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If you’re heading out for the day and need just enough room to carry some items but don’t want to be weighed down, a sling bag might be the best bet. Travel sling bags are a fantastic tool for those looking for a simple way to carry a few items you may need as you sightsee across Europe or spend a few hours hiking a trail.
These sling bags were a must-have accessory in the 1990s, but today’s versions are better quality overall, sleek, and more versatile to fit your specific needs. They’re smaller but durable, allowing you to distribute more of the weight of your gear across your back (or chest if you wear them that way!)
Everyone on our team has opinions on sling bags vs backpacks, and most of us love a good over-the-shoulder small bag. Here’s me wearing The Bond sling bag by Lo & Sons in Budapest. This was clutch as it fit my DJI Camera, phone, and wallet. It was a relief to be pocket-free finally.
- TL;DR: Our Top 3 Best Travel Sling Bags
- The Best Sling Travel Bags
- 1. Sherpani Esprit Sling Pack
- 2. Nouvelle
- 3. Atom Sling
- 4. Stealth Sling
- 5. Waterfly
- 6. Vera Bradley
- 7. INICAT
- 8. Kavu
- 9. G4Free Sling Bag
- 10. Osprey Daylite Sling
- 11. tomtoc Compact EDC Sling Bag
- 12. Bubba Seaker Series
- Pros and Cons of Using Sling Bags for Travel
- Tips for Choosing the Best Sling Bag
- Water Resistance and Waterproof Designs
- Fit is Important
- Pockets Are Great, Padding is Better
- Style and Function Can Work Together
- Is a sling bag spacious enough for traveling necessities?
- What features should I look for in a travel sling bag?
- What makes a sling bag best for travel?
TL;DR: Our Top 3 Best Travel Sling Bags
|Best all-purpose sling bag||Patagonia Atom Sling||Good for short hikes, airport layovers, ski slopes, and every day carry.|
|Top travel sling bag for women||Vera Bradley Women’s Mini Sling Backpack||Good alternative to purses and diaper bags, smart, practical, beautiful.|
|Top travel sling bag for men||Osprey Daylite Shoulder Sling Bag||Osprey style, functionality, and quality, lightweight, durable, and reasonably priced.|
The Best Sling Travel Bags
We’re cutting to the chase and giving you the lowdown on the best bags right now. The following is my list of the best travel sling bags for touring, sightseeing, and outdoor adventures.
The best sling pack for these trips must be durable, water-resistant, and easy to use. Read on for recommendations and purchasing tips!
- 100% recycled material that’s super lightweight
- Fits up to a 10″ tablet
- Two external zipped pockets, along with a zipped, fleece-lined pocket and breathable mesh pocket make for better interior organization
- Solid zippers that work reliably
Customers rave about this bag’s asymmetrical sling pack design that’s comfortable and easy to adjust. They also note that this bag is a superb choice for those who want ample space.
The Sherpani Espirit Sling Bag is a nice-looking, durable slingback that’s versatile enough to use on your back or across your chest, depending on your needs. There’s also an RFID lining within it so people cannot steal your credit card or other personal data from outside the back.
Also notable is the zipper pocket on the strap that’s perfect for your ID, a credit card, and some sunscreen. This anti-theft sling doesn’t look like it’s as durable as it is suggested. Nonetheless, it’s one of the cutest sling bags on this list, and you’ll love wearing it.
See Related: Types of Travel Bags for the Jetsetter
- Stylish, trendy crossbody bag
- Detachable, padded strap for comfort
- Nice size for everything you need with a front pocket perfect for your smartphone
- Made from sustainable materials, including vegan leather trim and recycled nylon
- Luxurious crossbody bag with a signature Jacquard lining
Customers love that this bag is ultra comfortable but stylish and luxurious enough for a formal night out. The hands-free design and the roomy interior make it versatile for school, work, or play.
The Nouvelle is a unique sling bag because it’s so versatile. I love that you can wear it to work out or on a sightseeing tour in France and then also wear it for dinner at a luxury restaurant. It blends well with anything you pair it with, making it an excellent choice.
Nice features include the attachable key leash, which makes it easy to keep your keys or earbuds within reach, and the durable, water-resistant nylon design. This stylish sling bag looks fabulous no matter where you are taking it.
3. Atom Sling
- An 8-liter sling pack provides ample storage in a compact design
- Made in a Fair Trade Certified factory
- Made with 100% recycled polyester and PFC-free DWR finish
- Nice, ergonomic design and single-strap harness
- Zippered front pocket with durable design
Those who purchased the Patagonia Atom Sling Bag love that this bag is so lightweight (about 12 ounces) and designed to be large enough for a few items. It also has tuck-away front straps, which allow you to strap your yoga mat to the front.
Our managing editor, Kim Magaraci, uses her Atom sling as her day pack on the ski slopes. She loves that it fits a phone, a collapsible water bottle, extra gloves, an extra buff, hand warmers, and snacks. She even took it dog sledding once!
The Atom is a versatile bag designed for busy people, from travelers to those on a mission to make their mark on the world. This sling bag has some great features, including an asymmetrical hardness that helps to hold the weight closer to your body, making it easier to carry around whatever you need for your day. You can choose from numerous colors too!
See Related: Best Personal Item Bags for Travelers
- Lots of storage with a 10-liter design
- Lighter in weight than other larger bags, making it more comfortable to carry more gear
- Water-resistant material makes it a great outdoor bag
- Features two water bottle spots and several D-rings for versatile use
Those using the Stealth Sling love the larger size, noting it’s big enough for a second pair of shoes and roomy enough for a tablet. It is also super comfortable, and wearing it for hours is possible.
This Fair Trade Certified factory sling bag has some key features, including integrated holsters that allow you to use it as a right-handed or left-handed person. It also has inside and outside storage pockets and an internal waterproof pocket big enough for your phone.
Durable nylon ripstop material keeps it in top shape. It’s comfortable enough to use to carry just about anything on one shoulder, and the internal multiple compartments allow you to stay organized while you do.
- Adjustable, reversible shoulder strap
- Hidden earphone hole
- Exterior pockets on the sides for water bottles
- Lockable zipper closure
- Numerous color options
The affordable price and sleek design of the Waterfly make it one of the best sling bags available. Customers love the outside pockets for sunglasses and other gear and the interior vertical pockets big enough for a tablet. The water-resistant design makes it great for most outdoor adventures.
The Waterfly is a simple, clean, fabulous sling pack that offers lots of room for most needs. This one-shoulder bag has a shoulder strap that can be adjusted anywhere from 31 inches up to 39.5 inches, offering lots of versatility.
The hidden earphone hole is a nice way for those who still use plug-in headphones to use them easily. It also has an adjustable, reserve shoulder strap design with three D-rings along the bottom to make it easy to take anything with you, from keys to a water bottle.
See Related: Best Travel Totes: Portable Bags & Carry-Ons
6. Vera Bradley
- 100% recycled polyester design
- Lightweight and water-repellent fabric
- Stylish slingback that works for most relaxed styles
- Crossbody bag design with two front zip pockets, a slip for a phone, and D-rings for keys
- Hidden zip pocket holds cards and money
This crossbody bag is stylish and comfortable, which doesn’t always go together—folks like the muted and simple texture and palate, which is both smart and unassuming.
This Vera Bradley crossbody sling bag is a versatile option that’s both lightweight and durable enough for hiking, shopping, professional use, or just going about your busy day. It’s designed to be water repellent, meaning it can keep items safe from moderate rain and a spilling bottle on the train or plane.
With decent carrying capacity, this everyday sling bag can even double as a short-term bag for your children’s gear. Use it as a mini diaper bag for a quick run into the store or dinner.
The main compartment is big enough for all of your changing needs, and the multiple pockets allow you to keep everything from hand wipes to pacifiers within easy reach. This makes it the best travel sling bag for moms (or stylish dads) who want one bag for all of their needs.
- Super affordable option for basic needs
- Zipper closure
- Made with synthetic leather
- Multi-use, including for those who need a fanny pack for biking, camping, sporting events, or other needs
Customers like this small crossbody sling bag for several reasons. It has pockets for your travel essentials, like an ID or passport, credit cards, and sunglasses. People are also pretty happy with the price, which is a bit of a steal.
The crossbody sling bag and waist pack design of the INCIAT makes it a simple carrying solution. It features two zipper compartments, four slots for credit cards, an interior pouch for water-resistant storage, and three D-rings.
The sling keeps the bag close to the chest or along the upper portion of your back. However, you can also wear it like you would fanny packs around your waist.
This ladies’ lightweight synth-leather bag is quite versatile for a night out to the movies or on your next trip across the country. It’s stylish, durable, and at a great price point, though it’s one of the smaller sling bags on this list.
See Related: Best Travel Duffel Bags For Your Next Trip
- 100% polyester design
- Water-resistant and durable
- Adjustable rope shoulder strap
- Multiple pockets to keep everything organized
- Padded strap and back for added comfort
Folks like this fun, compact, travel-friendly sling bag – perfect for weekend trips no matter where you are going. Many people mention how durable it is and does well in the rain. Customers love that it’s easy to use the adjustable shoulder strap with the rope design.
Unlike many basic sling packs, this one offers an adjustable rope shoulder strap, which makes it a bit easier to alter the size. It’s made from water-resistant 600D polyester to keep your items dry when caught in a rain shower or splashed at the beach. The sling bag has two vertical zip compartments and two key or cell phone pockets.
The polyester build helps to contribute to the overall durability of the material but keeps it nice and lightweight. It’s also perfectly suited for those looking for a sling backpack that fits their gear, including using it as a camera bag or hiking bag. You can hold everything from an iPad Mini to your keys and water bottle, especially with the zipped pocket and key clip on it.
- Protective RFID-blocking sling backpack
- Breathable pockets and design
- Has three main compartments with ample room for a small tablet
- Adjustable padded straps for comfort and good fit
- Multipurpose travel daypack
- A cheap alternative to small camera bags
The G4Free sling bag is a must-have for customers who want to protect themselves. It features an anti-theft sling bag design, which means it’s harder for people to steal your information.
Reviewers love a few things about it – its backpack-like design, two water bottle holder places, and lots of interior storage in the main compartment. There’s room in there for a change of shoes, your tablet, and a camera. All that and it’s still super lightweight.
The G4Free Sling Bag is a crossbody bag that can be used for indoor or outdoor needs, making it pretty versatile overall. It has adjustable straps with a range of 25.9 inches all the way up to 46.5 inches, providing lots of expansiveness with a tight feel when needed. The three main compartments, including the padded tablet sleeve to minimize bumps and damage, also help to make this a durable option overall.
- Superior workmanship and design of the bag
- Interior mesh organizer
- Zippered front panel and pocket
- Hardness stretch mesh pocket for easy access
- Lightweight, durable design that lasts
Osprey is a reliable brand, and favorable reviews reflect that. Customers know this is the best sling bag for back-facing use (though it can also be used for front-facing). It is an excellent hiking sling backpack because it has an extra room (with the six-liter design).
The Osprey Daylite Sling is an excellent option for those looking for a fun, lightweight, and durable option. It is one of the best sling backpacks for those who will use it often, such as those who hike quite a bit and spend their time on the go.
It has the organization sleeves needed to make staying on top of things easy. The key clip, anatomically shaped shoulder strap, and dual zip features make it simple. As one of the most durable travel sling bags we’ve tested, the Osprey Daylite Sling is a best-selling product for those who want an affordable, long-lasting option.
- Lighting and stylish design
- Made for minimalist style lovers who want simple
- Multi-functional with three storage compartments
- Comfortable, ergonomic design
- 12-month warranty
A stylish fit, many users of this travel sling bag love that it provides a quick access compartment and a multi-functional design.
The tomtoc Compact EDC Sling Bag is a little black bag you can put anything into. It features a YKK zipper for security, a lightweight design that’s big enough for a handful of items, and a three-compartment area for a Power Bank, Kindle, or other gear.
For those who want to be well organized, this bag works well for other purposes too. You’ll even have enough room for a Nintendo Switch and some extra gear.
See Related: Best Camera Bags for Travel
- Super roomy
- Water-resistant design
- Padded shoulder strap for comfort
- Multi-compartment design
- Perfect for the adventurer seeker who plans to hike, flyfish, or bike
Customers note the Bubba Seaker Series is excellent for wearing across their chest or along the back. It has a spacious interior and fits well while providing good access to pockets.
This bag was designed for people who fish, but it also crosses over to other outdoorsy hobbies. Designed for both men and women, the Bubba Seaker Series is a travel sling bag designed to do more than carry your gear.
It features loops for carabiner attachments, a fully waterproof interior pocket, and an EVA molded storage compartment. There’s even a storage space for your water bottle.
Pros and Cons of Using Sling Bags for Travel
Sling bags are a good option for many needs, but they’re more of an upgraded fanny pack with just enough room to bring essentials you need close to hand for a few hours. They’re a tough option for single-bag travel but have some undeniable pros.
- They are more lightweight and compact than a backpack or tote bag.
- Most are designed to provide hands-free functionality, unlike a traditional purse.
- Many have built-in security features. Plus, they are strapped to your body, making it much harder for anyone to pickpocket you or snatch your bag.
- Good sling bags are durable and can handle various wet conditions and wear and tear without damaging the strap or zippers.
- Most travel sling bags are very affordable. You do not have to spend much money on a fashionable, good-quality canvas sling bag.
- Many sling bags can be worn in a variety of ways: as an over-the-shoulder bag, hip pack, or a fanny pack/bum bag.
- They are smaller than other bags, so you’re not bringing a large tablet with you, leaving all of the excessive makeup and gear at home, and at best, you won’t have room for more than a thin jacket for weather changes.
- Some will have multiple pockets, but most are very small, allowing for a space to slip your smartphone in, a compartment for sunglasses, and just enough room for sunscreen or a wallet.
- If you carry too much in them, and the strap isn’t positioned well, they can stress your back and cause aching shoulders.
See Related: Best Travel Bags for Golf Clubs
Tips for Choosing the Best Sling Bag
When choosing a sling backpack or a belt bag, the key is to consider how you plan to use it. A good sling bag is versatile enough for many needs, but if you have a specific goal, you must ensure the product you buy fits it.
Water Resistance and Waterproof Designs
Not all bags are waterproof, though most sling bags are water-resistant. That means you can use this for touring when there’s a chance of rain, but unless it is a true waterproof bag, it shouldn’t be used for delicate items or for things like kayaking or fishing.
Pro Tip: If you are looking for camera sling bags, you need those with padding and waterproof designs.
Fit is Important
Some folks will jump on gendered bags as a political issue. However, body fit is incredibly important, especially if you are heading out on a long hike or looking to lug a good amount of gear.
A paltry 10 liters might not seem like a lot versus a traditional backpack of 30 liters, but it’s enough when it’s draped off one shoulder or hugging your hips.
The best sling will be designed to fit how your body is shaped, whether you have a larger upper body or a smaller one, and what your hips are like.
Most travel sling bags have an adjustable strap, but look at the actual inches. This is key to getting the right fit for any shoulder sling bag (you’ll be measuring from shoulder to hip) and any belt bag (measure around your waist).
Pockets Are Great, Padding is Better
Many sling bags will have a hidden pocket in the shoulder strap or numerous interior pockets to keep things organized. That’s great and can help to make your shoulder sling more versatile. But don’t overlook the padding.
Having a padded sleeve helps to make it more comfortable on your shoulder. Additional padding inside will help to prevent a drop from cracking your iPad Mini’s screen (been there, done that!).
Style and Function Can Work Together
As you consider your options, remember that you can have a fantastic-looking, highly durable, versatile bag. From color to material options, you can find the best sling purse or leather bag for a night out on the town and hiking in a rural mountainous area.
Is a sling bag spacious enough for traveling necessities?
That depends on your needs, but with the right bag, you may be able to carry all the travel essentials you need. Look for a sling bag that fits the way you use it. Options range from under 6 liters up to 10 liters, so finding something that will work is possible in most cases.
What features should I look for in a travel sling bag?
When choosing a travel sling bag, consider the material used, whether it is waterproof or water-resistant, the overall style of the fit, and the zippers. Locking zippers are great, but what’s even better is a durable one that will not become damaged. Look for D-rings, water bottle holders, and a fitted design.
What makes a sling bag best for travel?
Think about what you will be doing while traveling. For example, durable fabric that can handle the outdoors is a must if you’re hiking.
You can also look for those with RDIF protection in an anti-theft design. You may want to choose those with hidden pockets to keep your cards and money safe, too.
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- About the Author
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Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He’s a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he’d heard.
Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he’s learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.
He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time.