Crossbody and sling bags started trending a few years back, and while some of the excitement may have waned, stylish people everywhere are still wearing the small bags across their shoulders. The enduring popularity of the best sling bags comes down to practicality. Whether it’s earbuds for a noisy train commute or a flashlight for a late-night dog walk, there are tons of small items you can fit in a sling bag that you wouldn’t necessarily want to stuff into your pockets.
“Sling bag” is a broad category, encompassing a variety of styles, shapes and sizes. Sling bags are also referred to by other names, including crossbody bags or shoulder bags. They have in common that they’re smaller than the average backpack, worn over one shoulder, and endlessly practical. They can range in size from the size of a fanny pack to about as big as a small backpack. And while the best sling bags for men are typically worn over the shoulder, some options can also be worn around the waist, like those from Patagonia or Topo Designs.
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Once you have one you like, a sling bag will be the kind of thing you’ll use every day, regardless of whether you’re running errands on the weekend, heading to work or hopping on a cross-country flight. Plus, some of our favorite options can inject a dose of style into an otherwise plain outfit. If you’re heading off a hike, you can check out the options from Adidas and Corkcicle, which are specifically designed to hold water bottles. Or, if you’re taking off on a trip, bags from brands like Rains are ideal for travel.
We’ve rounded up some of the best sling bags to suit different needs, styles and tastes.
1. Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole Mini Hip Pack
Patagonia’s gear is stylish and built to withstand the outdoors, so it’s no surprise they make one of the best sling bags. It’s billed as a hip pack, but the strap easily extends, so you can also wear it over the shoulder. It comes in various colors, like the stylish color-blocked design we have highlighted below. Patagonia uses fabric made from recycled plastics. It keeps this bag small, so it’s best suited for the everyday items you might otherwise carry in your pocket — you won’t be stuffing water bottles and overhead headphones in this bag.
2. Day Owl The Crossbody
When we tested the Day Owl backpack, we gave it a glowing review and included it in our 2021 Man Awards as one of the year’s best products. And while we haven’t gotten our hands on the Day Owl crossbody, we’re fond of the streamlined design and cleverly designed magnetic buckle, which makes it easy to snap the bag on and off. The bag is on the small side, but it has everything you need to free your pockets. There’s a dedicated phone pouch, while the main compartment has internal organizers for wireless earbuds, a wallet and other accessories.
3. Adicolor Festival Waist Bag
Small shoulder bags can be surprisingly expensive, and we’ve included a few of them on this list. But if you just want an affordable, reliable and stylish bag that you can use to carry your everyday essentials, you could do worse than to buy this Adidas bag. It features the brand’s classic trefoil logo and has a slim design with a removable strap. The bag has an internal sleeve for a phone, and the bag is made from polyester that’s made with 100% recycled plastic. The bag won’t hold much, but it’s suited for a day hike or the daily commute.
4. Topo Designs Mini Quick Pack
BEST FOR BIKE RIDES
Inject a little color into your wardrobe with the Quick Pack bag from Topo Designs, available in vibrant hues like coral, purple and yellow. It has a diagonal zippered compartment on the front, with a larger main compartment. There’s also a convenient top handle if you don’t want to wear it over your shoulder.
5. Carhartt Mono Sling Backpack
Carhartt was once a staple reserved for construction sites, but its clean and simple designs and durable products have helped the hardworking brand cross into the fashion world. Whether you’re spending the day swinging a hammer or commuting to the office, the Carhartt Mono Sling Backpack is an excellent option for keeping your gear safe. The 19-inch main compartment includes a padded tablet sleeve, and the front zippered section has a fleece lining that is ideal for items like cell phones and glasses. Available in four solid colors, the Mono is treated with Rain Defender, a water repellent that will help protect your items.
6. Porter-Yoshida & Co. Square Waist Bag
Porter-Yoshida is a Japanese label that’s earned a cult following for its minimalist, streamlined nylon bags. The bags are practical, too, because they often feature two pouches on the outside for easy organization. There’s a large zippered main compartment storing your everyday essentials. The bag is admittedly expensive, but it’s certainly a style flex.
7. Rains Jet Bag
Rain jackets were rarely stylish until brands like Stutterheim and Rains came along. The latter also makes great accessory bags in water-resistant materials. The bag has a main zippered compartment, a zippered sleeve, and a hidden back pocket. The bag is available in three colors. The strap is adjustable for comfortable wearing.
8. Adidas Hydration Crossbody
BEST FOR DAY HIKES
A crossbody bag is great for a phone, wallet, snacks, earbuds and other essentials. But the one big flaw of most of these bags is that they can’t hold a full-size reusable water bottle. That’s what makes this bag so handy. The adjustable pouch is specifically designed to fit a water bottle, and there’s a small pocket on the front for storing your phone and a few other small items. It might be a tight squeeze if you have a larger phone, but it should hold most of the basic essentials you might need.
9. Carhartt Work In Progress Vernon Organizer Bag
We’re big fans of Carhartt at SPY, and the brand’s Work In Progress sub-label is a great destination for elevated workwear. This basic pouch has a buckle on the front, an internal organizer, and a removable and adjustable strap. The bag comes in a rugged earthy color.
10. Baggu Sport Crossbody
Baggu is well known for its stylish and colorful grocery totes, which pack down to a small size when not in use. The brand also makes stylish shoulder bags and backpacks, such as this simple crossbody bag made from recycled nylon with a pleasant texture. The bag has a main compartment, a sleeve in the back, plus a vertical zip pocket on the front for additional storage.
11. Waterfly Crossbody Sling
DOUBLE BOTTLE HOLDER
Have a handy spot for your water, umbrella, headphones, electronics and more with the versatile Waterfly Crossbody Sling. The Waterfly is ideal for anyone who likes to keep their items organized. The sling-style bag has two mesh water bottle pockets on either side and a small, zippered pocket on the strap, perfect for glasses or phones. A tablet sleeve, hidden earphone hole, and smaller interior compartments combine to create a bag that can comfortably go from the office to the airport.
12. Clearworld PVC Sling Bag
BEST FOR CONCERTS
Many public venues, including casinos, sports arenas and festivals, have begun implementing new safety policies that require attendees to use only clear, see-through bags. For a sling bag that will help you tote your stuff without getting stuck in the security line, we like the Clearworld PVC Sling Bag. The waterproof bag features two zippered compartments to keep your belongings safe and an adjustable strap worn crossbody or over the shoulder. The stadium-approved bag comes with black or red trim and provides enough room for personal items while staying under most security size restrictions.
13. Alpaka Atom X Sling
This sling from Alpaka has a slim build designed to have a low profile on the body, so it won’t bounce around as you move throughout the day. It’s large enough to stash a Nintendo Switch, and there are integrated key clips and internal organizers. Other intelligent features include a magnetic buckle and clips that lock the zippers to prevent theft. The unique feature is the MOLLE-inspired webbing that allows you to add extra pouches sold separately by Alpaka.
14. The North Face Field Bag
BEST FOR TABLETS
Got a little extra to carry? The Field Bag from North Face has a larger capacity with multiple compartments, including a sleeve for a tablet. The bag also has lash tabs for attaching extra gear and a handle if you carry it by hand. The tan color gives this bag an outdoorsy appearance that is still appropriate for the office or classroom.
15. Aer City Sling
Aer is known for its exceptionally well-designed and sleekly minimalist bags, and the City Sling is an excellent option for everyday use. The long, symmetrical design means it’ll sit comfortably on your back, regardless of which shoulder you wear it over. Despite its compact size, the City Sling has multiple pockets to help you stay organized. The bag is made from durable Cordura ballistic nylon and has reliable YKK zippers to ensure it lasts you through every adventure.
16. Bellroy Sling
Bellroy is beloved for its stylish and practical wallets, and the brand also makes excellent bags, like the Bellroy Sling. It’s on the larger size without being bulky, meaning it has enough space to store a water bottle, camera, and other generous EDC items. Multiple outer compartments with internal pockets ensure everything is easy to find. Like Bellroy’s wallets, this sling bag is available in various colors.
17. Kibou Vegan Leather Diaper Bag
BEST FOR DADS
The term “diaper bag” typically brings to mind an oversized backpack brimming with toys, wipes and diapers. Not all trips outside the home require a week’s worth of outfit changes, which is why we like the Kibou Vegan Leather Bag. Available in several colors, the stylish Kibou looks like a regular hip bag but includes several features parents will love. A fold-out diaper changing bag, waterproof pocket for wipes, key or pacifier hook, wipeable and stain-resistant lining all make this a great diaper bag. The ergonomic, weight-bearing belt and buckle make this a bag that will help you be a great dad without looking like a dad.
18. Paw Lifestyles Dog Treat Training Pouch
BEST FOR DOG DADS
Dog dads, we didn’t forget about you. Your puppy has slightly different needs than a baby, which is why we like the Paw Lifestyles Dog Treat Training Pouch. The pouch can be worn crossbody, as a hip pack, or attached to pants or a bag using the metal belt clip. A dog poop bag holder and several pockets, including a zippered section for personal items, a large main compartment for treats, and a mesh pocket for balls and toys, all help make this a bag worthy of man’s best friend.
19. Corkcicle Crossbody Water Bottle Sling Bag
BEST DRINK HOLDER
For a bag that can hold hot or cold drinks and comes with ample storage space, we like the Corkcicle Crossbody Water Bottle Sling Bag. Available in several colors and with the ability to be worn crossbody, as a shoulder bag or hip bag, the Corkcicle fits the brand’s wide range of insulated bottles and many other bottle brands. Adjust straps make it easy to create a secure fit for your bottle, and the zippered pouch is large enough to fit all your daily needs, including keys, wallet, phone, glasses and more.
20. DSLR Ranger Belt Bag by Hex
BEST FOR CAMERAS
Whether photographing is your main hustle, side hustle or how you like to explore your city on the weekend, the DSLR Ranger Belt Bag by Hex makes it easy to haul around your gear without getting weighed down by a backpack. The plush fleece lining, dividers and padded pockets keep lenses and a camera body safe and secure. An exterior zip pocket and stash pocket make it easy to quickly grab your phone or store a lens cap between shots, and we also like that the bag includes adjustable front straps for securing a jacket or small blanket.
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