The Best Sling Bags for a Lighter, More Compact Carrying Option

Sling bags offer one of the best ways to carry gear and supplies. Their single strap design makes them easy to put on and take off, while giving you the option to carry it on either shoulder or across the body for better weight distribution. You can also slide the bag from your back to the front without taking the whole thing off, making it easy to retrieve items without having to make a stop. Plus, you can move around with both of your hands free, which can prove very important for folks who have a busy day ahead of them.

The best sling bags are way more comfortable than your favorite backpacks, easier to carry than clunky duffels, and usually pack enough room to fit in what you need for the day. We’re particularly fond of them as an accessory bag when traveling, since you can fit in a good load of stuff without hampering how comfortably you can move around while exploring your various destinations. Sure, they can’t replace a large backpack for a day hike or a big duffel for boxing practice at the gym, but sling bags are ideal alternatives for those times when larger bags just feel a bit too overkill for what you need to have in your pack.

The best sling bags range in sizes from small EDC pouches to larger bags sized to fit a laptop and other gear, all while helping you organize your stuff by offering multiple pockets and compartments. Adjustable straps are a must-have for the best sling bags, along with a well-balanced design to ensure optimal weight distribution. We prefer our sling bags to offer water resistance, too, although the need for that will depend on where and when you actually plan to use them.

These are the best sling bags to comfortably carry your gear for the day.

Peak Design Field Pouch

Pros

  • Perfect for EDC
  • Can compact to 1.5L or expand to 3L
  • Nine internal pockets excellent for organizing

Cons

  • Might be too small for many people
  • Not the best carrying strap

For those who need a small sling bag, this 3L pouch offers enough room for a small stash of everyday gear. It’s great for organizing, too, with its eight stretch pockets and one zippered pocket, all situated inside the main compartment. Made from a 400D poly-coated nylon canvas, it’s both durable and water-resistant, complete with a roll-top closure to keep moisture from coming in through the opening. We’re surprised at the amount of things we can actually fit inside the erstwhile limited space, which was helped significantly by the number of pockets it offers. It’s designed with a removable strap, which was done so you can shrink the bag to an even smaller 1.5L for whatever to organize small items in your luggage or backpack. As a result, the strap isn’t the most comfortable, but it’s comfortable enough, considering the bag never really gets too heavy, since it won’t fit that much stuff.

Peak Design Field Pouch Accessory Pouch (Black V2)
  • IMPRESSIVE CAPACITY Rolltop hook-and-loop closure for easy access and expandable capacity Expands...

Tomtoc Navigator T24

Pros

  • Fits a 13-inch laptop and an 11-inch tablet at the same time
  • Lots of pockets both big and small inside and outside
  • Strap can be adjusted for wearing on either shoulder

Cons

  • Carry strap can slide around when you’re on the move

This sling bag almost looks like a mini-backpack, albeit with a single strap running across the middle. It’s a sleek look that we really like. Armed with 7L of capacity, it’s large enough to fit a 13-inch MacBook pro in a dedicated laptop compartment, along with an 11-inch tablet inside the integrated tablet pocket. There’s two other smaller pockets in front of that sized for wallets, smartphones, and external hard drives, as well as pouch sized to hold a 650ml bottle and a zippered pocket on the other side for a good deal of organizational options. Outside, it offers a vertical zippered pocket out front and a more discreet zippered pocket in the back. We love the fact that you can adjust not just the length of the sling strap, but also orient it to the left or to the right to make it more suited for carrying on either shoulder. Other features include protective padding for the laptop compartment, padded back panel for comfort, and a water-resistant build.

tomtoc Compact EDC Sling Bag for 13-inch iPad Pro...
  • An EDC Sling: Combining minimalist modern urban aesthetics and functionality, the Navigator-T24...

Kavu Original Rope Sling Pack

Pros

  • Spacious main compartment and big secondary compartment
  • Easy to access on the move
  • Rope shoulder strap is surprisingly comfortable

Cons

  • Hard to use when worn over the left shoulder
  • No internal organization

We love the number of design options available for this sling pack. They offer a whole lot of fun patterns, too, making it great option for those not too enthused with humdrum bags in the same solid colorways. It’s built from the ground up to be worn sling-style over the right shoulder, with all the design elements oriented towards that position. As such, the main compartment is accessible from a zippered opening in the left-hand section of the bag, which contains a zippered pocket inside for organization. Front and center, it gets two small pockets (one hook-and-loop, one zippered) for gear you want on easy access, while another vertical zipper is offered on the right-hand side for access to a secondary large compartment (not as big as the main one). It accommodates a total 10L of gear, by the way, so you can carry a good load of stuff on this thing. We love the rope shoulder strap, which is surprisingly comfortable, as well as the 600D polyester construction, which offers enough water-resistance to keep your gear dry during everyday use.

KAVU Rope Sling - Compact Lightweight Crossbody...
  • Durable and Vibrant Fabric: Made with a high-quality 600D polyester that is both water-resistant and...

Calpak Terra Sling Bag

Pros

  • Wide profile accommodates long objects
  • Easy-to-access main compartment
  • Compression straps outside for carrying extra gear

Cons

  • Might be too wide for some people

This sling bag has a wide profile (15-inch width) that makes it ideal for accommodating longer items like bottles and tripods, making it an excellent travel companion, whether you’re sightseeing or going on a short hike. According to the outfit, they styled it like a fanny pack, which explains the wider profile, albeit with a crossbody strap in place of a hip belt. We love its easy, comfortable fit, which makes it easy to get around even with a fully-packed main compartment, as well as the top access compartment that makes grabbing stuff on the go really easy. It has internal pockets for organizing and nylon compression straps outside to hold items that won’t quite fit inside the main compartment, while a top handle and a 61-inch long adjustable strap round out the carrying options. It’s made from 11 recycled plastic bottles, by the way, with a TPU coating on the exterior for waterproofing.

Buy Now – $74

Bellroy Lite Sling

Pros

  • Built-in gusset expands with more stuff and compresses with less
  • Basic organizational options
  • Highly water-resistant

Cons

  • Could use some more pockets for organizing small gear

We’re big fans of the simple elegance of Bellroy’s products and that doesn’t change with their lightweight sling bag. It has a 7L capacity, so you can squeeze in a decent load of gear inside, with an expandable gusset that automatically compresses, so it can have a more compact profile if you don’t need to fit in that much stuff. The main compartment, whose zipper opens from end to end, has a raised pouch that’s perfect for holding sunglasses and a slip pocket for organizing small items, while padded paneling on the back ensures comfort the whole time you’re wearing it. Not only does it use a water-resistant recycled fabric, it also uses water-resistant zippers, so it can handle even more torrential downpours. Other details we like include a magnetic clasp on the strap that makes taking the bag off easy, a zippered front compartment, and an integrated loop sized to hold a bike light if you want to wear it during rides.

Buy Now – $89

Chrome Industries Kadet

Pros

  • Wide profile allows it to carry longer items
  • Stabilizer strap keeps the bag pretty steady even when you run

Cons

  • Might be too wide for some people
  • Not much organization options

Now, this is a wide-profile bag, measuring 16.5 inches from end to end, making it great for those who need to use a sling bag to carry longer gear. It has a 9L capacity, so you can fit a full change of clothes here with some room to spare, so long as you don’t pack any extra shoes (that would be too much). Do note, that same wide profile might make it a bit awkward to carry for folks with smaller frames, so keep that in mind if you’re considering this one. The main compartment has a few pockets for organizing gear, but most of it is open space, so it’s not that great for organizing, while a secondary compartment out front lets you keep some items within easy reach. Our favorite part of this bag is the stabilizer strap, which lets you lock it in at the shoulder, so the bag stays in place even when you run. Other nice features include a holster for a U-lock in the back, quick release strap buckle for easily taking off, and 1050D nylon construction.

Chrome Kadet Nylon Black/Aluminium 9 L
  • VERSATILE AND STYLISH - The Kadet Sling Messenger Bag is a versatile and stylish choice for...

Patagonia Atom Sling

Pros

  • 2000s styling will make you nostalgic
  • Spacious main compartment
  • Comfortable padding on both the back panel and strap

Cons

  • Not much organization options
  • Sporty aesthetic might be tacky for some (not for us, though)

If you like a more sporty aesthetic for your sling bag, this one definitely does the trick. Heck, it looks like a sporty sling bag straight out of the 2000s. Equipped with an 8L capacity, this bag lets you pack a decent load of gear for the day, The main compartment has a padded pocket sized for a tablet, although the rest of the space is, pretty much, open, so you’ll have to handle your own organizing. Outside, there’s a zippered pocket for things you want to keep within easy reach. We love the padding on the back panel and shoulder straps, by the way, which make this really comfortable to carry. Do note, this actually might be a design from the 2000s, since it’s also designed to be worn over the right shoulder, much like the original sling bags from that era.

Sale
Patagonia Unisex Atom Sling Backpack (Pack of 1)
  • Large, zippered main compartment with padded pockets inside

Mission Workshop Spar

Pros

  • Fits a 15-inch laptop, which is amazing for an 8L bag
  • Convenient zippered side-access for the main compartment

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Not much organization options

Another sling bag that looks like a backpack, this one can fit a full 15-inch laptop, making it usable as an everyday work bag. Despite the fact that it can fit a sizeable laptop, it actually has just 8L of capacity, so it’s still a heck of a lot more compact than your typical backpack. We love the overall profile, which we find to be very comfortable to carry, especially since the strap actually does an impressive job of balancing the weight while you’re on the move. The main compartment is spacious, but it doesn’t offer a lot of organizational options, so you’ll have to figure out how to organize your gear in other ways, especially if you’re bringing a lot of accessories along with that 15-inch computer. With that said, they do make accessing the main compartment easy with a zippered side entry, so you don’t have to fiddle with the buckled flap while you’re on the move. Other features include a weatherproof construction (complete with YKK Aquaguard zippers), microfleece-lined main compartmnet, and a padded back panel.

Buy Now – $305