Sling backpacks are handy and versatile and, for someone who travels light, a real lifesaver. There are many options and models out there, suited to different uses and types of activities. Some are made for hikers and campers, others for urban settings, and still others would allow you to conceal a handgun or two.
There are many things to consider when buying a sling backpack. Keep reading for a buyer’s guide and our reviews of the top candidates for the best sling backpack of 2021.
Best Sling Bag 2021 Comparison Chart
Below is a comparison chart of our picks for the best sling backpacks; which are mentioned in this article.
You can then read our sling backpack reviews below featuring some of the best sling bag for travel and home options.
15.3 x 7.5 x 3.5"
11.8 x 4 x 17.7"
20 x 11 x 3"
7 x 2.8 x 13.8"
12.5 x 4 x 18.5"
10.2 x 13.6 x 4.4"
8.3 x 4.3 x 10.2"
12 x 9.5 x 6"
7.1 x 0.8 x 14.5"
Our Pick for The Best Urban Sling Backpack
in our opinion, the best urban sling backpack class overall is the NeatPack Canvas Sling Bag. This spacious sling backpack is a great option for urban traveling and commuting. It is big enough to house a smaller laptop computer and all other gadgets and essentials that you might need during the day.
This canvas backpack sports a stylish modern design. The length adjustable strap can be attached to either side of the backpack.
Our Pick for The Best Outdoors Sling Backpack
In our opinion, the best outdoors sling backpack of 2021 is the OutdoorMaster Sling Bag. This unisex backpack is made of lightweight yet exceptionally sturdy materials.
The main compartment is among the biggest in its class. The additional pockets and water bottle holder are handy and well secured.
You can wear it on either side, as well as on the back or across the chest. This sling backpack also features sturdy metal zippers, buckles, and D-rings.
Our Pick for The Best Tactical Sling Backpack
The TravTac Stage I Tactical Sling Pack is, in our opinion, the mother of all tactical sling backpacks. It is made of 900D nylon and big enough to conceal large items with ease.
The Stage I bag has molded metal zipper pull tabs and compartmentalized pockets. It is sturdy and resilient and capable of taking a lot of punishment.
Finally, its ambidextrous construction allows you to wear it on the left or the right side.
How to Choose Best One Strap Backpack in 2021
Find below all the info you need in order to be able to choose the right sling backpack for your needs and situation.
What Is a Sling Backpack?
A sling backpack is a backpack with only one instead of two shoulder straps. This may limit the carrying capacity of the backpack toward lighter loads. The material is often nylon, polyester canvas, or cotton.
A sling backpack would have one main opening, perhaps with multiple compartments, and several smaller pockets on the outside. It is not uncommon for a sling backpack to have a mesh water bottle holder.
A great thing about sling backpacks is that you can wear them pretty much any way you want to. All models have adjustable straps that can be attached to either side of the backpack. The standard options include over the shoulder and across the chest. Some smaller models can also be worn as fanny packs around the waist.
Sling Backpack vs. Hiking Backpack
The main difference between a sling backpack and a standard hiking backpacks is in the shoulder strap count. While the sling models have only one, regular hiking backpacks have two.
This means that hiking backpacks can take on heavier loads, especially if they feature frames and other structural reinforcements.
On the other hand, a sling backpack is for when you only want to pack the essentials. A sling backpack, even one that’s made for outdoor activities, can be limited in terms of how much it can carry. Also, sling backpacks and bags are a good option for carry-on luggage if you’re flying.
How to Choose a Sling Backpack
When shopping for a sling backpack, there are several things you ought to take into consideration. First, you should inspect the materials and build quality of each pack on your shortlist. Then, you should look into the backpack’s size and capacity, as well as available pockets and storage options. Finally, you’ll want to consider the comfort and ease of use of each backpack.
Sling backpacks are mainly made of nylon, polyester canvas, and cotton.
By far the most common material in modern backpacks, including sling backpacks. Some tactical models may have 600D, 900D, or even stronger nylon. By the nature of nylon, these backpacks would have some semblance of water resistance.
b) Polyester canvas
While taking a backseat to nylon, polyester canvas is also a popular option. Canvas backpacks can sometimes be rip and cut-resistant. They’ll have to be coated for waterproofing, as canvas is inherently water resistant but not waterproof.
Cotton is the third most popular option. The material is comfortable to wear, breathable, and lightweight. However, it’s also easy to tear and offers poor protection from the elements.
The zippers, buckles, and D-rings are either plastic or metal. You’ll want to look for the latter if you care about high durability, though it’s easier for metal zippers to slip out of alignment. Vintage-style backpacks might have faux-leather details as well.
2. Weight and Volume Capacities
The weight and volume ratings of a sling backpack play a huge role in the selection process simply because you’re going to need something big enough for your needs. If you plan on packing only your phone, wallet, tissues, and such, a small sling bag might be the best option.
On the other hand, if you want to take your tablet or laptop with you, you might also need to pack a power bank, adapter, and other accessories. In such cases, a larger backpack would make more sense.
Finally, if you’re heading into the wild, you might want to go with a larger sling backpack, preferably one with metal hardware and a reinforced lining. The additional storage space would allow you to pack a battery light, extra clothes, a water bottle, and other necessities.
Regardless of the size, it is always a good idea to go with bags and backpacks that have multiple pockets. Concealed pockets are a nice bonus and the perfect place to hold your credit card, ID, phone, and other valuables.
3. Comfort and Ease of Use
When shopping for a sling backpack, you should aim for one that’s comfortable to wear and easy to use. Make sure to check whether the shoulder strap is padded and whether it has mesh on the inner side.
Also check whether the back is designed for heat dissipation and perspiration control. The shoulder strap should be attachable to either side and length adjustable.
Inspect the pockets for accessibility. You shouldn’t have any problems opening and closing them regardless of how you wear the backpack. Also, check whether the pockets are secure or prone to opening on their own. This is especially important if your backpack has vertical zippers.
Top 10 Sling Backpack Reviews
In the section below, you will find our picks for the top sling backpack reviews of 2021.
Hopefully, after reading this review, you will easily decide which sling is the best fit for you.
The MOSISO Sling Backpack is a simple and affordable solution for those who need a basic sling backpack for everyday use. It is compact, made of lightweight materials, and available in a wide range of color options.
This practical and compact backpack is 15.3 inches long, 7.5 inches wide, and 3.5 inches tall. The main compartment is spacious enough to accommodate an iPad Air or a Kindle tablet. It is closed with a sturdy zipper and secured with a plastic top buckle for additional safety.
You can store small items in the front zippered pocket, the non-zippered pocket between it and the main compartment, and a pair of side-mounted mesh pockets. The side pockets can accommodate small water bottles, napkins, and other quick access items.
The sling, like the rest of the backpack, is made of water-repellent polyester. The D-ring and hook are made of sturdy plastic. You can adjust the length of the sling from 18 to 36 inches. Finally, you can carry this backpack on either shoulder or across the chest.
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This one-strap backpack is lightweight, comfortable, and smartly designed. Moreover, it is very affordable and versatile. If you’re questing for an everyday one-shoulder backpack, you might want to check out the OutdoorMaster Sling Bag.
The OutdoorMaster looks like a typical urban-style sling bag. However, if you look closely you might notice sturdy metal zippers, D-rings, and hooks. This makes it a good choice for one-day outdoors trips. The best thing about it is that you can wear it on either shoulder as well as across the chest.
This backpack is compact and lightweight, tipping the scales at one pound. The entire backpack is made of nylon, including the sling. There’s also a breathable mesh on the back to minimize perspiration.
The main compartment is spacious enough to accommodate a big tablet or a small laptop. There are two smaller zippered pockets in front and one mesh side pocket. There’s also a hidden pocket within the sling for credit cards, money, wallets, and other valuables.
Seven one-tone colorways are available – Teal, Mocha Brown, Gray, Garnet Red, Dark Blue, Black, and Azure Blue.
One shoulder sling backpack is a good solution if you want to avoid the hassle of luggage and pack only the bare necessities. If you’re after an ultra-light and compact sling backpack, you should definitely give the Waterfly Sling Backpack a look.
It’s one of the smaller options out there and exceedingly light. The main compartment is 13.78 inches tall in the upright position. Though it can accommodate an iPad without problems, you should be careful not to pack exceptionally heavy items in it.
Owing to its asymmetrical design, those who wear it over the right shoulder should be able to access the pockets without taking the backpack off. On the other hand, lefties may have to take the backpack off to get whatever they need from the backpack.
The entire backpack is made of water-resistant nylon, including the shoulder strap. The zippers and hooks are hard plastic. The backpack’s main compartment has several smaller sections within, though the total capacity is 10L. One smaller front pocket, one bottle pocket on the side, and one phone pocket built into the shoulder strap complete the list of additional storage places.
If you’re on the lookout for the convenience of a sling backpack and you also want to stand out from the crowd, you might want to consider getting a rope bag. These bags use ropes for the sling so you’re going to have to do without the sling pocket.
With a KAVU Rope Bag around your shoulder, you’re bound to turn heads wherever you go, especially if you opt for one of the exotic colors. Those aiming at a more conventional look can choose from several one-tone options. Black, blue, teal, orange, and pink are available.
As opposed to the majority of sling backpacks, this rope bag is all cotton. This means that it’s more environment-friendly and won’t make you sweat as much in hot weather. The downside to this is the minimal protection from rain and snow.
The bag has a 20-inch tall main compartment that’s accessible via a vertical zipper at the center of the bag. There are also two additional front pockets for smaller items.
The Maleden Sling Bag is a very compact sling chest bag. It is made entirely of nylon and very affordable. The bag is great for everyday activities such as commuting, cycling, running, and more. You can also take it with you as your carry-on luggage. That being said, it probably wouldn’t be a good fit for camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities.
Both the bag and the shoulder strap are made entirely of scratch-proof nylon. Luckily, the back sides of both are equipped with mesh to improve air circulation and minimize perspiration on those hot summer days. Owing to its urban appeal, the Maleden Sling Bag is equipped with plastic zippers, buckles, and rings.
In terms of storage capacity, it is nothing to write home about, though the main compartment is pretty roomy considering the overall size of the bag. The main compartment can accommodate a small tablet such as an iPad Mini, while the front pocket is big enough for a standard-sized smartphone. There’s also another open pocket in the front and a zippered strap pocket.
Maleden offers this bag in several two-tone colors. The list includes black, green, blue, and purple.
The NeatPack Canvas Sling Bag is one of the larger examples of the kind. It is roomy, lightweight, and very comfortable to wear. Also, it sports some pretty advanced tech, as well as anti-theft features. If you’re up for a modern and stylish sling bag, the Calvas Sling Bag by NeatPack might be the one for you.
This sling laptop backpack is among the best options for urban use and traveling. Owing to its not-so-rugged construction, it might not be the best companion for the trail or camping.
The canvas material is a lot more breathable than nylon and polyester, but the Neatpack bag is not that great at protecting your belongings from moisture.
The backpack is 18 inches tall and 12.5 inches wide in the upright position. The main compartment can easily store an iPad or a smaller laptop computer. It’s divided into several sub-compartments and is accessible via a vertical zipper on the left side.
There are also two smaller front compartments for other important items, both zippered. Finally, there’s a mesh water bottle pocket on the right side and a surprisingly large smartphone pocket built into the adjustable strap.
Not every single sling backpack has to look like it was lifted off a sci-fi movie. In fact, it is quite refreshing to see a retro-themed model. This sling messenger bag by Leaper is there for those who want a practical sling bag with a dash of vintage styling.
The Leaper Retro Messenger Bag looks a lot like a schoolbag from an old movie or a children’s TV show. It is made of soft and slightly washed canvas with artificial leather details. Keep in mind that despite the metal buckles and rings, it is not meant for hiking and camping trips. Instead, it is a modern sling bag for life in the city or suburb.
The main compartment can easily accommodate a laptop and is accessed via a double zipper. There’s also a smaller pocket on the flap, equipped with a side zipper. If you unfasten the flap and lift it, you’ll see a pair of smaller zippered pockets. Another pair of buttoned side pockets complete the roster of storage options. Leaper offers this bag in a range of retro colors.
The TravTac Stage I Tactical Sling Pack is among the finest small tactical bags. It has 320 cubic inches of volume which is approximately 5.2 liters. The main compartment is roughly the dimensions of a letter-sized paper. The front pocket is small but spacious enough to hold a hand gun.
The Stage I Tactical Sling Pack is very similar to the TravTac Metro (of urban styling). Like the Metro model, the Stage I is made of a 900D fabric that’s lightweight, rip-resistant, and highly durable. The bag has very thick padding that’s great for carrying a concealed weapon.
Other than concealed carry, it is also suitable for all types of outdoors activities, such as hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, and others. The shoulder strap is made of 900D nylon as well. You can attach it to either side of the bag and it’s adjustable in length. There are no pockets on the strap. The bag also lacks a dedicated water bottle pocket.
The REEBOW GEART Tactical Sling Backpack is a rugged 600D polyester backpack equipped with hard plastic zippers, loops, and D-rings.
It’s quite large for a small tactical bag at 12” tall, 9.5” wide, and 6” deep. The main compartment, which is accessible via a sturdy zipper, is big enough to house an Apple iPad, a flashlight, gloves, keys, smartphone, and other essential items.
Additional storage locations include three zippered pockets in front, two at the bottom, and one on top. That being said, this tactical bag doesn’t have a water bottle pocket. A mesh pocket is found on the backplate.
The strap is length adjustable. There are no pockets on the strap. However, it does feature a pair of additional straps to minimize sway as you walk.
Fanny packs looked like they were done with and left in the past for good, except they’re making a comeback riding on the popularity of modern sling backpacks. Nicgid’s Sling Bag/Fanny Pack for Men is a hybrid between a sling backpack and a fanny pack.
Surprising for such a small bag/backpack hybrid, the Nicgid has a ton of pockets and storage compartments. The zippered main compartment is large enough to house an iPad Mini. Up front, there’s a smaller triangular pocket and a tiny buttoned pocket. Toward the upper side, there are two small zippered pockets. Finally, there’s also a zippered pocket on the back.
The bag and shoulder/waist strap are made of nylon. The strap is adjustable in length and devoid of a pocket. The bag, while durable, isn’t that good at protecting your stuff from the elements. Finally, Nicgid offers this bag in a range of solid and camouflage color options.
Verdict on the Best Sling Shoulder Bags
Congrats on making it to the end of our best sling backpack review. Hopefully you should know by now what you are looking for.
If not, we would definitely recommend the KAVU Rope Bag. It’s very spacious and can hold books in the two main compartments, with an internal and external zip for things like charger cables, smartphones or make-up. So, it’s definitely worth checking out.
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