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My Top 6 Sling Bag Picks for Men and How to Choose One

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Matt Gulielmi

Style, Jewelry, Watches, Skincare, Brand Activations

Matt is a NYC-based merchandise planner in the luxury space and moonlights as a retail documentarian through his TikTok blog @retailecology. His fashion career has waltzed through styling for Michigan State's VIM Magazine, translating brand copy into Spanish for cosmetic startups, to managing inventory for some of the biggest retailers in the US. Read full bio.

Last Updated: Apr 4, 2024
11 min read
Model Wearing Sling Bag on Back

The ladies got the short end of the stick with comically small pockets, but guys don’t have a purse-equivalent option when we need access to more than just a phone, wallet, and keys.  

A sling bag finds this Goldilocks zone of storage and style, and I searched the far reaches of the web to find the six best.

A cumbersome backpack can really bring down the whole vibe of a fashionable outfit. 

Why should I have to look like a schoolboy if I’m out all day and want to bring headphones, chapstick, and sunglasses?

It’s not like my backpack is stylish, either.

It’s a 35L travel bag that might as well have a “WIDE LOAD” warning as it hangs two feet off of me.

Until I studied abroad in Europe, I didn’t see sling bags that much. Now that I live in a big city, they’re inescapable.

I get it, though. They’re a stylish way for men to secure their belongings without looking like a pack mule.

Having scoured the web for the best, I’ve become somewhat of a sling bag prophet. Consider this list the holy word on cargo convenience.

My Recommendations

Best Overall: Nomatic Navigator Sling 6L

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Researching the best sling bag sounds like a fool’s errand, but once you’ve read the whole list, you’ll understand why the Nomatic Navigator is the best for travel, leisure, and random errands.

But there isn’t anything foolish about it. This sling has 6 liters of volume in a sleek, minimalist form. That’s enough space for my expanded everyday carry: phone, keys, ridge wallet, earphones, snacks, and with room to spare.

The hidden water bottle pocket is my favorite thing about the Nomatic Navigator Sling. Most slings simply don’t have the space for an average jug, so it’s perfect for travel and hiking.

The basic, monochromatic black color makes sense anywhere, but it thrives in the office. Among the wilderness, the tough, water-resistant shell finds its calling.

With an RFID-safe pocket, tech organization, and a quick-draw card holder on the strap, it’s become my lightweight corporate arsenal.

If your work-issued computer is fun-sized (around 11.5” x 6.5”), it’ll nestle in with plenty of room to spare.

Most importantly, it’s comfortable. Sling bags can put more pressure on your back and shoulder with only one strap, but this isn’t the case with the Nomatic Navigator

The rear padding and tuckaway stabilization strap make it worlds better than a measly strap-adorned pouch. When I’m really moving, the strap stabilizes any shimmying we’ve all experienced.

Nomatic thought of it all when they made the Navigator Sling 6L. It’s surprisingly capable, given its manageable size, thanks to the card slot, hidden water bottle sleeve, and helpful organization.

What I Like

  • The dedicated water bottle saves room for valuables in the main compartment.
  • The rear padding and hidden stabilization pouch offer comfort and stability during use.
  • The RFID-safe pocket is a line of defense against any tech-savvy scammers.

What I Don’t Like

  • It would be nice if it was available in more colorways.

What Other Reviewers Say

Customers who sought a more compact alternative to a backpack were pleasantly surprised with the functionality it has, especially the tech organizers. However, some found the Navigator’s 6-liter volume to be too bulky for a sling bag.

The Verdict

With ample storage to protect my valuables, an RFID-safe pocket to protect my payment cards, and a hidden stabilization strap to protect my posture, Nomatic’s Navigator Sling is 6 liters of convenient goodness.

Best Overall
Nomatic Navigator Sling 6L

After some Olympic-level city trekking, the Navigator Sling makes me facepalm thinking about my assumptions of what a sling bag could be. Compared to basic versions, the RFID-safe pocket, tech organizers, and comfort-minded features make it akin to a superhero’s toolkit.

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Best on a Budget: SAEFEW Small Black Sling Crossbody

If you’re shopping for a lot of space with only a bit of cash, the SAEFEW Small Black Sling Crossbody is your bag.

However, the same could be said about a regular ol’ tote. But, unlike them, SAEFEW’s has a large main pocket, a smaller zippered pocket, and a protective sleeve for tablets or small computers.

The metal hardware, elastic bottle adjusters, and black nylon strap give this sling an “urban ninja” aesthetic. If you dig the urban hiker look, A.K.A. “gorpcore,” this sling adds function to your personal style.

In a move of modern awareness, SAEFEW installed a USB port that connects to your battery pack of choice, allowing you to run a cable outside and handle your phone while it charges.

As someone who always forgets to charge his phone before bed, this is a lifesaver—for me and my cell.

Despite minor electronics, it’s still an excellent sling for the outdoors. The water-resistant nylon handles a good splash, and the breathable rear mesh keeps my back cool when I’m not.

At just under $30, no other bag competes with SAEFEW’s Small Black Sling Crossbody. It’s stylish, sturdy, and sneaks in a bit of technological convenience for our devices. If you’re a first-time slinger, this kind of value is a no-brainer for your single-shoulder debut.

What I Like

  • The metal hardware gives it a stylish, industrial look that sets it apart from other slings.
  • When a light drizzle rolls through, the water resistant nylon keeps belongings protected.
  • Having a USB-compatible port is a valuable bit of tech for commuting.

What I Don’t Like

  • The elastic adjusters flop around with no dedicated place to tuck them away.

What Other Reviewers Say

Costing under $30, customers find the USB port, spacious compartment, and water resistant design to be well worth every penny. Some were underwhelmed by the zipper and stitch quality, but most were okay with it, given the price tag.

The Verdict

I wasn’t surprised to find an inexpensive sling bag on Amazon, but SAEFEW’s Small Black Sling did surprise me with its stylish appearance and USB-compatible port.

Best on a Budget
SAEFEW Small Black Sling Crossbody

With its water-resistant nylon shell, roomy interior, and the addition of a USB port for a battery pack, this bag is a stylish yet functional sling option. There's also a smaller zippered pocket and a protective sleeve for tablets or small computers, so you can take your tech with you and charge it on the go too.

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Great Value: lululemon Everywhere belt Bag 2L

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Nothing says value like a sub-$50 bag from the reigning champion of quality lifestyle apparel, but let’s get into why.

With a capacity of 2L, the lululemon Everywhere Belt Bag has room for the standard items you’d expect to carry in a smaller bag. I like the slim profile because there isn’t a bunch of loose fabric hanging about if I’m only rocking it as an accessory.

Unlike other sling bags, it has a wedge shape, allowing objects to settle into the bottom. Cheaper bags tend to have an oblong shape, resulting in an awkward blob once filled up.

The one-size-fits-all design means the strap has to be adjustable, and the Everywhere Belt Bag has a couple of straps that keep excess slack in place.

I’ve tested a few bags that don’t have this feature, and rebellious straps dangling everywhere is a no-go for me.

One last thing–it’s a unisex bag. If you’re looking for an easy gift for your busybody counterpart, they have plenty of color options that’ll fit their style.

The lululemon Everywhere Belt Bag is great for folks who want nice gear from a pricey brand, but also want a bargain. It can hold a lot, is comfortable, and has that distinguished lululemon quality that’s made them so popular.

What I Like

  • A volume of 2 liters makes it ideal for trips where I only need minimal extra storage.
  • The wedge shape of the bag allows everything to settle in place while keeping its structure.
  • Strap loops keep any loose straps from ruining the Everywhere Belt Bag’s minimalist appeal.

What I Don’t Like

  • For a bag made by the unofficial king of yoga gear, a dedicated water bottle pocket would be nice.

What Other Reviewers Say

Two main things remain clear from customer reviews: the quality is amazing with a capital “A,” and the ladies love it too. Despite its smaller size, very few complaints can be found wishing for more storage.

The Verdict

Not every sling bag needs an answer to life’s challenges. lululemon’s Everywhere Belt Bag 2L is a bite-sized bag for short commutes, workout classes, or impromptu pharmacy trips for hangover remedies.

Great Value
lululemon Everywhere Belt Bag 2L

lululemon’s Everywhere Belt Bag 2L is great for short commutes or running quick errands. Don't be fooled by its small size, it can actually hold a lot. Plus, it's comfortable and comes in seven colorways to suit many different styles and aesthetics.

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Best High Capacity: Nomatic Navigator Lite Sling 10L

When it comes to finding the perfect balance between minimalism and functionality in a daily carry sling, the Nomatic Navigator Lite Sling 10L is a true frontrunner.

It’s only .3 pounds heavier than the Navigator Sling 6L but with almost twice the capacity. And don’t fret, it still packs all of the functional goodness of its little sibling.

The main compartment is like a mini command center: a laptop sleeve snug enough for a 14” MacBook Pro or tablet, a zippered mesh pocket, a pen sleeve, a zippered liner pocket, three mesh elastic pockets, and a cord pass-through for device charging.

With how big it is, it’s a perfectly reasonable alternative to a backpack during long-haul travels. 

It offers travel-friendly features that the 6L lacks, too. With a pass-through strap on the back, navigating a busy airport becomes less stressful, being able to secure it to a luggage handle.

The Navigator Lite Sling is a marvel of organization, and 10L of space means my entire productivity toolkit comes with me. 

I can see myself opting for this sling on the occasions when I travel with a bit more cargo and need the extra storage. It’s great for anyone who wants space for a standard size laptop, personal items, and a change of clothes—without things becoming cramped.

What I Like

  • There are 4 extra liters of space compared to the 6L version with only .3 pounds of added weight.
  • With enough room for my 13” laptop, it’s a solid choice for flying without the bulkiness of a standard briefcase.
  • The tech organization makes looking for my headphones, chargers, and flash storage a breeze.

What I Don’t Like

  • Like the 6L Nomatic sling, very few color options are available.

What Other Reviewers Say

The poundage adds up as a sling gets loaded, so customers rave about the intentionally light makeup of the Navigator Lite. One reviewer found the profile to be quite bulky, but for a 10L bag, this should be expected.

The Verdict

Bigger isn’t always better, but the 10L Navigator Lite is an exception to the rule. I expected Nomatic’s larger iteration to be cumbersome, but the lightweight design makes up for heavy loads. Aside from the limited color options, the comfort, capacity, and organization makes it my top choice for a high-capacity sling.

Best High Capacity
Nomatic Navigator Lite Sling 10L

With space that competes with backpacks, Nomatic’s Navigator Lite Sling lets me bring most of my belongings, but in a chic sling body. Plus, I get all of the organization that make Nomatic bags perfect for valuable equipment.

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Best Lightweight: Public Rec Adapt Belt Bag

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It’s easy for me to overpack before heading to the gym. Other than hydration and a padlock, I rarely find myself reaching deep into my gym bag, which is why I love Public Rec’s Adapt Belt Bag.

The Adapt is the smallest on this list, but that’s the whole point. It welcomes the typical essentials: Water bottle, phone, sunglasses, ear buds, and the outer carabiner saves space for my keys.

Its petite figure makes a solid running bag, too. Without any bulky items, it lays flush against my body. A larger sling bag would be dead weight.

It’s 100% nylon, making it machine washable. No more anxious research wondering if a cycle in the washer will destroy your precious travel companion.

Public Rec made this bag clean. The lustrous chrome carabiner, lobster buckle, and logo button is just the right balance of minimalism and branded detail I like.

I’ve seen other premium bags on the market with dedicated sunglass pockets, and the Adapt has one. On sunny days, my shades are equally essential as my phone, so the felt pocket eases any worries about scratched lenses.

The Adapt Belt Bag from Public Rec stresses the basics: simple on-the-go storage that doesn’t get in my way. For under $60, this bag is for anyone who needs a sleek, lightweight sling with a dash of function, but doesn’t want to spend an arm and a leg.

What I Like

  • The metallic hardware and logo button add a splash of branded character that other slings lack.
  • I always pack my sunglasses, so the dedicated pocket is a plus considering how fragile they can be.
  • The exterior carabiner is super useful and keeps my keys from scratching my phone.

What I Don’t Like

  • The price is a bit high considering its small size.

What Other Reviewers Say

Like myself, customers find the sunglass pocket to be a lifesaver. One reviewer uses theirs for golfing, which speaks to its out-of-the-way presence.

The Verdict

Public Rec’s Adapt Belt Bag is compact, stylish, and well-made. If you’re looking for a petite sling, it’ll handle anything your pockets can’t. However, costing almost $60, I’m disappointed to see that it lacks features that I find valuable, like a water bottle pocket, thoughtful tech compartments, and a padded interior.

Best Lightweight
Public Rec Adapt Belt Bag

Public Rec knows how to make a tantalizing lifestyle bag, and this sling is no exception. As simple as it is, the chrome lobster buckle is so cool and makes taking it off a breeze, and the sunglasses pocket is truly a life saver.

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Best Leather: Parker Clay Bale Sling Bag

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Inspired by the breathtaking Bale Mountains of northern Africa, the Bale Sling Bag from Parker Clay is a luxurious upgrade for a classier aesthetic.

Handcrafted from full-grain Ethiopian leather, the Bale Sling Bag oozes quality and style. The leather itself is a character, with each bag boasting its unique color, texture, and grain variations.

Listen, I like what I like. For a picky guy like me, the multitude of color options available makes it easier to find the perfect bag. Personally, the olive-colored leather is heavenly.

Over time, the bag will develop a patina based on your use. Think of it as a rewarding memento of your previous adventures.

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The high-quality zippers, also available in different options, add to the luxury of the Bale. It’s common to find plastic zippers on other sling bags, so I’m glad Parker Clay didn’t spare any expense with the hardware.

It’s the same deal with the lining, too–pure elegance. Many other bags have a single layer of fabric separating the inside from the outside. It’s small details like this that earned the Bale a spot on my list.

My favorite quality about this bag is the L-shaped configuration. Every sling bag looks stylish draped across the back, you could wear the Bale on your front, too, for better access and security.

Luxury storage isn’t held to purses and trunks, and Parker Clay’s Bale Sling Bag is a prime example. The premium leather is gorgeous, and the gradual patina it develops makes it uniquely your own. Throw on top-tier zippers and lining, and you’re dressed to thrill.

What I Like

  • The full-grain Ethiopian leather outer is buttery to the touch, premium looking, and straight-up gorgeous.
  • The metal zippers are easy to adjust and contribute to the overall quality of the Bale.
  • The L-shaped design makes it easy to wear behind or in front of my torso.

What I Don’t Like

  • The leather, while luxurious, doesn’t hold up well to moisture.

What Other Reviewers Say

Customers swoon over the suave texture of the Ethiopian leather, and the craftsmanship of the zipper and lining isn’t ignored either. One customer with a height of 5’2” was wary of the Bale’s slightly larger style, but they shared that it’s the perfect size despite their short stature.

The Verdict

I like nice things, and I try to honor my belongings with an equally nice carriage. Ethiopian leather, metal zippers, and a carefully stitched lining make the Bale a grand chariot.

Parker Clay Bale Sling Bag

I love the Ethiopian leather of this bag. It looks straight-up gorgeous and feels buttery soft to the touch, and the gradual patina that develops over time only adds to the charm. The L shaped configuration is also nice, as it means you can easily wear the bag on your front or around the back as a single strap backpack.

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Key Things to Consider When Choosing a Sling Bag

go sling pro on back 4

Slings, or “cross-body” bags aren’t as common as backpacks or messengers, so it’s important to consider a few things before buying your first one.

The material of the bag is important for durability and style. Leather and canvas have a classic look, but aren’t the best against inclement weather. Nylon might be too utilitarian with formalwear, but it easily handles moisture and abrasion.

Look for bags with sufficient compartments and pockets for organization, especially if carrying gadgets like tablets or phones. A bag that lacks adequate padding can spell hundreds in damages if disaster strikes on your commute.

go sling pro strap

Adjustable straps are a must for comfort and to ensure the bag sits well on the body, whether over the chest or the back. If you aren’t carrying much, this isn’t a dire issue. If you plan or lugging heavy electronics, it’s an absolute necessity.

How do you match a sling bag with your outfit?

It’s all about intuition. Most bags have a purpose that’s evident in their overall appearance. A beach day would ruin a shiny leather sling bag, but the glistening cowhide would match black leather loafers worn for casual Fridays at the office beautifully.

Which Is Best for You?

Whether you’re a veteran sling connoisseur or a prospecting novice, we hope you found this list helpful in your search for the next best sling.

My Top Pick
Nomatic Navigator Sling 6L

After some Olympic-level city trekking, the Navigator Sling makes me facepalm thinking about my assumptions of what a sling bag could be. Compared to basic versions, the RFID-safe pocket, tech organizers, and comfort-minded features make it akin to a superhero’s toolkit.

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Between the ultra-organized Navigator Sling from Nomatic and the buttery soft leather found on Parker Clay’s Bale Sling Bag, or any of the other hand-picked styles on this list, I’m confident you’ll find the right pick for you.