edge 150 AW Camera Bag – Best Camera Sling Bag
- Altura Photo Camera Sling Backpack for DSLR
- Under Armour Compel Sling 2.0 Backpack
- SEEU Waterproof Sling Bag Backpack
- Sling Backpack Buying Guide
- The Bottom Line
Why get a Sling Backpack vs Backpack
One strap backpacks, or sling bags, have huge benefits for anyone looking for an easy access bag. Designed to quickly slip over one shoulder, they can be swung around and hung in front where you can open up the compartments.
This means you don’t have to remove the bag when you just want quick access to your gear. It’s also useful in crowded spaces since you need much less room to bring your bag around to the front.
They are a simple option for a daypack and afford you to easily store and access whatever you are storing in your bag. Plus, many sling backpacks offer secure storage options for keeping your valuables (credit cards, passports, etc) safe while out.
Depending on how you plan to use your sling backpack, some models may suit your needs better than others.
Some models focus on carrying DSLR cameras, others have dedicated laptop sleeves, some are water resistant, and their carrying capacity varies. You’ll want to compare all these factors when choosing the best sling backpack for your needs.
If you want a quick recommendation, take a look at the Pacsafe Metrosafe. This bag is specifically designed with the avid traveler in mind and provides tons of features to keep your gear safe, yet easy to access.
Best Sling Backpack Reviews
There are a lot of great sling backpack options out there. You’ll find many brands that produce bags with a wide array design features, so you’re sure to find one that fits your needs.
Here are just a few of my top recommendations that provide a good mix of functionality, durability, and quality.
Pacsafe Metrosafe LS150 Anti-Theft Sling Backpack – Best Anti-Theft Bag
Pacsafe in known for producing some of the of the most innovative travel packs. The Pacsafe Metrosafe LS150 Anti-Theft Sling Backpack is their sling backpack variant and includes plenty of built-in security features.
If you’re looking for a bag that offers ultimate protection against thieves in a sling bag style, this is the top choice. The bag is constructed with a nylon exterior and polyester interior with full zipper pockets for easy access.
The bag features Pacsafes innovative anti-theft technologies. This includes their lightweight, hidden eXomesh Slashguard stainless steel wire mesh embedded into fabric to protect you against slash-and-run theft, Lockabout Security Clip, Turn & Lock Security Hook and smart zipper security.
Plus, the bag offers RFIDsafe blocking material integrated into a pocket within the main compartment.
Volume/Weight: 7 Liters / 1.18 lbs
Pockets: 3 interior slip, 2 interior zip, 1 exterior
Laptop Sleeve: fits 7″ tablets, holds iPad
Special Features: Integrated security features
If you are looking for a unique sling backpack that will stick out from others, the KAVU Rope Sling Bag is just that.
The rope shoulder strap gives the bag a unique look, yet provides a functional way to carry it and allows length adjustments depending if you want to wear if on your shoulder or across your body.
Plus for anyone looking for a specific color, this bag offers the most options out there—from normal shades to crazy patterned options.
The bags design lies somewhere in between a messenger bag, daypack, and purse. Two easy access vertical zippered pockets make it easy to retrieve whatever you need to from you bag, whether your using it for day-to-day use or travel.
The bag is made from durable cotton canvas fabric which will hold up with the harshest use, however it doesn’t feature any type of water resistant treatment. This limits it’s usability if you need a bag that can protect your camera in wet weather.
Weight: 12 oz
Pockets: 1 interior zip, 3 exterior
Material: Cotton canvas
Laptop Sleeve: No
Special Features: Rope shoulder straps, unique color options
OutdoorMaster Sling Bag – Best Budget Option
The OutdoorMaster Sling Bag is one of the best sling backpacks for travelers looking for a foldable and packable option. You can easily pack it down into it’s built-in zippered pocket and stow it in your larger backpack or luggage.
At around 12 liters the bag offers a enough space to keep all your daily essentials—camera, water, money, sweater, etc—without being too bulky. Plus, it’s well designed to keep you gear organized with it’s interior anti-theft pocket, water bottle holder, and shoulder strap pocket for quick access items, such as a phone.
You can reverse the shoulder strap direction on the bag and wear it on either shoulder. This makes it a great option if various people in the family or group are righties or lefties.
It’s construction from a nylon material makes it lightweight and will hold up over time.
The bottom line on this pack is that it’s well-designed, built with quality materials, and just the right size for most travelers or daily users who want to carry daily essentials.
Volume/Weight: 12 Liters / 1.10 lbs
Pockets: hidden anti-theft pocket & external water bottle holder
Laptop Sleeve: iPad or laptop up to 12.5″”
Special Features: Hidden anti-theft pocket
As one of the most prominent outdoor clothing manufactures, Patagonia applied their extensive design knowledge to make this single strap backpack for hiking, traveling, or daily use.
The Patagonia Atom Sling Bag offers a great combination of durability and functionality. It’s made from recycled polyester with a DWR coating to shed rain or snow.
The pack features 3D spacer mesh on it’s shoulder straps and back panel for extra comfort and breathability. It’s large enough to fit most daily essentials and when you need extra room you can use the adjustable buckles to lash your jacket or gear too.
It has a zippered main compartment for larger items, a smaller external pocket, and an easy access pocket on the shoulder strap for phones, etc. For hiking, biking and other outdoor activities the there is a waist belt to keep the sling pack secure and close to your torso.
Volume/Weight: 8 L / 10.1 oz
Pockets: 2 zippered pockets, 1 main compartment
Material: 630 denier 100% ylon
Waterproof: DWR coating
Laptop Sleeve: padded, holds tablet
Special Features: Integrated waistbelt, 3D mesh shoulder strap and back panels
Another great budget option is the ENKNIGHT Waterproof Chest Bag Casual Sling Bag.
This 15 liter volume sling bag is constructed from nylon and features a main zippered pocket with integrated iPad or laptop sleeve.
Plus, there is a small anti-theft pocket on the back panel for safe storage of your valuables—credit card, passport, or cash.
When you fill it up you can lash extra gear to the adjustable buckle straps on the outside. This is a feature I really like for hiking and outdoor activities when you need to shed a layer and just want to quickly attach it to your pack.
The bag is water resistant and has a adjustable shoulder and waist straps to fit any user and keep the pack secure.
Volume: 15 Liters
Material: Ripstop nylon
Pockets: internal mesh pocket, small secure pocket on the back, water bottle pocket.
Water Resistant: Yes
Laptop Sleeve: Yes
Special Features: Anti-theft pocket, external straps for lashing gear to, waist strap
The Red Rock Outdoor Gear Rover is designed as a tactical sling pack, but is just as versatile for general outdoor, travel or everyday use.
Built from durable 600D polyester it features an adjustable ambidextrous strap for over the shoulder carry on both sides.
The pack has four compartments to help keep your gear organized, with the largest capable of holding an iPad, cameras, umbrellas, and other gear.
Overall this is a great single strap backpack for rugged users who want a super tough bag that holds up to extensive outdoor use.
Volume/Weight: 9 Liters / 3 lbs
Pockets: Four compartments
Material: 600 Denier Polyester
Water Resistant: No
Laptop Sleeve: No
Special Features: Ambidextrous strap, ultra-durable
Lowepro Slingshot Edge 150 AW Camera Bag – Best Camera Sling Bag
Camera sling bags are perfect for travelers who take along a mirrorless kit for use as their daily camera. You can easily snap photos, store your camera in your bag, and get it out again with ease when you need it.
The Lowepro Slingshot Edge 150 AW Camera Bag has been my top pick for a single strap backpack that can hold a mirrorless camera with an attached zoom lens. I’ve used mine for anything from international trips to daily use when I just want to tote along my camera.
The bag is specially designed with photography in mind and features padded dividers, multiple accessory pockets, extra lens storage and a tripod holder.
But let’s go through it step by step. For security the Slingshot Edge has a lower compartment which unzips along the backside of the bag.
In the zippered top compartment you can store a charger, external battery and more. You will even find room in there for some snacks as well as an addition small zippered internal pocket. The top compartment offers also a sleeve which holds a small tablet.
For all your other daily essentials you want to bring with you, you will find the zippered pocket on the very front of the Lowepro Sling Bag pretty handy.
For comfortable carrying the shoulder strap has a good amount of padding and it is adjustable for your convenience.
Additionally I have to mention the waterproof rain cover that comes with the bag to provide protection in wet conditions. It is stored in a separate zippered pocket at the bottom of the bag and if needed it just unfolds very easily to cover your bag.
The Slingshot Edge 150 AW is the updated version of the Lowepro Slingshot 102 DSLR Sling Camera Bag.
The bottom line is this camera sling bag is great for when you want to grab you camera without taking the bag off your shoulders. You can easily rotate the bag from back to front and access all your gear.
Weight: 1.54 lbs
Pockets: 1 zippered internal / 1 external pocket, 1 bottle sleeve
Water resistant: waterproof rain cover in pocket
Laptop Sleeve: fits small tablet
Special Features: All Weather AW Cover, tripod holder
Another great camera sling bag option is the Altura Photo Camera Sling Backpack for DSLR. Although I’m a fan of Lowepro camera bags, this bag puts up a lot of competition when it comes to the best camera sling backpack.
Overall the bag is well designed and offers all the features you’d expect from a high-quality camera bag. It can hold most DSLR cameras with a standard zoom lens and an extra lens or flash.
The internal compartments can be customized just the way you need them and there are numerous mesh pockets for storing extra batteries, memory cards, and other gear. The bag also features an exterior tripod holder.
Overall it’s a solid option for a lightweight and durable camera sling option that allows you to quickly access your camera gear with a quick rotation from the back to the front of your body.
Weight: 1.1 lbs
Pockets: 1 main with customizable divider walls, mesh pockets for accessories
Water Resistant: No
Laptop Sleeve: No
Special Features: Adjustable dividers, tripod holder, quick access side doors
The Under Armour Compel Sling Bag is a classic design that can be used for anything from hitting the gym, day-to-day use, or traveling.
Its durable polyester material has the UA Storm technology to repel water in light rainfall. Additionally the valuables pocket is also water resistant to keep your small electronis safe.
The bag features a soft laptop sleeve that holds up to a 15″ laptop or iPad.
The bag can be worn comfortably as a cross body backpack with it’s adjustable heavy duty padded strap. For gear storage you have a larger top-access internal compartment, two front zip pockets and a zippered pocket for your valuables.
Volume/Weight: 16.4 Liters / 1.6 lbs
Material: 100% Polyester
Pockets: Water-resistant valuables pocket, front zip organization pocket
Water Resistant: Yes (DWR finish)
Laptop Sleeve: Yes, holds up to 15” laptop
Special Features: UA Storm technology
This bag has most features that higher-end sling backpacks offer, yet won’t break your budget. As far as the most bang-for-the-buck, the SEEU Waterproof Sling Bag Backpack is hard to beat.
This 15 liter capacity sling bag is ultra-lightweight at just 7 ounces and comes with a handful of practical design features.
There are extra straps and handles for carrying the bag, large zipper pulls for easy opening, a headphone jack leading to an internal pocket, and a torso wrapping design for keeping the pack close to your body.
The bag is made from water repellent ripstop polyester to provide extra durability. For gear storage it offers a main pocket large enough for storing an iPad or travel guides, a front pocket on the shoulder strap for keys or phone, other organization pockets and a water bottle side pocket.
The bag is built with 3D decompression and breathable material on the back panel for comfortable wear in hot conditions.
Overall it’s a versatile crossbody backpack for anything from day trips, outdoor use, camping, or just about anything you can throw at it.
Volume/Weight: 20 Liters / 7 oz
Pockets: 1 front pocket, 1 main pocket, 1 briefcase
Material: Water repellent tear resistant polyester
Water Resistant: Yes
Laptop Sleeve: Holds iPad
Special Features: Large zipper pulls, headphone jack
Sling Backpack Buying Guide
Types of Sling Backpacks
There are various types of sling backpacks on the market. Certain models may be geared toward a different intended use and include special built-in features.
You’ll find sling bags designed for carrying camera equipment, travel use, foldable models, bags geared towards hiking, anti-theft bags, waterproof bags, trendy options for everyday use, and bags made for the gym.
Depending on what you want to get from your sling backpack, be sure to choose one that fits your intended use. You don’t want to buy one with a DSLR camera or laptop compartment if you won’t be using it.
Why Get a Sling Backpack?
Sling backpacks are great in any situation when you need easy access to your gear frequently. If you’ve ever traveled with a DSLR camera you know that you’re always putting and way and taking about your camera throughout the day.
Single strap backpacks allow you to swing the bag around to the front of your body where you can easily access what you need without removing the bag. This is by far the biggest benefit of a one strap backpack.
Of course, there are times with a traditional daypack or two strap backpack will serve you better, but for just carrying smaller items and ease of access a sling bag is hard to beat.
A small sling backpack is also less bulky than most backpacks as it forms around you body and side. This makes it easier to get around in tight or crowded situations. Not to mention that many museums and attractions only allow smaller sized bags to enter.
When you just need a few essential items, such as camera, small jacket, some snacks, and a water bottle a sling backpack works perfect.
Pros & Cons of Sling Backpacks
There are obvious advantages and drawbacks of using a sling backpack vs a normal travel backpack.
As I mentioned above, sling backpacks make it much easier to access your gear than normal backpacks. You can both put in and take out whatever you need while leaving the bag on. All you have to do is slide the bag around your body to the front.
They are comfortable to wear and provide a good balance of weight across your back. However, some models are only made to wear on one side, so you cannot switch back and forth between shoulders. This can be annoying to some people who don’t like to always carry things on one side.
Shoulder sling bags are generally smaller in size, around 15 to 20 liters in volume, which is comparable to most daypacks. If you need to haul a lot of gear, you’re probably better off using a dedicated travel backpack.
But you just need to carry smaller items, then sling bags are great and provide a small profile on your back. This means no bulky half-full backpacks.
How To Choose the Right Sling Backpack
The most important factor when choosing the right sling backapck is it’s size and capacity. You want a bag that can easily store everything you want on you daily adventures, while not being overly bulky or heavy.
You’ll find both small and large sling backpacks available. Most range from 10 to 20 liters in volume, which is comparable to your average daypack.
Before narrowing down your options you’ll want to consider how you’ll be using the bag and what you need to fit inside. I find that when I use my sling backpack I mostly use it for wandering around while traveling, which means I just need to fit a few essential items for the day. For this use you’ll find that most models are the perfect fit.
Clearly price is one of the biggest factors when buying a new pack—or any travel gear for that matter. I always recommend spending enough to ensure that you are buying a high-quality product. It’s worth it in my opinion to spend a bit more and not have to replace it in short time.
The good news is that you don’t need to break your budget when buying one of the best sling backpacks. Unlike backpacks that can have sky-high price tags, you’ll find that sling backpacks are generally much more affordable.
You can expect to spend anywhere from around $20 for a budget model to upwards of $100 for the highest end options. The most important thing to consider when choosing a price range is that you purchase a high-quality bag that will last. The last thing you want is the stitching to fail after just a few uses. A good sling backpack will last for years and accompany you on many trips.
Materials & Durability
Similar to daypacks and travel backpacks you want to make sure the bag you select is constructed with durable materials.
This means high denier polyester, nylon or a strong cotton or canvas fabric. Ideally the bag should be made with ripstop fabric for ultimate strength and to prevent rips and tears.
If you want a most durable sling backpack I’d suggest going with a high denier ripstop polyster that is treated with DWR. This is a lightweight, yet strong fabric option that can be treated with a water resistant coating to shed water.
Zipper quality are also important when it comes to durability. The best sling bags are built with YKK zippers which are the gold standard when it comes to zippers.
Design & Features
How do you plan to primarily use your sling backpack? While traveling? What about hiking? For photography?
Depending on how you’ll primarily use your crossbody backpack there are bag designs and features that may suit you better.
Some features to consider when choosing the best sling backpack include:
- Overall storage options – large vs. small pockets
- Dedicated camera compartment
- Tripod holder
- Laptop sleeve
- Water bottle pocket
- Secret storage pocket for valuables, passport, etc
- Water resistant fabric or rain cover
- Exterior pockets for quick access
- Multi-side carry – carry bag on either shoulder
Comfort & Fit
There’s no point in buying a bag if it’s not comfortable to wear all-day long. The last thing you want is to be constantly readjusting your pack because of a uncomfortable shoulder strap or unbalanced feel.
An important feature that the best sling backpacks should have include is a padded shoulder strap. Since the weight of the bag is carried on only a single shoulder its important to have a wide padded strap for comfort. A narrow strap can cut into your shoulder making it incredibly uncomfortable to wear for extended periods.
Most sling backpacks will include a buckle on the shoulder strap to make quick adjustments. This allows you to adjust where the bag sits on your back and is especially important if you are a short or tall user.
For ultimate carrying stability you may also want to consider a sling bag with a waist belt. This option makes sure that the bag does not move around or slip to the front when you are actively moving around. An example of a bag that offers this is the Patagonia Atom Sling Bag.
When you’re traveling you never know what mother nature will through at you. It’s always wise to have gear that can hold up in wet conditions and your pack is the first defense for keeping your gear dry.
There are waterproof sling bags that are designed to keep shed rain and snow, but be wary of the claim ‘fully waterproof’. Most models do not function as a dry bag and are not 100% waterproof. Instead they are treated with a DWR water repelling coating that sheds rain. This works well in light precipitation, but don’t except your stuff to stay dry if it’s left out all night in the rain.
Some options also come with a built in rain cover, such as the Lowepro Slingshot Edge 150 AW Camera Bag, which is fully waterproof to protect your camera gear.
Most one shoulder backpacks are incredibly packable given their smaller size and minimal material. If you want a more packable option choose one that is easily foldable and constructed without a rigid or bulky design.
This is a great option if you want to sling backpack that you can easily store away in your luggage in transit to your final destination
The Bottom Line
Sling backpacks are ideal for anyone that wants a versatile and comfortable way to carry everyday essentials while traveling or daily use. They are the perfect alternative to a daypack or anytime you don’t want to carry a two strap backpack.
I prefer to use them when I want a way to quickly access my gear, such as my camera, wallet, or anything else without having to remove my whole pack.
There are tons of sling backpack options out to choose from. These are just some of my top recommendations to look at when comparing bags.
If you are looking for the best sling backpack for travel, take a look at the Pacsafe Metrosafe.
For a camera sling bag that keeps your DSLR secure I like the Lowepro Slingshot.
If you’re on a budget, the OutdoorMaster Sling Bag is a great option that offers all the features you need, but won’t break your budget.