Sling Backpack vs. Backpack Bag; Which Is Better?

sling backpack

There Are Pros And Cons To Both

Sling Backpack or Hiking Backpack Debate

A sling backpack bag may seem easier to carry. But is it?  This debate is not as complicated as which came first, the chicken or the egg, but many hikers have different viewpoints on which type of hiking pack is more comfortable. Your destination and time on a hike,plus your habits will determine if one is easier than the other. Many hikers have a clear preference for a sling bag while hard-core trekkers swear by backpack bags.  Let’s cut through the confusion and sort this all out.

Sling Backpack Used As A Hiking Day Pack

Sling backpack packs usually have one main compartment which make it harder to find your necessities when you toss it all into one area. Key considerations are the size of the load you will be carrying, and for how long you have to carry it. Another factor would be how often you need access to the bag’s contents. Hikers may prefer a one shoulder backpack, for a quick on and off or to get at the contents of the bag faster and easier.  If the load you’re carrying is light, there is less chance of a sore shoulder with a shoulder sling pack.

Sling Bag Features Have Dilemmas

Let’s say the trip is a shorter day hike.  Most likely you’ll be carrying less.However, if the load is cumbersome, then the relative worth of its easy access decreases. The single strap backpack may slip or slide off of your shoulder or inch up towards your neck while hiking, putting pressure on your neck which will result in discomfort and potential pain.

Sling Backpack vs Backpacking Backpacks

A sling bag differs from a classic hiking backpack bag which has two shoulder straps, one for each shoulder. It is not slung over one side, it is centered in your back. It provides added stability when hiking or climbing and is considered ergonomically beneficial for carrying weight. Trekking backpacks have exterior pockets for easy access to frequently used items. Carrying this type of hiking backpack always gives you both hands free to work with, eliminating the need to hold the single strap of a sling bag onto your body.

What About Hiking Pack Weight?

Sling backpack bags do not have the ability to distribute your pack weight evenly across your back like a two strap backpack does. This design helps maintain your natural gait.  I’m sure you wouldn’t want to deal with hip and back pain due to a hunched posture.  You can imagine how that might put a damper on the enjoyment of your trek. An added benefit of this type of backpack is that it’s very stable on uneven trails.  A properly fitted pack will hug the small of your back allowing it to be flexible with your body movements.

Factors For Both Types Of Hiking Packs

Whichever type of pack you choose, it boils down to what you will be doing with it, long or short term, and what you will be carrying as far as load weight. Owning a sling bag plus a large backpack is optimal since you can always toss a sling bag into your backpacking backpack and have the best of both worlds as your circumstances change during an extended excursion. You might as well make your life easier and get both types of packs. Happy Hiking!


We love the great outdoors, backpack hiking, fishing, camping and experiencing nature's beauty.

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