My long time bag is starting to show its age; one of the zippers no longer works completely, the fabric is frayed in places, the water resistance is marginal and the padding has lost its loft.  I got about 4-5 years out of it by my recollection so I have no regrets about the quality.  It is a Targus Sling I picked up on sale for about $40 at the time.  It was roomy without being bulky and had those nice extra that really make a great bag (padded laptop compartment, in-strap phone/music holder, well-padded strap, exterior bottle/umbrella sleeve, rubber feet on the bottom and internal organizers).  My only regret was that it was not more professional looking. It is perfect for the sporty/outdoor look or light student commuter and I would not hesitate to recommend it in this role.

Thus I’ve decided to look at some new options. I have six bags lined up, two each from the following categories:  Sling Pack, Vertical Sling and Messenger. My needs might not be everyone’s so bear with me as I explain my preferences and goals.

Belkin Laptop Sling BagIncase Nylon Sling Pack

Sling Pack

A Sling Pack is a single strap backpack. Because I commute; standing, sitting and transferring frequently, I like sling packs. They can easily be shifted from one shoulder for quick ups and down, taken off to grab a seat, or strapped across the chest for longer walks. The weight distribution is fine for my build, health level and weight load, though some folks, particular well-endowed women, users with heavier loads or smaller frames may find them less comfortable. They are my preferred bag.

STM Vertical MediumSTM Vertical Medium

Vertical Bag

These hang off one shoulder or across the chest much like a standard Messenger except they are oriented vertically instead of horizontally. I like Verticals because they don’t result in your bag sticking far out from your body, limiting mobility and bumping into people/obstacles while commuting. They are slightly less comfortable than Slings in my opinion but I’ve owned a couple nice ones over the years.

Be.ez LAbesace 15 ClassicCase Logic 16"

Messengers

Your traditional horizontally oriented bag with shoulder strap. While you sacrifice the slim profile of a Vertical Bag they do seem to carry weight a bit better (but not as well as a Sling Bag). Messengers look good though and many well-designed ones carry a satisfactory amount of gear without looking too bulky.