These days, sling bags are right behind backpacks in terms of camera bag popularity. It’s no great surprise then, that Wandrd wanted to join the party. The Wandrd Roam Sling is available in three different sizes to accommodate camera setups from a single body with one lens, right up to someone carrying an f/2.8 trifecta, including a 70-200mm. Using an ingenious sleeve on the back of the sling, Wandrd has even figured out how to carry up to a 16″ laptop with this sling.
In this review, I will be giving you an in-depth look at this latest offering from Wandrd. We will go through all of the features one-by-one, including the new laptop add-on, and then I’ll compare the Wandrd Sling to both the Peak Design Everyday Sling and the Moment Rugged Sling to help you make the right purchasing decision. Let’s get to it!
Table of Contents
- Wandrd Roam Sling Sizes
- Roam Sling Specifications
- Video Review
- Design and Features
- Laptop Carry
- Alternative Sling Bags
- Where to Buy
Wandrd Roam Sling Sizes
The Roam Sling is available in three different sizes: 9L, 6L and 3L. In this review, I will be demonstrating the features of the bag using a Roam 6L sling. As the Wandrd-provided graphic points out, the 9L and 6L bags share all of the same features, while the smallest 3L bag is a little different.
On the outside, the Roam 3L shares an identical aesthetic, but it lacks the tripod/water bottle sleeve of its larger sibling, and it’s not compatible with Wandrd’s interesting laptop carry solution which features later in this review. It’s also short one zippered front pocket and the accessory straps that are found on the front of the 6L and 9L models. This means that the 3L bag simply has fewer features. There are no features specific to the 3L that are not present on the 6L or 9L sling. For this reason, I’m confident that my long-term hands-on testing of the 6L version will allow me to demonstrate all the features from the range.
If you prefer to watch a video, I’ve got you covered! If you find it useful, please do give it a like, it really helps us out. And don’t forget to hit the subscribe button to see future hands-on reviews.
Roam Sling Design and Features
How Does it Carry?
Once again I have roped Kait into helping me demonstrate how a camera bag carries. Remember that this is the 6L version, so you’ll have to mentally scale the bag size up or down to imagine the 9L and 3L versions until I can get my hands on those at some later date. Regardless of size, all the slings have the same shape and the same shoulder strap, which are the most important features affecting carrying comfort.
Having tested this alongside several other sling bags (revealed later in this review), I’m confident in saying that this is the most comfortable sling bag in its class. The shape hugs your back and finds a nice equilibrium with a minimal of fussing with strap lengths.
The Wandrd sling bag is full of top-notch bag hardware details. From the use of high-end weather-resistant zippers to the nice photography glove-friendly zipper pulls. There’s a lot to like, and the bag feels every bit a high-quality camera bag that justifies its relatively high-for-a-sling-bag price tag.
The shoulder strap on the Roam sling bag is one of its standout features. It is easily removable and reversible for left or right shoulder carry, and has a generous amount of padding. A cross-body stabilizer strap is also available, but if you find that you never use it, the receiving buckle for it can be removed from the strap to simplify things. A daisy-chain adjustment system allows considerable adjustment of this strap.
The only slight negative is the huge length of the straps. I’m not a small dude, and even I found myself with huge dangling tails that were annoying to deal with. I’ll probably take a knife to them and shorten them now that I have finished photographing the bag for the review.
The internal compartment of the sling is heavily padded. You won’t be worrying about your gear when it’s stored in here. The dividers can be folded in the centre to create a shelf to elevate a camera with a lens attached. My only real complaint about the dividers is their thickness. While I understand having thick padding around the sides of the bag, it makes little sense to have dividers be this thick and take up valuable internal room. No object in a segregated section of this part of the bag would ever have enough room to pick up enough momentum to damage anything in a neighbouring segment. Save the padding for external walls, there is no need for internal dividers to be this thick.
Inside the main compartment of the bag, you’ll find a simple zippered pocket on the underside of the lid. This is a good place to store camera batteries and your SD card wallet. On the rear of the internal compartment, you’ll find some additional organization in the form of a flat sleeve with three memory card slots, and a pair of accordion-style organizer pockets that expand as you open this part of the bag.
The accordion organizers are taken straight from the Wandrd Tech Bag, and they are a great way to store things like phone charging cables or camera filters if you wrap them in a protective lens cloth. I personally would not recommend using the SD card slots, though. I never recommend using an unsecured memory card slot for something that can cost so much money and contain so many precious memories. As usual, when camera bag manufacturers do this – and they ALL do this – I shake my head and wonder why.
The zippered front pocket on the sling is slightly padded, making it a good place to store your phone or other fragile items. On one side is a key clip, but cleverly, a small divider protects whatever is in the main section from being scratched by your keys. I have never seen this done on any other camera bags. It’s a very nice detail.
How to Carry a Tripod and Water Bottle On The Wandrd Sling
On the base of the bag is a nylon sleeve that is tucked away and secured by hook and look. Once you pull it open, elastic draw-cords allow you to secure longer items, such as a tripod. It also works well with a 1L Nalgene bottle. The nylon sleeve is a pretty smart idea. Most camera shoulder bags and sling bags just give you a set of straps for your tripod to dangle from.
I have long said that this is far from ideal as it places your precious, often expensive tripod on the ground as soon as you remove the bag. With the clever sleeve on the bottom of the Wandrd sling, they have alleviated this concern as much as could reasonably be hoped. It’s not a perfect solution, but I do think it’s the best one I have seen.
Roam Sling Laptop Case (Optional Add-On)
Sling-style camera bags aren’t usually associated with laptop carrying potential, but Wandrd took some new ideas to the drawing board and came up with a very interesting solution. The Laptop Case 13 and Laptop Case 16 can be attached to either the Roam 9L or Roam 6L sling via a zippered pocket that sits up against your body. When one of the laptop cases is inserted into the top of this zipper, the case is caught by an expanding fold of nylon that holds the bottom of it to stop it from passing right through.
This is a clever feature that is sure to be a big differentiator when people are choosing between the Wandrd sling and other slings like those from Peak Design and Moment. Not only does it expand the usage of your sling bag, it also leaves you with an excellent protective case for your laptop that can be used in many other situations.
One feature of the Laptop Case that is a miss, is the so-called “Stand Mode”. The idea is that the lid can be used as an angled platform for your laptop, but it simply doesn’t work. To even create the photos below I had to fuss with the whole thing in a precarious balance and tighten the zippers on the side to try and create some rigidity. That was just for a photo. There’s no way I could have typed on the keyboard without the lid flattening.
Overall, this is a nice laptop case that does add useful functionality to the Roam Sling. At $54, the case is not at all cheap, but it is much cheaper than buying a second complete laptop bag. The impressive protection that the bag affords just about justifies the price of this one, but it should be noted that you could use just about any low-profile laptop sleeve in the Roam Sling in just the same way. All you’re doing is sliding the laptop case into a sleeve.
Roam Sling Alternatives
The Peak Design Everyday Sling series and the Moment Rugged slings (review) are the obvious competitors to the Wandrd Roam Sling. I have all of these bags in my closet, in all sizes, so it was easy for me to test them side-by-side to see what the main differences were. This would be a tricky choice, but the good news is that you can’t really go wrong. All three products lines are truly excellent, but there are some slight differences that might sway people one way or the other. Let’s take a look.
Peak Design Everyday Slings
Peak Designs sling bags are available in three similar sizes to the Roam Sling: 10L, 6L and 3L. They are priced at $149.95, $99.95 and $74.95 respectively, making two of the three sizes (3L and 6L) roughly 25% cheaper than the Roam Sling equivalents.
I find the Wandrd sling to be more comfortable than the Peak Design slings when laden with a heavy load. This is mainly due to the much more substantial shoulder strap, but the curvature and padding of the Wandrd back panel also play a part. While the 10L Peak Design sling can carry a 13″ laptop, the Wandrd sling ups the ante by allowing you to carry either a 13″ or a 16″ laptop in both the 6L and 9L sling sizes.
This is a difficult choice. Peak Design’s bags are known for their quality and durability, and the lower price point of the two smaller sizes could definitely tempt a few people that are not interested in carrying a laptop in this kind of bag. One feature that the Peak Design slings do have in their favour is the bar on the side of the bag that allows you to attach a Peak Design Capture Clip.
Moment Rugged Slings
The Moment Rugged Slings are available in 10L and 6L sizes for $149.95 and $99.95 respectively. This makes the larger of the two sizes the same price as the Peak Design and Wandrd equivalents. Just like the Peak Design 6L Everyday Sling, the Moment Rigged Sling 6L comes in roughly 25% cheaper than the 6L Wandrd sling.
The Wandrd Roam sling appears to take a few design cues from the Moment Rugged Sling. The boxy design is very similar from a distance, as is the shape of the body-hugging back panel. This means that when it comes to carrying comfort, there is really nothing to choose between the two of them. The choice would likely come down to your own aesthetic preferences, desire to have the 3L version (which Moment do not offer) or a desire to carry a laptop, which the Moment sling cannot. It’s also worth noting that if you want a black sling bag, the internal visibility of gear is better in the Moment sling, due to the bright colours that they have used for the pockets and dividers. This advantage is negated if you plan to choose the Gobi Tan version of the Wandrd sling.
At first glance the shape and pocket layout of the Wandrd Roam Sling was very familiar, having clearly taken some cues from the most popular slings that are currently on the market. On closer inspection, though, they have done the smart thing and cherry-picked the best parts from those bags, before giving it a smattering of Wandrd’s own design language to appease their (many) fans. If they had stopped there, I would have been a little underwhelmed. But they didn’t. Wandrd’s designers clearly knew that they needed to bring some new features to the table.
The multi-purpose sleeve on the bottom of the sling is a great idea. Although they market it primarily for your tripod and a water bottle, it works just as well as an overflow pocket for a warm layer or rain jacket. If you’re a die-hard sling user, the option to carry up to a 16″ laptop, even with the 6L bag, will also be a breath of fresh air. Kudos to the team for innovating in an already mature market.
Overall, this is an extremely capable and very comfortable sling bag. From a feature and design standpoint, my only concern is the poor internal visibility of your gear in the black version of the bag. Regular readers will know that I bring this up every time I review a Wandrd product! For those with the same concern, the saving grace will be the Yuma Tan version of the bag. When I reviewed the Wandrd Route Pack, I had the Gobi Tan version, and the internal visibility is perfect in that colourway. Problem solved unless you really wanted the black exterior.
Where to Buy + Save 15%
The WANDRD Roam Sling was funded in a successful Kickstarter campaign and is now available for pre-order on WANDRD’s website for a 15% discount. Shipping is expected to be in December 2021.