Best Sling Backpacks [2020] for Tactical, Outdoors, School, Travel & more is reader-supported. As an Amazon affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases.Learn more

Quick Answer: Best Sling Backpacks

Sling bags have been a significant part of our history since the era of kings and queens.

They were prominently used as messenger bags back then.

Backpacks were a parallel trend then too. Their purpose was to transport luggage from one place to another.

As the fashion industry evolved over the ages, it brought along with it newer concepts along with exploiting the already present trends.

One such successful experiment was to combine the features of sling bags and backpacks. These new bags were to be known by the name of “sling backpacks”.

A Buying Guide – Basic Things to Look for in a Sling Backpack

1. A Buying Guide – Basic Things to Look for in a Sling Backpack

One that wants to own a compact bag to carry around to school or work or even travel could opt for these sling backpacks.

The following shall serve as a buying guide for the same, based on the purpose of usage.

Capacity – Sling backpacks are not designed to carry a lot of weight around. Their capacity is limited.

So, one must decide out of the available capacities as to which one suits their purpose the best. One must look for a slightly bigger sling backpack if they plan to carry a laptop in it.

Durable Material – The sling backpack material needs to be strong in order to withstand tears caused by abrasion.

They are meant to be used for a slightly rough usage. Anything in the range of 200D-800D strength of a nylon fabric is considered a good fabric.

Quality Zippers – The next concern is to get good zippers. The zippers need to be strong and not get stuck.

They should not clog on the backpack material when the backpack is not completely loaded. An additionally padded contouring along the zipper lining is preferred.

Velcro strapping – This is a welcome method of closing the pockets. Many sling backpacks are provided with straps and buckles to hold together the backpack. These also add to the lifetime of the backpack. They are adjustable at most places.

Number of Compartments – The number of main compartments offered by a sling bag can vary.

There can be one single chamber or two separate compartments, each serving a different purpose. One could select a sling backpack based on the kind of items they plan to carry in it.

Good Shoulder Padding – A sling backpack is completely supported on one shoulder.

This is one of the main reasons shoulder padding plays an important role in deciding whether or not a particular sling backpack needs to be bought.

If one is going for a small and compact sling backpack, the extent of shoulder padding is not a worry.

But, for those who are looking at slightly bigger models of sling backpacks, shoulder padding acts as a vital selection criterion. The more the padding, the better is the comfort.

Additional features 

Today, almost all the backpacks or bags that one buys need to be waterproof or water resistant at the very least. Hence, this acts as a desirable property while purchasing a sling backpack.

Additional features like molle integration and mesh external pockets add to the efficiency of the backpack, but they are more based on your specific requirement.

Some backpacks also boast of secret back pockets. Such features increase the security of the backpack.

Top Sling Backpacks in the Market Today

Here is the list of top sling backpacks along with their key specifications and USPs. We have listed down backpacks which can be used for tactical, outdoors, hiking, travel, daily use and school.

Model Purpose Material Waterproof Colors USPs Price

5.11 RUSH MOAB 10

5.11 Rush Moab 10 Tactical Sling Pack Backpack, Style 56964, Black

Best Tactical

Tactical, Outdoors 100% Nylon Water resistant 1

Hydration system


lots of pockets

Check Price

Leaper Canvas Message Sling

Leaper Canvas Messenger Bag Sling Bag Cross Body Bag Shoulder Bag Black, L

Best Canvas - Travel, School, Laptop

Casual, Laptop, School Canvas No 11

Fits 13" laptop / tab

Vintage Style

Check Price

Patagonia Atom Sling

Patagonia Atom Sling 8L, Multi-Coloured, One Size

Best Premium

Outdoor, Travel 100% Nylon Water resistant 8

Padded tablet sleeve

Exterior compression straps

Check Price

KAVU Rope Bag

KAVU Rope Bag, Pineapple Passion, One Size

Best Rope Sling

Daily use, travel, outdoor 100% cotton No 65+

60+ Colors to choose from


Trendy and comfortable

Check Price

OutdoorMaster Sling Bag

OutdoorMaster Sling Bag - Crossbody Shoulder Chest Urben/Outdoor/Travel Backpack for Women & Men (Gray)

Great for Travel

Daily use, Laptop, Travel NA Water resistant. 10

Fits 12" laptop / tab / camera

Water bottle holder

Reversible shoulder strap

Check Price

WATERFLY Chest Sling Shoulder

Waterfly Chest Sling Shoulder Backpacks Bags Crossbody Rope Triangle Rucksack for Hiking

Great for Outdoors

Travel, Outdoor, Soft nylon Water resistant 6

Space for iPad 4/5/6

SBS zippers

Reflective Strip

Check Price

J Red Rock Outdoor Gear Rover

Red Rock Outdoor Gear - Large Assault Pack, Olive Drab
Tactical, Outdoors, School 600 Denier Polyester Water resistant 8


Four compartments

Check Price

Maxpedition Kodiak Gearslinger

Maxpedition Kodiak Gearslinger, Black
Tactical, Outdoor, Laptop, School Nylon Water resistant 3

Fits 15" laptop

Y-Compression Strap


Concealed Carry Pocket

Check Price


Osprey Packs Daylite Shoulder Sling, Black
Travel, Outdoor 210D nylon Double Diamond ripstop NA 4

Lifetime warranty

Mesh Organizer and Key Clip

Check Price

Mygreen Canvas

Mygreen Canvas Cross Body Messenger Bag Shoulder Sling Backpack Travel Rucksack
Outdoor, Laptop, Travel, School Canvas Water resistant 6

Fits 13" laptop / tab

10 functional pockets

Check Price

How to Buy The Right Sling Backpack for Your Laptop

2. How to Buy The Right Sling Backpack for Your Laptop

If one is planning on buying a sling backpack for work, or to be used as a laptop backpack, they could expect the following features.

The main compartment shall have a separate laptop sleeve or shelf. This laptop compartment shall be padded, with foam or fleece so that, there is no damage caused to the laptop. Some backpacks also offer an additional Velcro attached elastic strap, to hold the laptop in its place.

Extra pockets of different sizes are present, to fit in different accessories that come along with the laptop.

The size of the sling backpack needs to be big enough to fit the laptop. In the market today, the biggest sling backpack, meant to carry a laptop, can fit in a 17” laptop.

Some laptop sling backpacks come with an external tablet sleeve or shelf too.

The material of the backpack needs to be water-proof or at least water resistant. This is a necessary characteristic of the backpack, to help keep the laptop and other accessories safe.

The zippers need to be strong but not necessarily as strong as those required for tactical backpacks. There could be anti-theft modifications made to sling backpacks, to aid in keeping one’s belongings safe.

For the smaller laptop backpacks, shoulder padding does not play a very important role, but for laptop bags that are designed to accommodate 15” and 17” laptops, good shoulder padding is a must. This avoids one from getting a stiff neck or shoulder while carrying around these slings.

Additional mesh pockets on the outside can be present for holding a water bottle or any liquid bottle.

Sling Backpack for School – What to Look For

3. Sling Backpack for School – What to Look For

Sling backpacks are very popularly used in schools and colleges by students.

They are a great and fun way to carry around one’s belongings. The following are the features one could look for while buying sling backpacks for school.

Backpacks meant for school students come in different sizes.

These, however, do not get bigger than the medium sized sling backpack.

They are big enough to accommodate a few books, pens and pencils, a water bottle and a lunch box. One could opt for a bigger backpack in case they plan to take a laptop to school.

There generally is one main compartment and other small pockets and sleeves to go with it.

The material of the backpacks is not very rigid. The denier rating of the material is somewhere between 100D-200D.

Mostly polyester and polyurethane are the materials that are used to design these backpacks. These are cheaper than the high-quality nylon fabric hence; one could afford to replace them once in two years or so.

Polyester has a significantly higher tolerance to ultraviolet light. This means that they can retain their color and form for longer when exposed to heat or UV light. Therefore, many of the sling backpacks available for school usage are found in abundantly bright colors and designs.

Students are the second largest audience after the military and special-forces that make use of extra pockets.

This extra exterior and interior pockets can be used to store some small items. The sling backpack manufacturers have ensured to keep in mind the fantasies of students while designing these bags.

A very good padding is not a necessary fragment of the sling backpacks on the whole until the backpack is required to hold a lot of weight. Backpacks with the basic amount of padding will still do as good in the long run, as the well-padded ones.

While talking about school backpacks, one very important characteristic that neither manufacturers nor buyers can afford to miss is the “washability” of the backpack. It has become a necessity nowadays to have bags that are easily washable. Hence, one must look into this aspect closely while selecting their sling backpack for school.

What to Look for in Men’s Sling Backpack

4. What to Look for in Men’s Sling Backpack

Sling bags have been adopted by men too, as a part of their fashion and utility.

Sling backpacks add a little ruggedness to the otherwise common sling messenger bags. The following lists feature that one could find in sling backpacks specifically designed for men.

Materials used to make sling backpacks for men are generally of a higher denier rating.

The number can be anywhere in the range of 200-1000 deniers. For those people that want to go for cheaper backpacks, polyester or polyurethane backpacks are also available.

These cannot resist tears as much as their nylon counterparts but they do have their own advantages like being lightweight and UV resistant.

Shoulder padding is a must for sling backpacks that fall in the medium to large range. A well-padded shoulder ensures to prevent injury to the neck and shoulder, which is caused due to a gradual usage of a non-padded sling backpack.

The slings which are small and do not require to carry a lot of load can be used without any shoulder padding.

Laptop sleeve or shelf can be opted for, in case one intends to carry around their laptop or tablet along. These slings have fleece or foam padding present for laptop compartments to keep them from getting damaged.

External pockets are present in many of the sling backpacks that are designed for men. These pockets can be either mesh or of the material that the backpack is made up of. Items like water bottles can be stored here.

Zippers that are provided usually are strong and durable. They have the ability to hold together a good load of weight carried around in the sling backpack.

Additional features like separate compartments for clothing and shoes are available in sling backpacks that are designed for gym use.

Buying Guide for Tactical Sling Backpacks

5. Buying Guide for Tactical Sling Backpacks

If one is out on a mission or a hike in the wilderness, a tactical sling backpack is their comrade.

Having one such backpack with them ensures that they can easily access the items they want, on time. The following are the features one could look for while buying a tactical sling backpack.

The first and foremost thing that one needs to look at is the denier rating of the backpack material.

Any rating between 200- 1000 deniers (or D), denotes a strong fabric. This ensures that the material stays intact, despite abrasions and rough usage. The tenacity of the material too can be checked.

In general, materials with a high denier rating tend to have a high tenacity too. These numbers will help give one an idea as to how well the bag can hold itself together despite having a tear on the surface.

The next important part that one needs to be concerned about while buying a tactical backpack is the zippers and closing mechanisms of various pockets and compartments. These need to be strong and “self-healing”.

Many sling backpacks come with pockets that have Velcro straps to secure them. In addition, one must ensure that there are not too many loose straps and buckles hanging on the exterior of the backpack. Sling backpacks that have these are at a high risk of getting caught up in trees and branches, while in the wilderness.

Today, almost all tactical sling backpacks are made of water-resistant or waterproof material. Having a waterproof backpack saves one from the worry of protecting their items in a heavy downpour.

The number of main compartments in a sling backpack is reduced to one or two. But, one could look for sling backpacks that have more number of internal pockets or shelves, to segregate the items.

Most of the tactical backpacks utilise PALS (Pouch Attachment Ladder System) in which additional pouches can be attached. MOLLE system uses patches of highly durable material attached to the backpack on which additional modules can be added based on the requirement.

Tactical sling backpacks also have space to accommodate a hydration bladder. Some also have pass-through tubes to help access these hydration bladders while on the move.

The final criterion to select a tactical sling backpack is to look at the amount of comfort it provides.

This can be concluded by checking two parameters, shoulder padding, and load balancing. A bag that can ace these two parameters for one, shall be the perfect tactical backpack for them.

Women’s sling backpack- What to look for

6. Women sling backpack

Sling bags have been a part of the women’s fashion industry since ages.

They have also been proud owners of slings, totes, clutches etc.

A new addition to this line is a trend called “sling backpacks”.

These are not the simple fragile bags that can be worn on one shoulder or across the body. Sling backpacks for women are designed to provide them comfort while carrying more items.

They allow for easy access and are also drafted with anti-theft properties.

The backpacks are available in different designs. The shape of backpacks meant for women is a little bit more tapered.

Those that want to carry laptops around in their sling backpacks will have to look for separate laptop sling backpacks. Especially if their laptops are anywhere close to 15” big.

They can have a single big compartment with smaller pockets on the inside or they could simply be like those designed for men, with many pockets and compartments.

The material of sling backpacks for women can vary based on the preference of the lady. All of them are not made of strong fabrics as the usage is not heavy.

They are available in polyester fabrics, nylon or cotton. As a matter of fact, they could be made of wool too!

The capacity of these sling backpacks is not as much. Most of them are made to accommodate lesser capacities but effectively.

The purpose of these sling backpacks is to provide easy access to the items inside, without the need to fidget with zippers and other items present inside the bag.

Some sling purses are also available as a replacement to the purses and clutches that are currently available.

Review of Top Sling Backpacks

Here is a quick review of top sling backpacks on the market today.

5.11 Tactical Rush MOAB 10 Backpack

5.11 Rush Moab 10 Tactical Sling Pack Backpack, Style 56964, Black

5.11 is a California-based brand that manufactures clothing like uniforms along with tactical equipment for law enforcement, military, and safety personnel. It was established in 2003 by Dan Costa.

The 5.11 Tactical Rush MOAB 10 Backpack has its dimensions set as 9 x 5.2 x 18 .2 inches and can pack a capacity of 18 liters.

Some key features of this product are listed below.

  • Ambidextrous cross-body shoulder strap.
  • Water resistant.
  • Concealed backup pistol compartment.
  • Strong YKK self-healing zippers
  • Molle integration present.
  • Contains a 1.5L hydration pocket with a pass-through tube.
  • Shoulder strap has a tech-pocket that can hold a phone or radio.
  • Secondary double zipped pocket provides extra room for items.
  • Both iPad and ammunition can be accommodated.
  • Comfortable compression straps.
  • Plenty of pockets on the inside.
  • Can be attached to any RUSH backpack.
  • Sturdy grab handle present.
  • No serious issues!

Check Reviews & Price on Amazon

Red Rock Outdoor Gear Rover Sling Pack

Red Rock Outdoor Gear Rover Sling Pack (Coyote)

Red Rock Outdoor Gear was founded in 1999 in Waco, TX.

They focus on understanding the needs of the customer and invest their energies into the betterment of gear used by their customers.

They are an industry that leads in ghillie suits and camouflage netting. Manufacturing sports bags, sling bags, and dog accessories began in the year 2014 when they brought on board skilled craftsmen to design the same.

With dimensions as 5.5 x 11.5 x 8 inches, this Red Rock Outdoor Gear Rover Sling Pack is the perfect sling backpack for rugged use.

Some key features of this product are listed below.

  • Ambidextrous shoulder sling.
  • The shoulder sling is adjustable.
  • Four compartments.
  • Made with 600D Polyester.
  • The material has PVC lining.
  • Concealed carry pocket on back panel.
  • Allows snap closure.
  • Can accommodate ammunition, iPad, and laptop at the same time.
  • Waterproof material.
  • Many internal pouches and pockets.
  • Long lifespan
  • Sturdry
  • No serious issues!

Check Reviews & Price on Amazon

Leaper Cross Body Messenger Bag Shoulder Backpack Travel Rucksack Sling Bag

Leaper Canvas Messenger Bag Sling Bag Cross Body Bag Shoulder Bag Black, L

The Leaper Cross Body Messenger Bag measures 10.2 x 13.6 x 4.4 inches. It is ideal to be used as a backpack for school and everyday carry.

Some key features of this product are listed below.

  • Made with soft and durable washed canvas.
  • Polyurethane Leather decoration on the exteriors.
  • Main compartment lined with softer material.
  • Can accommodate a slim 13″ laptop without a laptop sleeve.
  • Has many pockets.
  • Top flap has buckles that open easily.
  • Zipper pocket present on the flap to hold quick access items like tickets etc.
  • Ambidextrous shoulder sling.
  • The shoulder sling is adjustable.
  • Lightweight.
  • Unisex backpack design.
  • Smooth sturdy zippers.
  • Available in different sizes.
  • Has enough room for everyday carry items.
  • Not completely waterproof.

Check Reviews & Price on Amazon

KAVU Rope Bag

KAVU Rope Bag, Pineapple Passion, One Size

KAVU was founded in Seattle, in 1993 by Barry Burr.

KAVU is an aviation acronym which stands for “clear above visibility unlimited” and the company has always strived to look beyond obstacles and achieve their goals ever since its establishment.

The KAVU Rope Bag measures 20 x 11 x 3 inches. It is comfortable to carry around as a school bag or for a casual day trip.

Some key features of this product are listed below.

  • Made of pure cotton canvas.
  • Sleek design.
  • Durable rope straps.
  • Abundant storage space.
  • Very stylish in a teardrop-shape.
  • Two vertical zip compartments act as the main compartments.
  • Zipper and Velcro pouches for quick access items.
  • Available in many colors and patterns.
  • Comfortable to carry as a day bag.
  • No serious issues!

Check Reviews & Price on Amazon

TOPNICE Sling Bag Crossbody Shoulder Chest Backpack Anti Theft Bags for Men Women

TOPNICE Sling Chest Bag Crossbody Shoulder Backpack Anti Theft Travel Bags Daypack for Men Women Water Resistance (Gray)

Measuring 14 x 9.5 x 1 inches, this backpack can be used as a multipurpose backpack both by men and women.

Some key features of this product are listed below.

  • Adjustable shoulder strap.
  • Branded SBS zippers.
  • A high-quality polyester material used to make the body.
  • RFID blocking in the inner zipper pocket.
  • Multiple access to pockets at various angles.
  • Slim and lightweight.
  • Anti-theft properties present.
  • Has a night reflective band on the shoulder strap.
  • Has a one year warranty.
  • Water resistant material.
  • Easy to clean.
  • Good for travel.
  • Cannot carry heavy weight.

Check Reviews & Price on Amazon

OutdoorMaster Sling Bag

OutdoorMaster Sling Bag - Crossbody Shoulder Chest Urben/Outdoor/Travel Backpack for Women & Men (Gray)

OutdoorMaster believes that nature should be accessible to everyone, so they offer a line of affordable, functional outdoor gear and clothing.

The brand claims to always be on the lookout for better materials and innovative ways of designing their products.

This unisex sling bag is compact yet spacious enough to hold a lot of stuff. It constructed with rugged material and is lightweight and very convenient to carry.

The bag has a room for all your daily essentials. These include a space for a camera, PC or tablet of up to 12.5 inches, and external insulated water bottle holders not to mention several zippered hidden pockets for small items.

The direction of the padded shoulder straps can easily be reversed, making the bag a perfect fit for both righties and lefties.

It comes with 100 % satisfaction or money-back guarantee.

  • Sturdily built
  • It is roomy
  • Lightweight
  • It features external pockets for holding water bottles
  • Cushioned, adjustable shoulder straps
  • The pocket on the shoulder straps is small
  • Zipper quality

Check Reviews & Price on Amazon

WATERFLY Chest Sling Shoulder Bag

Waterfly Chest Sling Shoulder Backpacks Bags Crossbody Rope Triangle Rucksack for Hiking

Now one of the leading bag brands, WATERFLY was launched by an outdoor sports lover, Adam in 2004.

The company offers a large selection of top-grade outdoor products and sports accessories including backpacks, running bags, socks, shoes, waist bag, etc .

This lightweight sling bag will win you over with its solid construction, multiple color options, and lightweight design.

It is made with tough, water-resistant nylon material, hence very durable. This bag features several compartments including a spacious main pocket that can hold an iPad and multiple pockets for keys, cards, wallets, phones, etc.

The adjustable straps come in a breathable mesh design which ensures comfortable carriage, while the reflective stripe makes you conspicuous and safer at night.

  • It is lightweight
  • Different color options
  • Comfortable padded strap
  • Built to last
  • Comes with a handy pouch on the shoulder strap
  • Not for heavy packers
  • Small water bottle holder

Check Reviews & Price on Amazon

Maxpedition Kodiak Gearslinger

Maxpedition Kodiak Gearslinger, Black

Maxpedition is a bag brand launched in Los Angeles, California in 2013.

The company specializes in travel bags, tactical backpacks, and gear for anyone who knows the importance of organization, design, personal protection, and style .

There are many things to love about this heavy-duty sling bag. Constructed with 1000-D water and abrasion resistant nylon material, this bag is designed to meet the most rugged and urban conditions.

The 22.6-L capacity bag features a main compartment that can hold up to a 15.4-inch laptop as well as hidden carry pockets, water bottle holders, among others.

This bag can easily be slung to the front while it’s still worn, providing easy access to all your gear whether you are sitting, moving or standing.

  • It is durable
  • Has multiple pockets
  • Roomy
  • Handy external water bottle holders
  • It is water-resistant
  • Not comfortable to carry when it is heavily loaded
  • It is expensive

Check Reviews & Price on Amazon

Mygreen Canvas Messenger Backpack Sling Shoulder Bag

Mygreen Canvas Cross Body Messenger Bag Shoulder Sling Backpack Travel Rucksack

Mygreen is a new London-based brand that designs and produces stylish satchels and rucksacks inspired by vintage fashion.

The fast-growing company claims that each of its products is handcrafted and hand-polished with well-sourced, top-grade materials .

This sling bag is simple, stylish and multifunctional. It is made of rugged canvas material and decorated with leather.

Mygreen combines vintage style, solid construction and sturdily built hardware to produce a modern-styled bag that anyone would love.

It has a handy mesh pocket for holding bottles and plenty of pockets where you can store your everyday essentials.

This bag comes in different colors, i.e., black, grey, coffee, etc. and has a wide adjustable strap which makes it comfortable to carry all through the day.

Available in two styles, the bag can serve as a backpack as well as a chest bag.

  • Padded, adjustable straps
  • Available in multiple colors
  • Well-made
  • Has multiple compartments
  • Can be worn as a single strap bag or as a cross-body bag
  • Not waterproof

Check Reviews & Price on Amazon

In the end..

A sling backpack can be useful if you are looking to carry small items. They are very comfortable and come in some amazing colors and designs. Whether you want a backpack for travel, outdoors, school, hiking, camping or just daily use there is always a sling backpack right for you.

Here is a quick recap of our best sling backpack picks, you can use the links to check the specs, prices, and reviews on Amazon –

if you are already using a sling backpack, do share your experience and the brands you like.

Last update on 2022-09-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

ReviewsWorthy Team

Our team consists of enthusiastic and passionate people from different fields and experience. Some are geeks and spend most of their time among gadgets while others love nature and are always on the move! We spend 10s of hours researching and writing on each topic. The articles are then quality checked by our editors. View our "About us" section for more details about process and team.

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