The 11 Best Sling Bags for Women of 2023

Patagonia’s Atom Sling Bag is lightweight, versatile, and packed with pockets.

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The Best Sling Bags for Women

Travel & Leisure / Alli Waataja

For traveling, commuting, and hiking, backpacks are a wonderful, practical choice — that is, until you find yourself kneeling on the ground, digging through a giant bag. In those situations, sling bags are an excellent alternative. Essentially a backpack with only one strap, a sling bag allows for comfortable carrying while also keeping everything well within reach. With this style, you can shoulder the burden on your back most of the time and swing the main compartment around to the front whenever you need something.

Like a belt bag, a sling bag is particularly great for air travel, music festivals, and other occasions when you need your hands free, but the latter is typically larger and can fit more things inside. Our favorite is Patagonia’s Atom Sling Bag due to its versatility, light weight, and number of pockets and compartments. But, of course, not every sling bag is suited to every occasion, so we’ve narrowed down the best options for hikers, bikers, photographers, sightseers, and more.

Best Overall

Patagonia Atom Sling Bag

Patagonia Atom Sling Bag


Why We Love It: This lightweight, versatile bag works for air travel, day hikes, the gym, and more.

What to Consider: The overall capacity is on the smaller side, and the aesthetic is more outdoorsy than metropolitan.

While the Patagonia Atom Sling Bag might not meet every single need, it sure comes close. Weighing just 12 ounces, this sling bag can go biking or hiking, and it works as a carry-on bag for air travel or a hands-free option for urban exploring. The outer straps on the main pouch can stow your yoga mat or a hoodie, and we love the pocket on the chest that allows your phone or wallet to be accessed easily without having to take off the bag. Although the interior is divided into two compartments, the Atom isn’t designed to carry a laptop or tablet, but it can accommodate a camera, a water bottle, and other large items. The Patagonia Atom comes in 11 colors, but be warned: They all have a very outdoorsy aesthetic, which may not appeal to everyone.

Price at time of publish: $65

Dimensions: 13.5 x 9 x 3 inches | Material: Recycled nylon and polyester | Strap length: Not listed

Best Small

Dagne Dover Mara Phone Sling

Dagne Dover Mara Phone Sling

Dagne Dover

Why We Love It: This slim-profile sling carries the bare essentials, no hands or pockets needed.

What to Consider: It’s basically a wallet with a strap, with a little bit of extra room.

We love the monochrome, neoprene design of Dagne Dover’s Mara Phone Sling, which comes in six shades (with seasonal colors available). This crossbody bag is perfect for concerts, nightclubs, and any other venue where you don’t want to bother with pockets or purses. Essentially a wearable wallet, the Mara Sling holds most phone sizes, credit cards, some cash, and maybe a lip gloss — i.e., it’s very small — plus an external clip for your keys. This chic silhouette can be dressed up or down and makes a perfect travel purse.

Price at time of publish: $75

Dimensions: 6.5 x 4 x 1 inches | Material: Neoprene exterior and recycled plastic-bottle lining | Strap length: 14.5 to 28 inches

Best Organization

Timbuk2 Vapor Sling Pack

Timbuk2 Vapor Sling Pack


Why We Love It: This smart design has a streamlined silhouette despite its multiple pockets.

What to Consider: While the main compartment can fit a tablet, it isn’t big enough for a laptop.

Elegant and simple, the Timbuk2 Vapor Sling Pack manages to feature four exterior pockets without feeling bulky. One of the pouches even has a special scratch-proof lining for eyeglasses or phones. This durable, chic sling is great for walkers, cyclists, or travelers, and the strap can be worn on either shoulder. Available in black or gray, this bag basically goes with everything, and, in my experience, Timbuk2 bags hold up to lots of wear and tear.

Price at time of publish: $99

Dimensions: ​​7 x 15 x 1.5 inches | Material: Recycled nylon and polyester | Strap length: 31.5 to 58 inches

Best Large

Cotopaxi Chasqui 13L Sling Pack

Cotopaxi Chasqui 13L Sling Pack


Why We Love It: This bag holds all of your essentials in a bright and stylish bundle.

What to Consider: The boxy shape isn’t as body-hugging as smaller sling bags.

If you want a larger, sling-style bag for work, school, or travel, the Chasqui Sling Pack holds a laptop with plenty of room for more. There’s a separate front pocket for essentials plus a two-sided daisy chain for added organization so it’s a great carry-on option, too. The brand is known for its bright colors, and while REI only sells two designs, you can find seven inventive colorways on the company’s website. We also love that this bag comes with a padded strap as well as handles on the top and sides, making it ideal for transporting.

Price at time of publish: $75

Dimensions: 18 x 10 x 5 inches | Material: Recycled nylon and polyester | Strap length: Not listed

Best Clear

Behdre Clear Sling Bag

Behdre Clear Sling Bag


Why We Love It: A bold stripe down the front makes this bag a little more interesting than other clear options.

What to Consider: The clear vinyl material isn’t as durable as nylon bags and the zipper may snag over time.

Increasingly, music festivals and sports stadiums require patrons to carry clear bags, but if you don’t want to sacrifice style for ease, then we recommend the Behdre Clear Sling Bag. Available with a blue-and-white or red-and-white stripe down the front, this bag benefits from a pop of color, which you can wear in the front or the back (as it covers an exterior pocket to keep smaller items separated and safe). Not to mention, it boasts an inexpensive price tag.

Price at time of publish: $11

Dimensions: 7 x 9.5 x 2.5 inches | Material: PVC | Strap length: 41 to 66 inches

Best for Cameras

Peak Design Everyday 10L Camera Sling Bag

Peak Design Everyday 10L Camera Sling Bag

Peak Design

Why We Love It: This bag suits minimalists and maximalists alike, depending on the size you choose.

What to Consider: The material is very stiff and not as waterproof as some users would like.

Designed with photographers in mind, the Peak Design Camera Sling Bag comes in three different sizes depending on the amount of equipment you want to carry on your person. Available in a 3-liter, 6-liter, and 10-liter capacities, these camera bags come with a variety of flexible dividers and pockets to accommodate your preferred equipment setup. The largest size even holds a laptop for photographers who need to edit on the go. And, unlike a backpack, this sling bag is easy to access without having to take it off, and the sleek look doesn’t scream “camera bag,” which could be a security bonus.

Price at time of publish: $160 for 10 liters

Dimensions: 16.5 x 10 x 5.5 inches (10 liters) | Material: 100 percent recycled polyurethane-coated nylon canvas | Strap length: 86 to 172 centimeters

Best Water-repellent

Osprey Daylite Sling Backpack

Osprey Daylite Sling Backpack


Why We Love It: This durable sling bag holds a surprising amount of gear without looking overstuffed.

What to Consider: It’s good for everyday use, but the capacity is relatively small for travel.

A good raincoat should be lightweight, and the same goes for all-weather bags. The Osprey Daylite Sling weighs just 9.6 ounces, and it’s coated with a durable water-repellent finish, so it keeps everything dry while you’re hiking trails or pounding pavement. The wide, comfy strap has a pocket for your phone, and the main compartment is big enough to carry a Kindle or water bottle but not a laptop. This bag shows remarkably little wear and tear, even after several years, making it a truly excellent everyday bag.

Price at time of publish: $45

Dimensions: 14 x 7 x 2.5 inches | Material: 100 percent recycled polyester | Strap length: Not listed

Best Style/Leather

Proenza Schouler Stanton Leather Sling Bag

Proenza Schouler Stanton Leather Sling Bag

Saks Fifth Avenue

Why We Love It: This chic leather option can be dressed up or down.

What to Consider: Aside from a tiny side pouch, this bag is just a single compartment.

Proenza Schouler’s Stanton Leather Sling combines the best of three bags: The silhouette echoes that of a belt bag, but you wear it like a sling, and the style is as sophisticated as any designer handbag. Available in black or white with silver hardware, this effortlessly cool bag syncs with minimalist wardrobes and can be worn on one shoulder or across the chest. Like the Dagne Dover Mara Sling, this bag is a great alternative to a small purse, but the Stanton gives you a little bit of extra room for essentials like eyeglasses.

Price at time of publish: $375

Dimensions: 15 x 4.7  x 4.9 inches | Material: Leather | Strap length: Adjustable strap with 13-inch drop

Best for Hiking

The North Face Borealis 6L Sling Pack

The North Face Borealis 6L Sling Pack


Why We Love it: A water-bottle sleeve plus bungee storage make this bag ideal and versatile for hikers.

What to Consider: The strap is relatively small and may not be comfortable on larger bodies.

If you’re looking for a sling bag to take on outdoor adventures, the North Face Borealis Sling Pack is your best bet. The one-strap version of North Face’s extremely popular Borealis backpack, this sling has plenty of features that will appeal to hikers, including water-repellent material, exterior bungees to accommodate larger items, an interior mesh pocket for wet items, and a dedicated pocket to fit small water bottles.

Price at time of publish: $59

Dimensions: 13.5 x 9 x 3 inches | Material: Recycled nylon ripstop | Strap length: Up to 36 inches

Best for Biking

Chrome Doubletrack Handlebar Sling Bag

Why We Love It: This heavy-duty bag transitions seamlessly from your back to your bike.

What to Consider: The Fog colorway features reflective material, but not all colors in the line have this safety feature.

As the name suggests, Chrome’s Doubletrack Handlebar Sling Bag is two bags in one. You can wear it across your back like a traditional sling bag, or you can tuck the strap away and attach it to your handlebars. The strap is easy to unlatch quickly, and a magnetic closure provides extra security. The only downsides to this bag are that it’s not completely waterproof, and only the Fog model features reflective material for nighttime rides. If you are planning on riding after dusk, we’d recommend adding some reflective tape or stickers.

Price at time of publish: $70

Dimensions: 9 x 9 x 4.5 inches | Material: Polyester | Strap length: Not listed

Best Anti-theft

Pacsafe MetroSafe LS 100 Econyl Crossbody Bag

Pacsafe MetroSafe LS 100 Econyl Crossbody Bag


Why We Love It: Pacsafe’s crossbody bag has a laundry list of security features, like a slash-proof strap and RFID-blocking pocket.

What to Consider: It protects your valuables, minus a laptop, which will probably not fit in this bag.

Like a superhero, the Pacsafe Crossbody Bag looks like an ordinary bag but leads a secret life — as a safe. Solo travelers love this unassuming-looking bag for its lockable zippers, cut-resistant fabric, and a strap that is reinforced with wire. The strap even has locking security hooks, so you can loop it onto a fixed object to prevent yank-and-runs. Store your passport and credit cards in the RFID-blocking pocket, and tuck your tablet away in a padded sleeve. But a warning: there isn’t room for a laptop in this bag, making it more appropriate for travel for pleasure, not business.

Price at time of publish: $90

Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.7 x 2.8 inches | Material: Nylon | Strap length: 14.2 to 29.5 inches

Tips for Buying a Sling Bag

Focus on the materials

Consider what you’ll be using your sling bag for the most, and allow that to aid your decision-making. Hikers and bikers will probably prefer a bag with a water-repellent coating, while basic nylon or polyester will be durable enough for travelers and commuters. If you need your sling bag to transition to dressier occasions, look for real or faux leather; for sporting events and music festivals, you might want to opt for a clear bag.

Strike a balance between style and substance

While it’s tempting to buy a sling bag based on style alone, you should consider both the look and the features before making a purchase. Consider what you plan to carry in your bag and make sure the dimensions and features will allow for your cargo. For instance, photographers will want bags with multiple compartments, to securely store different pieces of equipment, while hikers might prefer a big compartment without a lot of dividers.

Part of a sling bag’s appeal is that it’s very easy to access what’s inside, but you may want some items (like your phone or water bottle) to be even handier. Note: bags with lots of additional features tend to have a very outdoorsy aesthetic, while the chicer bags have fewer utilitarian extras. Find the balance that works for your needs and your style.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What’s the difference between a sling bag, a crossbody bag, and a belt bag?

    A sling bag is a one-strapped backpack designed to be worth across the body and above the waist. So a belt bag (a.k.a. fanny pack) can be worn as a sling bag, but a sling bag is not a belt bag. Similarly, a crossbody bag is — obviously — worn across the body, but it’s more like a bag dangling from a strap, while a sling bag clings lovingly to your chest or back.

  • What can I carry in a sling bag?

    Most sling bags are not large enough to accommodate a laptop but will hold just about anything else: a book, a tablet, your phone, a water bottle, snacks, and other essentials. Consider carrying a sling bag when you want everything to stay close to your person and easy to access.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

For this article, T+L contributor Nancy Einhart researched dozens of sling bags, considering uses, material, and dimensions, to curate a list of the best available. She draws on decades of experience as a traveler, a commuter, and both a wilderness and urban hiker.

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