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So you’re thinking about getting a slingback. But after having a look around you have no idea which is the best sling backpack for you.
Or maybe you have no idea what a sling backpack actually is. And you’re simply trying to figure out whether a sling backpack is a good idea.
Well, you’ve come to the right place!
In this article, we’ll cover what a sling backpack is, why a sling backpack is useful as well as the best sling backpacks available.
So let’s get started.
What is a sling backpack?
A sling backpack, or sling bag, is a streamlined backpack that is worn across the chest or back with one cross-shoulder style strap.
A sling bag tends to be a triangular shape that sits close to your body with the strap connecting diagonally across. The strap will often have an off-center buckle. Due to the way the weight is distributed across the bag, it fits comfortably and stays put while on the move.
Because they are worn on one shoulder, sling backpacks tend to have smaller capacities to avoid straining the shoulder. Think of them as the middle ground between a full backpack and your pockets.
the Best Sling Backpacks
With so many sling backpacks on the market, it can be hard to find the best sling bag for you.
And that’s why we’ve done all the hard work for you and put together a list of the very best sling backpacks on the market. Whatever your needs we’re sure you’ll find the perfect sling bag in this list.
So let’s get started.
If you’re concerned about the safety then look no further than the Pacsafe Venturesafe X Anti-Theft sling bag. As the name suggests, this sling backpack is the ultimate security for your belongings.
All Pacsafe bags include lockable zippers, cut-proof fabrics, hidden compartments, and RFID safe pockets. When it comes to this sling backpack, in particular, you’ve got all these features plus a slash-proof carry strap.
- So if you’re traveling in areas where pickpocketing and theft is a concern then this is the best sling backpack you can buy. The Pacsafe sling backpack has two main compartments. The large back compartment features an organizer panel, with a tablet sleeve, pen holders, an RFID safe pocket, and a larger mesh zippered pocket.
And the smaller front compartment has a phone sleeve, a key clip, and another zippered pocket and a phone/small tablet sleeve inside.
Plus there’s an additional stretchy front pocket you can use to stash non-valuables such as a sweatshirt or rain jacket. Although this sling bag is not quite big enough for a laptop, it will comfortably fit a tablet alongside your other essentials.
What’s more, is that the single strap is perforated making this sling bag super comfortable even on hot, sweaty days.
The Pacsafe Venturesafe Sling backpack is perfect for people who want the functionality of a proper backpack without the added bulk. And this sling backpack is one of the safest bags that exist in the world.
- Best anti-theft technology
- Ventilated shoulder strap
- Multiple compartments & pockets
- Sleek design
- A little pricey
- No dedicated water bottle compartment
The OutdoorMaster sling bag is ultra-lightweight and easily packable, making it one of the best sling backpacks for travel.
This 12L sling backpack will fold down into a tiny pouch so you can stow it away without taking up too much space. It’s also very reasonably priced. The main compartment is spacious with a secret inner pocket for valuables. An external pouch provides additional storage and there’s a pocket for a water bottle on the side.
The comfortably padded shoulder strap features a useful front pocket where you can store your phone. The shoulder strap connects to the bag at the bottom with a hook, so you can effortlessly shift the bag to sit on your left or right shoulder.
You can also use these loops to attach the OutdoorMaster sling backpack to a larger bag or luggage.
The nylon material that makes this sling backpack so light and foldable also has a disadvantage. This sling bag is not so good at holding the shape with heavier items. For example, the pocket for the water bottle will sag significantly with a full bottle if the bag is not packed enough.
Despite its flexibility, this sling backpack is surprisingly durable. What’s more, is that OutdoorMaster offers a 6 months 100% satisfaction guarantee warranty. So you can always try out this sling backpack worry free!
- Lightweight & foldable
- Available in multiple colours
- Several pockets
- Big enough for day trips
- Not water-proof
- Doesn’t hold shape with heavier items
If you’re looking for a compact and water-resistant slingback then the Waterfly Chest Sling Bag is the ideal choice. This is the best slingback for outdoor activities such as hiking and cycling.
Waterfly have thought of everything when designing the storage options inside this compact bag. Inside this sling backpack are two main compartments.
- Both of which are large enough to fit a tablet. The front compartment is well organized with pockets of varying sizes to help you store those small, hard to find items that always seem to disappear into the bottom of your bag. The strap also has a secure space for your phone so you can stay hands-free. Plus there’s a water bottle pouch on the side.
Another great feature of this sling bag is that you can easily move the padded shoulder strap from right to left, depending on your preference.
- What’s more, is that the shoulder strap is made from breathable material so you won’t end up super sweaty with this sling bag. The Waterfly Sling Chest backpack is a convenient, compact, and comfortable sling backpack, ideal for everyday errands and outdoor adventures.
- Small & lightweight
- Comfortable & breathable
- Available in multiple colours
- Great value
- Not water-proof
- Could be a little too small for some
Patagonia is known for its high-quality and durable outdoor gear. And this sling backpack is no exception. If you’re looking for a long-lasting sling bag that incredibly comfortable even when you’re active then the Patagonia Atom is a perfect choice.
The asymmetrical harness is designed to sit perfectly around the body so it feels effortless to carry even on a long hike. Inside there are two different compartments for your everyday essentials.
Both are super easy to reach even when on the move. There’s also a padded sleeve ideal for keeping your tablet safe and secure. And lastly, there’s a small pouch at the front handy for storing items you want quickly such as your phone, keys, or sunglasses.
One of the best things about this sling backpack is the 2 compression straps on the outside. This means that no matter how much you decide to carry, the bag will always hold the contents nice and tight.
Plus the breathable mesh strap helps wick sweat away. So if you’re climbing, cycling, or hiking this sling backpack won’t leave you uncomfortably sweaty!
The Patagonia Atom sling backpack offers superior comfort and a secure spot for your valuables for any outdoor activity. And that’s why it’s one of our top sling backpacks!
- Compression straps hold contents secure
- Made from recycled materials
- Durable & long-lasting
- Great for outdoor activities
- Available in lots of colors
- Not fully water-proof
- No water bottle pocket
- Little pricey
The Meru Sling bag is stylish and comfortable. Made from high-quality cotton canvas with a padded memory foam strap, this sling bag looks great and is comfortable to wear all day long.
Despite it’s lightweight and compact design, the Meru sling bag is surprisingly spacious.
- There’s a large main compartment more than big enough for a tablet alongside other items, a smaller front compartment plus two outer pockets, ensuring all your essentials are easily accessible. Plus the best part is that this sling bag has two holes for you to thread your headphones through for music on the move.
And if that’s not enough, the Meru sling backpack comes with a lifetime guarantee. If you aren’t happy with it for any reason, at any time in the future, Meru will refund you – no questions asked! In terms of design, functionality, and quality this is one of the best sling backpacks on the market.
- Soft memory foam strap
- Made from 100% cotton
- Lifetime warranty
- Stylish & affordable
- Available in several colors
- Not water-resistant at all
- A little small for full-day trips
- No water bottle pocket
If you’re looking for a rugged outdoor sling backpack then look no further than the Maxpedition Kodiak.
- This sling bag is designed to withstand extreme environments and adverse weather conditions. You’ll easily fit everything you need for a full day outdoors and more in this sling backpack.
With a 23L capacity, the Maxpedition sling backpack is the largest on our list. The spacious main compartment has several pockets for organizing your belongings. There are also multiple external compartments, including a dedicated sleeve for your water bottle. This is also the only sling backpack on our list that is big enough for a laptop. Plus the webbing on the outside leaves plenty of space to attach additional gear.
- The well-padded shoulder strap is covered with breathable mesh making this sling bag comfortable even in hotter weather. However, the strap is fixed to the right side and you cannot switch it. This is probably the main downside of this sling backpack.
As the most spacious and durable on our list, the Maxpedition Kodiak is by far the best sling backpack for outdoor adventures. But if you’re looking for a more simple, everyday sling bag then we recommend one of our other options.
- Water bottle sleeve
- Large capacity
- Incredibly durable
- Fits a laptop
- External gear attachments
- Strap not reversible
- Only 2 color options
With all the best sling backpacks we’ve covered so far, our main focus was on efficiency and functionality. But we haven’t really mentioned style. And just because a sling bag is functional doesn’t mean it can’t be stylish as well. And that’s why our last sling backpack on the list is the Polare Cool Real Leather Cross Body Sling Bag.
If you want a sling bag that’s fashionable and efficient then this is the best sling backpack for you. Made from genuine leather, this bag is wonderfully soft to touch and looks incredible. Available in four different colors you can choose what best suits your style.
However, remember to keep real leather looking great, and lasting a long time you need to take proper care of it. Although arguably the best looking sling bag, the Polare Cool isn’t the most durable.
In addition to a fashionable design, this sling backpack offers multiple compartments. This includes a roomy main compartment, a smaller front compartment, a small zip pocket at the back, two zip pockets in the front and a detachable pouch. So you can easily store all of your everyday essentials and more in easy to access spots.
Another thing worth mentioning is that this backpack comes with a one-year quality warranty and lifetime customer service.
So if you’re looking for a super stylish and convenient sling backpack then look no further than the Polare Cool Cross Body sling bag.Pros
- Stylish design
- Great for organization
- 1-year warranty
- Available in 4 different colors
- Shoulder strap not moveable
- No ventilation or padding in the back panel
- No water bottle pocket
Why get a sling backpack?
So now you know what a sling backpack actually is and the best sling bags available, let’s take a look at why you should get one. To sum it up a sling bag is the ultimate travel companion. Here’s why…
Sling backpacks are perfect for day trip essentials.
Often you don’t have enough to make it worth lugging an entire backpack around. But you still require a few extra items that won’t fit in your pockets.
A sling bag is ideal for those extras such as sunglasses, camera lenses, sunscreen and, most importantly, snacks!
Sling backpacks are incredibly easy to access
To access everything in a traditional backpack, you have to take it off completely. Or by awkwardly balancing the bag off one shoulder whilst trying to not let the entire contents tip on to the floor. Whereas a sling bag is ridiculously easy to access. You literally sling it around to your front and the openings are right under your nose.
Sling backpacks are usually packable and lightweight.
Especially the sling backpacks designed for travel. So you can easily fit a sling bag into your main luggage without worrying about space or weight.
Sling backpacks are ideal for flights
Firstly, a sling bag is a great place to keep your pocketable items when transiting through airports. It’s much easier, and quicker, to toss your sling backpack through the security scanner than having to empty and refill your pockets. Plus you’re much less likely to lose something in the process.
Secondly, you can fit almost everything you need in-flight in a sling backpack. Most sling bags won’t need to go in the overhead compartments. So you can easily access your essentials whenever you want without having to bother the people around you.
Sling backpacks are the best of both worlds
A sling backpack combines the space and comfort of a traditional backpack with the convenience and safety of a messenger bag. They also still have lots of pockets, straps, and hooks without adding bulk.
Are sling backpacks comfortable?
When worn correctly with the strap across the chest, sling backpacks are very comfortable. With a sling backpack, the shoulder strap curves over the torso and distributes the weight evenly across the shoulders and back. Most people consider a sling backpack more comfortable than a messenger bag or traditional backpack, which can pull on the shoulders and neck.
Are sling backpacks bad for your back?
As with the majority of backpacks, if you carry a sling backpack correctly then it is not bad for your back. When a sling bag is carried loosely on one shoulder, the bag tends to slip off. To stop this happening, you’ll lift your shoulder slightly which will eventually cause pain in your neck and shoulder.
The correct way to carry a sling backpack is with the strap across the chest. When worn across the chest, the weight of the sling bag pulls the strap closer to the neck and stops it slipping off the shoulder. Therefore you don’t strain your shoulder or neck to keep the bag on.
Plus when a sling bag is across the chest, the weight can be supported by the hip and back, reducing the strain on the shoulders.
To Sum It All Up
Whether you’re on your daily commute, traveling to your next dive destination, or simply heading out for the afternoon, a sling backpack is a convenient way to keep all your belongings in place whilst still being easy to access. It’s the ideal companion for any liveaboard trip!
If you’re looking for a new sling backpack, keep in mind what you’re planning to use it for. Sling bags come in several different designs with a variety of different features. So pick the sling backpack that best suits your purpose.
Unfortunately, none of these slings bags are waterproof. So we don’t recommend them for all outdoor activities. If you’re planning to be in or around the water, take a look at our guide to the best waterproof backpacks.
Which sling bag did you choose? Let us know in the comments.
Alexa Worswick is a PADI and SSI scuba diving Instructor, recreational freediver and freelance copywriter. She first learnt to scuba dive in the UK aged 15 and has since travelled and dived in multiple locations across 3 different continents. After quitting her marketing job in London in 2016, Alexa is now based in Indonesia where she can pursue her passion for the ocean fulltime.