I’ve been going all in on sling bags since the start of the pandemic. It’s hard to carry all the stuff I want to carry with me without a sling at this point: knife, keys, wallet, flashlight, pen, hand sanitizer, masks, mints. That’s not fitting in my pockets, I live in Houston so I can’t rely on jacket pockets, and cargo pants/shorts are a non-starter for me.
Sling it is. I’ve reviewed a lot lately, and one of my favorites I kept going back to was Hill People Gear’s Belt Pack (which just came out in a larger size). I was set to buy another in the larger size, but when Marsupial Gear dropped this Fanny Pack, I jumped at it, and now I don’t really have a need for the larger Hill People Gear Belt Pack, because this sling is the sling for me.
Materials & Size
The bag comes in four color options: Coyote, Foliage Green (what I have), Ranger Green & Coyote, Wolf Grey & Coyote. I do think they would be smart to offer something in black and a couple other colors, but I am a sucker for Foliage Green. The bag itself is made of mostly two materials: 500D Cordura Nylon, and some sort of stretch nylon which feels a lot like a thin stretch tweave material — it’s fantastic. The pull tabs which appear to be paracord shells with a hard plastic pull tab on them.
All in all, the materials are perfection on this. Nothing over built, and really considered stuff all around. The front pocket being a full stretch nylon material tones down any military vibes you might get from just a square 500D pack in Foliage Green, while also giving you a lot of utility since the pocket itself will stretch to hold all sorts of random goodness. This stretch material is also used on the sides to keep the bag from flopping all the way to clamshell opening — which is a nice add, and keeps things from spilling out the sides of the bag when fully unzipped too.
In inner lining and pockets are all a lighter material, maybe in the 200D range, with a smooth finish. The back has a nice mesh on it, and there’s a lot of padding. Both the mesh is padded (lightly), but the back of the pack itself has a thick foam pad in it to keep the bag rigid, and in shape. It’s nice, even the bottom has light padding.
The size has been spot on for me at 9” long, 7” tall, and 2” in depth. It’s held everything I needed, and the 7” height means that I can more easily utilize the space in the bag since I don’t have to lay longer things across the bottom of the bag.
Use, Carry & All That
As I noted above, this is my preferred bag these days. It’s outstanding to use. The size, shape, layout, and utility make getting things in and out of the bag very easy, while keeping the kit compact. It feels much larger than my other slings when I am not wearing it, but once I am wearing it the size fades away. There’s two columns of MOLLE on the each wing of the straps, and a single columns in three rows across the bottom of the bag. Ultimately this means you could attach a few things to the bag, but realistically for me these are places to clip things to the bag should I run out of space. I keep an s-biner attached to one wing so I can hang a mask or three from that.
There’s three zippered pockets on this, two pouches inside the main pocket, and then a large area to pile in other stuff. The front pocket, as mentioned, is stretch nylon and has very little inherent depth to it. Thus anything you put in it, will telegraph through the stretch material. I only keep lip balm, Listerine strips, and a lens cleaning cloth in here, but it is a great pocket to stash things quickly in. There’s another zippered flat pocket along the back of the bag, so the zipper is less accessible when it is on your body. I keep extra masks, field notes, and my vaccination card here — this pocket is very padded and it’s unlikely anything in this one would ever get crumpled.
Inside the main compartment is yet another zippered pocket which does have some of it’s own volume to it. I mostly keep a bunch of small things in there I rarely need access to, but I carry regardless. Along the back of the main pocket is two equal sized pockets which have an elastic top, and a baffled design so they can hold quite a bit. Even with all these pockets full, there’s ample space inside the bag for gear. I keep a first aid kit in this area and my masks when I am not wearing it. I’ll note there are two loops at the bottom corners inside the bag which are for dummy cord tethering — those are discrete, but handy if you use them.
Because this is designed as a fanny pack, the wings are large, and connect to a wide nylon webbing strap, but the buckle is offset to just one side. Because of that, you can comfortably wear this as a sling, even if you have a backpack over the top of the strap and place the pouch angled on your chest. This is pretty ideal, given that it wasn’t designed to be worn across your body — it works really well for it and all the padding feels great.
The Only Issue
There’s one major flaw with this bag: the length of the strap. When I got the bag the strap was so short that I could barely wear it across my body, and even with a 34” pant size, it was almost at the most expanded length when worn as a fanny pack. I think, suspect, assume, that this was a flaw in the particular bag I was sent as they list the bag to fit a 45” waist. I can’t see how mine would have fit a 38” pant size waist.
I fixed this myself by buying a length of Foliage Green webbing and replacing what was on the bag. So I want to note that if my strap length represents the webbing length on all of these, it’s a no go and you should be prepared to modify the bag (as I did) or return it. But if mine was a fluke, you should be fine as you really only need another 8” in length to make it work as a sling. Part of the reason I wanted to modify the bag was to make the length exactly what I wanted and that turned out pretty well.
This is my favorite sling to date, and it’s pushed all the others into non-use territory. I’ve not even bothered using or trying my other slings past a few comparison tries. This sling is aces. I love it, it’s really well made here in the USA, and it’s smartly done.
Great brand, great sling, I hope they release some more colors and the strap thing was a fluke. At a price of $90 it’s not the cheapest out there, but it is much cheaper than many of the more fancy slings which ultimately don’t do as good of a job. The Hill People Gear Belt Pack is clever, holds just as much, and does that in a more compact setup, but for some reason this sling works better for me day to day. It’s extremely close between those two for me.
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