Five Of The Best Sling Backpacks For Day Treks And Hikes

By Ryan | Gear & Stuff

May 01
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Finding a good backpack for day treks can be an arduous task. To balance comfort, with enough space for necessities and durability to last the most testing of hikes is the ultimate goal.

Sling bags, with their singular strap across your chest and around, definitely offer a comfort factor as standard, with the singular strap using the strength of your core more than your shoulders and back. The other two factors come down to the individual bag.

In this review article, we analyse the values that make up a good sling backpack, and relate those values to five of the best sling backpacks currently on the market.

**Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.

What To Look For When Buying Your Sling Backpack

Okay, so it’s important to outline which precise features make up a good sling backpack and run a thorough background check before you purchase a bag you’ll regret:

Material

best sling backpack material

From Amazon

What kind of material the bag you buy is made from is up there with being one of the more important values – is the backpack made from strong materials itself, canvas and heavy cottons are good for strength, but offer little in the way of waterproofing.

Water-resistant materials will give you more confidence if you’re planning to hike in terrains where the weather is either unpredictable, or downright guaranteed to rain, especially if you carry any electronics, such as a camera or laptop, or if you perhaps like to do a bit of writing or sketching once you hit particularly picturesque peaks or landscapes.

Materials also matter when it comes down to comfort. If you’ve bought a bag that chafes or scratches you, then you’re likely to be cursing the carrier the majority of the time that you’re walking, particularly towards the end of a trek.

Well-made sling bags will have been through vigorous research and development phases to ensure comfort is as much of a key characteristic as whether or not the strap breaks after 10 minutes of wear.

Sling Backpack Size

best sling backpack

From Amazon

Vitally important for day hikes is the size of your backpack. Although not ideal for overnight hikes, due to the space that clothing and sleeping equipment take up, and despite not always looking like they’re capable of holding all the essentials for trekking, sling backpack storage capacity may actually surprise you.

​Generally, you will be mainly taking necessities with you for a day trip of up to 8 hours, with food and water being the most important, and depending on temperatures and climate, a few layers also being stuffed into your bag.

​Although not all sling bags are big enough for such a task, many of them are more than capable of storing these items, with space for a few non-essentials you may also wish to take along with you.

Before settling on a bag, take stock of the general itinerary you’re likely to need to bring along and work out your base capacity to determine which bags are right for you.

Weight

Another important consideration is the weight of your sling bag before you fill it with items.

Generally speaking, sling bags tend to be on the lighter side than traditional two-strap backpacks, but that doesn’t mean some can’t be also be on the heavy side.

Obviously, simply looking for the most lightweight bag may mean you’re cutting out on quality materials, so bear that in mind also. But on the whole, a lighter backpack is better for your trek than a heavier backpack.

Additional Accessible Storage

best sling backpack storage

From Amazon

best sling backpack storage 2

From Amazon

As well as having a backpack which is large enough for all of your itinerary, it’s also important that some storage space has been considered for quick access.

Items you might need to grab on the move, particularly if you take your hikes seriously and are looking at beating and personal bests, etc., need to be stored within easy reach, in order not to slow you down (water, snacks and waterproof clothing, for example).

You might also be willing to consider compartmented backpacks as more fragile or sensitive items can be separated from the general luggage.

Is The Strap Adjustable or Interchangeable?

best sling backpack strap

From Amazon

For comfort this is really important, and something you have to consider less with a traditional two-strap bag.

Depending on whether you are left or right handed, you will wish your strap to be on the side which you are strongest, not least because your body will be more used to carrying weight with one half, but also for reaching into your bag whilst it is still on your back.

Price

So, this may not be going where you think it’s going! With speciality equipment like backpacks, particularly for tough tasks such as hiking, do not just go for the cheapest bag you find!

As much as your wallet might hate you for looking at anything but the option that will benefit it most, you are looking for a quality backpack which will last you in the long-run and not just fall to pieces after the first trial.

It’s also important that you do not overpay simply because there’s a shiny brand name on the front of the bag

Check Out Our Top 5 Best Sling Backpacks For Trekking

Here is our pick of five of the best sling backpacks for trekking. We’ll outline their individual features which make them great backpacks for hiking, with a review noting which bag, in our opinion is the pick of the bunch.

1.Under Armour Compel 2.0

best sling backpack 1

Fraom Amazon

Available in two hues of black on black and steel/graphite, this water-resistant sling bag is both lightweight and sturdy with pockets galore

Features

  • ​Across the body HeatGear shoulder strap for a secure and comfortable fit.
  • Cushioned laptop sleeve with the capacity to store laptops and tablets up to 15".
  • Front zip organisation pocket.
  • Side water bottle pocket.

Pros

  • Under Armour’s Storm gear uses water resistant materials without compromising on breathability.
  • Water-resistant Storm gear valuables pocket for safe and secure storage.
  • Lightweight, weighing only 1lb (450g).
  • Multiple storage zips and pockets, not just main body bag.

Cons

  • Non-detachable strap – over the right shoulder only.
  • Only two colourways.

2.KAVU Rope Backpack

best sling backpack kavu

From Amazon

The KAVU comes in 39 colourways to pick from, this strap backpack is certainly one for the fashionistas out there. Handy pockets and an adjustable and interchangeable straps offer advantages for easy access and comfort.

Features

  • ​Compact size with dimensions of 12 x 10 x 2 inches (30 x 25 x 5 cm)
  • Available in 39 colours.
  • 100% Polyester material which offers some water resistance.

Pros

  • Super lightweight at 12.4 ounces (354g).
  • One body zip pocket and one easy access zip pocket offer security for valuables, storage for all essentials and easy access for necessities, such as food.
  • Secondary external pocket for other quick access items.

Cons

  • No obvious water bottle storage.
  • Not the most water-resistant bag.

3.OutdoorMaster Sling Bag

best sling backpack outdoor

From Amazon

Available in four denim-look colours, the OutdoorMaster sling backpack is big on comfort and utilises its diminutive size with multiple storage options.

Features

  • ​Dimensions are 18.9 x 12.6 x 4 inches (48 x 32 x 10 cm).
  • Compiled of lightweight canvas textured polyester material.
  • Featuring a number of smart organiser pouches, including a hidden anti-theft pocket.
  • Available in four colours.

Pros

  • Small and spacious unisex sling bag.
  • Lightweight at only 1 pound (450g).
  • Large main pocket affords space to hold all essentials, including such as tablets or 12” laptops.
  • Offers an external water bottle pouch.
  • Reversible shoulder strap direction making this the perfect pack for both left handed and right handed users.

Cons

  • Not water-resistant.

4.Maxpedition Sitka Gearslinger

best sling backpack maxpedition

From Amazon

For the professional adventurer, the Maxpedition Sitka Gearslinger offers everything you could ever need in a sling backpack. Attachment straps, water bottle storage and a large body give the most ardent trekker a wealth of options for carriage. Also made with high-end materials and fibres for extreme durability.

Features

  • ​618 cubic inch capacity.
  • Abrasion-resistant.
  • Heavy duty nylon webbing and composite nylon thread.
  • Taped and finished internal seams.
  • Paracord zipper pulls for durability.
  • Available in seven colours.

Pros

  • 1000 denier nylon and triple polyurethane coat for extreme water resistance.
  • Teflon fabric protector for dirt and grime resistance and simple maintenance.
  • Strong zippers and zipper tracks for consistent and reliable use, over and over again.
  • UTX-Duraflex buckles for reduced sound when closing.
  • High grade closed-cell foam padding material for shock absorbing and comfort.
  • Double-stitched over stress points to decrease chances of ripped seems.

Cons

  • Price is on the expensive side.
  • Offers too many options for the average trekker, definitely more for the avid hiker.
  • Very big compared to the other backpacks.
  • Heavier than other backpacks.
  • One sided sling.

5.Waterfly Sling Bag

best sling backpack waterfly

From Amazon

Waterfly’s ultra lightweight, weatherproof sling bag comes with a whopping nine storage compartments, and is by far the cheapest bag on the list.

Features

  • ​The strap is adjustable from 44 to 50 inches and reversible for left or right handers.
  • The main Pouch is 9.84 x 13.78 inches.
  • It can hold tablets and notebooks.
  • Available in four colours: black, rose, blue, army green.

Pros

  • Rain and snow-proof material make this the perfect trekking sling backpack for all seasons.
  • Big enough to fit all of your essentials.
  • The reflective strip ensures safety whilst trekking in low-light.
  • The mesh side pouch is big enough to hold water bottles.
  • The shoulder strap zipped pocket is 3.54 x 7.48 x 1.57 inches, big enough to store smartphones and other valuables.
  • The front pocket is 7.48 x 9.45 inches with multiple additional storage pouches for stationary, food, smaller clothing items or other essentials.

Cons

  • May not be as durable as other bags on this list.

And The Winner Is...?

So, now that the sling backpacks have all been showcased, and whilst all put in a heroic performance and offer multiple vital characteristics, one of them must be chosen as the winner. But which will it be?

Drum roll…

The Under Armour Compel Sling 2.0!

But why?

Well, we’ve picked the winner based on the best performance for the average user. Someone who likes to hike, who perhaps doesn’t do it enough to need the best options on the market, but does it enough to require a good quality sling bag to last them a few times up and down dales and over glens, etc.

We feel that water-resistance is a very important feature of a hiking backpack, despite other strong characteristics, both the OutdoorMaster and the KAVU Rope were instantly eliminated. This left us with a choice between the Compel, the Waterfly and the Maxpedition.

The Waterfly offered many positives, and that price is really tough to ignore, but following our own advice, we didn’t let the cost dictate our choice, and we just aren’t 100% convinced of its durability in the long-run. its weather resistant features definitely show signs that it is definitely a genuine contender, however.

The problem of weakness can’t be applied to the Maxpedition, which seems as though it could withstand a nuclear holocaust.

So why the Under Armour instead? The Maxpedition is arguably, for all intents and purposes, the best sling backpack on this list. With options galore for storage, huge space, tough and thoroughly water-resistant materials, zips that won’t just fall apart on you after a hike and even straps for customisable additions. This, for the very serious trekker is the absolute holy grail of sling bags.

But, as we mentioned, our choice was based on the leisurely trekker, the not-so-novice, not-so-professional explorer, and we feel that this backpack would be just that bit too big, and a little overzealous for the average Joe or Jane. And with that whopping price tag, it’s also way out of most people’s budget.

So, the Under Armour pips it at the post, with all you’d need of a sling backpack on your treks, from a trusted brand of sports gear, at a price that’s neither too cheap or too expensive. Its water-resistance, space for more than just your bare essentials and pockets and pouches aplenty really just push it that little nose ahead of its opponents.

If you happen to disagree with the choice, or have any suggestions of your own, why not leave a comment below?

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About the Author

Hi, I'm Ryan Smith, a solo traveler, and founder of MrAbroad.com with a bunch of friends. I love going outside, reading books and talking to people.