Uniqlo Single Strap Backpack Review
The Uniqlo Single Strap Backpack’s price is hard to beat, though small details like the inside pockets and fabric welt tripped us up during daily use.
- Quick-access pocket is sleek and convenient
- Back pocket’s mesh padding adds comfort
- Sling is sized to carry the basics
- Fabric welt doesn’t naturally cover zipper
- Inside pockets are awkward to use
- Quick-access pocket zipper pull sticks straight out
7.48 in x 5.9 in x 1.77 in (19 x 15 x 4.5 cm)
Polyester, Nylon, YKK Zippers, Unbranded Hardware
Even if you weren’t around for the fanny pack fashion craze in the late ’80s and ’90s, you’re probably familiar with the strong opinions that come with them. Since bright colors, eccentric patterns, and chunky profiles aren’t for everyone, we’re happy to see that some companies have made adjustments to match the style of the 21st century.
While we wouldn’t consider the Uniqlo Single Strap Backpack exclusively a fanny pack (or, despite its name, a backpack), we have enough experience to recognize a sling when we see one. It can be worn a few different ways, and it adds a little fashion-focused variation to your list of go-to gear.
We’re big fans of sleek-looking bags, and this sling ticks all the boxes when it comes to appearances. But is it the package deal? How is its function on top of its form? Let’s get into it.
Materials & Aesthetic
Unlike some other sling bags in our review repertoire, the Uniqlo Single Strap Backpack is less focused on optimizing storage and more focused on carrying your everyday items in a functional and aesthetically pleasing way. The ballistic nylon shell is durable by nature, yes, but the matte color and minimalist design are something you’re more likely to see at a music festival than on a digital nomad who wants to optimize every inch of their carrying space.
It’s also super flexible, which means you can easily roll it up and put it in a larger bag if you want to bring it along as you travel but don’t want to commit to carrying it every day. Sometimes you want something in between a daypack and a cross-body bag, and this sling strikes that balance.
No, we don’t think it’s only for mega-trendy people, but there’s a difference between this sling and, say, the CamelBak Pivot Sling & Waist Pack, which has a similar shape and organization. For example, the Pivot Sling’s ripstop nylon’s diamond pattern has a shiny look that we appreciate, but we think the matte material and lack of branding on the Single Strap’s ballistic nylon make it more versatile for daily use.
There’s also a water-repellant coating on the shell, which is handy if you get caught in a rainstorm. It did stand up to a heavy flow of water (courtesy of our showerhead), and the inner polyester lining adds an additional layer of protection. However, the polypropylene straps don’t repel water the same way, so maybe avoid trekking through monsoon season if at all possible.
All zippered pockets feature YKK zippers, but only the main compartment’s two zippers have pull tabs. We also noticed that the top compartment’s zipper, though smaller than the others, is still a little bit too big to fit inside its fabric welt and, therefore, often sticks up.
However, our one main gripe with the sling is that the fabric welt that covers the main compartment zipper doesn’t stay in place very well. It folded up when we unzipped the sling but didn’t move back down into place after we zipped it back up. This is a minor inconvenience, but we think it detracts from the clean look of the sling when the puckering fabric reveals the zipper.
We only experienced minimal fading throughout our testing—there are a few spots on the top of the sling that look a bit lighter than the rest. While it’s not very obvious on the green, we can’t vouch for darker colorways like black, so it’s something to keep in mind if you’re opposed to any and all aesthetic wear and tear.
Though this bag functions more like a sling, you can also wear it as a shoulder bag or waist pack if you’re feeling it. We found a sling to be the most comfortable, but it still hung relatively flat on our back if we threw it over our shoulder, which was nice for quick carrying. Regardless of how you decide to rock it, everything is quick to access whenever you need it.
If you like having everything in your sights, we found it to be comfortable in pretty much any position on the front. If you prefer to keep it out of the way, it fits similarly across the back. What we liked most was how easy it was to rotate between the two positions.
When all of your gear is in the back, all you need to do is grab hold of the strap and yank it like a pulley so that you shift the sling to your front. Boom—now you can get to whatever is inside that you need so badly. Obsessive chapstick users, we’re looking at you.
The KAM plastic buckle provides quick on-and-offs, though we found that it was just as easy to slip the bag over our head when we got home at the end of the day. You can adjust the buckle on either side, which adds versatility depending on where you like your sling to sit on your body. Strap keepers keep any extra material from flapping around, but we did find that if we rotated the sling from front to back often, the keepers would start to move back toward the buckle, and the extra material would bunch up or slip out entirely.
Inside The Sling
As for the inside of the bag, there’s minimal to no organization. This works great if you like to carry as few things as possible throughout the day but can get you into trouble if you carry items that can get tangled easily. Just thinking about trying to untangle corded headphones from a keyring full of keys makes us shudder.
Even though there are two pockets in the main compartment, they come up pretty close to the seam, and we found them hard to get into when the bag was on. We could get a thin wallet or keys in there, sure, but we spent a fair amount of time trying to get our stuff in and out, so we often just tossed everything into the main compartment loosey-goosey.
However, this is a sling, and since it sits diagonally across your body, anything not super secure does naturally fall to one side. Because gravity. This never became a major issue for us in terms of aesthetic or function, but it’s something to keep in mind if you carry heavier items.
The quick-grab pocket on the very top of the sling is a little too small for a standard size smartphone but is great for less bulky items you want to get to often, like a face mask or a thin wallet. There’s also a key lash, but it’s not very long, so you have to remove whatever keys are on there before using them.
The zippered back pocket is pretty much the length of the entire bag itself, making it great for large, flat items. It worked well for keeping a cell phone close at hand because it’s so much less of a to-do to get into than the main compartment.
There’s also a mesh lining inside of the pocket, which adds cushion between your body and whatever is in there. However, it did make it hard to feel a phone vibrate, so be sure to keep an eye on notifications yourself if you’re waiting on a Very Important Call.
Overall, we found this sling great for daily use when we wanted to keep our carrying load light. It doesn’t look quite as technical as other slings, and its low profile fit is easy to forget about since it rests so close to the body. We wish the fabric welt stayed in place to cover the zipper without needing our intervention and that the inside pockets were more functional, but the budget cost of the bag made us able to look beyond these minor issues.
If you’re not one to spend lots of money on what may only be a fleeting trend, this bag is a great way to dip your toes into the world of slings in a low-stakes way.
- Wide access to the front pocket and even comes with a key clip
- Functions more like a sling
- Quick-release buckle makes taking it off hassle-free
- Quick to get on and off even without using the buckle
- YKK zipper pull tabs are easy to access from any position
- The bag effortlessly swings from front to back, but it stays in place unless you move it yourself
- Top zipper is great for small things like chapstick or a thin wallet
- Mesh on the rear pocket makes it more comfortable to carry a phone
- The two pockets in the main compartment are hard to access, so we didn’t end up using them much
- Fabric welt fails to fully cover zipper without frequent intervention