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Over, Under, Around: The 14 Best Sling Backpacks

There’s nothing wrong with traditional backpacks, as they certainly have their place, but they can often be troublesome. Putting them on and taking them off is a hassle, particularly when they’re heavily loaded. The straps tend to either slip off your shoulder or bite into it like a vulture digging for carrion. You can get things into and out of them easily, so long as they’re anywhere but on your back, and they give you that ultra-sexy “back to school” appearance that makes suitors of the male and female variety swoon.

Should you decide that you want something a little more stylish, a little more daring, and a little easier to use, that also gives you easy access along with quick on/off accessibility, you’re ready to try a sling pack. Fashioned after the earliest bags made during the time when humankind was fresh out of the trees, hunting and gathering to survive, these bags are a little lighter, a little slicker, and dare we say a whole lot sexier than the standard bookbag. Here’s the 14 best sling backpacks for those who choose to take a little suave with them wherever they roam.

Basics Sling

via amazon.com

Elegantly slender with plenty of pockets for most of your EDC needs, those who aren’t looking to drop serious coin on a bag should head here with confidence. You can fit a smaller tablet into the main pocket, though it’s too petite for laptops, and the back has an RFID-guarded pocket that prevents digital thieves from snagging your credit cards or other digital data. It works equally well above and below clothing. Purchase: $19

Dakine Sling Pack

via zappos.com

Dakine discontinued their best sling bag, the Hub, but you might be able to locate one on the secondary market or find a retailer that hasn’t depleted their inventory. Though this tiny fanny pack replacement doesn’t have the space of the Hub, it’s made with the same deathproof build backed by a nice lifetime warranty, surprising storage space, and a dedicated pocket for and iPad Mini. Purchase: $25

Leaper Cross Body Messenger Bag

via amazon.com

There’s generally two kinds of sling backpacks. Those that are tiny, intended for basic gear, and those that are built for urban commandos who intend to carry loads of stuff. Leapers offering is a nice mix between the two, with an urbane, masculine appearance to its canvas body. Though it can only hold a 13″ laptop – if you get the large size – the interior is surprisingly roomy and can hold a lot or a little with ease. Purchase: $34

Under Armour Compel 2.0

via lyst.com

Don’t let the polyester build deter you. The Compel is well-treated with DWR (Durable Water Repellent) to keep it dry in tough conditions, and has a special waterproof pocket for phones or other gear that can’t stand wetness. Add in a smart price and a padded spot to hold your laptop, and the end result is much more than the sum of its meager parts. Purchase: $55

Aer Sling

via rakuten.co.jp

A duffel or rucksack pack that is meant to be a gym bag, the Sling is perhaps the most true tote of its type. Built like a rolltop backpack with a wide opening that lets you stuff in clothes, shoes, and whatever else, it’s equally useful for folks who just need a place to put their gear without a lot of fuss. Purchase: $60

ful Brick House

via amazon.com

First off, these come in pink, which should be all the selling point you require. If you need more, it’s also kitted out with a side-access laptop pouch that can hold smaller computers (it’s 11.5″ x 11.5″ x 1″) or big tablets, and is made with 1680 Denier ripstop nylon that can take a lot of punishment over extended periods while still looking smart and natty. Purchase: $60

Patagonia Atom

via backcountry.com

Maybe the most common sling backpack in the world, the Atom is known and used by everyone from professionals to average schlubs because it sits comfortably behind the shoulders. This build works more like a standard backpack to distribute weight evenly over your hips, which reduces the strain on your spine. Purchase: $75

Arc’teryx Slingblade 4

via zappos.com

Though wee in size with a purse look that is great for women, but might turn some men off, its the versatility and durability of the Slingblade that makes it ideal for anyone. With a little strap work you can carry it any number of ways, all of which provide fast access to the many mesh pockets on the inside, which are built specifically with phones, wallets, passports, thumb drives, and other common items in mind. Purchase: $79

Chrome Kadet

via edgesuite.net

Mil-Spec materials with a seatbelt buckle strap that makes donning and doffing the bag easy to do on the fly, if a smaller structure with undeniable survivability is what you crave, then there’s no reason to look elsewhere. It’s smart, stylish, tough as hell, and dare we say: Badass. Purchase: $80

Greenroom136 Metromonger

via robonza.blogspot.com

Intended as a photography bag for quick shooting, the Metromonger acts equally well as a fast pack for day trips thanks to its storm flaps and multiple partitions which handily harbor your phone, batteries, wallet, passport, and whatever else; all in a triple compartment body that’s easy to love and easier to use.Should you need to expand, a few MOLLE straps offer that capability. Purchase: ~$82

5.11 Tactical UCR Slingpack

via rakuten.co

As stable as you’re likely to get from a sling, thanks to the broad body strap, the UCR also has organization to spare, boasting a load of internal pockets – which include an ID pouch – and a panel of web patching on the front where you can stick additional items. You can even add in a blow-out kit or 4 should you need even more partitions on the inside. Purchase: ~$137

DSPTCH Slingpack

via pinterest.com

Let the words Duraflex hardware surrounded by Ballistic Nylon help guide you into what makes the Slingpack stand above the competition. Able to safely hold a slim profile laptop – up to 15″ – and built with a secret sleeve for hiding your personal effects, it might just be the perfect balance of bag for everyone. Purchase: $152

Maxpedition Kodiak Gearslinger

via knifecenter.com

A beast of a bag that can fit a full 15″ laptop in its padded compartment, the Gearslinger has a huge mouth that allows you to access its inner depths and the multitude of pockets whether standing, sitting, or riding. Then there’s the PALS webbing for attaching more gear, not to mention the water bottle pocket on the side for sipping on the go. Purchase: $181

Triple Aught Design Dispatch Bag

via tripleaughtdesign.com

Fair enough, this is more messenger bag than true sling pack, but given the smart adjustment, you can get it to fit and operate like a sling, while adding in a little more structure for guarding your valuables. PALS webbing all around, and 1000 Denier Cordura give this the ability to go the distance, or survive daily abuse. Purchase: $195

Côte&Ciel Riss

via shopspring.com

The Riss is inspired by ancient Japanese samurai armor intended for horseback archery. That design allows it to be strapped into a number of positions, from the waist to under the arm, around the back, or even surreptitiously held in front. With a waterproof canvas body, we’ll agree that it’s overpriced, but it’s also a work of mobile art. Purchase: $265

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