If I‘m out and about and I don’t have a bag slung across my body, I feel naked and unprepared—like venturing into a dungeon without any health potions. What if I need chapstick, did I bring chapstick? How can I fit my phone, keys, and face mask all in the truncated pockets of my jeans? Where do I put the cool rock I just found? Extra storage capacity is essential to my everyday carry, and being able to swing the bag around to the front and grab anything I need is crucial.
Backpacks are better for heavy loads or all-day trekking, but for lightweight everyday needs, nothing beats messenger bags, sling packs, and convertible hip packs. I’ve tested dozens over the years, and these are my favorites.
Updated December 2021: We added the Moment Tote bag, and adjusted pricing and retailers.