Last Updated on May 13, 2023 by Photography PX
Initially pioneered in 2005 by Lowepro, the humble sling camera bag has grown tremendously in popularity over recent years. And they’re a go-to favorite amongst photographers wanting something portable, lightweight, and functional—all without the bulk of larger bags. And that change is likely due to the advent of compact mirrorless cameras and the inevitable downsizing in most kits they’ve caused. Either way, they’re the perfect in-between option for those wanting similar carrying capacity as a messenger but the comfort of a traditional backpack.
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And they let you carry several lenses, accessories, and a tripod. But, they provide the immediacy of grabbing such items in seconds without ever having to stop, put them down, and fumble about. Thus they’re a much more efficient way to shoot. And it’s not surprising that most traveling photographers find them the ideal solutions.
Sure, you could use a camera cross-body strap instead, which rightly performs some of the same functionality. But a dedicated bag is a wise investment to protect your expensive equipment with padding and weather sealing. Not to mention, they’ll help you be more effective and creative since you can carry extra lenses and accessories.
But, selecting the right one can be complicated. It’s important to factor in durability, storage space, and general functionality as not every bag offers identical features. And the last thing you want is to have an uncomfortable bag that overcomplicates the process and becomes a chore to access your gear. So to aid in that quest, we’ve compiled a list of the best camera sling bags on the present market.
10 – Manfrotto Pro Light Fasttrack
Manfrotto’s Pro Light Fasttrack brings exciting 2-in-1 functionality to the Pro Light collection. They offer this series in a single 4L size and a set black and red color scheme.
The Fasttrack uses a water repellent exterior shell and obtains Manfrotto’s award-winning Camera Protection System (CPS) for outstanding shock resistance where it matters most. Inside it houses two interchangeable dividers to adjust the interior cabin and carry two extra lenses. There’s also two internal mesh zippered pockets and one external for smaller items like batteries or SD cards.
And it also has a tablet pouch, surrounded by extra thick back padding for added comfort and protection. But, crucially, the Fasttrack offers clever dual functionality. In this case, it has a main centrally-mounted strap with a secondary strap that functions as a standalone sling attached directly to your camera through lockable buckles. Now, at a moment’s notice, you can slide the camera across the strap, out of the padded bottom compartment, giving you immediate access without having to open it unnecessarily. And it was the first option on the market offering this capability. Other bonuses include tripod storage.
Overall, Manfrotto’s Pro Light Fasttrack is an excellent choice for mirrorless owners wanting something stylish but compact and innovative. And it’s ideally suited for street photographers given its style and discretion.
9 – Moment Rugged Camera Sling
Moment’s Rugged Sling comes ready for street and travel photographers wanting a more modular system. They offer this series in two sizes ranging from 6-10L and two colors.
It uses a weather-proof recycled polyester fabric and waterproof YKK zippers. But, its rectangular shape helps maximize the gear you can carry. Inside, you’ll find two removable divers to bring a small camera and two extra lenses. There’s also a top zippered pocket to store small accessories like batteries and SD cards. And both compartments are accessed by a large front pocket. Externally, Moment’s added rear padding with a winged design to improve comfort. They’ve also added a universal cross-body strap with an optional stability strap to keep the weight balanced and snug. And it also has an integrated pocket for 11-inch tablets. Other bonuses include a two-year warranty, tripod storage, and an integrated key clip.
Overall, Moment’s Rugged Sling provides immediate top-down access to your gear. And it’s an excellent complement for those wanting something comfortable, rugged, and well suited to an active lifestyle.
8 – Vanguard Alta Rise 43
Vanguard’s Alta Rise is their mid-range photography series consisting of several types of bags. However, the 43 model is the sling variant of the family. They offer this series in a single size and a set grey and yellow color scheme.
It features a water-resistant construction. And by default, it offers 3L of storage space. But, unzipping its extension causes an enormous change. In this case, it gets its maximum storage space of nearly 9L. As such, it provides incredible possibilities, easily accommodating a professional DSLR and five extra lenses, including a telephoto lens. And you can easily carry flashes, a small drone, a laptop, multiple accessories, and then some given it has multiple interior slots and pouches.
The extra size also means added front and rear padding, further increasing its comfort. It also provides both side access and a top panel, letting it act as a standard backpack to boot. And this particular design becomes a key selling point of the Alta Rise 43. Other bonuses include a one-year warranty, tripod storage, a grab handle, and a rainproof cover.
Overall, Vanguard’s Alta Rise 43 is an excellent option for photographers wanting to supersize and carry their full setup without fumbling around.
7 – Tenba Solstice
Tenba’s Solstice is their line aimed towards traveling photographers. They offer this series in two sizes ranging from 7-10L and two colors.
It features a combination of ripstop and nylon, providing a water-repellent construction along with heavily reinforced stitching and sturdy YKK zippers. And this combination delivers outstanding durability, comfort, and breathability, while staying ready to last years of travel. Even so, it weighs less than 2 lbs, so it’s ultra-lightweight. Inside, you’ll find three velcro dividers ready to hold a professional DSLR and 2-3 lenses, including a telephoto lens, or a complete drone setup. It also has a tablet sleeve to carry a 10-inch tablet. Other bonuses include a five-year warranty, a built-in stability strap, a rainproof cover, and tripod storage.
Overall, Tenba’s Solstice, while uncomplicated in design, delivers outstanding durability. And it’s an excellent option for photographers with full-frame setups wanting a comfortable traveling companion.
6 – MindShift Gear PhotoCross 13
Mindshift Gear’s PhotoCross 13 is their ultimate outdoor adventure backpack. They offer this series in two sizes and two colors.
It features a water-repellent high-density nylon and polyurethane coating, along with sturdy YKK zippers. Together, it delivers a class-leading design highly protected against the elements, making the included rainproof cover mostly unnecessary. Inside, it offers two closed-cell foam divers ready to store an ungripped professional DSLR and up to 4 lenses, including a long telephoto lens.
It also has an inner padded sleeve, ready to fit most 13-inch laptops or tablets, along with zippered mesh pockets for storing memory cards and other accessories. Mindshift knows things can get heavy, so they’ve even widened the shoulder strap, added a built-in stability strap, and a 3-point harness for added stabilization. Other bonuses include a webbing waist belt, tripod storage, a grab handle, and a rainproof cover.
Overall, Mindshift Gear’s PhotoCross 13 is an excellent choice for adventure photographers wanting something tough and rugged, ready to withstand the elements.
5 – Case Logic Luminosity
Case Logic’s Luminosity offers a streamlined design ready for photographers wanting something small and discrete. They offer this series in a single 5L size and black color.
It features a nylon exterior shell with a minimalist black finish that’s supremely discrete. And comfortable, too, given its thick padding on the back panel and wide shoulder strap. Inside, you’ll find two padded adjustable divers walls ready to store a compact DSLR and two extra lenses. It also has a top compartment to store small accessories such as memory cards and a flash.
But, there, you’ll also find two dedicated memory card slip pockets, providing quick access but also ensures they’ll stay safe. While behind, you’ll find a dedicated compartment ready to fit a tablet. Other bonuses include tripod storage, a 25-year warranty, a built-in stability strap, a grab handle, and a rainproof cover.
Overall, Case Logic’s Luminosity is functional and well suited for those wanting something compact and direct.
4 – Altura Photo Camera Bag
Altura Photo’s Camera Bag is their smallest option but one bringing excellent customization at a bargain. They offer this series in a single size and a single black and purple combination color.
It offers two access points, either a side quick-release door or the main front door. And inside it provides adjustable dividers that you can customize as needed to fit most professional DSLR, mirrorless, and small drone combinations. But, by default, it’s ready for a large DSLR camera and up to three accompanying lenses. And with a total volume measuring over 14L, it’s among the largest options in the segment.
So you’ll have little difficulty bringing your entire setup. Even so, it offers a soft padded cross-body strap and extra rear padding, both reducing pressure and adding comfort. And it also features a top compartment ready to carry small accessories like flashguns with meshed zippered pockets to protect battery or SD cards. Other bonuses include tripod storage, a built-in stability strap, and a grab handle.
Overall, the Altura Photo Camera Bag is an excellent option for budget-conscious users wanting something full-featured and affordable.
3 – Peak Design Everyday Sling
Peak Design’s Everyday Sling is their smallest and lightest option in the Everyday Line and excellent refinement over the previous generation. They offer this series in three sizes ranging from 3-10L and three colors.
It uses a 100% recycled 400D grade weatherproof nylon shell and ultra-durable anodized zippers. Inside, you’ll find three flexfold dividers that are fully customizable. But, they’re ready to carry a professional mirrorless or DSLR setup and three lenses. The 10L version also has a padded laptop sleeve large enough to accommodate a 13-inch laptop or tablet. But all sizes have internal stretchy pockets for storing smaller items. Other bonuses include a quick-pull adjustment buckle, 2 external carry straps, luggage pass-through, and a lifetime guarantee.
Overall, Peak Design’s Everyday Sling is ideal for those wanting something stylish, durable, and discrete enough for any occasion. And now, on its second generation, it delivers needed refinements in both aesthetics and function.
2 – Lowepro Passport III
Lowepro’s Passport III is discrete and compact. They offer this series in a single 8L size and either black or grey colors.
It uses water-resistant nylon and zippers with cord grab loops for easy operation, especially with gloves. Inside, you’ll find a removable insert ready to fit a compact mirrorless camera or entry-level DSLR and an extra lens. It also obtains their CradleFit System, a padded pocket protecting small tablets or laptops, and three exterior pockets to store other accessories or personal items.
But, crucially, Lowepro equipped this bag with an expandable compartment that unzips, increasing the interior storage space by 30% in the process. Doing so can turn the Passport into a regular day-pack, making it supremely versatile whenever you want to carry additional items outside of camera gear alone. And it does all of this with a lightweight, comfortable, and form-fitting design to boot. Other bonuses include a removable shoulder pad.
Overall, Lowepro’s Passport III is an excellent dual-use bag perfectly suited for travelers wanting comfort and versatility. And it’ll offer both with outstanding discretion to compliment.
1 – Lowepro Slingshot SL 250
Lowepro’s Slingshot SL rethinks their original Slingshot range with targeted improvements, and it’s now lighter and better wearing than ever. They offer this series in a single 10L size and a combat black color scheme.
It features ripstop nylon with a urethane coating for added protection, along with rear padding with targeted ventilation. Inside you’ll find two separate compartments, a top section for travel accessories and a bottom for camera gear. And you’ll access the bottom section via a two-staged QuickDoor, ensuring quick access but also increasing security as two safety buckles protect it.
There it uses EVA foam divers ready to fit a compact DSLR camera and three extra lenses, including a telephoto lens. It also obtains their CradleFit pocket, protecting 13-inch laptops, and tablets. While the top section has several compartments ready to store a flash, a phone, and more. There’s also an exterior pocket, reached via a simple zipper for even quicker access. Other bonuses include tripod storage, a rainproof cover, a key leash, a built-in stability strap, a grab handle, and a lifetime warranty.
Overall, Lowepro’s Slingshot SL is everything photographers could want. And nothing you don’t want. And as the company that initially pioneered this niche, Lowepro continues dominating this area. The refinements over the already excellent Slingshot Edge 250 AW are worthwhile and highly targeted.