Bellroy Sling Mini Review
The Bellroy Sling Mini one-ups the original with more organization while inheriting the clever self-compressing straps, but the main compartment is cumbersome.
- Self-compressing straps keep the sling tight
- Addition of two mesh pockets ups the organization
- Premium materials and build quality
- Main compartment’s opening is far back
- Key clip’s leash is short
- Sunglasses pocket can noticeably press against the wearer
.66 lb (0.3 kg)
4.72 in x 10.23 in x 4.72 in (12 x 26 x 12 cm)
Nylon, Polyester, Leather, YKK Zippers
Sling bags are a great compromise when you just want a quick pop over to the shops or take a good ‘ol stroll around the city. You don’t really want anything on your shoulders like a backpack, but you also don’t necessarily want to go out with just the bare minimum in your pockets. That’s where sling bags come in with their wide variety of shapes and sizes.
We’ve given Bellroy’s Sling a bunch of praises for its innovative self-compressing design and sleek design. Though the latter is part and parcel when it comes to Bellroy products, it’s the organization where the Sling felt a bit short. Fortunately, the Sling Mini improves on that while retaining a lot of the features we like on the bigger Sling. While it does come in a smaller size, there’s still a lot to love in the smaller sibling.
Materials & Aesthetic
For the uninitiated, Bellroy’s products have mostly garnered our praise for being tastefully designed. Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder, but we do dig the Bellroy design language with its leather bits acting as subtle accent pieces and branding. Take a look for yourself and see if the Red Earth colorway is your thing.
If it isn’t, there’s a boatload of other colorways available too. Ready? Here you go: Melbourne Black, Black, Charcoal, Basalt, Marine Blue, Limestone, Forest, and Lunar. Got all that? Nice, because some of these colorways have unique features embedded into them. Limestone is leather-free if you want to forgo any leather at all, and Basalt has HeiQ V-Block, which is a Swiss antimicrobial technology—fancy stuff for sure. These make the Bellroy Sling Mini probably one, if not the most varied sling bag models out there currently, and we dig the number of choices offered here.
The looks and variety haven’t compromised quality. The outer fabric feels durable yet has a rough yet supple texture that feels good to the touch. The zippers come with leather pulls and are of the YKK variety, so you know they’ll endure as much as you can throw at them. There’s also a magnetic quick-release buckle in the middle of the strap, which feels as premium as the rest of the bag—it almost makes us feel guilty we didn’t use it as much as we thought we would.
The harness system on the Sling Mini looks plain and simple to the untrained eye. In a way, it really is a simple strap that goes around you and holds the bag in place. But we’ll stop pretending we haven’t mentioned it in the earlier sections: this strap has a rather clever self-compression mechanism.
We always find simple yet clever ideas like these interesting. On typical sling bags, the straps are stitched on the edges of the body. Some might be removable or are accompanied by separate compression straps. Bellroy’s approach, however, combines both into one solution.
Apart from being stitched into the body, the main strap is also threaded through metal loops located further towards the front. So as soon as you stretch and put tension on the strap, the Sling Mini compresses down. The result is a much tighter fit against you and a much better carrying experience. This also comes with the added benefit of fewer straps as you no longer need separate compression straps. Fewer straps equal cleaner looks equal to a thumbs up from us.
There’s also the aforementioned magnetic clasp near one end of the strap if you need to release the Sling Mini quickly. In practice, though, we didn’t find the need to use it often as the Sling Mini’s size meant that it was light enough to simply remove over our head or shoulder. This system is more necessary on bigger slings like the Chrome Industries Kadet since they can get relatively heavy. But at least for the Sling Mini, it only adds more functionality and doesn’t harm the overall experience.
Now that we have the harness system out of the way, this is the part where we’d usually bring up the back panel. Indeed, there is noticeably padding on the back panel hidden underneath the fabric, but there’s a pocket right up against that panel which we’ll talk more about later.
Inside The Pack
Let’s bring attention to the top of the bag, where we find both the front and main compartment openings. The front compartment’s zipper is shrouded by gusseted fabric courtesy of the front of the sling. It helps keep a cleaner aesthetic by not exposing the zipper elements, and you end up with a much flatter profile when the bag is compressed.
We like the idea Bellroy was going for there, but the fabric also hid away the zipper, and it made opening the front compartment just a tiny bit more tricky. It’s a very minor nitpick we observed throughout testing, but it’s a worthy trade-off considering the better styling achieved here.
If you’ve been disoriented as to which is the front and the back of the Sling Mini, the front has the leather accent on the lip of the gusset. Now that you know which is the front, it’s time to dive into the front pocket.
The front pocket has a slim design meant for quick-grab everyday carry items like wet wipes, earphones, smartphones, maybe some loose change, and train tickets or cards. The biggest change here is the addition of two stretchy mesh pockets, which ups the organization of the Sling Mini over the bigger Sling. The Sling Mini’s shallower profile means that taller items will have to sit sideways to fit, but it’s a welcome addition nevertheless.
The main compartment is relatively spacious, taking up most of the 4-liter volume of the entire sling. Unfortunately, the placement of the zipper towards the back means it’s very close to your body, making it rather awkward to access. Volume-wise, you can get a lot of bulkier items in here like a high-capacity power bank, a hard case for sunglasses, wooly winter gloves, or even a compressible jacket, but the opening does somewhat hold it back.
You get a zippered compartment inside to keep smaller items in check like small thumb drives, memory cards, small pieces of jewelry, and the likes. The soft liner fabric for this pocket means it’s also very accommodating for easily scratched items like sunglasses. With the pocket’s placement towards the rearmost end and with the self-compressing straps in place, it noticeably presses against you. With that in mind, we opted to keep our sunglasses inside a separate hard case to avoid putting any unnecessary pressure on them.
Lastly, we gotta talk about the built-in key clip. The leash portion is too short for our liking as it made fishing for our keys a bit more difficult. We couldn’t use our keys to open doors without detaching them first from the clip, at which point we found it inconvenient to reattach the keys, so we often found ourselves pocketing them instead. Other slings handle this better by having the key clip in the front compartment or by simply having a longer leash, and this is something Bellroy can still improve on the Sling Mini.
The Sling Mini has some praise-worthy features carried over from the Sling and even improves some of its aspects. However, the Sling Mini itself has its downsides. The most notable of which is the main compartment’s accessibility, which has its opening a bit too close to your body and having a key clip that’s leashed too short relative to its position.
The styling and healthy amount of colorway options are appealing, combined with the cleverly designed self-compression system and a fair amount of organization. It’s easy to wear and aesthetically pleasing to carry around to boot, making it a worthy contender for your next sling.
- Everything you love about the Bellroy Sling but in a smaller package
- Straps self-compress the sling to keep it tight to your body
- Zippered soft pocket to store more delicate items like glasses
- Liking the smaller size in testing
- The two front divider pockets are great, but the total height of the front pocket means most items will need to fit in length-wise (wallet, battery bank, etc)
- Keys can be hard to access quickly compared to other slings—they need to be fished out from the back of the large pocket and the key lanyard is short in length
- Holding up beautifully to wear & tear