Bellroy Venture Ready Sling 2.5L Review
Strap angle and self-compression make the Bellroy Venture Ready Sling 2.5L comfortable to carry, though its magnetic buckle is a weak point.
- Angled self-compressing strap perfect for a relaxed and comfortable fit
- Front pocket divider stops it from folding over completely while also separating gear
- Small enough to easily carry with enough pockets to organize everyday carry items
- Magnetic buckle disengages on its own
- Main compartment’s reverse zipper opening takes getting used to
- Rough and slightly rubbery fabric is a love-it-or-hate-it thing
7.06 oz (200.1 g)
5.91 in x 8.66 in x 3.94 in (15 x 22 x 10 cm)
Nylon, YKK Zippers, Woojin Hardware, Paracord
Bellroy’s slings combine style and functionality you can confidently carry in the city. However, what if you’re the adventurous type that likes to have the occasional trek in the forest or a dip in the nearby lake? Bellroy’s slings are not flimsy, but their usual Baida Nylon doesn’t exactly hang in the same league as ballistic nylon or X-Pac. That all changes with the Venture Ready lineup.
In this review, we’re looking at the sling variant: the Venture Ready Sling 2.5L. It uses the same Canva Ripstop fabric as its bigger backpack sibling. Although its rough and slightly rubbery texture can be offputting to some users, it definitely has a rugged vibe. This sling still has the usual features we like on Bellroy’s slings: tasteful styling, balanced organization, and a self-compressing strap that makes the carry oh-so-comfortable.
From a distance, the Venture Ready Sling 2.5L looks like any other sling from Bellroy. It looks smart, sleek, classy, and eye-catching in the Bronze or Ranger Green colorway. Look a little closer, though, and you’ll see something different. Instead of the smooth Baida Nylon fabric we’re used to seeing, you’ll find a grid-like pattern. Touch it, and you’ll feel a rough and slightly rubbery texture. This is Bellroy’s Canva Ripstop, and admittedly, most of the Pack Hacker crew aren’t fans of this fabric because of how it feels in hand. Still, it’s undoubtedly a durable material that fits the outdoor-ready design Bellroy is going for with the Venture Ready line.
The main compartment and front pocket have YKK AquaGuard zippers, which are very water-resistant. We’ve seen Bellroy use knotted paracord for zipper pulls before, but they’re all the more fitting with the Venture Ready Sling 2.5L—few materials say “outdoor-ready” better than knotted paracord. The rear security pocket does away with the AquaGuard zipper track in favor of a fabric welt, though it’s still YKK, so you won’t have to worry about reliability issues. We’ve tested all three sets of zippers for over two weeks, and none have broken thus far.
Other than that, you won’t find much in terms of extra external features. The Venture Ready Pack 26L gets four loops that you can use to lash bulky gear externally; this 2.5-liter sling doesn’t get any. If it’s any consolation, you can still use the self-compressing strap as mounting points since they form closed loops at the sides of the sling. While it’s not the most elegant solution, it works for us.
That neatly segways us to the Venture Ready Sling’s self-compressing strap. Each end of the strap anchors on two points, with an aluminum adjuster clinching them together once there’s tension. We know it, Bellroy knows it, and some of you probably do as well: this strap system simply works. Of course, once the tension is gone (i.e., you’ve set it down on a table), it goes loose. However, we’d argue that as long as you get that compression when you’re wearing it, that’s all that matters. Equally important as the self-compression system is the way Bellroy angled the strap. It comes out at an upwards angle well-suited to a relaxed carrying style that puts the sling on your side.
The strap itself is the familiar seat belt-like material we like on other Bellroy gear. It’s soft, with a slick texture that’s comfortable on the shoulder. The width is nothing crazy, but enough to distribute the 2.5-liter sling’s weight effectively. What we’re not fans of is the magnetic FIDLOCK buckle. It has the unfortunate tendency to disengage if it gets pushed in at just the right angle, which happened to us at least twice throughout testing.
Don’t get us wrong; magnetic buckles like these are super secure when pulling and putting tension on them, making them ideal for secondary support straps like sternum straps, like on the Venture Ready Pack 26L. If they disengage, the worst-case scenario is your shoulder straps go loose, but you’re still carrying your backpack. On the other hand, if it’s the magnetic buckle on a sling—like this one—and the main strap disengages by accident, you risk losing the sling entirely.
As mentioned in the previous section, the ideal and comfortable way to carry the Venture Ready Sling 2.5L is with a relaxed style. That is, with the sling to your side chilling with a lot of slack on the strap. It’s worth noting that the strap is almost maxed out in length with this carry style for those of us on the team with larger frames, so the fit may vary depending on your torso. A tighter fit with the sling closer across your chest is also reasonably comfortable when you’re doing something more strenuous, like dashing across the airport terminal or running after your dog.
While the self-compressing strap plays a major role in keeping the fit comfortable, it’s the angle of the straps that really enables that relaxed fit. It sounds counterintuitive to the active and outdoorsy theme of the Venture Ready line, but nobody said “outdoorsy” and “relaxed” are mutually exclusive.
Inside The Sling
The Venture Ready Sling 2.5L’s front pocket features the same split interior as its bigger backpack sibling. Inside, there’s a fabric divider running down the middle, which serves two purposes. The first is obvious: it’s a means of separating gear. The other is more implicit as this fabric divider also prevents the front pocket from completely folding out.
Inside, there’s also a built-in key leash that also uses a paracord similar to the zipper pulls. It’s leaps and bounds ahead of the ribbon-like key leash Bellroy uses in their other gear, and we highly approve of this switch. The leash is long enough to reach a doorknob when we have the sling on the side (like in the fit notes section), but we have to lean or detach the keys when wearing it slung across the chest. Space-wise, the pocket is adequate for the small everyday items you’d typically carry, like earphones, keys, lip balm, a pack of gum, and other similarly-sized items.
Conversely, the rear security pocket is slim, and you’ll feel bulky gear pressing against you. It’s more suited for flat items like a passport, a minimalist wallet, or your favorite photo cards of famous celebrities.
The first feature of the main compartment you might notice is the reversed zippers. Instead of having the gap (opening) between the zippers, they’re on each side. This may take some time to get used to if you’re coming from a more typical sling design, but it does have its advantages. It lets you easily access the main compartment whether you have the left or the right side closer to the front. To be clear, you can achieve the same result with the typical dual-zip setup, but you’ll have to move both zippers to whichever side you prefer having close to the front. In other words, the reversed style is more flexible and ready every time.
The main compartment’s organizational layout is relatively modest. There’s a slip pocket for your phone at the back, complete with protective padding at the front and back. At the front side, there’s an elevated open mesh pocket for your sunglasses to prevent your gear at the bottom from crushing it. Compact sunglasses like the Nooz Optics Cruz fit easily in this pocket. However, you may need to squeeze glasses with bulky frames more to make them fit.
Other than that, though, there are no additional pockets. Compared to the Aer Day Sling 3‘s main compartment-centric organization, the Venture Ready Sling is much more distributed, having some in the front pocket and a dedicated security pocket at the back. There’s really no right or wrong answer between the two since every user will have their own needs and preferences. At 2.5 liters, there isn’t too much volume, but it’s roomy enough for the gear—like a power bank, cables, adapters, and sunglasses—you’ll need easy access to while flying.
- Liking the small size overall
- Magnetic clip unbuckled by itself on first use—we’ll see if this persists
- Strap feels pretty robust, though it’s still comfortable
- Worked incredibly well on a trip to Florida and NYC from Michigan
- An excellent size and organization for traveling through the airport with one backpack on your back and sling on the front
- Front pocketing system is innovative and simple
- Main compartment’s glasses area keeps them out of the crush zone, though it can block access to the bottom of the sling in the main compartment