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The 14 Best Sling Backpacks for Travel in 2024 [Men & Women]

Amar Hussain's image
Amar Hussain
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Amar Hussain

Senior Content Contributor

789 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 63U.S. States Visited: 9

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications incl...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury


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With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now editor-in-chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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Sling backpacks are well-suited for trendy travelers, surf dudes, sun worshipers, and mountain climbers alike. Slinging your stuff over your shoulder has never been easier, and there are plenty of crossbody bags out there for you to choose from.

The Benefits of a Sling Backpack

Though a sling backpack will dramatically reduce the amount of useable storage space available compared to a standard backpack, it will still offer you a sleek, chic, and useful way to carry your belongings.

Sling packs allow you to keep your hands free and give you the option to wear it either across your body or close to your chest. You can adjust the shoulder strap to find your perfect setting, and padded and breathable back panels will prevent you from getting hot and sweaty.

These types of bags also offer super fast access to your belongings, and the lightweight design makes it easy to carry on long journeys and daily adventures. Some are even large enough to carry your laptop and other items with you, while others are only suitable for essentials.

Hot Tip: Sling backpacks are particularly useful as camera bags since they make it so quick and easy to access your camera. However, if you’d prefer to travel with a specific bag for your camera, here’s a great guide on the best travel camera bags.

Things To Consider With Sling Backpacks

Every sling-style backpack is different from the next. Available in a wide range of colors, styles, and sizes, the right sling is as stylish and practical as you are. Consider the following before making your decision:

Size and Capacity

Crossbody Bag Size and Capacity
Sling bags come in lots of shapes and sizes. Image Credit: Amar Hussain

Sling backpacks are more compact than a big backpack and have a much slimmer silhouette. With anywhere from 5- to 30-liter capacity options, the average sling backpack can hold around 8 to 10 liters of your most personal belongings on the move.

Crossbody Bag Pockets
Sling bags can have useful pockets for quick access. Image Credit: Amar Hussain

Part of the beauty of a sling is its streamlined look and sleek shape. The downside of the sling is that it will never hold as much as a regular backpack — so you shouldn’t expect it to. Designed to be much more minimalist, your sling backpack is there to carry essential items like your cash, coins, wallet, phone, noise-canceling headphones, and sometimes an e-reader or tablet.

Material and Durability

Crossbody Bag Material
Sling bags are usually made from durable and water-resistant materials. Image Credit: Amar Hussain

Sling bags need to look great and be built to last. For durability, choose a bag that is made from a strong, hard-wearing material such as canvas or heavy cotton.

If you are planning on heading out into unpredictable weather or considering a water-based adventure, you may want to look at nylon or PVC bags to help protect against water damage.

Bottom Line: Because of the way you wear the bag, the fabric will need to be smooth enough not to chafe and breathable enough to prevent sweat patches from forming on your upper body.


Crossbody Bag Comfort
Sling bags should have a padded strap for comfort. Image Credit: Amar Hussain

The key to comfort when wearing your sling backpack is to keep it light. Carry just a few of your most essential belongings, and you’ll have a load far lighter than over-stuffed backpacks.

But pack too much, and you will soon know about it! Unlike traditional backpacks, with a sling, the weight is not evenly distributed across both shoulders. This can lead to a sore shoulder on 1 side of your body if the load is too heavy.

Sling backpacks are designed to offer flexibility when wearing, but this means you lose some of the additional stability and support features that traditional backpacks offer. Waist belts, sternum straps, and other load-relieving elements are not present on a sling backpack.

The 14 Best Sling Backpacks for Travel

1. A Bargain Backpack Perfect for Everyday Use

4,777 Reviews
This comfortable design is made from durable nylon lined with polyester. It includes a padded back panel for extra support and a convenient shoulder strap for easy wear. It features ample storage space in various practical compartments.

Waterfly Chest Sling Backpack

With a sleek and straightforward design, this ultra-lightweight sling backpack looks great and will handle all your daily commuting or vacationing essentials. Made from soft, water-resistant nylon, this sling has a 7-liter capacity and plenty of extra pockets.

The main compartment is large enough to comfortably transport your iPad or a magazine, while the extra key rack, card pouch, wallet pouch, notebook pouch, and 2 pen pouches will keep all your gear safe and organized on the move. For super-easy hydration on packed trains, long walks, or anywhere else, the side mesh pockets will keep your water bottle close at hand.

Your shoulder strap can be adjusted to fit any size or shape and can be moved from 23.6 inches to 43.3 inches. On the strap itself, there is a useful little pouch that will keep your phone safe and accessible.

All in all, this is a nice little sling backpack that you can take anywhere.

What We Like

  • Handy pouch on the sling strap for quick access to items

What We Don’t Like

  • Water bottle holder is a bit small

2. Big-brand Quality for a Compact Carry Bag

UPGRADE PICK: Osprey Daylite Shoulder Sling
1,735 Reviews
UPGRADE PICK: Osprey Daylite Shoulder Sling
An easy-to-wear option that drapes over the shoulder. It features a breathable design with a 6L capacity and a spacious main compartment with zippered access and a mesh pocket on the front for essentials.

Osprey Packs Daylite Shoulder Sling

Made by one of the world’s most reputable luggage brands, the Daylite Sling from Osprey is perfect for your daily commute, days out, or a trip to the beach. Small enough to be easy to carry, yet roomy enough to hold everything you need, this is an outstanding quality sling pack.

This pack is made from high-quality, ripstop nylon and features Osprey’s soft and breathable NeoSpacer mesh material on the shoulder strap for superior comfort. The Daylite promises to be water-resistant and extremely comfortable to carry, including a key clip and front zippered mesh pocket for storing smaller items.

The Daylite comes in a choice of 4 funky colors, and it’s an excellent choice for anyone looking for a good quality sling backpack from a leading luggage brand.

What We Like

  • Padded and breathable sling strap

What We Don’t Like

  • Designed to be worn on the right shoulder only

3. Retro Looks and Modern-day Convenience

Leaper Sling Bag
14,762 Reviews
Leaper Sling Bag
This stylish design is made from highly resistant soft canvas with polyurethane leather details. Its vintage look is complemented by extensive storage space in practical compartments, dedicated to everything from laptops to iPhones.

Leaper Retro Sling Bag

Made from soft and washable canvas with accents of elegant-looking PU leather, this messenger sling bag has a retro look that’s perfect for festivals, vacations, and those who like to stand out from the crowd.

Big enough to comfortably hold a slim laptop up to 13 inches, this may not be the largest bag on the market, but it is still a funky, practical alternative to a traditional backpack or tote. It also has additional straps so you can carry this bag by either the handle or the adjustable shoulder strap.

There is plenty of space in this medium-sized slingback: you get a zipper pocket in the front flap, 2 side pockets, and a main compartment with further inner pockets. You’ll find enough room to keep your laptop, iPhone, wallet, snacks, drinks, and other essentials all in 1 place.

Available in a variety of colors, this retro sling backpack is an excellent choice.

What We Like

  • Sling strap is adjustable

What We Don’t Like

  • Laptop pocket is not padded

4. Get Festival-ready With a Rope Bag

NeatPack Sling Bag
2,663 Reviews
NeatPack Sling Bag
This versatile choice is designed for maximum comfort, with ergonomic padding on the strap. It is created from a highly resistant polyester canvas with reflective details on the front. It includes easy access pockets for phones and headphones.

NeatPack Canvas Sling Bag and Urban Travel Backpack

With a ton of compartments to stow your stuff, this sling backpack also comes with an RFID-blocking anti-theft pocket for your most vulnerable valuables. Made of water-resistant polyester canvas and constructed using top-quality zippers and durable straps, this budget backpack offers a lot of bang for your buck.

Ergonomically designed for comfort, the NeatPack bag can be slung over either your shoulder or worn across your chest to keep it safe from thieves. With a convenient front cell phone pocket and separate headphone access, you can easily get to everything you need while on the go. The padded, breathable strap helps keep the bag comfortable and lightweight wherever you are.

Available in a choice of colors, this little bag would work well for school, travel, or even your daily commute. The sling design allows you to keep your hands free to cycle, walk, or run to your next destination.

What We Like

  • Spacious main compartment and lots of pockets

What We Don’t Like

  • Zippers can break easily

Hot Tip: For more options, check out these anti-theft travel backpacks.

6. Military Styling for Modern-day Ops of All Kinds

5.11 RUSH MOAB Sling Bag
2,360 Reviews
5.11 RUSH MOAB Sling Bag
A military design made from nylon with nylon lining. This durable choice features excellent storage options with multiple pockets that fill various functions, from comms storage on the shoulder to a hydration pocket.

5.11 RUSH MOAB 10 Tactical Sling Bag Shoulder Pack

Get your gear in order with this fully customizable tactical bag made from water-resistant and incredibly lightweight 1050D nylon. The fully-cushioned adjustable shoulder strap makes it easy to find your customized fit, and the grenade design makes this a must for anyone with a penchant for military styling.

With a coms pocket at the shoulder, a covert tactical pocket at the rear, and a secondary double zip pocket, this sling pack offers plenty of organized storage areas. An interior stash pocket paired with a hydration pocket and a pass-through port make it easy to stay hydrated, too.

Equipped with the patented 5.11 Tier System to integrate with other 5.11 RUSH tactical bags, plus YKK self-healing zippers and a fleece-lined sunglasses pocket, this is a superb backpack perfect for any adventure.

What We Like

  • Has a hydration pocket and a pass-through port

What We Don’t Like

  • Can chafe your neck if packed heavy

7. A Stylish, Tablet-Friendly Urban Sling Bag

Solo New York Ludlow Universal Tablet Sling Bag
2,609 Reviews
Solo New York Ludlow Universal Tablet Sling Bag
Take a break from the usual sack-shaped sling bags. The Solo New York Ludlow is designed specifically with tablet and smaller laptops in mind.

Solo New York Ludlow Universal Tablet Sling Bag

  • Padded compartment protects tablets up to 12.9″” and laptops up to 12″
  • Front zippered pocket
  • Front zip-down organizer section
  • Adjustable shoulder strap

A break from the usual sack-shaped sling bags, the Solo New York Ludlow is designed specifically with tablet and smaller laptops in mind, holding up to 12.9-inch tablets and up to 12-inch laptops in a padded compartment.

The bag also comes with a front zippered pocket and has a front zip-down organizer area. An adjustable shoulder strap ensures it stays safe and where it needs to be as you go about town.

What We Like

  • Specifically designed for tablets and smaller laptops

What We Don’t Like

  • The square, loose-fit design really makes it more of a shoulder bag

8. Bright, Bold, and Beautiful: Funky Sling Bags Suitable for All Occasions

MOSISO Sling Backpack
24,573 Reviews
MOSISO Sling Backpack
This stylish design offers excellent storage and includes spacious compartments for tablets and e-readers. It features smaller pockets for essentials and has all-purpose functions. This bag can be used messenger-style, cross-body, or as a daypack.

MOSISO Sling Backpack

Choose from pretty florals or bright solid colors with these youthful sling backpacks that would be great for students, adventurers, and commuters alike. Big enough to carry an iPad Air or a smaller tablet in the large main compartment, this bag looks and feels much more expensive than it actually is.

With a ton of multi-functional storage areas, you can fill up the accessory compartment and pockets with your charging cables, power cords, books, papers, personal items, and snacks, while the mesh bottle holder will keep your liquid refreshment safe.

The shoulder strap can be adjusted to reach between 18 and 36 inches, and you can carry this bag on either shoulder as well as across your chest.

Padded and breathable straps help ease discomfort and eliminate excess moisture, while the water-repellent polyester will keep wet weather at bay. This is a nice-looking sling bag that won’t break the bank.

What We Like

  • Stylish floral designs

What We Don’t Like

  • Mesh external pocket is a bit weak

9. A Rugged, Water-resistant Sling Backpack

Nicgid Sling Bag
16,807 Reviews
Nicgid Sling Bag
This multifunctional design is versatile and sturdy. Made from nylon-lined nylon, this resilient choice features an adjustable shoulder strap and excellent storage space. This option can be worn either on the chest or on the shoulder.

Nicgid Sling Bag Chest Shoulder Backpack

Made from high-quality nylon that resists water and rips, this is a compact carry bag that can be worn across your shoulder to keep your hands free and your load light. This design is perfect for days out, trips abroad, and even on your regular commute.

With multiple storage areas, the large main compartment holds your iPad Mini, e-reader, or notebooks, while the inner pouch will keep your cell phone safe. The front of the bag has 4 zippered pockets that are super convenient for accessing items you need on the go. Your keys, passports, pens, and money will all be within easy reach.

The shoulder strap is padded and can be adjusted, and this bag is available in a variety of colors. We think this pack is sleek and practical.

What We Like

  • Durable and comfortable to wear

What We Don’t Like

  • Strap is not reversible to wear on both shoulders

10. Super-secure With Integrated Combination Lock

ZUK Sling Bag
6,598 Reviews
ZUK Sling Bag
This secure design is created with anti-theft technology and includes a combination lock to protect your belongings. Made from nylon-lined polyester, this option is durable and spacious. It is suitable for both outdoor and indoor purposes.

Anti Theft Sling Bag Shoulder Crossbody Backpack

With great-looking, water-resistant oxford fabric, this is a minimalist shoulder bag that is sleek on the outside and spacious on the inside.

In the large main compartment, you can easily carry your iPad, notebooks, documents, wallet, money, cell phone, and other everyday essentials. The 2-way zipper gives easy access to the main compartment, and the built-in USB port allows you to charge easily on the go.

The side and back zip pockets are perfect for keeping your important items within easy reach, and you can rest assured knowing your valuables are safe in the combination locked main compartment. With an adjustable satchel strap, you can let this bag swing as high or as low as you want, and it can be worn on either shoulder.

Breathable, comfortable, and incredibly lightweight, this is a great little sling backpack for any adventure.

What We Like

  • Combination lock on the main compartment

What We Don’t Like

  • External pockets are a little small

11. Locking Zippers and Slash-resistant Fabrics

Travelon AT Classic Sling Bag
1,296 Reviews
Travelon AT Classic Sling Bag
This elegant design is sturdy and created with slash-resistant materials and lockable storage options for maximum safety. The adjustable straps offer a comfortable fit, and it includes a mesh pocket that can be used as a bottle holder.

Travelon AT Classic Sling Bag

With locking compartments and durable construction, this bag is an excellent choice for anyone embarking on extreme adventures. The slash-resistant sling strap can be attached to a post or a chair, and the RFID-blocking card slots will protect you from identity fraud.

Designed with security in mind, this bag also features a stainless-steel mesh lining that prevents would-be criminals from slashing or ripping your pack to get at your valuables. There are also locking compartments to keep your personal belongings safe on the move.

Look great and keep your stuff safe as you travel with one of the most protective sling backpacks on the market. A good buy for anyone heading out into crowds.

What We Like

  • RFID-blocking pockets

What We Don’t Like

  • Main compartment zipper is not easily accessible when bag is worn on 1 shoulder

12. Large Enough To Cope, Yet Light Enough To Carry

Kawei Knight Large Sling Bag
625 Reviews
Kawei Knight Large Sling Bag
Bigger is definitely better when it comes to this oversized sling backpack that has enough room for all your essentials (and then some).

Kawei Knight Large Sling Bag

Bigger is definitely better when it comes to this oversized sling backpack that has enough room for all your essentials (and then some). Made of water-resistant and nylon, this bag can carry everything you need for work or weekend getaways, including a 15-inch laptop, but its triangular design and minimal weight should ensure it doesn’t become too bulky.

The interior includes several pockets, a main compartment with laptop sleeve, and a secure zippered pouch. Its flap has its own compartment, and there are 2 side pockets.

What We Like

  • Enough space for most things you’d need for a day

What We Don’t Like

  • Not stylish, and could actually be too big for those looking to keep it light

13. Vintage Cool for the Man About Town

10,074 Reviews
This design is made from premium polyurethane leather that contributes an eye-catching sheen to this elegant look. It features convenient and efficient storage with roomy compartments and numerous pockets to keep your belongings organized.

Mens Vintage PU Leather Sling Bag

Made from premium leather, this is a stylish sling bag with a timeless feel. With waterproof properties and an ergonomic design, it is as comfortable to wear as it is good-looking. And this bag has a hidden secret: its very own charging port for topping up your cell phone battery using your power bank.

Spacious enough to hold your laptop, iPad, tablet, phone, books, and much more, this bag will keep your gear safe and organized. Multiple pockets add extra hiding holes for smaller items, and the main compartment opens wide for easy access.

Fashionable and spacious, this leather bag is perfect for serious travelers and daily commuters alike.

What We Like

  • Has an external USB port and a headphone jack

What We Don’t Like

  • Sling strap could be longer

14. Security Conscious Sling Bag With Locking Zippers

Pacsafe Vibe Sling Bag
115 Reviews
Pacsafe Vibe Sling Bag
This design includes extensive anti-theft features like slash-resistant fabric with steel mesh inlay and lockable zippers. It has roomy storage space and a comfortable fit that can be worn either on the front or the back.

Pacsafe Vibe 325 10 Liter Anti Theft Sling Bag

Brought to you by the travel experts at Pacsafe, this little sling bag is built to last. Offering enough space to keep all your essentials close at hand yet light enough to wear for hours at a time, this is one of the best sling backpacks your money can buy — but it does come at a price.

Made from high-quality nylon with a wipeable polyester lining, the Pacsafe Vibe offers incredible protection against would-be thieves. Individual compartments can be secured with locking zippers, while the fabric of the bag is cut-resistant and features a lightweight steel mesh inlay to keep your gear safe.

The shoulder strap is padded for comfort and reinforced with wire to prevent it from being slashed or cut in crowded places. The strap can also be used to securely fix your bag to tables or chairs to keep your possessions safe from theft.

Sizable, attractive, and one of the most protective bags on the market, this is an excellent choice for anyone traveling overseas.

What We Like

  • Sling strap is reinforced with wire to be slash-proof

What We Don’t Like

  • Quite a narrow bag, so not good for bulky items

Final Thoughts

Sling backpacks are a great alternative to traditional backpacks when you don’t need to carry too much stuff with you. Filling the void somewhere between fashion and practicality, you can carry them on either shoulder to keep your most valued possessions within easy reach at all times.

Cheaper, lighter, and smaller than a regular daypack, a sling bag will have its limitations. But if you want to remain hands-free and can travel a bit lighter, these are a good option for all types of adventures.

If you’re looking for a little more room and deciding on the best travel backpack, check out this great article on the best travel backpacks for men and women.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are sling backpacks bad for your back?

As sling backpacks cause 1-sided strain, they can cause back pain if they are too heavy. Sling backpacks should only be used for lightweight essentials and are not designed for carrying heavy loads for long periods. You will be better off with a backpack for these occasions.

What is a sling backpack?

A sling backpack is quite similar to a regular backpack but the major difference is that it only has 1 strap and it is worn crossbody. A lot of sling backpacks tend to be triangular in shape or slimmer. Given they are worn on 1 shoulder only, they also have smaller capacities to avoid shoulder pain.

Are sling backpacks good for hiking?

We wouldn’t recommend a sling backpack for hiking as they don’t provide the same back support and features regular hiking backpacks would. Sling bags are best left for short urban adventures or when you need quick access to your belongings. Stick to regular backpacks for hiking.

What is the best sling bag?

These are some of the best sling bags that we recommend:

  • KAVU Rope Bag
  • Leaper Retro Sling Bag
  • NeatPack Canvas Sling Bag and Urban Travel Backpack
  • Osprey Packs Daylite Shoulder Sling
  • Waterfly Chest Sling Backpack

Are sling bags good for travel?

Sling bags offer superfast access to your belongings, and the lightweight design makes them easy to carry on long journeys and daily adventures. Some are even large enough to carry your laptop and other items with you, while others are only suitable for essentials.

Amar Hussain's image

About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.


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