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The 6 Best Sling Bags, Fanny Packs, and Crossbody Bags of 2024

We tested the best sling bags, fanny packs, and crossbodies from brands like Cotopaxi, Patagonia, The North Face, REI, and more
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Best sling bag Review (We tested 16 of the top sling bags on the market to help you pick out the fanny pack, crossbody commuter, or...)
We tested 16 of the top sling bags on the market to help you pick out the fanny pack, crossbody commuter, or hike-ready carrier that will be just right for your next adventure.
Credit: Whitney Clark
By Whitney Clark ⋅ Review Editor
Thursday April 25, 2024

If you're looking for a sling bag, fanny pack, or crossbody carrier to carry around town or for quick trail outings, we've got you covered. We researched scores of sling-style bags, from small to large and everything in between, and after much deliberation, narrowed down our list to 16 top options. Our team of experts then got to work, purchasing each bag and putting them through rigorous side-by-side testing to see which sling stood out as a top performer and which might be best suited to specific needs or preferences. Whether you want a messenger-inspired crossbody for hiking, a fanny pack for the bare essentials when traveling, or a modern sling bag for days out in the city, our recommendations will help you find exactly what you're looking for.

Need space to carry more? If you have additional items to haul, check out our complete review of the best backpacks or our exhaustive list of the best travel bags to take you wherever you may roam. If you are on the hunt for the perfect accessory to carry on your next on-trail adventure, let us point you in the right direction. We've spent years testing mountain bike hip packs, the best daypacks, backpacking packs, and the top hydration packs to help you sort through the noise and land on exactly what you need.

Editor's Note: We updated our sling bag review on April 25, 2024, to share more info on our testing process.

Top 16 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 16
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Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award 
Price $75.00 at Evo$119.95 at REI$30 List
$29.95 at REI
$38 List
$34.50 at Amazon
$35.00 at REI
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Pros Comfy fit, well-constructed, several pockets and ways to organizeMany pockets and organizational options, ideal for camera gear, versatile, comfortableDurable, water-resistant material, useful storage options including an anti-theft pocket for security and a bucket-style main compartmentComfortable fit, soft fabric, many storage compartmentsSolid construction, fits well, breathable padding, stuffs into built-in pocket when not in use
Cons A bit pricey, no shoulder strap pocket, might be too large for some needsExpensive, difficult to make use of all features without instructionOutdoorsy look, narrow waist strapSmall in size, fancy aesthetic better suited to town than trail useLacks storage compartments, no key clip
Bottom Line Useful organizational features, a well-cushioned fit, and plenty of room to carry your belongings make this a top choice for all kinds of usesWhether you are carrying heavy camera gear or just like to stay hyper-organized, this super comfortable, low-profile, urban-styled sling is a versatile favoriteA sturdy, easy-to-use fanny pack that has everything you need to keep small loads organized and can easily be carried as a slingSimple organizational basics wrapped in a small yet classy exterior that feels soft against the skin - perfect for dinners out or quick jaunts around townWell-built, breathable, and comfy, with plenty of room for the bare essentials and the option to carry as a fanny pack or as a tiny sling
Rating Categories Cotopaxi 13L Chasqui Peak Design Everyda... REI Co-op Trail 2 W... Lululemon Everywher... Patagonia Ultraligh...
Comfort and Fit (30%)
9.0
9.0
7.0
7.5
8.0
Storage and Protection (30%)
9.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
5.5
Ease of Use (30%)
9.0
6.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Versatility and Aesthetics (10%)
9.0
9.0
7.5
8.0
7.5
Specs Cotopaxi 13L Chasqui Peak Design Everyda... REI Co-op Trail 2 W... Lululemon Everywher... Patagonia Ultraligh...
Type of Bag Sling bag Sling bag Fanny pack Fanny pack Fanny pack
Volume Tested 13 L 6 L 2 L 1 L 1 L
Number of Pockets Interior and Exterior 6 10 5 5 2
Weight 19.2 oz 27.2 oz 4.3 oz 5.0 oz 3.5 oz
Water Bottle Holder No No No No No
Maximum Strap Circumference 44 in 56 in 47 in 48 in 43 in
Key Clip Yes No Yes No Yes
Features Fits 13-inch laptop, load lifter strap, dual sided daisy chain, grab handles, ambidextrous carry Many small pockets for camera equipment, removable divider, storage sleeve for extra strap material, converts into fanny pack Anti-theft pocket, water resistant fabric Anti-theft pocket Packs into its own pocket


Best Overall Sling Bag


Cotopaxi 13L Chasqui


90
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Fit 9.0
  • Storage and Protection 9.0
  • Ease of Use 9.0
  • Versatility and Aesthetics 9.0
Number of Compartments: 6 | Volume: 13 liters
REASONS TO BUY
Great organization
Lots of pockets for storage
Really comfy carry
Heavy-duty construction
REASONS TO AVOID
Swings around a bit when loaded
No chest pocket on shoulder strap

Out of all the sling bags we tested, the Cotopaxi 13L Chasqui was our favorite all-arounder. This crossbody bag has six thoughtfully designed compartments to keep you organized no matter what your day has in store. There is a nice amount of padding along the back panel and shoulder strap, each covered in a thick, breathable fabric for comfort. The single strap can be easily worn over either shoulder by simply moving the clip from one corner to the other at its base, making it an extremely versatile design. It is also adjustable in length for taller folks and comes with a load-lifter strap up top to ensure a snug fit across the body. Sturdy grab handles at the top and sides are helpful for carrying the bag by hand. A large anti-theft pocket with room enough to hold a Kindle or a large phone is tucked under the backside padding. The main compartment unzips all the way around in a clamshell design, opening flat to provide quick and easy interior access from all sides. Inside, laptop-sized sleeve pockets are built into both halves, each with a Velcro strap to secure them closed. This is a cool feature similar to some travel backpacks and laptop backpacks that adds an extra layer of protection and confidence when carrying valuable electronics. There is also a mid-sized exterior zip pocket for a book, snacks, or even a water bottle, plus a small interior zip pocket with a key clip. If you need to carry even more gear or stash your jacket, use the narrow, dual-sided daisy chain on the strap to hook items to the outside quickly.

We'd love it if the Cotopaxi Chasqui included a chest pocket on the shoulder strap for small valuables. Currently, you must take off the bag to access your belongings, including things like your phone, keys, or other small items you might want more readily available. Also, this bag can be a bit finicky in its fit, so make sure you take the time to adjust the shoulder and load lifter straps to the proper lengths for your body and gear and select the clasp location to your preferred position, left or right. If you skip this step, the bag may swing around you as you move and will not feel secure. All in all, the Chasqui is awesome and a great choice if you're looking for a large-volume, modern messenger-style sling bag to meet your everyday needs. If you want an even funkier aesthetic, the Kavu Rope sling has a comparable volume and comes in an astonishing array of patterns and prints.

sling bag - cozy and functional, the 13l cotopaxi chasqui is our go-to sling bag...
Cozy and functional, the 13L Cotopaxi Chasqui is our go-to sling bag for everyday activities.
Credit: Luka Krajnc

Best Overall Fanny Pack


REI Co-op Trail 2 Waist


80
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Fit 7.0
  • Storage and Protection 9.0
  • Ease of Use 8.0
  • Versatility and Aesthetics 7.5
Number of Compartments: 5 | Volume: 2 liters
REASONS TO BUY
Inexpensive
Many pockets for organization
Durable and water-resistant
REASONS TO AVOID
Rough strap material
Thin, short strap

The REI Co-op Trail 2 Waist topped our list of favorite slings in the lineup, not only because it is one of the least expensive products we tested but also because it scored big as the best fanny pack in the bunch. With five compartments, this little two-liter waist pack is an organizational machine. It does a great job of keeping your belongings separated and protected from each other by offering various storage options. A sneaky anti-theft pocket at the back can hold important items like a passport or wallet, while lesser valuables can be tossed into the main bucket-style zip pocket at the front. Inside, you'll find a key clip and two small slide pockets to stay organized. Although these offer no velcro or zipper closure, the slip design provides a snug fit, and they make a perfect place to stash lip balm, earbuds, or other small essentials. A third outer zip pocket is large enough to carry a phone, sunglasses, a snack, or anything similar for quick access. The fabric is even water resistant, making this fanny pack an excellent choice for hikes or walks in light rain.

The REI Trail 2 Waist's outdoorsy vibe may not be the right choice for a fancy night out on the town. Also, if you're tall and have a broad chest or wide shoulders, we recommend taking a few measurements to see if this pack will work well for you as a crossbody or sling. The total circumference is 47 inches. We should also note that the strap is only about one inch wide and is made of heavy webbed nylon that is less soft against the skin than the material found on other models we tested. This may reduce its appeal for some. Minor complaints aside, this is our favorite fanny pack for its superb organization and functionality. It also happens to come at a great price, which only adds to our love of this bag. If you don't mind fewer pockets, the classic JanSport Fifth Ave is a similarly-sized model at an even more appealing price.

sling bag - the rei co-op trail 2 waist pack can be worn as a sling bag or a...
The REI Co-op Trail 2 Waist pack can be worn as a sling bag or a fanny pack.
Credit: Whitney Clark

Best Sling Bag for Photographers and Organizational Enthusiasts


Peak Design Everyday 6L


81
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Fit 9.0
  • Storage and Protection 9.0
  • Ease of Use 6.0
  • Versatility and Aesthetics 9.0
Number of Compartments: 5 | Volume: 6 liters
REASONS TO BUY
High-quality materials and construction
Thoughtful organizational features
Careful attention to design details
REASONS TO AVOID
Features can be hard to understand
Expensive

The Peak Design Everyday 6L is an urban-inspired crossbody bag that has recently been completely redesigned. Its newest V2 edition includes even more functional organization, wider opening access, robust UltraZip external zippers, a new anti-slip strap design, detachable external carry straps, and more. The result is an ergonomic, highly versatile, city-ready sling bag that excels in organizational efficiency. It may have been designed with photographers in mind, but its weatherproof nylon exterior, varied pockets, and protective, customizable FlexFold dividers will prove valuable for anyone who appreciates staying organized on the go. The low-profile, streamlined style would make it perfect as a carry-on or for everyday commutes, as the adjustable strap can easily be switched up to meet your carry-style needs throughout the day. Turn your fanny pack into a crossbody sling or a standard shoulder bag by simply unclipping the main clasp and adjusting the excess strap fabric, either pulling it out or stuffing it back into its designated sleeve before reattaching the clip again to secure it. There is also a grab handle for when you need to pick up the bag by its top. Five interior and exterior pockets, including an 11-inch tablet sleeve tucked into the main body, provide many handy options for storage. Wide openings and hefty zippers make it super easy to open and reach your items inside. Need room for a tripod or even a blanket? Use the cinch straps to tie on your extra gear and go. And, for additional security in crowded places, slide the primary zipper pulls through the set of external loops at the corners of the base. This will make it harder for anyone to open your bag and steal your belongings.

Our only complaint about the Peak Design Everyday 6L bag is its very high price. It is expensive, selling for almost triple the price of other products in our lineup. The design also incorporates a variety of uncommon features that may require some effort to fully understand and put to work. We found the manufacturer's instructional video to be a helpful introduction, as it walks through some of the key design and adjustability features that will help you get maximum value out of your pack. Overall, the Everyday Sling is a thoughtful, well-made, highly versatile city carrier with diverse appeal, even if it is also more of a niche product because of its high cost.

Like the minimalist, on-the-go style of the Peak Designs Everyday sling but don't love the size? In addition to the 6-liter version we tested, there are two others to choose from: a smaller 3-liter sling bag that can be converted into a fanny pack and a more substantial 10-liter crossbody with enough room to hold a full-sized laptop, larger cameras, a drone, and more.

sling bag - the peak designs everyday sling 6l is comfortable to carry and works...
The Peak Designs Everyday Sling 6L is comfortable to carry and works as either a shoulder or sling bag, or it can be converted into a fanny pack (as shown).
Credit: Luka Krajnc

Best Fanny Pack for Everyday Town Essentials


Lululemon Everywhere Belt 1L


79
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Fit 7.5
  • Storage and Protection 8.0
  • Ease of Use 8.0
  • Versatility and Aesthetics 8.0
Number of Compartments: 5 | Volume: 1 liter
REASONS TO BUY
Lots of pockets for organization
Comfy material against the skin
Large strap
REASONS TO AVOID
Buckle sits on hip
No key clip

If you are looking for a small fanny pack to use around town or a crossbody bag big enough for your daily essentials, the Lululemon Everywhere Belt 1L is a great option. The sling has five organizational compartments, which is pretty notable given its size. There's plenty of space in its main compartment for keys, cash, phone, and sunglasses, as well as three small mesh compartments to organize and separate items within. The backside anti-theft pocket is a major plus when you have items like a passport or cash that you want to keep extra secure. The waist strap is impressively thick and silky smooth and sits comfortably around the hips without digging into your sides when the bag is fully loaded. The strap is also easy to resize, with plenty of length to adjust for body size and carrying preference. High-quality zippers and solid construction ensure you can confidently tackle the tasks of the day, yet the fabric is soft and feels nice against the skin when in motion.

One feature we would like to see incorporated into the Lululemon Everywhere Belt (as is true with many of the other bags) is a key clip for extra security. It's a small detail, but it would be a really nice addition to help ease the mind. Also, the buckle on this bag rests on our hips and cannot be repositioned to the back or side when worn as a fanny pack. This proved bothersome and mildly uncomfortable for our testing team. Other than that, the Everywhere Belt is awesome for walking around town or traveling and sleek enough to carry our necessities for a night out with friends. It's cute, comfy, and has a nice urban aesthetic.

sling bag - the lululemon everywhere belt 1l is our preferred fanny pack for...
The Lululemon Everywhere Belt 1L is our preferred fanny pack for running around town.
Credit: Whitney Clark

Best Fanny Pack for Just the Essentials


Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole Mini Hip Pack 1L


72
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Fit 8.0
  • Storage and Protection 5.5
  • Ease of Use 8.0
  • Versatility and Aesthetics 7.5
Number of Compartments: 2 | Volume: 1 liter
REASONS TO BUY
Lightweight, recycled material
Soft, breathable backside padding
Built-in stuff sack
High-quality construction
REASONS TO AVOID
Only two storage pockets
No key clip

If you're looking for a minimalist fanny pack for the bare essentials, the Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole Mini Hip Pack 1L is the perfect choice. It's lightweight and made from durable, 100% recycled nylon ripstop that is weather resistant and feels soft against the skin. The backside of the pouch is covered in a cushiony, breathable material that makes the waist pack particularly comfortable for hiking or to wear in hot weather. There is one main zippered compartment for items like a cell phone and sunglasses and one small front zip pocket well-suited to stashing loose items like lip balm or keys. We have used this highly functional fanny pack for years while hiking, in combination with a large backpack. It is especially nice if you wear spandex or pants without pockets, as it can provide quick access to your phone or snacks without having to stop and dig through a larger pack. It also compresses down into a self-contained stuff sack for easy storage when not in use.

Although the Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole is mini — meaning items inside won't get lost easily — its design could be improved by adding an inner slip pocket or two to secure the smallest necessities inside and to provide additional organizational flexibility. Also, the strap is a bit slim for cinching comfortably around some folks. Then again, since this zipped pouch is so small in size and unlikely to hold a significant amount of weight, its narrow strap should be fine for most users. Overall, this fanny pack is an excellent choice for carrying minimal necessities and a perfect easy-access accompaniment for your next backpacking trip or dog walk.

sling bag - the patagonia ultralight black hole mini hip pack 1l is comfy and...
The Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole Mini Hip Pack 1L is comfy and stylish and was one of our favorite fanny packs in testing.
Credit: Whitney Clark

Best Sling Bag for Town and Trail


The North Face Borealis Sling


71
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Fit 7.5
  • Storage and Protection 7.5
  • Ease of Use 6.5
  • Versatility and Aesthetics 6.0
Number of Compartments: 5 | Volume: 6 liters
REASONS TO BUY
Comfortable to carry
Multiple organizational pockets
Backside bungee for extra items
REASONS TO AVOID
Small water bottle holder
Can only be worn over right shoulder

The North Face Borealis Sling is our go-to sling bag for hitting the trail. At 6 liters, it's a nice size for day trips and has five different pockets for organization and storage. The bag is comfortable to carry when fully loaded, with the perfect amount of padding on the shoulder strap and back panel for a great fit. We love the secure chest pocket built into the strap for phone storage and the water bottle pocket sitting on the right side for your favorite drink. The main zippered compartment is a good size for larger belongings, while the smaller interior zip-mesh pocket with a key clip can safely hold small valuables like your keys, ID, and cash. You'll also find a sleeve 6 inches across and 9 inches deep positioned to the back, the perfect size for a tablet or Kindle. The cool fleece-lined outer side pocket makes a great place to stow larger phones or other similarly fragile items.

Our main issue with this crossbody centers around its water bottle pocket. First, it's too small and narrow to fit a wider bottle like a 1L Nalgene. The maximum diameter is just 2.9 inches. Also, whenever a water bottle is sitting in the side compartment, the pack's main zipper becomes more difficult to fully open. You can only unzip one-third of the way along the right side of the pack (the side housing the water bottle pocket) before the zipper pull gets hung up by the inserted bottle, making it harder to access items stored inside. Lastly, the chest pocket on the shoulder strap cannot fit a large phone. We tested it with an iPhone 13 mini, which worked great. Folks with larger phones will have to stash it in the interior tablet sleeve or fleece-lined side pocket, instead. Still, this is a super comfy sling bag for day hikes or everyday adventures that will keep your back happy and items organized. Another outdoorsy sling that offers a comparable set of features and scored similarly well across most metrics is the Osprey Daylite Sling, which we also quite liked for day hikes.

sling bag - the north face borealis is our go-to sling bag for day hikes when we...
The North Face Borealis is our go-to sling bag for day hikes when we need to carry all the essentials on our backs.
Credit: Luka Krajnc

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price
90
Cotopaxi 13L Chasqui
Best Overall Sling Bag
$75
Editors' Choice Award
81
Peak Design Everyday 6L
Best Sling Bag for Photographers and Organizational Enthusiasts
$120
Top Pick Award
80
REI Co-op Trail 2 Waist
Best Overall Fanny Pack
$30
Editors' Choice Award
79
Lululemon Everywhere Belt 1L
Best Fanny Pack for Everyday Town Essentials
$38
Top Pick Award
72
Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole Mini Hip Pack 1L
Best Fanny Pack for Just the Essentials
$35
Top Pick Award
71
The North Face Borealis Sling
Best Sling Bag for Town and Trail
$59
Top Pick Award
70
Kavu Rope
$60
68
Osprey Daylite Sling
$45
67
JanSport Fifth Ave
$22
66
Waterfly Slim
$24
65
Patagonia Atom 8L
$65
57
Maxtop Large Crossbody
$25
54
Cotopaxi Bataan 3L
$33
53
Waterfly Crossbody
$31
52
Chrome Kadet
$95
50
Mosiso Crossbody
$25

sling bag - the waterfly crossbody is a great sling bag for an afternoon stroll...
The Waterfly Crossbody is a great sling bag for an afternoon stroll in one of our local canyons.
Credit: Tad McCrea

How We Test Sling and Crossbody Bags


GearLab has been testing top-selling fanny packs and sling bags since 2020, and crossbody styles have only grown in popularity since. There are now hundreds of different variations to choose from. Our team spent weeks researching the most popular products on the market today before narrowing down our shopping list to include the most promising, popular, and top-rated options available today. Once purchased, we handed them off to our experts for testing, which included taking them on runs, wearing them around town, packing them full of items, and carrying them on hikes. Each sling bag and fanny pack was then rated based on its detailed performance across four key metrics. Whether you need a crossbody carrier to take on a day hike or a slim fanny pack to hit the town, we are confident we can help you find exactly what you're looking for.

The bags we tested were scored across four performance metrics:
  • Comfort and Fit (30% of overall score weight)
  • Storage and Protection (30% weighting)
  • Ease of Use (30% weighting)
  • Versatility and Aesthetics (10% weighting)

Why You Should Trust Us


Whitney Clark, our lead tester, has been a fanny pack and sling bag aficionado for the last 20 years. Despite the crossbody style going in and out of fashion over time, she has remained a diehard fan due to their consistent practicality, varied styles, and hands-free functionality. Small or large, fanny packs and sling bags play an important role in her everyday attire, serving as a reliable accessory for running errands around town as well as when she needs easy access to crucial supplies on a 20-mile hike in the mountains.

We love the inner zippered pocket with a key clip on the Osprey...
We love the inner zippered pocket with a key clip on the Osprey Daylite.
The closure system on the Peak Designs Everyday Sling strap requires...
The closure system on the Peak Designs Everyday Sling strap requires two hands to operate.
The rope material strap on the KAVU Rope sling is comfortable on...
The rope material strap on the KAVU Rope sling is comfortable on bare skin and doesn't rub or cause abrasions when the bag is heavy.
We packed them up, tried out each feature, and donned them all on day hikes and adventures around town to be sure we have a solid understanding of how well each sling bag performs.


Analysis and Test Results


Our in-depth evaluation of sling bags and fanny packs included every type of crossbody bag, from designs best suited for trail hikes, commutes, and festivals to those you might grab when headed off on a run or when grabbing dinner out with friends. We considered options that could carry larger all-day loads and others sized to hold the minimum essentials, offering easy access to things like a cell phone, keys, wallet, or similarly important personal items.


Value


It's not too often that one of the least expensive products in our lineup also happens to be one of the best. But when it comes to slings, the REI Co-op Trail 2 Waist Pack delivers on all fronts, scoring exceptionally well across every metric and selling at a budget price. Its numerous pockets and slim, thoughtful design make it highly functional, comfortable to carry, versatile in use, and an easy choice as a top value option among fanny packs.

sling bag - the rei co-op trail 2 waist bag exemplifies everything we love in a...
The REI Co-op Trail 2 Waist bag exemplifies everything we love in a fanny pack.
Credit: Whitney Clark

Another great buy is the Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole Mini Hip Pack. Although it is one of the smaller bags we tested out of the group, it's the perfect size to keep a few key items close at hand for a night on the town or on a weekend hike. It's extremely comfortable to wear around your midsection and well-constructed from 100% recycled materials, which makes it a great choice when small is what you seek.

sling bag - the patagonia ultralight black hole mini hip pack may be small, but...
The Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole Mini Hip Pack may be small, but it has two zippered pockets for organization and is big enough to hold the basics.
Credit: Whitney Clark

Of course, exceptional value isn't always packaged in the cheapest form, and the Cotopaxi Chasqui certainly proves this point. As a top performer across all metrics and one of the largest capacity sling bags in the lineup, this is a supremely comfortable, highly versatile bag that's built to last. If you need something with a bit more packing space, we think it's a well-organized crossbody bag that's well worth its higher price point.

sling bag - comfortable, stylish, and functional, the cotopaxi chasqui is one of...
Comfortable, stylish, and functional, the Cotopaxi Chasqui is one of our favorite sling bags and we think worth the investment.
Credit: Whitney Clark

Comfort and Fit


Let's face it: you're not going to want any pack that doesn't fit well and stay that way throughout the day. It can be the coolest-looking sling bag or fanny pack in the world, but if it's painful to wear or causes chaffing, then forget it. To test the comfort and fit of each sling in our lineup, we packed every one full of items and wore them on strenuous day hikes, pushing them to their limits.


We took the opportunity to evaluate the padding against our shoulders and on our backs, to assess the strap material, and to consider how well each carrier could be adjusted to suit varied carrying preferences. We also looked at the placements of buckles and the width and length of straps to determine whether or not the fit could be adjusted to accommodate people of all shapes and sizes.


One of the most comfortable bags we tested was the Cotopaxi 13L Chasqui. It has a nice layer of cushion all along its backside as well as padding under the shoulder strap to ensure it sits softly against your body and reduces pressure even when loaded. It is also covered in breathable mesh to allow increased airflow when sweating with exertion.

sling bag - the cotopaxi 13l chasqui has a cushioned back panel that is covered...
The Cotopaxi 13L Chasqui has a cushioned back panel that is covered with breathable fabric.
Credit: Whitney Clark

The Peak Designs Everyday Sling 6L also scored well in this metric based on its thick layer of protective padding and soft exterior material that feels pleasant against your skin. It is also an extremely adjustable design that can easily transform from a crossbody sling to a shoulder bag — or even into a fanny pack when you tuck away the excess strap and reattach the clip to a secondary loop. This makes it easy to switch things up throughout the day for comfort and convenience.

sling bag - the peak designs everyday sling has comfy fabric and a padded back...
The Peak Designs Everyday Sling has comfy fabric and a padded back that feels nice against your skin.
Credit: Whitney Clark

The Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole Mini Hip Pack was among the smaller options that performed admirably, with a cushy backside pad encased in breathable polyester fabric and a soft herringbone waist strap. It also easily adjusts to accommodate a wide range of shapes, sizes, and carry/fit preferences and comes with a buckle that can be positioned to the side or in the back as required. The Lululemon Everywhere Belt 1L is almost as comfortable to wear, but has an unfortunately-placed buckle that somehow always seemed to fall directly on our hips when worn as a fanny pack.

sling bag - the maxtop large crossbody is a simple, fully functional fanny pack...
The Maxtop Large Crossbody is a simple, fully functional fanny pack of average quality that will serve basic needs without any extra bells and whistles (including padding across the back).
Credit: Whitney Clark

The Patagonia Atom 8L and The North Face Borealis are two sling bags that scored above average in this metric. The Patagonia Atom was particularly notable for its thickly cushioned back panel and shoulder strap, as well as its balanced fit across the body. The Borealis also has very comfortable padding, and the water bottle holder is situated so it sits in the middle of your back, which helps avoid lopsidedness. However, both of these bags are designed to be carried over one shoulder and lack the flexibility to switch between the two. This lack of versatility could significantly impact the comfort of the fit over the course of a long day and a heavy load.

sling bag - the patagonia atom 8l has some of the most cushioning of any sling...
The Patagonia Atom 8L has some of the most cushioning of any sling bag we tested.
Credit: Whitney Clark

Storage and Protection


When it comes to storage and protection, many crossbody carriers, fanny packs, and sling bags do a relatively good job of keeping things organized. One of the best performers in this metric was the six-liter Peak Designs Everyday Sling, which is specifically designed for photographers and offers a collection of pockets and organizational extras that work very well for carrying such gear.


Inside Peak Designs Everyday Sling, you'll find removable velcro FlexFold dividers that allow you to create customized storage sections to stabilize and protect your camera (or any other similarly large item) within the main compartment. You will also see small slip pockets tucked into an interior zip pocket, perfect for stashing batteries or memory cards. Two additional interior side pockets can each easily hold a lens. On the outside, two Capture Clip mounting points are built into the exterior sides, and a pair of detachable cinch straps are ready to tie down extra tools like a tripod or blanket. If you're not carrying camera gear, no problem. These same features are just as useful for packing up everyday necessities like a wallet, books, tablets, snacks, charger cords, jackets, etc., as they are for hauling photography equipment.

sling bag - the peak designs everyday sling bag has a removable, adjustable...
The Peak Designs Everyday sling bag has a removable, adjustable velcro divider to organize your items.
Credit: Whitney Clark

The Cotopaxi Chasqui has fewer pockets, but the ones it does have are very handy, paired with its larger 13-liter size, making it another one of our favorites for on-the-go. The main compartment opens the pack completely, ensuring there are no crevices in which to lose your items while you're packing up for the day. Inner sleeves with velcro closures keep your belongings organized, and a separate zippered pocket holds medium items like water bottles and snacks. An anti-theft pocket along the back of the bag lets you feel like your phone or passport is secure from wandering hands. A small zippered pocket with a key clip and daisy chains on the exterior of the bag offer additional organization and storage for whatever adventure you're headed on.


When it comes to fanny packs, the 2-liter REI Trail 2 is our favorite, wowing us with five pockets. The main compartment has two slip pockets and a key clip to keep your items easy to find without having to stop and dig for them. A large outer pocket with a zipper provides a safe place for your phone, while the anti-theft pocket on the back is large enough to hold a passport, some cash, and credit cards.


Another bag we liked for its organizational flexibility is the smaller Lululemon Everywhere Belt. Despite its smaller 1-liter storage capacity, this pouch also comes with five pockets to stow your daily necessities, making it a great choice for running errands and outings about town.

sling bag - the lululemon everywhere belt and the patagonia ultralight black...
The Lululemon Everywhere Belt and the Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole Mini Hip Pack can each carry up to 1L in stuff, although the Lululemon offers more tools for organization.
Credit: Whitney Clark

The Kavu Rope sling bag also kept us organized with five different compartments to separate, track, and protect items from one another inside. We liked the thoughtful pocket placement on the outside of the bag, which came in handy for smaller essentials like a phone or wallet when on the move. During testing, we found some of the larger volume slings offered large sleeves or zippered pockets to pack up bigger items, but they neglected to include smaller exterior storage choices to provide easy access to earbuds, keys, credit cards, etc. So, we liked the size and accessibility of the outer pockets on the Kavu sling.

sling bag - the kavu rope bag has a large main outer pocket plus a smaller outer...
The KAVU Rope bag has a large main outer pocket plus a smaller outer pocket that perfectly fits a 20 oz water bottle or snacks.
Credit: Whitney Clark

We also like the organization of The North Face Borealis Sling. This small 6-liter sling bag has just enough pockets to keep you organized. The main compartment hides a small mesh pocket and key clip inside. A sleeve along the back measures 6 inches across and 9 inches deep, providing a small pocket for an e-reader, journal, or other book. On the outside, a fleece-lined pocket easily holds an eyephone or your favorite sunglasses. The shoulder strap also has a small pocket that can fit a small smartphone (we use an iPhone 13 mini) or a set of glasses. Our only complaint about the storage capabilities of this versatile sling is that the water bottle pocket is too small to fit a standard 1-liter Nalgene, and when a bottle is stuffed into this slender pocket, the main zipper is difficult to open fully.

sling bag - the pocket on the chest strap of the north face borealis sling is a...
The pocket on the chest strap of the North Face Borealis sling is a perfect fit for an iPhone 13 mini or a pair of sunglasses.
Credit: Whitney Clark

If you typically carry such items in your pants or jacket pocket anyway, or you're looking for something to carry just these essential items alone, a minimalist fanny pack like the Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole, Cotopaxi Bataan 3L or the JanSport Fifth Ave might be right up your alley.

sling bag - we loved using the simple cotopaxi bataan as a sling bag for...
We loved using the simple Cotopaxi Bataan as a sling bag for carrying small items like cell phones and snacks when going to the local crag.
Credit: Jon Schaffer

Or, if you need something to carry your smallest essentials — keys, ID, and maybe a mini sunblock or a smaller phone — on your next run, the Waterfly Slim is a low-profile, waterproof fanny pack that's ideally suited to getting sporty. Just don't overfill it, or it will become bulky and noticeably less comfortable in motion. Similarly, the Osprey Daylite sling bag offers a simple design with just enough pockets (two main compartments, a small inner zippered pocket with a key clip, and a book or tablet sleeve) to keep you reasonably organized on the go.

sling bag - long and sleek, the waterfly slim is a great fanny pack for running.
Long and sleek, the Waterfly Slim is a great fanny pack for running.
Credit: Whitney Clark

Ease of Use


Although many of these crossbody bags are relatively straightforward in design, some of the products have features that are easier to use than others. We considered how easy each bag was to put on and take off, if the buckle was easy to use, and if the strap was simple to adjust. We checked how easy it is to access each bag's contents without taking them off. We also evaluated how well the pockets keep their contents in place — or if they let things spill out on a run or while hopping over a boulder on the trail. And we tested how easy their zippers and clips are to operate.


The Cotopaxi Chasqui also received high marks in this metric. This sling bag can be worn over either shoulder, depending on your preference, with a strap that is easily attached to dual-sided D rings placed at either corner of its base. The Chasqui is also easy to pull on and off with its quick-release large buckle. It can also be unzipped and laid out completely flat for packing or unpacking, and its two velcro straps do a great job of securing items within the interior sleeve pockets.

The Cotopaxi 13L Chasqui has velcro straps to secure items stored in...
The Cotopaxi 13L Chasqui has velcro straps to secure items stored in the inner sleeves.
The Cotopaxi 13L Chasqui can fully unzip and lay flat for packing.
The Cotopaxi 13L Chasqui can fully unzip and lay flat for packing.
Going for an evening picnic with the Cotopaxi 13L Chasqui.
Going for an evening picnic with the Cotopaxi 13L Chasqui.
The Cotopaxi Chasqui is chock-full of organizational options and useful features to make it easy to pack and carry.

The Lululemon Everywhere Belt has an exceptionally large buckle that is easy to handle and simple to clip off and on. The strap can be adjusted while worn, so there's no need to take it off to tighten or loosen it back up. Its large zippered opening makes it easy to access contents without having to take it off and dig through it, while small inner pockets are well-equipped to hold our belongings in place during motion.

sling bag - the buckle on the lululemon everywhere belt rests on the hip which...
The buckle on the Lululemon Everywhere Belt rests on the hip which may cause discomfort for some.
Credit: Whitney Clark

The REI Co-op Trail 2 fanny pack is super easy to dial in the fit and operate all closures, providing easy access to all belongings inside once in use. We loved how functional and accessible all of its pockets are, including two small slip pockets perfect for keeping track of items like lip balm or headphones. During our testing, they never spilled their contents into the main part of the bag, giving us confidence that our belongings would stay put.

sling bag - the rei co-op trail 2 waist pack is not only our favorite fanny pack...
The REI Co-op Trail 2 Waist pack is not only our favorite fanny pack but also one of the least expensive products we reviewed.
Credit: Whitney Clark

Another fanny pack favorite is the Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole Mini Hip Pack. It's super simple in design, with minimalist features meant for carrying core everyday essentials. This bag is easy to clip on and off and comes with an adjustable strap and buckle that can be slid to either side of your hip for comfort or even worn to the back if you prefer. The Waterfly Slim has more features but is also very easy to use, with an easy-release buckle that works for both fanny pack and crossbody wear and a front compartment that's very easy to access while you're wearing it.

sling bag - the patagonia ultralight black hole mini hip pack 1l is our go-to...
The Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole Mini Hip Pack 1L is our go-to fanny pack for a quick outing where you only need a few items.
Credit: Erin Elliott

The Osprey Daylight Sling provides fairly easy access via smooth zippers and easily keeps our belongings in place. Though you have to take the pack off to properly access it, doing so is very easy. Some larger crossbody packs with active designs, like the Patagonia Atom 8L, The North Face Borealis Sling, or the Waterfly Crossbody, offer handy chest pockets embedded into their straps. This is a feature that makes them particularly easy to use because it allows us to keep our phones or other regularly used items close at hand without having to take off the entire pack.

sling bag - the patagonia atom 8l sling has a chest pocket for phone storage.
The Patagonia Atom 8L sling has a chest pocket for phone storage.
Credit: Whitney Clark

Versatility and Aesthetics


While style and aesthetics are largely subjective, we did our best to evaluate them by asking as many of our friends and family to rate and rank them as possible. We considered all the color and pattern choices each model is available in, so you can find something to suit your style. We also evaluated each bag's versatility or wear and use, testing the different ways each can be worn and for how many different types of activities they make good companions. For the most part, all award-winning bags performed very well in this metric.


The Peak Designs Everyday 6L stood out for its classy, streamlined look and the option to wear it as both a fanny pack or as a sling or shoulder bag. It has the most features of any bag we tested and although it was designed specifically to address the camera-carrying needs of photographers, those same features make it a great sling for many other purposes. The 6L version we tested is currently sold in three colors, and the same bag can be purchased in a larger or smaller size — 3 or 10 liters — depending on your storage and organizational needs.

sling bag - the peak designs everyday has a slot that stores extra strap...
The Peak Designs Everyday has a slot that stores extra strap material when not in use.
Credit: Luka Krajnc

The Cotopaxi Chasqui also scores well in this metric, though for entirely different reasons. This sling bag is versatile in its usage, with a large capacity and a configuration that adapts to all kinds of loads, from the Ten Essentials for hiking to all the items we need for a full day exploring a new city. Its aesthetic is also nearly the opposite of the Peak Designs Everyday, but has wide appeal for many people, offering bright colors and bold combinations.

sling bag - the cotopaxi chasqui is full of useful details that make it...
The Cotopaxi Chasqui is full of useful details that make it versatile and a bold look that many love.
Credit: Whitney Clark

The REI Trail 2 is decently versatile, wearing just as well as a crossbody bag or sling bag as it does a fanny pack. It comes in fewer colors, but those that are available are muted tones. They all feature a grid pattern, which appears slightly less upscale to our testing team, though it wasn't necessarily considered a bad thing for its looks. The Patagonia Black Hole Mini has a minimalistic appearance that melts easily into outfits — or a bold look that stands out if that's what you want — all based on what color combination you ultimately choose.

sling bag - though the rei trail 2&#039;s grid pattern may not be everyone&#039;s cup of...
Though the REI Trail 2's grid pattern may not be everyone's cup of tea, we still found plenty of outfits and activities that this fanny pack are well-suited for.
Credit: Whitney Clark

Some non-award-winning packs were notable in this metric specifically. We loved the JanSport Fifth Ave for its timeless look and simple design and how seamlessly it can be integrated into most outfits. The waist pack comes in 12 different colors and patterns, so whether you're looking for classic black or retro flowers, you should have no trouble finding something that works. The Lululemon Everywhere Belt doesn't feature as many colorways, but the ones it does have work just as well with a sun dress as they do with a pair of hiking pants. Both these bags can be dressed up for a night on the town or worn casually on a day hike. They can also easily be thrown over your shoulder and worn as a crossbody bag around town.

sling bag - the jansport fifth ave fanny pack has a timeless look.
The JanSport Fifth Ave fanny pack has a timeless look.
Credit: Whitney Clark

In contrast, some slings received only an average score, even with a pronounced look. The street-inspired Chrome Kadet covers all the basics and will get the job done if you like a modern, almost-messenger bag with a spacious cargo pocket and the ability to clip it under your arm for serious movement, like commuting by bike. But it packs and carries a bit bulkier than we like for everyday use, and we found it to be less flexible in accommodating different types of adventures or styles of dress.

sling bag - the chrome kadet has a unique part-messenger-bag-part-sling-bag look...
The Chrome Kadet has a unique part-messenger-bag-part-sling-bag look and function but feels a bit bulky on our backs.
Credit: Whitney Clark

Conclusion



With so many crossbody carriers, sling bags, and fanny packs out there, it can be tough to find the right one to fit your needs. Many of these packs are simple in design overall, yet it's often small details like a key clip or anti-theft pocket that can make all the difference in finding a bag you love. Whether you're looking for a basic fanny pack for the next music festival, a sporty sling bag for hitting the trail, or a more sophisticated crossbody carrier for a daily commute or to organize camera gear, our comprehensive review showcases the best products out there today.

Whitney Clark