CARRY LOUNGE STAFF
Fri, Mar 24 - 7 Minute Read

The 7 Best Sling Bags for Everyday Carry

They’re not quite backpacks. But they’re not quite shoulder bags, either. And they’re much more stylish than fanny packs.

What are they? They’re sling bags — the latest and greatest trend in everyday carry. 

But in our opinion, the sling bag goes way beyond being a momentary fashion trend. They fit in a narrow category between backpacks and shoulder bags, with many of the benefits of both, slimmed down to a perfect size for more minimalist EDC. And they’re darned convenient too, with grab-and-go functionality that’s perfect for urban everyday carry.

Through the process of putting a ton of time into designing our own sling bag, we have been exposed to a huge range of brands that are doing this type of bag right. So we figured: Why not put them all to the test, head-to-head?

In this review of the best sling bags for everyday carry, we’ll give you the inside scoop on what each bag does best (starting with our own). And once you have an overview of the bags we’ve chosen to test, you can go deeper before deciding on your perfect sling by checking out our head-to-head reviews and our YouTube video showing how the bags work hands-on.

The NutSac Sling

 

Our take on a sling bag comes in two different materials: A rugged waxed canvas that will take a great patina, and a tactical-friendly 1000D Cordura that’s tough as nails.

We designed the NutSac sling with both the urban adventurer and the tactical operator in mind, equipping it with the right specs to hold an iPad Mini as well as an internal molle panel for modular customization. It has a vertical orientation that’s somewhat unique in this category of bag, and a padded back panel for more comfortable carry.

We’re especially proud of making all of our sling bags right here in the USA, and offer a lifetime guarantee to back them up.

Dimensions/Capacity: 3.5" x 11.5" x 8", about 5 liters
Materials: Waxed canvas OR 1000D Cordura
Notable features: Internal molle panel, padded detachable strap, four-way zipper
Best for: Urban or tactical EDC, buy-it-for-life quality
Country of origin: United States
Price: $189

Alpaca Bravo Sling Max (Pro)

If you’re looking for a minimalist sling bag, look elsewhere—but if you’d like to replace your usual backpack setup with a slimmed-down bag, Alpaca’s Bravo Sling Max (Pro) will do the trick.

The Bravo sling is one of the largest we’ve tested, and it’s big enough to hold a 14-inch MacBook Pro comfortably. A lot of the interior is lined with microfiber cloth, and there are plenty of pockets. It seems pretty clear that this sling is designed for the tech-centric urban professional.


Dimensions/Capacity: 15.35” x 10.24” x 5.51”, 10 liters
Materials: 1000D ballistic nylon OR 750D nylon/polyester blend
Notable features: Aqua guard zippers, magnetic buckle, large capacity
Best for: Tech-centric everyday carry
Country of origin: China
Price: $129

Tomtoc Compact EDC Sling Bag

The most budget-friendly of the sling bags we’ve tested here, Tomtoc’s Compact EDC Sling Bag feels very “standard issue”. It’s neither outstanding in its field nor particularly troublesome.

Tomtoc’s sling comes in three sizes, from a petite 4.5 liters to a larger 9 liters that can fit a small laptop or tablet. Most of the hardware is plastic, and the zippers have a tendency to be a little tough to work with. But we like its fast and easy access, as well as the approachable price point.


Dimensions/Capacity: Three sizes, ranging from 4.5 to 9 liters; 8 inches at the smallest size, 14 inches at the largest.
Materials: Cordura (no denier specified)
Notable features: Three sizes to choose from, plenty of internal pockets
Best for: Budget-conscious buyers
Country of origin: China
Price: $43 to $70

Black Ember TKS Sling

Small but packed with features, the Black Ember TKS Sling seems like a very good fit for someone who always needs to stay connected. It’s made with a tough but flexible material that’s entirely waterproof, and aqua guard zippers just for good measure.

Overall, we like the general design of Black Ember’s sling. The magnetic buckle system is particularly cool. The zippers can be a little bit hard to work because of their locking system — but if you’re traveling in a new city, that added security might be just what you need.


Dimensions/Capacity: 11” x 5.5” x 3”, 2.5 liters
Materials: Microhex HTX, a high tensile strength waterproof fabric
Notable features: Magnetic key ring, magnetic buckle, aqua guard zippers, waterproof shell
Best for: Digital nomads and other tech-centric carriers
Country of origin: Unknown Price: $109

Nomatic Navigator Sling

In both its shape and its dimensions, Nomatic’s Navigator Sling is very similar to our NutSac Sling. And it has the same vertical orientation that we’ve come to love, too — heck, it’s even made in America as well.

The main difference between the two bags is the materials used. The Navigator is made from a water-resistant polyester and nylon blend, which combines nicely with the tech pockets inside to keep your gear safe and dry. Thanks to the addition of reflective bars on the outside of the sling, we could see this one being quite a good choice for anyone who commutes by bike.


Dimensions/Capacity: 13.5" x 9" x 4", 6 liters
Materials: 80/20 nylon/polyester blend
Notable features: Water-resistant and tamper-proof zippers, reflective bars for nighttime visibility
Best for: Urban commuters
Country of origin: United States
Price: $130

Waterfly Crossbody Sling

Okay, we won’t pull any punches here: Waterfly’s Crossbody Sling is the least expensive sling bag in this review, and also the lowest quality. If you like the look of this bag and don’t know if you want to really invest in a sling bag yet, it could be a good way to test this bag style. Other than that, we would give it a pass.


Dimensions/Capacity: 12.4” x 2.3” x 6.3”, capacity unknown
Materials: Nylon, denier unknown
Notable features: Lowest price sling bag in this review
Best for: No comment
Country of origin: China
Price: $26 to $36

PacSafe Vibe 325 Sling

It’s an unfortunate reality that when you’re out traveling in a new city, you’re a target for petty theft. A lot of bags aren’t made of tough enough stuff to resist the most common way of doing this either: A slash and grab, where the thief will simply cut your bag off at the strap and run.

PacSafe’s Vibe 325 Sling is specifically designed to prevent this, with a whole host of anti-theft and slash-resistant features. That’s the main draw here: Keeping your valuables (up to an 11 inch tablet) safe from harm while you’re out and about.


Dimensions/Capacity: 15.7” x 9” x 3.1”, 10 liters
Materials: 400D Econyl Nylon and recycled polyester
Notable features: RFID blocking internal pocket, slash guard strap, locking zippers
Best for: Travelers who need anti-theft protections
Country of origin: China
Price: $130

How to Choose a Sling Bag for Everyday Carry

Now that you have a general overview of the sling bag styles available to you, it’s time to narrow down your options.

When we’re looking for the perfect sling bag for ourselves or a friend, we pay attention to these qualities and categories:

  • Capacity and dimensions: How big is the sling? If you’re using it just for your phone, wallet, and keys, you don’t need more than about 3 liters of space. But if you’re packing a book, tablet, or water bottle, you’ll need a larger bag.
  • Strap or carry style: Is the bag vertically or horizontally oriented? Does that make it easy to access what you need to carry with you? And how comfortable/padded is the strap?
  • Waterproof: Do you need water resistance? We certainly recommend it. And if you’re carrying some expensive tech gear, you may need to go all the way to waterproofed zippers, too.
  • Country of origin: Aside from national pride, a bag’s country of origin determines a lot about the quality of its manufacturing. We’re biased, of course, but strongly prefer American-made bags.
  • Durability and warranty: How long is this bag supposed to last? If you’re going to invest any substantial amount of cash in a sling bag, you should have a guarantee that you’ll be using it for decades to come.

Take all of those into account, compare them to your budget, and you should get a clear picture of which bag is best for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

And to round things out here, we’d like to take just a moment to answer the most common questions we hear guys asking about sling bags.

How should a man wear a sling bag?

So you can find either vertically- or horizontally-oriented sling bags, and each one has its own wear style. We prefer the vertically-oriented style as a general rule, since it fits almost more like a backpack. Horizontal slings are usually smaller and provide quick access to your keys, phone, and wallet.

Is a sling bag the same as a crossbody bag?

Yes and no. All slings are crossbody bags, but not all crossbody bags are slings. If you wear a messenger bag across your body, it could also be called a crossbody bag.

Are sling bags a good look for men?

It really comes down to the sling itself. Is a high-quality, thoughtfully designed sling a good look for men? Heck yeah. Is a cheap, mass-produced nylon bag? Probably not so much.

Why are sling bags becoming so popular?

We think slings bags have taken off in popularity because the combine the best of backpacks and messenger bags in a more convenient, travel-ready size. They wear comfortably and allow quick access to your essentials, which is pretty awesome.

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