What’s the difference between a cross-body bag and a sling bag?

Published by Shoaib Turk on

Difference between a sling bag and a cross-body bag.

What’s the difference between a Sling bag and a cross-body bag? It sounds like a traditional spot-the-difference question, at the surface it looks impossible to have a clear answer. Both these words are often used interchangeably not only by common people but also by some businesses and marketers, this explains the confusion surrounding these terms. These bags are quite popular these days among men, and if you wanna “spot” the difference between a cross-body bag and a sling bag you are at the right spot right now. We will be explaining the difference, the thin line that separates these two styles of men’s bags in a little detail, but let’s first have a look at the history of sling bags.

The history of the crossbody bag: 

A cross-body bag is a new term and it dates back only to the later years of the 2010s but the term sling bag, quite interesting, is way older. Sling bags came to the limelight during the 1960s as utility bags for skiers, hikers, and moms. It was called a fanny pack back then. Even though our primordial ancestors the hunter-gatherers also used a pouch tied to their waists, modern sling bags or fanny packs became a staple of fashion in the 1980s. They made a resurgence as a men’s staple for transit during the final years of the 2010s. They are no more just a utility, these little bags are now a part and parcel of urban chic and dapper styles. They are likely to stay in style in the years to come, as men are loving the way cross-body bags save them from bulky pockets and make their outfits more streamlined and sleek. 

The difference between a sling bag and a cross-body bag:

Now it’s time to get straight to the problem at hand. You’ll be able to differentiate the two by appreciating one thing. A sling bag is a type of cross-body bag. What we mean by that is there is a broad category of men’s bags called “cross-body” bags, there are many types of bags that fall into this category, a sling bag is simply one of these types. 

A cross-body bag is any bag that sits diagonally or horizontally anywhere on your torso. It has a pouch and a strap, the strap is slung across one shoulder whereas the pouch hands at the opposite hip, in case it sits diagonally. There are some types of cross-body bags that you wrap around your waist just as a belt, fanny bags, or waist packs for example. 

A sling bag on the other hand is a subtype of cross-body bags with a short strap and a pouch with one elongated side. Like any cross-body bag, it has a pouch and a strap, the strap is shorter in length than other types of cross-body bags. A sling bag usually sits on the chest or upper abs. A sling bag can be worn as a fanny pack around your waist or as a backpack. 

Hopefully, this explains the difference as clearly as possible. You may conclude that all sling bags are cross-body bags but all cross-body bags are not sling bags. 

cross-body bagSling bag
It’s a category of men’s bags. A cross-body bag can have a rectangular, square, elongated, cylindrical, or half-moon shape. cross-body bags have varying lengths of straps, which can extend up to 20 inches.It’s a subcategory of cross-body bags. Sling bags usually have an elongated shape, they feature an elongated top and a broad base. Sling bags usually have shorter straps. 

Three types of sling bags: 

1. Chest bag:

Types of sling bags.

As the name suggests, it sits securely on your chest. This is probably the safest way to wear a sling bag when traveling or strolling busy streets. Your cash and other items will be securely under your watch and out of reach of pickpockets. 

image source: Rosaleneove. life

2. Sling backpack:

Types of sling bags.

A sling bag worn as a backpack is ideal for short excursions to the mountains. A sling backpack will carry all the necessary items without overburdening your back when hiking. A sling backpack is the most ergonomic bag you can take along for a hike without straining your muscles. 

Image source: shopee.com

3. Waist bag:

Types of sling bags.

Also called a fanny pack, you simply wrap it around your waist like a belt. Your cash and other items will remain within easy reach throughout the commute. In winter you can wear it under your topcoat or any chunky jacket, this will save the hassle of rummaging through your pockets in search of your keys or cards that you forgot the pocket you put in. 

When to wear a sling bag or a cross-body bag?

A sling bag is a transit staple, you can sling it over your torso or tie it around your waist when on the move. You can wear a sling bag or cross-body bag on a bright sunny day in summer or on sun-starved days in winter, it’s a trans-seasonal accessory transcending even the formal casual divide. This bag is for you if you want your possessions like cash, cards, earpods, sunglasses, and cell phones to remain safe and conveniently accessible during commutes and visit busy beaches or resorts. Attach it to your chest for the safest commute. There are some versions of cross-body bags called flight bags, they are ideal for your airport visits. 

What should you look for before buying a cross-body/sling bag:

Fashion and functionality should go hand in hand when you are choosing a cross-body bag. You should consider some aspects carefully when choosing this particular bag for yourself whether you are buying one to spice up your streetwear style or you are looking to just add a touch of luxe dapperness to your outfits. You can read this article to know more about wearing a cross-body bag in a stylish way.

  • Talking of functionality, you should choose a bag that fulfills your needs, a bag that’s sufficiently spacious to hold the items you usually need when on the move. 
  • A bag that had separate compartments for your cards, phone, cash, and keys will work best for you. It will work as a mini organizer to manage your melange. 
  • Leather is the king, as far as the fabric of the bag is concerned, there’s simply nothing like leather. Sturdy canvas remains the second-best choice for men.
  • Choose a fabric that’s durable and waterproof.
  • A strong detachable shoulder strap with sturdy buckles and hooks for fastening.
  • Opt for a color you like the best and can pull off with your outfit.  A black leather bag is the easiest and most elegant style. Other colors that you choose are brown, grey or beige.
  • Always prefer solid over patterned design to keep things simple and manageable


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