Simply put, a hip pack is the rebranded fanny pack, while a sling bag is something different (it’s the hipster cousin, remember?). A hip pack can almost always be a sling bag, albeit not necessarily a good one, but a sling bag is virtually never a hip pack (like a square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not a square).
That said, almost every single company out there has its own definition of a sling bag and a hip pack. To make things even more complicated, some companies will throw in the term “crossbody bag” to describe what we consider a sling bag. So, it gets messy—and our rules and definitions are by no means absolutes.
In this guide, we won’t be discussing hip packs. Getting into the nitty-gritty of sling bags is complicated enough.
Editor’s Note: To all you fanny pack, excuse us, hip pack enthusiasts out there—we may work on a hip pack guide soon.
Why a Sling Bag?
Now that you know what a sling bag is, let’s talk about why a sling bag will change your life (or, at the very least, make carrying stuff easier).
Sling Bags Are Perfect for Your In-Flight Essentials
Since wearing one backpack on the front and one on the back hasn’t caught on yet (yes, we’re surprised too), a sling bag becomes a great place to keep your pocketable items, especially while in transit. Just toss all of your stuff in your sling and throw the entire thing in a bin as you breeze through airport security like a pro, thus avoiding the much-dreaded “security shuffle.”
And, unlike pockets, a sling bag will fit almost everything you could ever want in-flight (within reason—a masseuse obviously won’t fit). Of course, what you carry in your sling bag is as unique as you are. Here are a few suggestions based on what works for us:
Snacks (arguably the most important)
Earplugs (every plane has at least one crying baby, even if it’s your own; it’s like a law of physics or something)
Notebook and pen (something about being at 35,000 feet gets the creative juices flowing)
An e-reader or book (depending on your sling, some are too small to fit one)
Once in flight, you can use a carabiner to hook your sling bag to the seat in front of you. That way, you can quickly grab a snack before you get hangry, some tissues because the movie you picked happens to be a lot sadder than you thought it’d be, or a phone charger because Tetris drains battery life surprisingly quickly. You know, only the essentials.