The Best Guide to Sling Backpacks for School, Work and Travel

If you are looking for an easy and secure way to carry around your belongings, a sling backpack is just what you need. Whether you want to keep important items safe with you or just want a bag for errands, this type of bag is for you. While these bags are rather popular, it can be difficult to find a guide to help you out when you want to choose the right one.

This is why we decided to compile a list of the important points ourselves. Here, you will find all of the elements that you will need to look for in a sling backpack. This way, you will not go wrong with your choice.

What to Consider When Deciding on a Sling Backpack

At first glance, a sling backpack can look rather simplistic and appear to serve just one purpose. However, this is not the extent of what this type of backpack can do for you. If you don’t understand all of the features and specifics of this backpack, you will not know how to make the right decision for you. In this article, you will be able to find all of the information that you require to make the best choice.

Sling Backpacks, Backpacks, and Crossbody Bags – What’s the Difference?

There are quite a few types of bags and backpacks available on the market. So, when a handful have similar names or features, it is quite easy to get confused about the function that each of them serve. So, the first thing that we shall look at is how a sling pack differs from a backpack and a crossbody bag – its closest cousins.

Now, a lot of sling backpacks look like the traditional school packs that you are used to carrying. The main variation here is that a typical backpack has two shoulder straps while the sling backpack has just one long interconnecting one. While both are worn on your back, the sling backpack is worn over just one shoulder.

The real confusion arises between sling backpacks and crossbody bags or backpacks. This is because the terms are often used interchangeably. The most obvious difference between these two bags is that the crossbody often hangs loose, near your hips. The sling backpack, on the other hand, is secured against your back.

Is a Sling Backpack Right for You?

The next point to ponder is whether or not a sling bag is right for you. Now, this type of backpack has numerous uses but it is not ideal for every situation. So, you will need to determine if it is right for what you have in mind.

The main advantages associated with sling backpacks is that they are easy and comfortable to carry. This is a backpack that you can carry for long periods of time without feeling the weight of it. Also, there are enough of sizes available to make sure that you can carry as much as you need to.

They also allow you to be more careful with your belongings, particularly when you are traveling through crowds or using public transportation. You can easily adjust the bag so that it is sitting on your chest rather than your back. This also means that you have easy access to your belongings at all times.

Of course, the design of the sling backpack limits just how much you can carry as weight. So, if you want to lug around a heavy load, this isn’t the bag for you. After only a short period of time, you are sure to feel the entire weight of your bag on your back.

Types of Sling Backpacks

There are several types of sling backpacks to choose from:

  • Urban Sling Backpacks: a great deal of sling bags fall under the umbrella of this category. These backpacks are lightweight, have a chic design, but also have plenty of storage options for various situations – school, work, errands, etc.
  • Sports Sling Backpacks: these sling bags are actually designed to take slightly heavier loads, such as small pieces of gear, etc. They are also quite comfortable to carry as the design has compensated for the additional weight that you may be carrying.
  • Heavy Duty Sling Backpacks: these backpacks are made from incredibly strong and durable materials. They are meant for more rugged terrain or use and are more likely to last for longer.
  • Photography Sling Backpacks: these backpacks have special compartments for your photography gear, allowing you to safely store it.


As mentioned, sling backpacks aren’t all that big. This is why they are typically referred to in sizes (XS, M, L, and XL) rather than liters. Still, for the purpose of clarification, here are some of the sizes that you can come across:

  • XS – S: these bags are all about carrying the bare minimum. There are incredibly lightweight and typically are enough for keys, phone, wallet, and maybe a book.
  • M – L: most sports and urban sling backpacks are available in these sizes. These can carry sports gear, laptops, tablets, and similarly sized objects.
  • XL: bags of this size are used for shopping or even short trips. Due to how much weight they can carry, they are typically quite strong and durable as well.


Now, to move onto what these sling backpacks are made of. The most common materials that you will come across are polyester and nylon. The bags made from polyester are often quite light and they offer a certain amount of durability.

If you are planning on putting your sling backpack through the works, though, nylon may stand up better to use. In particular, ripstop nylon will work best for most hardwearing backpacks. This material is abrasion resistant and will prevent tears from spreading throughout.

If you will be carrying digital devices or cameras in your backpack, then you will need to protect these from moisture and rain. Here, you will need to look for water resistant bags as they aren’t really any sling backpacks that are truly waterproof. Either nylon or polyester that has been covered with substances that have been labeled as being durable water repellent or DWR will do.

Suspension System

It is important to pay attention to the suspension or carrying system on the sling bag as there is just one strap involved. This one strap will need to distribute the weight of the backpack as evenly as possible. So, you should look for a strap that is slightly wider. Now, there aren’t really sling backpacks specifically for men or for women. However, if you are a woman with narrow shoulders, you should look for a strap that has a width that fits your width.

The strap should be well padded so that the weight is easier to bear. It should also have an adjustable feature. This will ensure that the backpack will fit securely to your back and will not move around as you walk.

You should also check that you can switch sides while wearing the backpack. Ideally, you should be able to wear this backpack over either shoulder comfortably.

Storage Features

Now, the storage features that you will require depends on how you will be using the bag. If you just need a bag to take with you while you go shopping or run errands, you aren’t going to require a lot of organization. Here, you will not need more than a few internal and external pockets.

On the other hand, if you are looking to keep laptops, tablets, or documents in your backpack, then you may want to consider several compartments. It will help if the backpack has sleeves that are specially fitted for a laptop or tablet. This way, your digital device will be kept secure as you walk around.

If you will be storing a camera and accessories, then you will need structured compartments or pockets. These will keep all of the parts and pieces in one place so that they will not get damaged while you are in transit.

Additional Features

Here are a few other features that you should think about:


Are you looking for a quick and easy way to store your backpack or carry it while it is not in use? If so, you may want to search for a packable sling backpack. These fold into themselves or can be folded and placed in an external bag. This feature makes this a great go-to bag while exploring or if you need an emergency bag.


It can be quite helpful to have a backpack that has hydration features. A sling backpack can have one of two hydration elements. The first is a simple mesh pocket on the outside, one which can fit bottles of most widths and heights. The other is a pouch that can store a hydration reservoir and that has a drink tube of sorts attached to it.

External Loops

These are quite often found on heavy duty or tactical sling backpacks. Since most sling bags are quite compact and don’t have much internal capacity, you have to look to the exterior to carry larger pieces of gear. If this is something that you require, you should look for lashings and loops on the outside where you can attach these items to.

Best Way to Carry a Sling Backpack

It is important that you know the best way to pack and carry a sling backpack. This is how you will be able to shoulder one for longer. The first thing to remember is that you should avoid putting more in the bag than is strictly necessary. This means not putting more than a few pounds in your bag, even if there is room for more. Now, when you do pack this type of bag, you should make it a point to place the heavier items on the bottom. This suits the curve of your back better.

The reason that it is a good idea to consider a backpack that has a switchable strap is because it is vital that you switch shoulders. This is particularly true if you will be carrying the bag for a long time. By switching sides, you will be able to avoid putting too much strain on one shoulder.

There you have it, all of the points that you need to consider before you go ahead and buy yourself a sling backpack.

Top 10 Best Sling Backpacks

1 – Tenzing TX 11.4

Tenzing TX 11.4 Sling Backpack Polyester
  • Shooter Friendly single strap design
  • Ultra-soft and quiet Tricot Fabric
  • H20 Compatible (2 Liter)
  • Channeled, Air-cooled back pad
  • Custom Bow sling hook

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Tenzing TX 11.4:

Reviewers like these things about the Tenzing TX 11.4

  • Most of the buyers considered the bag as extremely comfortable.
  • Other buyers said that the sling design fits comfortably on either of the shoulders.
  • Reviewers mentioned that access to all the compartments are quite easy.
  • Few reviewers said that the design of the bag has got a nice appeal.
  • Buyers said that the bag is quite lightweight.
  • Some buyers mentioned that the side pockets of the bag are of great help and can be used to hold water bottle also.
  • Users said that the ergonomic padded shoulder strap of the bag are quite comfortable.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A user mentioned that the top handle of the bag is fragile.
  • Some users felt that the bag is overpriced.

2 – KAVU Rope

KAVU Rope Sling Bag
  • Pockets: 1 zip, 3 exterior
  • Pockets: 1 interior zip, 3 exterior

Here’s what the reviewers think about the KAVU Rope:

Reviewers like these things about the KAVU Rope

  • Some users said it’s super sleek and has storage galore.
  • Many users love how the main compartment hold books or school stuff.
  • Others find the internal and external zip pockets perfect for makeup, cash or phones.
  • Some users find the straps durable but super soft and easy to throw and go.
  • Many users are amazed with how each rope strap is color matched to each unique color or print.
  • Some users find it ideal for school, hiking, rafting or whatever they like to use it for.
  • Many reviewers adore its sleek, comfortable teardrop shape that’s designed to snuggly fit the body.
  • Some owners find the two vertical interior zip compartments are perfect for books, bottles, or cameras.
  • One user said the Kavu Rope is the nicest way to get around and stand out.
  • Others find it great for commutes by bicycle.
  • Many users like its water resistant fabric and holds its shape better.
  • A lot of users said it’s comfortable to wear and great for travel.
  • Some reviewers find it very roomy for a grab and go bag.
  • Others find the patterns very pretty and doesn’t get dirty easily.
  • Some users recommend this bag for mom on the go looing for a stylish and roomy bag.
  • Other users find it great for running errands or going out for casual lunch.
  • Some reviewers thought it has awesome zippers that secure all their valuables inside the bag.
  • Many users love how they can slung it across their back where the bag falls securely against their side or slung across their front where it falls securely against the stomach.
  • Some users refer to it as their go-to for daily chore running.
  • Some reviewers find the side buckle on the strap a nice feature.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Some users find the fabric a bit stiff.
  • Others thought the zippers are in the awkward spot in the bag.

3 – Kavu Paxton

KAVU Women Paxton Pack Backpack
  • Pockets: 2 slip, 1 zip, 2 exterior

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Kavu Paxton:

Reviewers like these things about the Kavu Paxton

  • A reviewer thought that the Kavu Paxton bag is attractive and well-designed.
  • Users mentioned that its colors are perfect.
  • Reviewers pointed out that it has a hidden pocket that lies on the shoulder.
  • According to some reviewers, it has a second large compartment available for smaller items.
  • Other reviewers noted its canvas/cotton material.
  • They also noticed that its look is cleaner and less bulky.
  • Some users recommend its use for people on the go who have a few extra things to carry, or who would prefer to be hands-free.
  • Others noted that it does comfortably fit a few diapers, wipes, snacks, wallet, and other stuff.
  • Testers said that it’s very comfortable to wear.
  • Several reviewers indicated that it has the right amount of pockets to fit everything needed.
  • Another user thought that the bag’s rope shoulder strap fits perfectly and feels great.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A reviewer thought that the bag’s second large compartment is a little difficult to reach while wearing.
  • A few other reviewers noted that its design has some flaws.

4 – Vertx EDC Commuter

Vertx EDC Commuter Bag
  • Orbital strap design for fastest back to front transition
  • Four exterior zip pockets

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Vertx EDC Commuter:

Reviewers like these things about the Vertx EDC Commuter

  • Some users love how it offers space for weapon’s compartment for concealed carry.
  • A lot of users are pleased that it comes with 4 sections for textbooks, weapons, laptop and other items.
  • Some reviewers like its anti-rip type nylon fabric.
  • Many users find the orbital strap design of this bag very unique.
  • A lot of users thought the main pockets are oriented on the side of the bag for easy access while wearing the bag.
  • A number of owners love the presence of zippered flap that can be tucked away, revealing a molle panel, as well as contains two buckle/loops that can be attached to the rear bag for carrying a jacket, or helmet.
  • Some owners thought the best part about this bag is the extremely rapid access to the CCW.
  • Other users particularly like how the pull tab hangs in a very accessible area.
  • Many users thought the efficient design of this compact bag, gives them full carry options as well as the simple grab-and-go capability.
  • Some users like how the zipper system makes it easy to get into compartments.
  • Other travelers though the orbital rotation makes it convenient on public transport.
  • A lot of users refer to it as a high quality, rugged and well thought out sling pack.
  • Some reviewers said that the optionsnwith storing and quick access to gear is limitless.
  • Others love its flexible compartment and excellent workmanship.
  • Many owners find it rugged, tough, and a great concealed carry setup.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Some users are disappointed with the lack of water bottle holder.
  • Others find the stitching of the strap poor.

5 – Maxpedition Sitka Gearslinger

Maxpedition Sitka Gearslinger
  • Main compartment: 16.5" high x 8.5" wide x 3" thick with internal organization
  • Top front: 7.5" wide x 4" high x 2" thick with internal organization
  • Bag can be worn in front and contents comfortably accessed while sitting down
  • Compatible with 100oz hydration reservoir
  • Top and side handles

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Maxpedition Sitka Gearslinger:

Reviewers like these things about the Maxpedition Sitka Gearslinger

  • Many reviewers highly recommend Maxpedition Sitka which is a single shoulder backpack designed to maximize utility when rotated towards front of body.
  • Other reviewers mentioned that the bag can be worn in front and contents comfortably accessed while sitting down.
  • They also indicated that the bag has a main compartment and hydration compartment which can accept CCW accessories.
  • Users noted that the bag allows you to ‘swing’ the pack to the front while it’s still being worn.
  • Testers found out that the shoulder strap was designed to go over left shoulder for better weapon shouldering.
  • Other testers also mentioned that the bag is practical and fully functional.
  • Several users indicated that it has top and side handles which offer numerous alternative carrying positions.
  • Other users noted that the bag is made from durable materials.
  • Users have found that it is comfortable to use even for hours.
  • Other users mentioned that it can also be a gym bag where you can put all your essential gym items.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A reviewer noticed that the bag can’t secure your things properly.
  • Another reviewer noted that since it only has one strap, it slides easier from your shoulder.

6 – Vanquest Javelin 2

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Vanquest Javelin 2:

Reviewers like these things about the Vanquest Javelin 2

  • Many reviewers commend the Vanquest Javelin pack for its asymmetrical design safely stores the gear upright and sideways.
  • Reviewers praised organization capabilities of the bag, and everything is easy to find.
  • Testers pointed out that the pack carries weight well.
  • Some users thought that the bag could hold a lot of gear.
  • Reviewers noted that it is made of tough materials.
  • Other reviewers felt that the bag is a great all-around pack.
  • Reviewers pointed out the presence of a shoulder strap with denser foam padding.
  • They noticed that it is well thought out.
  • Several testers also indicated that it is compact yet roomy.
  • Other users found that it has a very high-quality stitching.
  • Testers pointed out that its extra-large S-zipper opening gives easy access to the inside.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A reviewer thought that its single shoulder strap is not reversible.
  • A tester said that the bag padding is not adjustable.

7 – Thule Crossover

Thule TCSP-313 Crossover Sling Pack, Black
  • Padded, top-load pouch holds up to a 13 inch MacBook Pro
  • Low-profile sling with an extra-wide, breathable strap
  • Great bag to hold all of your electronics and accessories

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Thule Crossover:

Reviewers like these things about the Thule Crossover

  • Most of the testers said that is an awesome pack with smart design and perfect for daily commuting and hiking.
  • Some testers also mentioned that the pack is lightweight and well constructed.
  • More testers said that the pack is roomy and can pack up with more gears and clothes for travelling over the weekend.
  • Some of the reviewers have said that the pack has lots of pockets to keep things organized for daily travel.
  • Few of the reviewers also said that the shoulder straps are well padded to provide more comfort for long carry.
  • A few travellers have also complimented the sturdy zippers of the pack.
  • Some travellers also mentioned that the cross strap in the front are quiet adjustable for provide extra comfort while travelling.
  • Most of the reviewers have said that it is the best functional and stylish pack they have used.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Many reviewers have complained that the pack is not water resistant and all their stuffs got soaked in light rain.
  • A few of the buyers said that the pack is a little expensive compared to other in the same range.

8 – LowePro Slingshot 200 AW

Lowepro Slingshot 200 All Weather Backpack (Black)
  • Sling style bag for carrying comfort and easy accessibility
  • Holds an SLR with mid-range zoom lens attached, 3-4 extra lenses, cables and accessories
  • Built in digital memory card organizer and micro fiber LCD cleaning cloth
  • Lowepro's patented All Weather cover to protect bag and contents from extreme weather, sand, dirt, etc.
  • Lifetime Warranty

Here’s what the reviewers think about the LowePro Slingshot 200 AW:

Reviewers like these things about the LowePro Slingshot 200 AW

  • Reviewers thought that the LowePro Slingshot is a great bag for quick access.
  • Other reviewers noted that sling includes two removable straps with quick-release buckles for adding capacity.
  • Users found that sits nice on shoulder and around body.
  • Many of the users said that body-side access to main compartment deters theft while you’re on the go.
  • Users indicated that the side access and utility of this were selling points.
  • Those who have used the bag noted that it holds what they want to carry.
  • Reviewers indicated that the bag is designed for smooth operation and extra security.
  • Testers said that it is very convenient to hike, take a shot while moving and continue without having to stop, unpack, shoot, repack and continue on.
  • Other testers also discovered that it is well-padded inside and on the strap.
  • Users thought that the bag is amazing and it is comfortable.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A user said that it’s so small that big lenses are a pretty tight fit in the camera area.
  • Another user noted that it cannot hold professional lenses.

9 – Pacsafe Vibe 200

Pacsafe Vibe 200 Anti-Theft Compact Travel Shoulder Bag, Black
  • Slim, comfortable and secure travel pack with anti-theft technologies built in; ideal for carrying everyday necessities on adventures abroad, around town, or as a handy carry-on
  • RFIDsafe blocking material built into a pocket in the main compartment helps protect IDs and credit cards from hacker scanning; padded iPad/tablet sleeve; two side stretch pockets
  • Lightweight, hidden eXomesh Slashguard stainless steel wire mesh embedded into fabric helps protect against slash-and-run theft
  • Smart zippers that interlock and can be secured to the Roobar Sport locking system, locking down the zippers and helping prevent pickpockets

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Pacsafe Vibe 200:

Reviewers like these things about the Pacsafe Vibe 200

  • Several users have commended the Pacsafe Vibe backpack is comfortable to use.
  • Reviewers thought that it is ideal for carrying daily necessities on adventures.
  • Users have noted that it was easy to access the components of the bag.
  • Many reviewers lauded its sleek and fashionable design.
  • Other reviewers indicated the presence of a blocking material helps protect things from being stolen.
  • Laptop users found it easy to store their gadgets due to a compartment dedicated to laptops.
  • Most of those who have tried the bag said that it has a lightweight design.
  • Testers commended the durability of the product.
  • Other testers thought that their things were protected well due to its slashguard stainless steel wire mesh embedded into the fabric.
  • Others complimented on the bag’s smart zippers which interlock, helping prevent pickpockets.
  • Reviewers noted that the backpack has several storage options for keeping belongings.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A user noted the zipper opening of the pack was not deep enough.
  • Another user thought that the lock of the bag was little complicated to maneuver.

10 – Mountainsmith Descent

Mountainsmith Descent Camera Pack, Anvil Grey
  • Sling pack with left shoulder strap carry and secondary chest strap for additional security
  • Clamshell access to main camera carrying compartment - Interior 14.25-Inch H x 10.75-Inch W x 5-Inch D
  • Accessory media pockets under the lid and front accessory pocket with key clip
  • Assorted webbing attachment loops
  • Lens case attachment point

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Mountainsmith Descent:

Reviewers like these things about the Mountainsmith Descent

  • Many users said that the materials and construction are top notch.
  • Most reviewers said that from zippers to water proofing the construction is amazing.
  • Many reviewers said that the bag balances well when slung across their body.
  • Many buyers said that it has a good capacity for a relatively small bag.
  • One great feature mentioned by many users is that it has an extra securing latch and strap which add a level of security not found in a lot of bags.
  • Many photographers said that it comfortably fits a camera with zoom lens, two other shorter lenses and chargers for all of that stuff.
  • Reviewers agreed that it holds everything so well and not just camera/photo gear.
  • Many users said that the stabilizing strap keeps everything in place no matter what they are doing.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Some users said that when loaded the single strap didn’t have enough padding to make it comfortable.
  • Some users said that the front compartment was a little small.

Selected reviews

Life In The Saddle reviewed the Thule Crossover

For me, this is the ultimate hand luggage solution. I can walk or ride to the station with the bag on my back, then use the wheels to reduce the strain whilst walking around the airport or on location. With weighty equipment like a laptop and camera, it really comes into its own compared to a standard rucksack.

Posted 8 February 2018 by Tim Wiggins – Read full review

Her Packing List reviewed the Thule Crossover

Even when full, I can easily carry this up the stairs in subway stations and put it in the overhead bin. The variety of ways to carry it also helps Im on the short side so its easy to carry with the duffel straps. Honestly, when in a dire situation, I even use the duffel straps like a purse. Love the options.

Posted 5 July 2017 by Ali Garland – Read full review

Life In The Saddle reviewed the Thule Crossover

To sum up, this is a fantastic bag for travelling abroad, or to long race weekends. Good luggage isn’t cheap, but this bag provides value for money in my opinion; promising to carry your kit to its destination safely and comfortably, for many seasons of racing.

Posted 9 April 2017 by Tim Wiggins – Read full review

About MightyGoods

Here at our site MightyGoods, we have checked thousands of reviews in order to build the biggest directory of backpacks, luggage, handbags and lots of other bags.

So far we have checked more than 2,1 million reviews!

Using our bag review summaries, we aim to help you find the perfect bag without having to spend a lot of time reading an endless list of reviews.

Last update on 2018-11-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *