I was having a heated conversation with a friend on sling bag vs shoulder bag and the argument was centered on the fact that both are the same.

Well, the funny thing is while many will regard both bags as the same bag, there are some who would insist that both are entirely different. If both are the same why then do they have different names?

Let’s not get over ourselves in trying to analyze if they are the same or not, we will just look at both bags and see if there are any similarities and differences.


Sling bags are not shoulder bags. While sling bags are classified as casual bags that can come with long and short straps and are designed to be worn in multiple ways depending on the choice of the wearer, shoulder bags are more limited in terms of usage and their straps are usually short, except for the men’s shoulder bags that can be worn as crossbody bags.


sling bag vs shoulder bag

Here are the differences between sling bags and shoulder bags;

Usually designed to be unisex and can be worn by both men and women.Usually designed to look more feminine than masculine, except for some designs specifically designated for the masculine gender.
Can easily be used as crossbody bags.Can also pass as crossbody bags if the straps are long enough.
Designed in different sizes, small, medium, and large.Rarely designed in small sizes as most shoulder bags can be used as everyday-use bags.
Sling bags are of different types, chest bags, and crossbody bags can still fall in the same category as sling bags.Shoulder bags have a unique design and can rarely fall into any other bag category.

One major similarity between the sling bag and the shoulder bag is that they both have long straps.


Below are the differences between a sling bag and a shoulder bag;

First, a sling bag has a single strap while most shoulder bags have two straps.

Sling bags rest on the opposite hip while shoulder bags hang on the side of the body.

Sling bags are mostly worn across the chest and over one shoulder while shoulder bags are worn over both shoulders or one shoulder.

Sling bags can only carry small or fewer items such as keys, wallets, and phones while shoulder bags can carry larger items such as books, laptops, and even clothes because the size and capacity of the shoulder bag are more than sling bags.

Shoulder bags can also be more formal than sling bags, making them suitable for work or dressier occasions.

Finally, sling bags are designed for quick access and convenience.


The difference between a sling bag and a crossbody bag lies in the mode of wearing. Sling bags are not always crossed over the chest whereas crossbody bags are usually crossed diagonally over the chest.

Getting a sling bag and crossing the bag over the chest automatically makes the bag a crossbody bag. Getting a crossbody bag, probably a chest bag, and deciding to hang it on your shoulder instead might not make the bag become a sling bag.

What am I saying in essence? While sling bags can easily pass for crossbody bags provided their straps are long enough to be crossed over the chest, a crossbody bag by design remains a crossbody bag.

There are crossbody bags that have their straps sewn diagonally and such bags even though they can be worn as sling bags may not be fully regarded as sling bags. For me, I’ll just call them crossbody sling bags.


Sling bags are not better than crossbody bags. Crossbody bags on the other hand are not also better than slingbags.

This is because both bags have their unique features and are accepted by different people. There are some who would prefer sling bags to crossbody bags just because of the features that define that particular type of bag and vice versa.

Hence, we can’t say that any class of bag is better than the other. Both bags are befitting for different outfits and are used for different purposes and by different people.


Shoulder bags can be called handbags because they can either be handheld or slung on the shoulders.

Growing up I didn’t know there were any other types of bags apart from handbags. For me, all bags as far as they were designed with handles were handbags.

shoulder designer handbag for women

My mom, on the other hand, justified this notion by filling her closet with lots of shoulder bags, and anytime she said to me, “get me my purple handbag”, I would know for a certainty that she was definitely referring to the shoulder bag that she normally carried to work.


Tote bags by design were initially meant for commercial purposes and can be referred to as service bags because of their function.

Tote Shoulder handbag for women

But as times changed and as fashion evolved, designers have come up with tote bags that are more fancy than service-related and can be used for a number of other purposes excluding grocery buying.

Examples of fancy tote bags are:

Gucci tote bags are designed to be worn for a variety of other purposes apart from shopping. This bag design can be taken to the beach and can be carried to work on sunny days, with sunglasses to spice up the appearance.

Trendy work tote bag for women

Lori tote bags are very fancy looking and can easily pass for handbags. They are designed in a variety of colors with unique shapes that make them classy and very appealing.

Avery tote bags can be used as lecture bags and no one will say a thing about them. These bags are sizable and can contain a variety of items from your laptops down to your books.

Let’s go Fendi. Fendi tote bags are very exquisite. They normally come with short leather handles. The carrier holds the bag by its handles and she’s lit. I feel the Fendi brand did a great job in retaining the concept of tote bags in their designs.

Large Lori Tote handbag

Honeymouth tote bags are another special breed of fancy tote bags that can be worn with casuals.

Their soft fabrics for some reason, remind me of handmade stockings and sweaters. Probably the intent of the designer was to give the wearer a homely and approachable demeanor.


Sling bags for men are more like crossbody sling bags with different designs and sizes.

They can be worn on casuals as crossbody bags or on more sophisticated outfits as sling bags. Most of them are designed to have a sporty look which for some reason is very appealing to the masculine gender.

sling crossbody shoulder backpack for men and women

Sling bags are designed for various purposes. Apart from the sling bags for men that we are already used to, there are some other designs slightly different from the sporty-looking sling bags.

Sling Chest bag for men

The fossil sling bags for men are more like satchel bags that can be slung on the shoulders or worn as crossbody bags.

This bag brand comes in a variety of colors but the research I personally carried out showed me that men are most comfortable with the brown and black fossil sling bag colors.

This could be because of its simplicity. It’s generally believed that flashy colors are for women while cool colors like blue, brown, and black are for men.


women sling backpack

Women love spice and as such, sling bags for women are spicier than that for men. There are the sporty-looking sling bags that can be worn, the Arianna Grande way, which is on baggies and big shirts. These sling bags are normally fancy looking and can easily pass as chest bags.

Lightweight sling crossbody bag for women

There is still chain-strapped designer sling bags that can be worn on gowns, tight pants, and heels. Sling bags for women are designed to come in various colors from mauve to beige.

There are those who can start an argument on sling bags for women and sling bags for men which is more fancy looking. Well, both are unique in their designs and fancy in their own ways.


Well, here we go again, crossbody sling bags are designed to look like strapped backpacks. The strap is usually sewn diagonally across the bag so that instead of you having to wear the bag like a backpack, you will have to wear it across your chest like a crossbody bag.

I think the strap of a crossbody sling bag is diagonally sewn to aid balance. Imagine you have to wear a backpack that has just a single strap. You will see that the weight of the bag will lean entirely on the shoulder that has the strap.

Crossbody sling bag

I experimented with this with a backpack. I put lots of items inside the bag and I zipped up the bag and decided to wear it on just one strap, I didn’t go half a mile when I started feeling slight aches on the shoulder that carried the strap.

The pain ebbed away when I decided to use the two straps. I put those same items in a crossbody sling bag and when I wore the bag diagonally, what I felt was the general weight of the bag and it was as if the pressure was distributed around the bag instead of the initial concentration on one shoulder I felt earlier.


Find below the difference between a shoulder bag and a handbag;

Both are used by men and women.Specially designed for women.
Usually of different sizes.Usually small or medium-sized.
Straps can be long.Straps are always short.
Mostly used by students.Rarely used by students.
Preferred by younger people.Designed for mature or elderly women.
Can be used as crossbody bags if the straps are long enough.Can be used as wristlets because of their short straps.


Would you rather carry a sling bag for travel or would you prefer to go with a backpack instead?

First and foremost, let’s talk about the nature of your journey and the items you might be needing.

If your journey entails that you take more things along with you because you are going to be spending more time then please use a backpack.

backpack for travel

What if you are already going with a suitcase and you just need a small bag where you can put in some basic stuff like your handkerchief, lipgloss, car keys, and other minor things, then you can go along with a sling bag.

One unique feature of sling bags and backpacks is that they are both worn by men and women.

Let’s see these comparisons:

Single straps.Double straps.
Designed to be smaller than backpacksDesigned to be bigger than sling bags
Vary in design.Have a unique design.
Can contain fewer items than backpacks.Can contain more items than sling bags.
One must use a sling bag together with a suitcase while traveling.One can decide to use just the backpacks as his travel aid, especially for short trips.


Chest bags are a type of crossbody bag specifically designed to be worn diagonally across the chest.

Unlike other crossbody bags that can drop down to the waist or hips, the chest bags are short and by design will usually hang somewhere around the left or the right chest depending on which way the wearer wants to cross his bag. 

This bag is usually worn by men although there are women who love to wear this bag because of the masculine power it adds to their feminine beauty.

The sling bag on the other hand can be crossed over the chest or can be allowed to hang on the shoulder like a shoulder bag. There are some sling bags that look like chest bags.

Actually, chest bags can be worn as sling bags. The fashion trend has no definitive rule on how to wear any type of bag.

Bag-wearing styles are 90% based on the choice of the wearer while the remaining 10% can be attributed to the design of the bag.


Sling bags and shoulder bags whichever one you prefer are unique. Your choice should not make you feel less. That someone prefers one to the other is all about personal preference and comfort.

There are still those who have the same level of affection for both and are very comfortable using both at intervals, depending on whichever outfit goes best with any.



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