Best Sling Backpacks for Hiking

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Sometimes, when I go on day hikes, I would be inconvenienced by the backpack I’m carrying for several reasons; the main one being that I have to stop and take it off my back whenever I need to retrieve my camera or put it back in. When I started considering alternatives for my problem, I got introduced to sling backpacks.

Sling backpacks seem like a more fitting option for your day hikes or daily commutes; however, there are many options to pick from that it may get overwhelming. In this article, you’ll find everything you need to know before buying a sling backpack along with my top six recommendations for one.

Best Sling Backpacks for Hiking

Quick Summary: Best Sling Backpacks for Hiking

  • Maxpedition Sitka Gearslinger Backpack
  • Maxpedition Monsoon Gearslinger
  • Red Rock Outdoor Gear – Rover Sling Pack
  • Lowepro Slingshot Edge 150 AW Camera Case
  • SEEU Ultralight Water-resistant
  • Nicgid Sling Bag Backpack
Maxpedition Monsoon Gearslinger
BEST ALL AROUND

Volume Capacity : 16L, Empty Size: 16″(L) x 5.5″(W) x 20.5″(H), Weight: 2.7 lb
SEEU Ultralight Water-resistant
BEST ULTRALIGHT

Volume Capacity : 20L, Empty Size: 11 x 6.3 x 16.5 in, Weight: 7oz (250g)
Lowepro Slingshot Edge 150 AW Camera Case
BEST CAMERA BACKPACK

Volume Capacity : 12L, Empty Size: 9.6 x 6.1 x 15.3 in, Weight: 1.54 lbs
Maxpedition Sitka Gearslinger Backpack
BEST WATER RESISTANT

Volume Capacity : 15L, Empty Size: 10.5″(L) x 7″(W) x 18″(H), Weight: 2.3 lb
Red Rock Outdoor Gear - Rover Sling Pack
Volume Capacity : 9L, Empty Size: 6″(L) x 8″(W) x 12″(H), Weight: 2.7 lb
Nicgid Sling Bag Backpack
Volume Capacity : 25L, Empty Size: 11 x 18.9 x 5.5 in, Weight: 1.1 lbs

Why would you buy a sling backpack for hiking and not a regular backpack?

For easier access

Well, the number one reason you may want a sling backpack over a regular backpack is basically how easy it is to access the bag while it’s still on your back. You can simply slide the bag across to the front of your torso while the strap is still wrapped around your shoulder. In other words, you will not have to deal with the hassle of stopping whatever you’re doing just to take the bag off of your shoulder so that you can grab a hold of your belongings.

Related: Best Small Lightweight Backpacks for Hiking and Travel

It’s lighter

Another main reason why day-hikers might prefer to ditch a two-strap backpack and opt for a one-strap is because of how much lighter sling backpacks can be. Commuters especially might find this rewarding since they might not want to carry a heavy bag throughout their whole day; a compact sling bag may be a better fit.

You get 3 in 1

What makes sling backpacks interesting is how they cater to the different needs of different people. You can wear your sling backpack across your back as a regular backpack would be worn, slide it to your side and have it function as a messenger bag, or bring it to your front and use it as a purse to keep your precious belongings.

It’s safer

With that being said, sling backpacks can also be worn facing the front of your body to spare yourself the trouble of worrying about pickpockets. This serves very well especially on trains or in busy touristy spots.

Related: Top-Rated Knives for Backpacking and Camping

It serves as an extra bag

Another great benefit to buying a sling backpack is the fact that this kind of bag is relatively small and compact enough to be shoved into your bigger travel bag. This will give you the opportunity to pack an extra bag to use during your daily excursions on one of your longer trips.

Maxpedition Monsoon Gearslinger, Black

Maxpedition Monsoon Gearslinger

Volume Capacity: 16L
Empty Size: 16″(L) x 5.5″(W) x 20.5″(H)
Weight: 2.7lb
Price: Check the latest price here

Like the Sitka, the Monsoon model offers the same quality of Maxpedition backpacks along with high durability. To ensure stability, the carrying strap is made to be non-slip and the backpack comes with an extra concealable waist-strap.

With a slightly higher carrying capacity of 16 liters, the Monsoon offers a slightly larger internal compartment along with several internal pockets.

Pros:

  • Includes PALS webbing on the strap for attaching accessories
  • Includes a water-resistant over flap for optional weather protection
  • Has a specially designed water bottle pocket and can perfectly fit a 100 ounce CamelBak

Cons:

  • The strap may be too wide for some users causing discomfort for the shoulder
  • This model does not include internal dividers

Check Latest Price & Reviews


SEEU Sling Bag Backpack, Ultralight Multipurpose Outdoor Chest Bag for Women Men Kids

SEEU Ultralight Water-resistant

Volume Capacity: 20L
Empty Size: 11″(L) x 6.3″(W) x 16.5″(H)
Weight: 7oz (250g)
Price: Check the latest price here

Being the lightest bag on the list and being made out of water, tear, and scratch-resistant polyester, this bag is perfect for people that don’t want to worry about carrying unnecessary weight during their outdoor adventures.

Related: How to Select the Right Camera for You Next Hiking Trip

This bag can carry up to 20 liters and features a main pocket big enough to house an iPad along with 4 secondary pockets. It has breathable back padding and an extra waist strap for added comfort and stability.

Pros:

  • The back padding is designed with 3D decompression technology
  • This pack is ultra-light weighing only 7 ounces
  • The pack includes a retractable attachment belt for attaching external accessories

Cons:

  • Due to the bag’s light weight, when the bag isn’t full, it tends to move around quite a lot while walking and even though the waist strap fixes this problem to an extent, it may still cause discomfort for some users

Check Latest Price & Reviews


Lowepro Slingshot Edge 150 AW - A Secure, Slim, Smart and Protective Camera Sling for a Mirrorless Kit and Small Tablet

Lowepro Slingshot Edge Camera Case

Volume Capacity: 12L
Empty Size: 9.6″(L) x 6.1″(W) x 15.3″(H)
Weight: 1.54lb
Price: Check the latest price here

This Lowepro model offers a great bag for amateur photographers looking to bring their camera along with them on their expeditions. It can fit a mirrorless camera along with an extra lens and an iPad.

Related: Best Lightweight Tents for Hiking

In the interior compartment, you’ll find adjustable interior dividers that make this bag highly protective for your gear and customizable according to your needs.

Pros:

  • Includes a water-resistant over flap for optional weatherproofing
  • Features a slim design for an aesthetic advantage
  • Interior dividers include padding to protect your gear
  • Includes a CradleFit pocket for tablet protection

Cons:

  • A few users have complained that this model is deceptively small

Check Latest Price & Reviews


Maxpedition Sitka Gearslinger Backpack, Wolf Gray

Maxpedition Sitka Gearslinger Backpack

Volume Capacity: 15L
Empty Size: 10.5″(L) x 7″(W) x 18″(H)
Weight: 2.3lb
Price: Check the latest price here

This sling backpack offers the best quality on the list. It’s made out of water-resistant and abrasion-resistant polyurethane-coated nylon that gives it the ability to withstand heavy use.

It features a quick release metal clip for the strap and breathable padding all over for optimum user comfort. With a volume capacity of 15 liters, the internal compartment is big enough to accommodate a 14.1” laptop with ease.

Pros:

  • Includes 6 rows of PALS on the strap (14 in total) for attaching accessories
  • Zipper protected with an anti-theft snatch system
  • Easy to clean with a simple wipe down

Cons:

  • Like most Maxpedition models, the strap is non-switchable and can only be worn on the left shoulder

Check Latest Price & Reviews


Red Rock Outdoor Gear Rover Sling Pack (Olive Drab)

Red Rock Outdoor Gear – Rover Sling Pack

Volume Capacity: 9L
Empty Size: 6″(L) x 8″(W) x 12″(H)
Weight: 1lb
Price: Check the latest price here

This backpack offers functionality at a very compact size which may appeal to travels looking for an extra sac without having to deal with the extra weight or space of packing one within their luggage.

Made out of PVC-lined polyester, this sac is able to carry up to 9 liters and offers 4 internal compartments along with several pockets, both on the inside and outside. The main compartment can easily accommodate most tablets.

Pros:

  • Includes Molle webbing for attaching accessories
  • Back panel includes a concealed pocket that can carry a pistol discreetly
  • Very affordable

Cons:

  • This bag is not made for heavy-duty use

Check Latest Price & Reviews


Sling Bag Backpack, Sling Shoulder Backpacks Laptops Travel Outdoors Backpack

Nicgid Sling Bag Backpack

Volume Capacity: 20L
Empty Size: 11″(L) x 6.3″(W) x 16.5″(H)
Weight: 7oz (250g)
Price: Check the latest price here

This bag offers a wide range of customizability which makes the bag both comfortable and practical. It’s made out of water-resistant and tear-resistant nylon and can carry up to 25 liters.

It includes a large main compartment that can fit 13.3” laptops and 2 front pockets. The back and strap are made out of breathable mesh for optimum comfort and the strap clip is widely boasted for its durability.

Pros:

  • This sling bag includes a smart theft-proof pocket at the back of the bag for protection of your valuable items
  • The pocket on the strap is removable

Cons:

  • The main drawback to this sack is the lack of interior padding, so users with fragile items like cameras or lenses would be taking a risk using this sling backpack to carry their gear.

Check Latest Price & Reviews


What makes a good sling backpack?

Quality

A good backpack, in general, has to be durable. The material it’s made of has to be able to maintain and sustain the bag’s function without faltering. Manufacturers use many different materials to make their bags and while there isn’t one best material, the most widely used materials that are polyester, nylon, and leather.

One of the things that make or break a good backpack is its zippers; no one wants a zipper that breaks, gets stuck, or gives you a hard time. Good quality zippers are one of the biggest deal breakers that you should have when picking a backpack. Some zippers are now being made of metal which doesn’t break as easily as plastic ones do nevertheless, metal zippers offer less flexibility than plastic ones.

Capacity

A functional backpack has to have enough pockets and specialized compartments for the user’s specific needs; after all, the better it fits the user’s needs the better the bag it is. Again according to different personal preferences, the definition of a good backpack changes when it comes to the compartments and pockets it comes with.

A photographer like me, for example, would need a built-in compartment to place my camera and a few external pockets to carry my accessories, cords, and memory cards. Other users may need special compartments for their laptops, sunglasses, water bottles, etc.

Another thing backpack designers sometimes choose to add is PALS or Molle webbing on the outside of the bag. These are basically strips of strong material that have loops in them that can be used to hook, hang, or attach more external accessories to your bag. This becomes very handy for those who need more extra external packing space and is also a lifesaver for those the ones that need very quick access to some of their accessories.

Comfort

Comfort is another main aspect that contributes to the quality of a sling backpack. You have to keep in mind that the bag is carried by one shoulder, so the strap has to have appropriate padding to deliver that comfort for that shoulder and it’s a plus if the strap can be adjusted to be carried by the other shoulder as well. Many manufacturers are putting that in mind and have introduced switchable strap systems that can change the direction of the sling with a clip, making it suitable to be carried on either shoulder.

Proofing

In addition to the durable nature of the materials being used for the backpack, it also should have some sort of weather-proofing. This contributes to its overall function whereas it can then withstand the different adventures you take it on.

What should you keep in mind while choosing a sling backpack for your travels?

Where are you going?

The main thing you should consider when buying a sling backpack is the purpose behind the bag. Consider where you might need the bag and when; is it for day-to-day use? As in, will you need it on a daily basis to carry your stuff to and from work or the gym? Or will you be using your bag on a less than daily basis; say on day-hikes or as an extra sac while traveling?

Related:

Consider the practicality of your choice regarding the functionality of the options that come with the backpack.

For a traveler, lightweight and durability are things to be on the lookout for, as for someone that takes their bag with them on hikes or different outdoor activities, they would probably need a bag with several pockets and an external attachment system.

What are you carrying?

A smart thing to do when picking a suitable sling backpack is to consider the things you’ll usually carry in it. A person that usually carries lightweight things in their backpack shouldn’t really bother buying a heavy-duty sling backpack; however, if your activities entail more outdoorsy stuff or you generally carry heavier things in your bag, then it’s advised to find yourself a sturdy bag instead of one that may wear out with heavy use.

Another big deciding factor to which backpack you should buy would be the volume the bag can accommodate. Most sling backpacks have a lower inner capacity than regular backpacks, however, sling backpacks usually have an inner carrying capacity that ranges anywhere from 10 to 30 liters which is pretty decent considering that they aren’t meant to carry big and heavy items.

A photographer like me, for example, would need a bag that can accommodate and care for my photography gear. As for someone that needs a bag for work, a laptop sleeve or a bag that can fit a laptop and keep their papers organized would be a suitable option.

Do you need it for different purposes?

If however, you’re one of the people that want to have an all-in-one sling backpack that can be used on a daily basis, to carry your camera, to pack clothes in, or even to simply double as a purse for your touristic adventures, then finding a multifunctional backpack would be a good bet.

Most of today’s sling backpacks offer the advantage of multipurpose use with their numerous compartments, pockets, and extra nets, loops, and bands.

Learn more about backpacking and hiking

If you found this review informative and useful, you might want to check the rest of our article related to backpacking and hiking.

Happy trails!

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