Best Sling Backpacks for Travel, Laptop and Everyday Use

Sling backpacks are the perfect answer for anyone looking for a stylish, comfortable and small-sized backpack without the bulky aspect and disadvantages of regular backpacks.

What Is A Sling Backpack?

Also known as “one strap backpack”, it’s smaller than an average backpack and instead of having a strap for each shoulder, it only has one that goes over one shoulder and across your chest.

Depending on your needs and what you’ll be using your sling backpack for you should pay attention to some characteristics more than others and I’ll go over every relevant one during this guide.

Table of contents


Sling Backpacks for Travel

1

SEEU Plus Oversized Sling Backpack

Volume: 28 L
Number of pockets: 7 (including a free strap pocket for your phone that comes with the sling backpack)
Material: Polyester
Water resistance: A little water resistant, not waterproof.
Extra features: Laptop sleeve for devices as big as 15”; Adjustable strap;

Overall this is a nice affordable bag, which you might use if you need to carry a large number of belongings with you.

The 28 liter capacity of this backpack allows for a computer, some books, some clothes, maybe even a camera with room to spare.

It’s a great choice if you are on a budget and need some way of carrying your belongings during your trip.

PROS:

  • A lot of space to keep all your belongings
  • A large number of pockets allow you to keep everything organized
  • The laptop sleeve has a nice size to hold most devices you might travel with

CONS:

  • The strap is only comfortable on the right shoulder
  • Despite having many pockets and subdivisions on the main compartment, most of them are quite big so there’s not much room for smaller items.
  • The padding on the laptop sleeve is close to non-existing, and there is no padding at all in the bottom, meaning you might damage your computer if you’re not careful putting the backpack down.


2

Our Pick: K-Cliffs Heavy Duty Sling Backpack Student Cross Shoulder

Volume: About 25 L
Number of pockets: 7 pockets
Material: Mainly Cordura fabric (well known for it’s resistance to tears, scuffs, and abrasions)
Water resistance: Water resistant but not waterproof
Extra features: Laptop sleeve for devices up to 15”; Security features (lockable laptop compartment); padded and adjustable shoulder strap; padded back panel.

This sling backpack as a lot of good things going for it. Besides the large space it provides to carry belongings, it’s very comfortable to wear due to the back and shoulder padding.

It also has a double adjusting feature since it has Velcro and a buckle, meaning it will work very well independent from your height, providing a great comfort when walking long distances.

The huge “K-cliffs” logo on the strap might be just a little too flashy and big, but looks should always be secondary to performance. The security features are quite good as well.

PROS:

  • Very durable, the zippers are very resistant
  • The available space is well organized so you have room for both big and small items
  • This sling backpack has a handle as well which is a good feature if you happen to get your shoulder tired quickly

CONS:

  • It’s only comfortable if you carry it in the right shoulder
  • The fabric is a little stiff which affects the way it adjusts to your body
  • The bottom padding of the laptop sleeve is non existing (but the side padding is quite good)


3

SEEU Oversized Sling Bag Backpack, Shoulder Crossbody 32 L

Volume: 32 L
Number of pockets: 10 pockets (6 external pockets and 4 inner pockets)
Material: Polyester
Water resistance: Some water resistance (not waterproof)
Extra features: Laptop sleeve advertised to 14” devices but can easily fit a 15”; Padded back; Adjustable strap

This is a really large sling backpack, possibly as big as it can get without forcing you to change to a regular backpack for comfort purposes.

It’s ideal for someone looking to carry items that take a lot of space, but that is pretty much all it has going for it.

There are better options with more features for the price, but it all depends if those extra 4-6 liters are worth it for you or not.

PROS:

  • Reflective stripe (useful if you walk along roads or at night)
  • Durable material and zippers
  • Durable material and zippers

CONS:

  • Doesn’t have a water bottle mesh to carry your bottles
  • Big sling backpacks like this are a little bulky and start to lose the advantages they should have when compared to regular backpacks
  • Big sling backpacks like this are a little bulky and start to lose the advantages they should have when compared to regular backpacks

My pick for sling backpack for travel?

Between this three options I would probably go with the second one (K-Cliffs), it has a nice weight to comfort ratio and the security features are good for any traveller. It’s the one that better suits the purpose.


Sling Backpacks for Laptop

If you want to use your sling for a laptop, your main concerns should be how big of a computer it can hold (to know if your computer fits), how padded it is to protect your device, how comfortable it is to carry the weight and how secure it is to keep your device secure.

4

Under Armour Compel Sling 2.0 Backpack

Maximum laptop size: 15”
Laptop security: Soft lined laptop sleeve
Material: 100% polyester
Water resistance: Water resistant material with DWR water repelling finish
Extra features: Adjustable and padded strap.

This is a nice basic option to carry your laptop. It’s padded enough but you still have to be careful when handling it.

It’s lightweight which makes it very versatile and comfortable to wear.

It could be a little larger, in order to fit a few more things besides the laptop but overall it does it’s job.

PROS:

  • Great size to carry laptops without having a bulky backpack with you
  • Lightweight sling backpack
  • Durable and resistant material

CONS:

  • Zippers should be “beefier”, the ones installed don’t inspire much confidence
  • No security features expected on a backpack designed to carry computers
  •  No padding on the bottom as it should to carry laptops safely


5

DDDH Large Sling Bags Crossbody Backpack

Maximum laptop size: 14,1” (advertised but it could fit a 15” without a problem)
Laptop security: Padded laptop sleeve
Material: Water resistant nylon
Water resistance: Some water resistance but not at all waterproof
Extra features: Softly padded adjustable shoulder strap.

This is good for a budget option to carry your laptop. The material is more resistant than it may seem like and the backpack itself has a lot of space.

The interchangeable shoulder strap definitely works in your advantage since it is really easy to get tired when carrying heavy objects like computers ad having the possibility to change the shoulder supporting the weight once in a while is really good.

PROS:

  • The interchangeable strap allows for both right and left shoulder use
  • Lightweight backpack
  • Many pockets and compartments to keep everything organized

CONS:

  • Poor zipper quality
  • Really poor padding for a laptop carrying a backpack
  • The strap is really long so when adjusted to below average height people, it will feel weird and look even weirder


6

Our Pick: TECHQ Sling Bag with external USB charging port

Maximum laptop size: 13”
Laptop security: Nicely padded laptop sleeve
Material: Non-specified water-resistant material
Water resistance: Some water resistance but not waterproof
Extra features: Concealed pocket in the front of the strap, exterior USB charger, adjustable strap

This backpack is a little smaller when compared to the other ones but it does provide a little more protection to your devices than the others. The interchangeable strap is again a good feature if you plan to carry your items for medium to long periods of time.

The external USB charger is a nice extra if you are someone who uses your phone or other devices a lot on the go.

PROS:

  • Precision padding for extra comfort
  •  Interchangeable strap
  • Sturdy lightweight design

CONS:

  • No bottom padding for laptop
  •  Not much laptop space
  • Not easy to adjust the strap

My pick for sling backpack for laptop?

All option considered, the third option (TECHQ) is probably the one who would suit you better. The most important feature in a sling backpack for laptops will always be the device protection it provides and although none of them has the much needed bottom padding, the third one had better overall protection.


Sling Backpacks for Everyday Use

If you want to use your sling backpack every day with regularity, it is totally up to you which features are more important to you so I’ll leave some options for sling backpacks to choose from.

7

OutdoorMaster Sling Bag – Small Crossbody Backpack

Volume: Non-disclosed (small backpack)
Number of pockets: 3 external pockets plus one anti-theft pocket
Material: Lightweight polyester like material
Water resistance: A little water resistant, not water proof.
Extra features: Laptop sleeve for devices as big as 12”; Adjustable strap; interchangeable strap

It is an overall nice sling for everyday use if you only plan to carry documents and other small to medium size items with you.

If you intended to carry a jacket or something like that, this might not be the best choice for you.

PROS:

  • Lightweight and breathable materials
  • Different dimension pockets allow you to keep everything organized
  • Anti-theft pocket is very useful for everyday use

CONS:

  • It is very small and only allows you to travel with bare essentials
  • Not the best quality as far as materials and zippers go
  • Small shoulder strap might not fit someone with over the average height


8

Our Pick: KAVU rope bag 100% cotton

Volume: 10.8 liters
Number of pockets: 3 external pockets (one of them with 2 separate zippers)
Material: 100% cotton
Water resistance: A little water resistant, not water proof.
Extra features: Adjustable strap; interchangeable strap

This one is just great if you are looking for a small, high quality, stylish bag. It is the definition of what an everyday sling backpack should be.

It is only big enough for the essentials you might need to carry so it keeps your back and shoulder lightweight and free for all sorts of movements.

PROS:

  • High quality build
  • Different dimension pockets allow you to keep everything organized
  • Customizable to be very stylish

CONS:

  • It is very small and only allows you to travel with bare essentials
  • Some people might not like the feel of rope straps
  • Not your typical discreet bag, but that is only a minor inconvenience


9

Meru Sling Backpack

Volume: 8.5 liters
Number of pockets: 3 external pockets
Material: Cotton canvas
Water resistance: A little water resistant, not water proof.
Extra features: Adjustable strap; I-pad sleeve, Memory foam shoulder strap padding, secret credit card storage

This is a good backpack but not at all recommended if you usually carry many things with you. It is a great sling backpack for a child though, as it offers almost everything you would want, just in a reduced sized.

Great quality build and if what are looking for is just a small sling for documents, phone, maybe a wallet and some other items, this might work for you, just don’t forget about the small size.

PROS:

  • High quality build
  • The memory foam on the shoulder strap should provide next level comfort
  • Great for kids and people with smaller stature

CONS:

  • Way too small for the average person to use on a day to day basis, unless you don’t carry many things with you
  • The adjustable straps doesn’t seem to stay in place after you adjust and slip off over time
  • There are no dividers inside any of the pockets to keep small items organized


10

NeatPack Versatile Canvas Sling Bag

Volume: Non disclosed (small/medium sized)
Number of pockets: 4 external pockets
Material: water resistant polyester
Water resistance: A little water resistant, not water proof.
Extra features: Adjustable strap; shoulder strap padding, secret valuables pocket with RFID blocker

Although this bag has some great features, it doesn’t sit as well as I would like in this category.

I still find it to be a great bag, just not for everyday use. At the same time it doesn’t really fit in other categories due to the lack of a laptop sleeve or more pockets.

To be honest, this might be a good sling backpack if you need to carry a larger volume of items around on a day to day basis (almost like a diaper bag) but if that’s not the case, you can find better choices.

PROS:

  • High quality build
  • Medium size allows for lots of storage to always keep important items with you
  • Really comfortable and ergonomic backpack with good quality zippers

CONS:

  • The phone pouch could be less deep and bulky as it feels weird in the strap
  • Medium size is a little to big for everyday use
  • Secure RFID pocket could have a little more space and not be angled, like this it can only hold small wallets

My pick for sling backpack for everyday?

If I had to choose right now, hands down, the KAVU (2nd one) would be the one for me. It just does a really good job of balancing comfort and carrying potential, and that is all I could ask for in an everyday sling backpack. I actually had some trouble finding problems with it to list in the “Cons”.

These are my picks for the best sling backpacks for traveling, carrying a laptop and everyday use. I hope you found this information useful and it helps you pick your next travel companion.


How Do I Pick The Perfect Sling Backpack?

Like I said before, when choosing your sling backpack, depending on the use you’ll give it, you might want to look for specific characteristics. Right now, I’ll go over every important characteristic that you should inform yourself about when buying a sling backpack:

Size

This might be one of the most important factors to consider when you are choosing your sling backpack. Most of them are sized between 5 and 25 liters in volume but larger ones are recommended for traveling.

If you’ll be using your sling to walk around in a day to day basis, you might choose a smaller one since it only needs to hold some essential items like documents and your phone, but if you intend to use it for traveling, then maybe you should go with a bigger size.

Durability

Like any other product that you expect to use regularly, durability should be a concern of yours. Finding a sling with durable materials isn’t that hard but you should still know which are the main qualities that contribute to durability. Obviously, the main material is one of them.

No matter if you prefer strong cotton, polyester, nylon or some other kind of fabric, you should always check if it has a high thread count, which directly relates to the quality of the material and helps prevent damage like rips and tears.

Another thing that is often neglected is the zippers, the best ones being from the market leader YKK but many brands provide quality zippers even if not from this particular brand.

Comfort

If you are buying a sling backpack, you probably intend to carry it around during a long period of time, so obviously you want it to be comfortable and balanced. Nobody wants a backpack that needs to be adjusted again and again throughout the day because it gives you shoulder pain or feels uncomfortable.

Some of the basic features you should look for if you’re trying to improve the comfort that your sling backpack will provide are padded shoulder straps, waist belts, and adjustable shoulder straps.

Having a padded shoulder strap is very important since all the weight is carried in a single shoulder and it will allow you to carry more weight and feel less uncomfortable while doing it. Same thing with the adjustable strap that allows you to control where your sling will sit on your back.

If your height is a little bellow or above the average, the capability of the backpack to adjust is very important to you. The waist belt is a minor improvement but still a good one since it prevents the sling from moving around too much or slipping to the front when you are moving a lot.

Packability

This is a minor characteristic, but if you want to use your sling backpack when you are traveling but not during the trip, it’s good to have a foldable one. If you want that, the only thing you need is to make sure the one you choose doesn’t have rigid parts.

Water resistance

This is possibly a very important feature, depending on the weather conditions of the place you will be using your sling in. Almost no material is 100% waterproof, but there are different kinds of water resistance.

Slings treated with a water repellent coating will handle light rain very well but almost nothing will prevent the soaking of your items in heavy rain. Another option you might find are built in rain covers and those can be fully waterproof.

Features

This is what defines the use you’ll give your sling backpack. Features might include the size of the pockets, number of pockets, laptop and tablet sleeves for your delicate electronics, hidden pockets to keep your money and documents to avoid pickpocketing, exterior pockets for easy access to your stuff, specific camera pockets to transport your valuable camera in, dual-side strap (interchangeable) to change what shoulder you carry your sling on, etc…

Price

This obviously affects your decision right from the start. The sling backpack might be perfect for you but if it costs twice as much as you are willing to pay, it might as well not exist at all.

But there is a bright side when it comes to sling backpacks versus regular backpacks, they are usually much cheaper. The highest quality slings might be really expensive but you can get great sling backpacks even if you are on a budget. Many affordable options will last you years and never give you any problems.

Why Don’t I Just Buy A Regular Backpack Instead?

Sling backpacks have several advantages when compared to regular backpacks, especially if you are not planning on traveling with too much stuff. They come in handy in situations when you have to constantly take things out of your backpack and put them back in, since you can easily swing them around from your back to the front and access what you need while keeping it on.

It also makes walking around crowded spaces a lot easier since it’s “close to the body” design and small dimensions allow you to squeeze through large crowds. Besides this type of backpack almost never causes troubles when trying to go somewhere, whereas a regular one would be forbidden due to its size, museums and some other attractions are an example of that.

Sling backpacks are also fairly comfortable to wear and give you a good weight distribution and balance across your back.

Now, keeping all this in mind, I’ll give you some options you might want to consider when choosing the perfect sling backpack for you, depending on the purpose it will have.


Photo by TECHQ, Modified by Author.

10 Total Score
Our Pick: Under Armour Compel Sling 2.0 Backpack

This is a nice basic option to carry your laptop. It’s padded enough but you still have to be careful when handling it. It’s lightweight which makes it very versatile and comfortable to wear. It could be a little larger, in order to fit a few more things besides the laptop but overall it does its job.

Overall
10
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