Learn More About Sling Bags
Sling bags enable photographers to access their gear more quickly. Photographers gravitate towards camera sling bags due to their fast access and lightweight designs. Sling bags may resemble a hip pack or a shoulder bag, but they all have one thing in common; a primary shoulder strap that is worn across the body. Camera sling bags allow you to quickly change from carrying your gear on your back to taking your shot without having to take off the camera bag. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind when selecting camera sling bags:
To access your gear, simply sling the bag around to the front of your body while wearing the pack. You can always get to your gear while keeping your bag clean and dry.
Sling bags are a favorite of ours because they're perfect for the run-and-gun style of photography. We like getting a back that isn't overly large and obtrusive, and I like being able to easily access my gear - much faster than with a backpack.
While some may argue that sling bags cause shoulder fatigue, modern sling bags feature supportive shoulder camera straps that help spread the bag's weight over a larger area.
Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all sling bag; there is just the right sling bag for YOU. As a result, we strongly advise you to read our entire guide to determine which sling bag is best for you (your future favorite one might not have made this list).
What is a Sling Bag and Why should I buy one?
The camera bag is one of the things that most photographers, particularly newbies, take for granted. While some people are picky about the bag they use to carry their belongings (including the camera), others are perfectly fine with their daily backpacks.
It's important to use the right camera bag because it's the key item you'll use to safely store and transport your gear. With so many options on the market these days, finding one that is fine, dependable, functional, and durable can be challenging. To assist you in resolving this conundrum, here are some pointers to consider when purchasing your first camera bag.
This question is not as straightforward as it seems. It’s taken a team of six bona fide gear reviewers analyzing 50+ sling bags and hip packs for over two months to come up with an answer we can all get behind (and there’s still some ambiguity).
Here’s the definition we’ve landed on: A sling bag is (drum roll, please…) a bag that’s designed to be worn comfortably across the chest or back and secured to the body with a cross-shoulder style strap. The buckle tends to be off-center, the straps connect diagonally, and the body of the bag tends to have an oblong shape (we say “tends to” because there are quite a few exceptions, which we’ll get into later).
One small clarification is that while sling bags and messenger bags have a similar thing going on with the single, crossbody style of strap—the two aren’t synonymous. Messenger bags are usually bigger, boxier, and don’t contour to the body, but there’s no exact science. Really, you can go with your gut here. We tend to think you’ll know a messenger bag when you see one.
What Camera fits on Sling Bags?
Slings are perfect for mirrorless cameras and light DSLR kits.
Because Sling bags are worn on one shoulder, they are more practical for lightweight camera kits. For heavier camera kits a backpack is more ergonomically appropriate. A great choice for a lightweight mirrorless camera sling bag is the Moment MTW Fanny Sling which was designed specifically for film cameras and mirrorless cameras, like the Sony A7 RII. For a super-compact mirrorless bag that can be worn as a cross-body sling consider the Moment MTW Fanny Sling or the ONA Leather Bowery which is perfect for a compact camera or very small mirrorless kit such as Sony A6300/A6500. For a DLSR kit, the Moment Rugged Camera Sling Bag is a great fit for cameras such as the Canon 7D MKII or Nikon D7200.
Where will you be shooting?
Get outdoor protection from the elements.
Consider the level of weather protection that you will need. If you are traveling outdoors and in climates where the weather can quickly change, look for camera sling bags that have a built-in All Weather AW Cover such as the MTW Fanny Sling Black Ripstop or Moment Rugged Camera Sling Bag. If you are in the city and just need basic weather protection, a bag with modern water-resistant fabrics such as the MTW Fanny Sling will function well.
How much do Sling Shoulder Bags cost?
Our Sling Bags price range starts at $59.99, but we are committed to going beyond a price tag and offering the best bags with features to carry your camera gear in one place.
Travel with a Sling Bag
Traveling with your DSLR camera or mirrorless camera will present many different carrying scenarios. If you want to go light, but have space for expansion, take a look at the MTW Fanny Sling, which can carry all your essentials and keep everything safe, dry, protected, and easy to reach if needed. The Moment Rugged Camera Sling Bag is another great small and compact travel bag. In addition to an expandable compartment, the Rugged Camera Sling is offered in 3 different colors, 2 sizes (6L and 10L) and the 6L is ideal for mirrorless and mobile carry. The 10L for DSLR, multiple lenses, and filmmaker gear. You can remove your camera gear from the bag and keep it protected while your camera bag has turned into an everyday sling for whatever stuff you need to carry.
Sling Bags Are Perfect for Your In-Flight Essentials
A sling bag becomes a great place to hold your pocketable things, particularly when in transit because wearing one backpack on the front and one on the back hasn't caught on yet (yes, we're surprised too). Simply chuck everything into your sling and toss it all into a bin as you breeze through airport screening like a pro, avoiding the dreaded "security shuffle."
And, unlike pockets, a sling bag can hold almost everything you might like in the air (within reason—a masseuse obviously won't fit). Of course, the contents of your sling bag are as individual as you are. Here are a few ideas based on what we've found to be effective:
- A smartphone
- A Mirrorless Camera
- Snacks (arguably the most important)
- USB cables
- Tech chargers
- Battery bank
- Earplugs (every plane has at least one crying baby, even if it’s your own; it’s like a law of physics or something)
- Eye mask
- Notebook and pen (something about being at 35,000 feet gets the creative juices flowing)
- An e-reader or book (depending on your sling, some are too small to fit one)
You can use a carabiner to attach your sling bag to the seat in front of you once you're on the plane. That way, you can grab a snack before you get hungry, some tissues in case the movie you choose is a lot sadder than you anticipated, or a phone charger in case Tetris drains your battery life surprisingly fast. Just the basics, you know.
Sling Bags Are Perfect for Your Day Trip Essentials
A sling bag, like the above benefit, may be the ideal companion for a day trip. While pockets can get the job done when all you need is your wallet, keys, and phone, 1) some clothes lack functional pockets, 2) skinny jeans are a thing, and 3) some clothes don't have pockets at all.
Even if you are #blessed with useable pockets, some day trips require a few “extra” items, although not quite enough to make lugging around an entire backpack worthwhile. A sling bag allows you to bring:
- Extra camera lenses
- Extra camera batteries
- Snacks (still the most important)
- Sweet and stylish Sunglasses
- Nintendo Switch (a gamers gotta game)
Will Sling Bags fit my tablet?
Carrying all your digital devices in a single solution is often now a must for many traveling photographers. Having a camera sling bag that has dedicated protection for your camera and tablet as well, means you can stay connected while traveling and shooting. Don't settle for cramming your tablet into bags that weren't meant to protect these devices. Camera sling bags such as the Moment Rugged Camera Sling Bag or the Peak Design Everyday Sling 10L have dedicated compartments for your camera and tablet.
What’s the Difference Between a Sling Bag and a Hip Pack?
On the internet, you'll see people equating sling bags with hip packs (or waist packs, fanny packs, bum bags, belt bags, or whatever you want to name them), but they're not the same thing. Sling bags and hip packs are not the same things, to be clear.
Simply put, a hip pack is a rebranded fanny pack, while a sling bag is a different animal (remember, it's the hipster cousin?). A sling bag can almost always be a hip pack, albeit not always a decent one, but a hip pack is almost never a sling bag (like a square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not a square).
Having said that, almost every organization has its own idea of a sling bag and a hip pack. To add to the confusion, some businesses will use the word "crossbody bag" to describe what we refer to as a sling bag. As a result, things get a little tangled—and our laws and meanings are far from absolute.
Choosing the Best Sling Bags 👌🏻
If you need help deciding which sling bags are best to organize and protect your laptop and gear, contact one of our Gear Guides. We’ll match you to the right guide based on your experience and style, and help to find the right sling bag for you.