Best Camera Sling Bag
With the recent resurgence of compact cameras, a sling bag seems an enticing prospect and perhaps an essential purchase.
What the sling bag provides is easy-access to your camera, so you can snap the best shots while you’re out and about.
A good sling bag can make the difference between a productive day of outdoor photography and an average one, so it’s worth the investment if you like to be ready at all times to capture the perfect shot.
Here’s what to expect in this article:
- Reviews of the best camera sling bags
- A brief buyer’s guide
- Your burning questions answered in a FAQ
Without further ado, here are our top picks…
👑 Our Pick for Best Overall
⭐ Our Other Top Picks for Camera Sling Bag
- Best of the Best: Altura Camera Sling Backpack
- Runner Up: Lowepro Slingshot Edge 150 AW
- Most Versatile: Manfrotto Pro Light FastTrack-8
Best Camera Sling Bag Reviews
Altura Camera Sling Backpack (⭐ Best of the Best)
The best camera sling bag in our view is the Altura camera sling backpack. The incredibly low price point may seem too good to be true, but this sling bag is packed full of great features for the avid photographer.
The unique selling point of this bag isn’t its affordable price tag, but rather its utility. While a lot of brands design bags which present you with a single layout to fit your camera setup into, Altura takes a different approach with its sling backpack. The inner compartments of the sling bag are divided up by adjustable padded dividers. What that means for you is that you don’t have to try and Tetris your camera and accessories into the bag, since you can move things around inside. You can find the layout that works best for you, and then change it up if you need to bring a different camera or gear.
The quick access side opening provides you with a way to get to your gear the moment you need it, without having to go digging through the bag. When you open it you will be presented with a shelf-like display that has the various padded dividers protecting your camera and accessories. There’s also a zippered side compartment which is perfect for storing anything small you might want easy access to. Finally there’s a compartment on top of the bag which has space for a few smaller accessories.
When you’ve wearing the bag over your shoulder, you simply have to slide it around your chest to access your camera gear when you need it. It’s a simple case of reaching inside and pulling your camera out to start shooting, without all of the complications or fiddling around of a standard backpack. There’s even a monopod/tripod holder on the exterior of the backpack, so you can get set up in an instant.
This sling bag comes with a 90-day 100% satisfaction guarantee, which is very generous considering the low cost.
- Adjustable padded dividers
- Tripod/monopod holder
- Quick access opening
- Several compartments
- Quick rotation
- 90-day 100% satisfaction guarantee
Lowepro Slingshot Edge 150 AW (🥈 Runner Up)
The Lowepro Slingshot Edge 150 AW is our runner up pick, and has plenty to offer.
This sling bag from Lowepro is perfect for a mirrorless camera with an attached lens and an extra lens. There’s even leftover space for a small tablet too, in case you need app functionality or music for your outdoor expedition.
The slingshot bag is ideal for the urban environment, and will allow you easy access to your camera while keeping everything close to your body. If you enjoy travel and urban photography, but you don’t want to have to dig into your backpack every time you see a photo opportunity, this is a perfect bag for you. Convenience is one benefit, but you’ll also feel more secure knowing that you can reach into your bag and get to your camera gear without needing to take it off.
While extremely versatile, this bag isn’t any less likely to stay on your back. There are extra straps that will clip around your body should you want to hop on a bike or have to jog to catch a train. This ensures that you’re never in the position of having the bag move around a lot or be at risk of falling off your shoulder.
There’s a fully customizable interior separated with padded compartments, as well as a top compartment for keys and other valuables. There’s also an exterior space for anything from tripods to selfie sticks and umbrellas, which can all come in handy for an urban adventure. A mesh water bottle pocket can also hold a variety of things, especially when combined with one of the extra straps that can be used to hold something securely in place.
All in all this is a perfect sling bag for the urban environment, and the ideal travel companion. If you’re in a busy market square trying to capture a photo in cramped conditions, or trying to run down the train to get to your next destination, this Slingshot Edge bag has you covered.
- Fits a mirrorless camera with attached lens, extra lens, and includes a CradleFit pocket for a small tablet.
- Mesh bottle holder
- Exterior storage for tripods/umbrellas
- Fully adjustable padded divider system
Manfrotto Pro Light FastTrack-8 (🗺️ Most Versatile)
The Manfrotto Pro Light FastTrack is our pick for the most versatile sling bag.
What we love about this sling bag from Manfrotto is its innovative approach to the easy access camera bag. This comes mainly in the form of the secondary sling strap, which is mounted onto the main strap. What this allows you to do is slide your camera up to the perfect height to take photos while you’re out and about. Designed for your compact mirrorless camera, you can leave it safely hanging down by your hip or have it at eye level depending on how ready you need to be.
The genius of this bag is that it combines the sling bag and the shoulder strap seamlessly for the best user experience. While it takes a short adjustment period in the beginning to get used to swinging your camera up, the end result definitely justifies the learning curve.
As for storage, on the exterior of the sling bag you have a hole to slot your tripod or monopod down into. While on the interior, there are several zippered compartments and a side opening for all of your lenses. Aside from that, you can get a tablet into the bag and a few of your valuables like earphones, a phone, and keys. The padding inside the bag should provide sufficient protection too, so you don’t have to worry about your goods getting damaged.
- Space for a compact mirrorless camera
- Exterior slot for tripod
- Camera Protection System with several zippers
- 2-in-1 design combining slip bag and shoulder strap
Ultimate Guide to Camera Sling Bags
To get the perfect sling bag, it’s essential that you pick one which caters to all of your needs and camera equipment.
Not all sling bags offer the same features, in terms of storage space, weight, and strap type.
While some sling bags will give you the ability to instantly access your camera with a multifunctional design, others ensure your equipment is secure and easy to get to in a crowded urban environment.
The capacity or storage space of a sling bag is by far the most important factor to consider before you part with your cash.
If you buy a sling bag without taking your camera gear into account first, you could end up with one that doesn’t fit all of your accessories or lenses.
The capacity varies in a few key ways with a sling bag.
The first thing to bear in mind is how many compartments the sling bag has, which can cater to anything from small valuables like keys, to tripods and umbrellas.
The next factor is how much space there is in each compartment, and how big a camera you can pack in it.
Lastly, there’s adjustability. Several sling bags offer fully customizable interiors, which allow you to shift the padded dividers around so you can have the perfect setup for any trip.
Number of Compartments
It’s common for a sling bag to have several different compartments, since it gives you flexibility in how you get to your camera and accessories.
Some bags, like the Altura sling backpack will have a quick access compartment that is meant for taking your camera out at a moment’s notice, while others will have a main compartment similar to a standard camera bag.
Some sling bags will have extra pockets of space on the exterior of the bag for things like water bottles, tripods or even a headphone jack for music.
Most bags will have a main compartment with dividers for the majority of your gear, and then anywhere between 1 and 4 extra zippered pockets for everything from a tablet to a phone or your house keys.
It’s down to personal preference at the end of the day.
- Do you need an extra pocket for a small tablet?
- Do you often take a tripod with you for photography?
- Do you like to have somewhere specific to put your valuables?
When it comes to storage space, the main thing you need to consider is what type of camera you have, along with how many lenses and accessories you regularly use with it.
Generally speaking, the sling bag is the preferred choice for the photographer who has a single camera and anywhere between 1 and 3 lenses. A few accessories such as batteries and memory cards will be catered for too.
Compact mirrorless cameras and light DSLRs are hands down the best devices to carry in a sling bag. Anything too heavy can cause neck or back pain, and will prove tricky to fit down in the bag.
So when looking for the right sling bag for your needs, bear in mind what gear it is you want to be able to transport around, and see if the bag is compatible with it.
If you only usually bring 1 extra lense and a couple of accessories with your compact mirrorless camera, then you can look at the lightest sling bags to minimise the load.
On the other hand, if you enjoy using your lightweight DSLR and having a variety of lenses to choose from, then you’ll need something with a bit more in the way of storage space.
Adjustability is a huge factor when it comes to storage for camera sling bags.
If you can’t move things around on the inside of the bag, then you’re going to be stuck with one layout. The downside of having a fixed layout like this is that if you decide to switch things up with regards to your camera gear, then you’re going to have to hope it fits in the existing layout in a satisfactory way.
If you have an adjustable interior though with padded dividers, then you can make just about any setup work. This is ideal if you like to play around with different equipment, or you just have a different setups for whatever the situation.
Even if you just like the inside of your bag to look neat and tidy when you open it, then adjustable storage is an absolute must. At times there’s nothing better than seeing your gear nicely laid out, just as it should be.
Another factor you’ll want to consider for any sling bag you’re looking to purchase is the design.
A convenient design is one which suits your needs exactly.
One of the most important aspects to think about is how it caters to your lifestyle.
This refers to the type of photography you enjoy, but also applies to everything you could want to bring with you on a day out.
For example, you might want to use the sling bag as a backpack replacement for a day out in the sun, in which case you’d want to find space for things like sunscreen and water.
Alternatively you could be travelling and looking to take adventurous hikes into nature, so you’d want a pocket or two for your valuables and maybe even some survival kit essentials if that’s your thing.
Functionality should win over form when it comes to a sling bag, as it’s something that you should want to use time and time again for day trips and mini photography missions.
So with that in mind, why not try to get the most out of the sling bag and maximise its functionality?
Think beyond what camera equipment you can fit in a sling bag, and imagine everything you would typically carry with you on a day out.
If you get a bag that’s slightly bigger than you think you need, then you can potentially have space to fit a small journal, charger, earphones or whatever else it is that would be useful to have with you while you’re out and about.
You should also think about travel, since the right sling bag will be able to hold everything you need on an overnight flight. Things that would be convenient to store in a small bag like an eye mask, earplugs, and headphones.
It’s always good to imagine when you will use the bag, so that you can build a clear picture in your mind of what you can store in it.
Weather-resistance isn’t just a nice extra feature to have with a sling bag, but rather an essential element.
After all, if you go outside with a non waterproof sling bag full of all of your camera gear and maybe some other devices, and it rains, then you could end the day with less technology than you started it with.
Due to the lightweight nature of the bags, they aren’t going to have heavy-duty weather-resistant materials to cover them, but some bags do have sufficient weather-resistant covers to keep your valuables safe.
Some bags, like the Slingshot Edge have such a cover. The Slingshot Edge has an AW cover which should keep your gadgets dry even if you get caught out in a storm or accidentally drop the bag in a puddle.
However, if the risk of rain isn’t high where you live often, then you might be fine to invest in a sling bag without a weather-resistance cover.
Due to the compact nature of the bag, it would be easy enough to tuck it under a large waterproof coat you’re wearing if you do find yourself in the middle of a rainstorm.
Why Choose a Sling Bag?
You may have arrived at the decision to buy a sling bag, but maybe you still have doubts surrounding what type of bag is best for your camera and equipment.
Or perhaps you still need convincing that a sling bag is the way to go since they’re trendy these days.
Whatever the case, there are several reasons why you should invest in a sling bag.
Arguably the biggest advantage the sling bag has over a traditional camera bag or a messenger bag is it can speed up your reaction time.
A big part of photography is being at the right place at the right time. The bird that flies from its nest, the position of the sun behind the clouds, or the fisherman casting a net out to sea.
All of these scenarios require quick thinking, and just as importantly, quick access to your camera.
With a sling bag, unlike other types of bag, you can easily slide it around your body and get the camera out in record time.
This makes it easy to react to events in your surroundings and capture rare moments.
A sling bag is so light and so compact that it can be incredibly convenient.
It can be the hand luggage on your plane, or your backpack replacement for a simple day out.
And yet, it still has plenty of space to fit a camera, valuables, and day trip essentials like sunscreen or your house keys.
A great sling bag is so much more than a place to put your camera, and it might even end up becoming your favourite new bag to carry your belongings around in.
Why invest in a large, potentially cumbersome backpack that can cause strain on your neck and back when you get one for a third of the size that’s easy to store and easy to walk out of the door with?
A sling bag is convenient, there’s no two ways about it. So if you value convenience, then you might just want to consider investing in your own.
Find a Sling Bag Which Suits your Photo Shoots
One of the most important things to bear in mind when you’re looking for a sling bag is to find out which one best suits your photo shoots.
Whether you prefer to capture shots of urban environments or rural escapes, architecture or landscapes, you’ll have different ideas for the ideal camera sling bag.
Let’s take a look at some of the different sling bag features and what type of photography they are best for.
While a sling bag is meant to be slung over your shoulder and rotated around your body for easy access to your camera, some have a shoulder strap too adding more flexibility.
The best example of this is the innovative Pro Light FastTrack-8 from well-respected camera gear brand Manfrotto.
This sling bag has a 2-in-1 design which combines the sling strap with a shoulder strap, which makes getting your camera up to eye level as easy as it can be.
All you have to do is secure your compact camera to the strap with the attachment loops provided, and then you can slide it up and down the strap.
This means you can go from carrying it securely by your hip, to having it at the perfect level for snapping a spontaneous shot.
As a result, you can really get the most from your camera in a moment’s notice.
This design is best for any photo shoot that requires quick reaction to capture a developing scene or a fleeting moment. You can be in the best position to capture anything from a flock of birds scattering in every direction from a tree to a bicycle riding through the main square.
Quick access to the sling bag is more or less essential, since the whole purpose of having a lightweight bag like this one is so that you can grab your camera whenever you need it with minimal fuss.
The last thing you want when you’re out on a photography mission is to have to stop, put your bag down, and fumble around to get out everything you need for the shoot.
Quick access usually means that there is a zippered compartment that you can easily slide around and open up within a matter of seconds.
A great example of a sling bag with quick access is our top pick by Altura. This sling bag is easily swung around the body, and has a special compartment that opens up to reveal all of your essential camera equipment in a moment’s notice.
A sling bag with a quick access compartment is best for those unpredictable photo shoots.
If you enjoy combining hiking or trekking in beautiful scenery with your camera, then quick access could be an essential feature for you. The lightweight nature of the bag shouldn’t take anything away from your enjoyment of the surroundings, but with the quick access you’ll be ready to take photos of wildlife if the opportunity arises.
Security should be a big factor regardless of what type of photography you prefer, since camera equipment doesn’t come cheap.
However, some sling bags will be more protected against theft than others.
The best you can hope for with a sling bag is that you have a design which hugs as close to your body as possible.
That way, all of your valuables and camera equipment are within reach at all times, if not within sight.
The Lowepro Slingshot Edge is a great example of a camera sling bag that’s built for security, and should keep your things safe at all times.
The main reasons for this are its innovative design that keeps the bag tight to your body, and the extra straps which can be used to secure it even more when you’re in a hurry.
The straps are extremely handy if you are operating in an urban environment, since they can keep the bag attached to your body whether you’re on a bike or running for a train. It will keep your valuables safe whatever happens.
In general, security is more of a factor in urban environments than rural ones. Especially if you’re in a big city, or plan on walking through crowded streets or squares. Having the bag close to you is imperative in these situations, to significantly lower the risk of your camera being stolen.
As well as security from your environment, you’ll also want security for your devices stored inside the bag.
If you accidentally fall over or your bag sways and hits a rock, then whatever you have inside could end up looking worse for wear.
That is, unless you have a padded interior which should ensure everything inside is kept protected from impact.
The best kind of interior is both padded, and customisable.
If you have a customisable layout with padded dividers, then you can set your gear up in the best way to ensure it stays safe at all times.
If you don’t have sufficient padding for any one of your devices, from a camera to a tablet, then you could be putting them at risk.
This is important for all kinds of photo shoots, since you never know when you might trip over a shoelace, a branch, or a loose rock.
Having a lightweight camera sling bag is ideal in a lot of scenarios.
For a start, the lighter the bag the less strain you’re likely to put on your neck and back, which can be a big issue when carrying around heavy cameras and accessories.
It also makes the bag incredibly easy to store for travelling and keep out of sight at home.
Plus of course if you enjoy going out on a photo mission on a whim, then you’d probably prefer something that you can just pick up, put your camera in, and walk out the door.
If you are quite spontaneous with your camera, then you should probably go for something which is light and easy to pick up and take with you on a moment’s notice.
You’ll also appreciate a lightweight sling bag if you have a compact camera and just a few lenses or accessories. If you prefer to go light with your camera gear or are just starting out and don’t have much yet, then there’s no real reason to get a bigger, heavier bag.
Frequently Asked Questions About Camera Sling Bags
What is the best sling bag?
The Altura camera sling bag is an excellent storage solution for holding your camera gear on the go.
The completely adjustable padded dividers on the interior make it easy to change things around depending on what camera gear you want to take with you.
It also has a quick access compartment, which makes it easy to slide around to your front and grab the camera to capture the perfect shot.
Are sling bags better for your back?
Sling bags are generally considered to be better for your back than standard backpacks since they are lightweight in design.
It’s important that you wear it correctly though, and don’t overfill it with heavy gear to avoid potential strain on the neck and back.
It’s also strongly recommended that you spend a good amount of time finding the perfect sling bag for your equipment, so you don’t end up with a bag that’s too big for example.
Are sling bags in style?
Yes, sling bags are in style right now, and you can find them just about anywhere you’d find camera bags.
From the high street to online stores, all the big brands are trying to get in on the craze for sling bags, so it’s important to make sure you find the real deal.
The good thing with sling bags is that it isn’t something that will ever be out of style per se, and even if it does go out of style, you’ll have an incredibly convenient camera bag for when you need it.
A Final Word from Run Gun Shoot
Sling bags are essential if you want versatile storage for your compact camera while you’re on the move.
Ideal for urban and rural photo adventures, you never know when you might want to get your camera out, and the sling bag makes it extremely simple to do so.