The one shoulder, or sling, backpack has become popular among men whose pockets just aren’t big enough. It’s hands-free, convenient, and stylish. Many companies–such as Coach, Patagonia, and Adidas–have jumped on the bandwagon to produce them.
Besides practicality and and design, there’s other points to take in to consideration. With all the dashing and fashionable bags out there, it’s hard to fish out one that will really know what you need. This time, we’ll give you a checklist full of things to think about when choosing an one shoulder backpack, then show you some of our recommended ones. From the handsome rebel to the classy man, there’s one to fit every persona.
How to Choose a One Shoulder Bag for Men – Buying Guide
Since these bags hug the body better, they’re more stable and move less when it comes to activities like cycling. Everyone has different preferences for a shoulder bag, so check out the details before you buy one. Do you want one for tackling the rugged mountains or for just day-to-day use? Let’s take a look.
The Everyday Companion: Let’s Talk about Size
A one shoulder backpack is just the right size to carry around daily. Most of them are so small, they only fit a few items, such as your wallet and cell phone. Whether you’re hanging out with friends or running errands on your day off, it’s perfect for the man on the go.
Recently, a lot more people have been using sling backpacks for work. In this case, get a bag large enough to carry regular printing paper (that’s letter size in the U.S., or A4 on the ISO scale). Most people also use iPads these days, which are around the size of an A5 sheet of paper (that’s smaller than the A4 or letter size). Having a bag that’s slightly bigger will ensure your iPad and all its accessories fit snugly.
Go even bigger, and you can even go on an overnight trip. Stick all your necessities in a sling backpack, and you can reduce the number of bags you bring.
Pick Material Based on What It Does
Every fabric has its ups and downs. You may have your own preferences, but if you choose a bag without thinking about where and when you’ll be using it—at work versus the Amazon rainforest—it’ll just end up getting soaked and stained. To avoid a tiring scrub, choose a material that is well suited to the weather and your needs.
Enamel to Ward Off the Rain
Water will run right off your enamel bag, so you don’t have to worry about the rain soaking it and ruining your electronics. Don’t you always leave things out, forget them, when you switch between bags? Get an enamel sling backpack as your main go-to, and sudden downpours won’t be able to catch you off-guard.
Think about it: you’re on your bike, pedaling, running late to a meeting; the sky turns dark, and the downpour begins. With a leather bag, you’d be forced to take shelter somewhere (and face your angry boss afterwards). But an enamel backpack will keep the interior dry even if the exterior is completely wet. Plus, the bag’ll dry right off after a quick wipe-down. It’s pretty handy if you spend most of your time under the open sky.
Enamel bags have simple designs and solid colors, making it easy to pair with any outfit. From street casual to business formal, these bags will complement your style.
Go Lightweight with Nylon
Some worry about using shoulder bags because they put a lot of weight on the neck and shoulder. To ease some of that burden, we recommend using a nylon bag. It’s a thinner fabric, so the bag weighs less but can still carry your essentials.
Most nylon bags weigh about one pound. Putting in the minimum of what you need, such as your cellphone and wallet, will only add a pound or two more to your load. With this, you can go about your day without feeling like Atlas holding up the world. Some sling bags have cushions on the straps; look out for them if you’re extra worried about straining your shoulders.
And because they’re stretchy, nylon bags can carry more. If you want to lug around a lot of materials, but still have the bag itself be lightweight, consider investing in a nylon shoulder backpack.
Mesh for the Athlete
For those who are eager to get out and exercise, bring along a mesh bag. Even if you sweat, it won’t be absorbed to the interior of the bag. And since mesh is so thin, even if the bag gets wet, it’ll dry faster than other materials.
The area where the bag rests on your back is a point where heat is easily trapped, especially in the summer. Sweat pools, evaporates, and condenses there, so it gets all musty and clammy. If you have sensitive skin, you may get a rash. And if you’re using any old fabric bag, the sweat will also cause discoloration.
Mesh shoulder bags cling onto your body and keep your hands free, so they’re a perfect choice for those who prefer a sporty lifestyle.
Formal and Fashionable in Leather
One shoulder bags can look casual, but here is where the influence of material comes in to play. Leather, faux or genuine, can bring your outfit from “laid-back weekender” to “street chic” in a single swing. It’s also resistant to dirt, keeping your bag cleaner for a longer period of time.
Genuine leather comes in various textures and patters. Some are soft to the touch, while others have a glossy finish, namely patent leather. Choosing a neutral color, such as browns, grays, and blacks, makes it easier to pair a bag with an outfit for work. A bit of leather is always in style.
More Zippers For Your Convenience
Let’s talk zippers. Actually, when it comes to one shoulder bags, it matters whether it zips shut from the left or right. In general, though, what you want is a zipper with two sliders, which’ll close from either direction.
If you’ve got a one shoulder bag, you’ll swing it around to your front to open it, right? If the bag zips shut from the right (when the front of the backpack’s facing you), wear it on your right shoulder; if it zips shut from the left, wear it on your left.
That way, when you bring the sling backpack over to the front, the slider’ll be facing upwards, so it’s easy to reach inside. (And if it’s facing downwards, when you unzip the bag, your life will come tumbling out of it.) Also, the pull’s nearer to your armpit—and in your peripheral vision—discouraging pickpockets and their loose fingers from floating towards your bag.
But if you’ve got to wear your bag on the same shoulder everyday, it’s going to wear it down (and cause some asymmetry). Get one with two sliders, and you can switch between shoulders. It seems like such a minor thing, but it really makes a difference in the long run.
Swing It From Right to Left: Look at the Shoulder Strap
Along with the zippers, shoulder straps are another small point to consider. Sometimes, you can detach the strap and angle it differently. That way, you can switch between shoulders, even if you’ve only got a zipper with one slider.
Changing the orientation will reduce muscle stress—plus, you can adjust how you want the bag to hang from your body, so it matches your outfit of the day. You can go from left to right, or from backpack to cross-body–just in case you’re planning to wear a huge brooch over your heart, or have a bit of embroidery on your shirt pocket that everyone absolutely needs to see.
Top 10 Best Men’s One Shoulder Backpacks to Buy Online
From here, we’ll introduce some backpacks to you. Each one has its own appeal, so see which design and what traits speak to you the most.
10. Waterfly Chest Sling
Spacious and Sturdy Enough for College Students
Waterfly’s bag sits comfortably on your back and won’t fall over as you bend down. You can adjust it to hang from your left to right shoulder, depending on your preference. The padded shoulder strap keeps the backpack from putting too much pressure on your shoulders. In the front, there’s a small pocket for your cell phone, making it easy to access. An interesting feature is the quick release clip. Should you need to take your bag off quickly, just use the clip and it’ll slide right off.
Although there’s a side pocket for your water bottle, it’s too small to actually hold one. The interior is spacious enough for most, but it’s a little snug, barely wide enough to fit an iPad.
9. Leaper Cross Body Sling Bag
Price: From $26.99
Affordable and Available in Two Sizes
With a medium and large size to choose from, this bag is great for college textbooks. It’s also great for traveling and is made out of a sturdy canvas material. There’s a bunch of pockets, which those who like to keep organized will appreciate. This cross body bag can fit 12″ laptops with no problem, and can switch orientation from left to right.
There’s a mesh pocket to the side, but it’s too small to hold a water bottle. A few have noted that the strap is too short, making it tight around their chest. On the front, magnets buckle to the backpack flap, but are on the weaker side, so they come loose pretty easily.
8. Kavu Rope Sling Bag
A Comfortable Sling that Comes in a Beautiful Array of Patterns
Kavu’s Rope Sling Bags are big enough to hold all your essential items, and only your essential items. Feel tempted to over pack? Kick that habit with this bag! The ropes are soft and of good quality, ensuring that your shoulders are comfortable throughout the day. They’re perfect for going on a day hike or rushing from class to class. Rope Slings are made out of high quality canvas material, so if you get a stain, simply spot clean it with soap and water.
These bags are oriented for left-handed people, so it might be awkward for those who’re right handed. Although the design of the bag makes it convenient to grab your stuff, that also makes it vulnerable to pickpockets–something to keep in mind when you’re in a crowded area.
7. Tumi Alpha Bravo Smith Sling
From Work Meeting to Beach Trip
The Alpha Bravo is lightweight and sturdy, casual enough for a day out with friends and classy enough for a business trip. The strap is comfortable on the shoulders and chest, adjustable for both the right and left handed. On each side, the zippers go all the way down the bag. If you need to search for something quickly, Alpha Bravo gives you the option to look through your bag without dumping everything out, no matter which shoulder you wear it on.
Being a higher end brand, it’s one of the more expensive bags on this list. It’s smaller than it seems on screen, with some reporting that it can only hold electronics as big as an iPad Air. Others had trouble with the zippers not gliding smoothly–something to watch out for.
6. 5.11 Rush MOAB 10 Sling Pack
Durable For the Outdoor Enthusiasts
Made with durable nylon, this pack can weather the elements as well as you do. Though it’s designed for braving the outdoors, it works just as well as a commuter bag, and is able to switch shoulder sides. Whether it’s trudging on a grueling hike or heaving school supplies, this bag’s got your back. As well as being larger than most sling bags, there’s plenty of compartments for those who need the organization.
You’d have to be careful not to over stuff with this one. Since it can hold a lot, some people go overboard and put more in than they should, resulting in a heavy pack. Some reviews have stated the bag doesn’t sit comfortably on their back, moving around. Others have complained of the strap digging in to their shoulders, with no waist strap to distribute the weight more evenly.
5. Coach Manhattan Sling Pack
Fashionable and Versatile for an Everyday Look
With a beautiful leather finish and a sharp, classy look, the Manhattan Sling Pack goes well with any outfit. It’s formal enough to take to an important meeting, but still casual enough for personal use. It’s able to fit a 10″ tablet with ease, along with a few other necessities. The zippers are sturdy, with a secret compartment on the back to stash important belongings. An adjustable strap, for either a left or right shoulder swing, completes the look.
For those on a budget, this is definitely more of a pricier and splurge item. The pockets in the front aren’t deep enough for anything more than a phone.
4. OutdoorMaster Sling Bag
Water Resistant and Lightweight
A great, affordable option with lots of room, the OutdoorMaster gives you four different compartments to hold your wares. Cameras, tablets, and laptops up to 12″ are able to fit comfortably inside. Since the outside material is water resistant, you don’t have to worry about your electronics getting soaked. It’s got a side pocket to fit your water bottle, and the shoulder strap is made of a mesh material, allowing ventilation.
Unfortunately, the zippers aren’t water proof, so a bit of liquid may still find their way in. You’ve also got a variety of colors and textures for this one, so mix and match to your heart’s content.
3. Patagonia Atom Sling 8L
Adjustable Straps With A Padded Tablet Sleeve
Along with a sleeve to keep your tablet in place, this bag has an outer pocket for your cellphone. The strap is padded for extra comfort, relieving some stress on your shoulders. On the back of the bag is a breathable mesh material, allowing air to flow through so you won’t be covered in sweat. The outside clips are strong enough to hold large objects, such as an extra jacket or yoga mat.
The Atom Sling comes with two compartments, but just enough space for daily essentials such as a wallet and cellphone, as well as a few others. This 8L can be considered small for those who’re used to previous versions of the bag. Some have reported that the mesh back caused pilling–fabric that bunches up in to little balls–on the back of their sweaters, so that’s something to watch out for.
2. Under Armour Compel Sling 2.0
Sleek, Reliably Sturdy, and Products Your Stuff from Storms
A popular sports brand, Under Armour ‘s Compel Sling 2.0 can hold a laptop up to 15″ and all your other necessities. Made with their unique UA Storm technology material, this sling repels water to keep your belongings dry. It’s perfect for the gym, school, or just as a day to day travel bag. Nice, comfy, and with a side pocket for your water bottle, the Compel Sling 2.0’s got you covered.
That being said, the strap can’t be adjusted to change sides, so it’ll have to be on a single shoulder all day. It’s a bit difficult to use if you’re left handed. The strap tends to move around, and it can be too short for some. There’s no real cushioning on the interior or exterior, so it’ll be a problem if you drop it with your laptop inside.
1. NeatPack Versatile Canvas Sling Bag
Extra Padding on the Strap and Back for Your Comfort
Affordable and water resistant, this bag has a mesh back that allows for decent ventilation, handy for those hot days. The strap can be adjusted to either the left or right shoulder, and has a longer adjustable length than most bags, great for those who’ve got broad chests. It can also be transformed into a cross body strap, if you like to change things up. The Versatile Canvas Sling Bag also has a side pocket for your water bottle.
With three compartments, secure zippers, and made from sturdy canvas, the NeatPack will last you for a while. Although it’s spacious, it can only hold small laptops and tablets, such as the Surface Pro 3.
Do any of these bags stand out to you? Have you figured out what you’re looking for? From fashionably forward to basically practical, there are so many personalities to one shoulder backpacks, you may get lost when deciding. Hopefully, this article will help you decide when searching for a bag that’s right for you.
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