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Sling bags. You’ve seen them on the metro, on the trail, in the airport, and virtually anywhere one might tote around the essentials (phone, key, wallet, etc.) in a compact manner. But what exactly is a sling bag? A sling backpack, a shoulder bag, a messenger bag, a crossbody bag, a fanny pack? Rather than pigeonhole this versatile piece of gear, it’s more accurate to categorize a sling bag as a general style of everyday carry bag instead of a specific type of design. Or better yet, think of it as a hybrid between a backpack and a fanny pack available in a range of shapes and sizes.
Bulkier than the average hip pack yet smaller and more streamlined than your trusted pack, a sling bag has room enough for the bare necessities and then some, which tees it up nicely for commuting, an after-work bike ride, or the perfect minimalist travel bag, not to mention everyday use. No matter the destination, a high-quality sling bag is designed to keep your valuables close and easily accessible so you can be ready for anything.
Here are the best design-minded sling bags for urban and outdoor adventures alike.
The 16 Best Sling Bags for EDC, Travel & Adventure
Hydro Flask’s version of a sling bag is more of a sling backpack or shoulder bag. It prioritizes hydration (shocker) with enough space for a 32 ounce water bottle, plus five internal pockets and mesh dividers to stash stuff like an iPad. There's a key clip too, and a snug fit and comfy back panel ensure it sits close to the body to stay put so you can move around with ease.
There are near limitless ways to carry a camera around while you're traveling. We've tested most of them, and for full days wandering around foreign locals, there's none better than Bellroy's Venture Sling 10L Camera Edition. The sling has two internal padded dividers that can protect a camera body and two lenses, or even multiple cameras, depending on your setup, and still maintain a low profile that's discreet and comfortable to wear. You can move the dividers out of the way for outings when you aren't taking photos too, and there are plenty of sleeves and pockets inside for accessories and small items. There's also a 9L version of the Venture Sling without dividers if your main camera is your phone.
A shrunken down version of its much-loved Borealis daypack, this lightweight sling backpack slash crossbody bag is for transporting items as big as a laptop or tablet around town and uses the exterior bungee storage system to manage any overflow. There's also a quick-access zippered pocket built onto the strap, which is a handy place to stash your phone when going hands-free during a commute. There's also a mesh pocket inside with a key clip. For a more urban style, check out its cute cousin, the Field Bag.
Love Fjällräven’s iconic Kånken? Wear this smaller version as a cross-body handbag, too. Made with the Swedish outdoor brand’s signature G-1000 fabric, this small sling bag is waterproof, durable, and with its unique patterns designed by artists, it’s as easy on the eyes as it is on the environment.
Maximizing hands-free storage in a minimalistic design, Monos’ chic vegan leather sling bag has one main compartment and three zippered interior pockets to keep things organized, plus a hidden zippered pocket on the back for your phone, wallet, or passport. You can also get it in nylon, and a variety of rich tonal colorways make it suitable for travel and your every day.
This ultralight and packable shoulder bag is designed with three spacious compartments and an internal stowaway pocket so it packs down into itself when you’re on-the-go. The outer shell is crafted from responsibly-sourced materials and recycled water bottles comprise its ripstop polyester fabric, all at a budget-friendly price.
Feature-rich and versatile, Moment’s Fanny Sling is a day bag made to stash small essentials and other precious cargo—a 35mm camera, specifically. Up to seven different adjustment points allows this bag to expand and shrink as needed, for a totally customized fit for every body. It's water-resistant, with a soft interior lining and an included microfiber cloth for cleaning glasses and camera lenses.
Made for climbing, ski touring, hiking, and beyond, this adventure-ready hip pack is durable and waterproof, with toggles designed to attach to any Klättermusen pack. Features include an adjustable webbing strap, cushioned back panel, and bungee cords for strapping down an unneeded layer. If you’re in the market for something equally as technical but more compact, check out their sleek Hrid WP Accessory Bag, too.
From day hikes to days at the festival, Osprey’s versatile crossbody bag slash sling backpack slash travel backpack combines technical features like breathability and durable materials made from recycled polyester in a simple, ergonomic design to securely store your stuff wherever you go. Features include two zippered pockets, one with an internal mesh pocket with key clip. It's also water-resistant.
Utilizing a bungee cord and ultra-adjustable straps, Janji’s run-specific shoulder bag and waist pack is designed to keep close and stay put as you move. Inside, there are multiple pockets, including one for your keys and credit cards, and a pass-through pocket fits a jacket or water bottle. Its wide webbing strap is highly adjustable, and as a bonus, this technical bag has a durable water repellent finish and reflective details for safety.
With eight-liters of storage, this sleek and athletic sling backpack has two parts: one roomy compartment on the back with two large zippered compartments, and a smaller zippered pouch on the front where you can keep small everyday essentials. There's enough space for commuting, but it's a solid choice for hiking or as a travel bag, too. (And don't forget about Patagonia's excellent warranty program, should you need it.)
If security is your priority, this crossbody sling bag has everything you need. Features include lockable anti-theft zippers, an RFID-blocking pocket, and a slash-proof Dyneema strap and durable materials throughout. But protecting your valuables isn't all this travel bag is good for—it's made of recycled materials and has PFC-free water resistance, too.