Slings - carrying light

Choices of backpacks
Hackpack V1.0 an every day carry for college or the office
Bobby Bizz an every day carry convertible brief case
Tortuga Set Out Divide a 26 to 34 litre travel backpack
The Wheelie case
Things to pack

Introduction to Slings

Alpaka Go Sling Pro | Altura Bicycle Handlebar BagCork Shoulder Bags | Instinct Pro Camera Sling | XD Design Bobby Sling

Most of us carry around several items. Whilst they many fit into trouser and jacket pockets they are seldom comfortable or secure. A clutch, sling or shoulder bag provides quick access and more space than our pockets. However a bag also opens up the possibility of carrying far too much stuff.

If your everyday carry items consist of a mobile phone, wallet, keys (car fob and house keys), earphones (ear buds), pen, multi-tool, sanitizer and facemask you'll have space spare in 1 litre. Below is a 1.25 litre shoulder bag origami single piece of cork leather folded over and fastened with Chicago rivets and pop buttons.Carried as a clutch or slung over a shoulder frees up your pockets. This bag is 200 x 125 x 50mm.

An 8" tablet perhaps with a flat keyboard and charger brings this to around 2 litres and allows for a small compact camera. You might also need padding and protection in separating items. Here the same style cork leather shoulder bag but now 250 x 150 x 60 mm giving 2.25 litres. No padding for the tablet but would still accommodate the tablet in a protective sleeve. The Dell Venue 8 Pro shown here is in it's case protecting screen and functioning as a stand along with the Dell stylus and flat keyboard and Microsoft Bluetooth Mouse.

If you want to carry a mirror less or micro four thirds camera, spare lens and perhaps external microphone, and/or flash you will need a depth of 9-10 cm, around 4-5 litre capacity and padding. This brings the weight up to over 3.5 kg.

With more tech you are likely to need battery back up, cables, spare batteries for camera, dongles, even a small external hard drive.

You might also want a water bottle, umbrella, tripod, a packable jacket and a 12-13" laptop. Much beyond 7 litres, and over 5 kg you are then better off with a small backpack.

Stated capacity may not be a good indicator of useable volume. The number of pockets, padding and way the manufacture measures it vary. I have a 4 litre sling hold significantly more than a 5.5 litre sling.

Even if you predominately carry over one shoulder or one side as cross body a small bag gets heavy after a period trekking around with it. Sometimes you need to swap shoulders. A symmetrical design is likely to accommodate this but may require swapping over the ends of straps or moving attachment points. Some bags allow carry over either shoulder but if you then swing the bag to your front the zips are at the bottom and the contents falling out of the internal pockets.

Suitable bags to consider include shoulder bags, tech pouches (with straps), camera bags, bicycle handlebar bags, small messengers, totes, waist (fanny) packs and slings.


Also consider security. Any external quick access pocket is easier to get into by thieves in crowded places, The zips might be secured with a lock or just a simple loop through pop buttonstrap, but then they are no longer quick access. Otherwise you are going to wear the bag on your front.

An anti-theft sling may just include locks or fittings for your own locks to the zips but still leave a front pocket exposed and not secured and it may not have a way to lock it down to something as you would be expected to have it with you all the time.


Shoulder bags with thin straps will often stand un-supported and the strap fold up easily. Most slings and waist packs have well padded and large strap permanently fixed to the bag. When not worn these are cumbersome.

Most small bags don't include a quick grab handle even though they can be useful when getting in and out of a car or getting on and off public transport in a hurry.

It the strap can be removed then the bag can be carried as a clutch or used as a packing cube. 


Shoulder bag: can be worn cross body or hung over the shoulder. The strap connects to the sides from the top. Some slings and waist packs have alternative fittings to do this. Straps are thinner and removable.

e.g. Funk St Outfitters Commuterpak

KLICKfix Aventour City - bicycle handlebar bag

Waist pack: The fanny pack style works for small bags and for camera gear access. Straps are attached to the sides often on wings or flaps. Straps are usually permanently fixed.

Cross body: Slings are intended to be worn cross body even if they can also be shoulder bags and waist packs. Straps usually have one end with extensive padding and width. Top loading have zips opening up on both long sides.

e.g. Mark Ryden and Ozuko.

Top loading types many not be as symmetrical as they appear. The larger wider strap going from the top might be attached to a top loading or side loading sling.

e.g. Non-symmetrical XD Design Bobby Sling with side loading zip.

Side loading have zips opening only along one long edge. e.g Alpaka Go Sling Pro. But this can swap the strap to be worn over the left or right shoulder.

Last updated 17th May 2021