Manfrotto Street Sling Review

Obligatory disclaimer: I bought this sling pack myself. I am not getting paid in any way.

Design and Use

When I bought the Fuji X-T3 and a couple of vintage lenses I needed a new bag. I already bought the Manfrotto Street Backpack and I like having matching sets of things. Most of the time I had actually used a small shoulder bag. It is just lighter and more convenient than a backpack for everyday carry. I used shoulder bags for my Olympus cameras and my Fuji X100F. For the X-T3 and the bigger lenses my old shoulder bag is too small and bigger ones tend to be unwieldy and uncomfortable. So maybe a sling would be a nice mix between backpack and shoulder bag.

Therefore I wanted a medium sized sling pack that I could carry around everywhere. On shopping trips, on my way to an appointment, for small photo walks, when out about with my daughter or any other activity that is not dedicated to photography alone. I wanted to be able to carry a camera, a lens, a water bottle and a spare battery and memory card. Maybe a few tissues or candy bar too. I liked the idea of a sling bag because it is more stable than a shoulder bag, especially when reaching down for a small kid, but less bulky than a backpack.

The design is neat. I like olive green, grey denim and orange accents. In contrast to the Manfrotto Street backpack this thing looks like a camera bag. I think having a camera bag is the closest men can come to carrying a purse without being hunted by the fashion police. Because I carry all the other stuff in there as well but hey it is camera bag 🙂

Outside Features

The sling has a zipped pocket on the outside, an additional handle on top and a mesh on the underside for carrying a bottle or a tripod. The straps are connected by a standard side release buckle with regular length adjusters. There are additional loops for securing the slack. The straps are thin and hard but a removable pad is included. The backside is well padded. The bag is medium sized (32x12x23cm) and weighs around 600g. It is pretty bulky with its depth of 12cm. The front pocket is not divided and can be used for papers, tickets or other smallish and flat items.

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The bottom has a zipped pouch holding a mesh that can be used to carry a water bottle or maybe one or two apples. The mesh can be closed off at both ends. It is non-removable though so you can’t use the pouch for anything else. There is even a small carabiner clip although its seems not very useful except for securing the mesh to the provided ring which does not work very well.. There are also two thick Velcro straps for securing a tripod, jacket or small blanket (yes it would also hold a yoga mat).

Inside

On the inside is the camera compartment with three different dividers, a tablet sleeve with Velcro tab and a second sleeve with two zipped pouches. In theory there is some space left and right for a pen or other small and slim objects. There is enough space for the X-T3 and additional lens or two, a short water bottle and a tablet. Although a 10″ tablet will fit (very snugly), 8″ seems more reasonable. I rarely carry a tablet but I can fit a folded issue of The Economist.

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Way overexposed so we can actually see inside. The dark cameo is not practical

If you utilize the mesh on the bottom, the space for the water bottle can be used for even more lenses. I can fit some of my telephoto lenses too. With the three different dividers I can see this sling bag carrying a whole Micro Four Thirds kit with several of their small prime lenses. The pouches are somewhat deep especially for memory cards but they are zipped compared to the near useless pouches on the Manfrotto Street Backpack. The inside has a dark cameo design which I find superfluous and impractical. Try fishing for a small memory card in those dark and deep pockets.

Have a look at a sample loadout. There is the camera with a small lens, two small lenses stacked on top of each other and a larger lens on the right. Even though it is possible to put this much gear into the bag it tends to get heavy and uncomfortable fast. Adding maybe a tablet and a water bottle and I would rather grab my backpack. A more realistic loadout would be camera with lens, another lens, water bottle and maybe another item like a small tablet, powerbank or smallish magazine plus a spare battery and memory card. I would not want to carry this setup shown here for more than an hour.

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Ease of use and comfort

The Manfrotto Street Sling Bag is not very well designed and I had to fight with it more often than not. The bottom mesh seems ideal for carrying a water bottle. But this means fiddling with the fasteners every time I wanted to take a sip. Due to the position some bottles might start to leak or they work themselves free while walking. I found it difficult to pull my camera out of the bag because the zip is not in the middle. I always had to flip one side over to comfortably reach my gear. Storing and retrieving the camera became never as fluid as with my old shoulder bag. The camera would always snag on the zips or the seam.

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I also did not like the straps at all. While it was great that the pad can be moved from one side to the other (for carrying it on either shoulder) it would constantly move and shift around. I had to realign the pad every time I reached down or swung the bag forward to grab something. The length adjusters are of the standard type found with every cheap camera strap. A design were you have to pull on one end while pushing the other through the adjuster loops. It means you can’t loosen the straps without taking the bag off only tighten them. The little loops added to secure the slack did not work very well so I had loose straps dangling around and getting tangled up whenever I swung the bag around. It became even more annoying in winter when wearing a scarf and thick coat with big buttons.

While the tightened strap would make the bag sit comfortably on my back it would also make access very hard. Swinging the bag around would leave the opening practically sitting above my elbows. Try to reach into the bag this way. I am not a contortionist. Also swinging the bag around with tightened straps would inevitably shift my coat or scarf or pull my shirt out of my pants. Taking the bag off over my head with the straps tightened was equally cumbersome. I did not like to unbuckle the whole thing because then I needed to hold the bag with one hand while the other manipulated the buckle. With a filled bag the buckle would be under tension and the straps would fly off in either direction. I always had to be careful while unbuckling the sling bag as to not have it fall down.

I did not even try to wear it as “fanny pack” (which Manfrotto advertises). It would be too large and heavy for my taste. The sling can also not easily worn as a shoulder bag due to the stiff strap holders. I mean it does work but it felt uncomfortable because the bag would sit somewhat askew. The bulkiness was also not ideal for over the shoulder carry. One last thing. When using the mesh for a bottle it is impossible to put the bag somewhere without tipping it over. Same goes for a tripod of course.

Conclusion

Would I buy the Manfrotto Street Sling Bag again? Definitely not. I paid 58€ and I got a most impractical bag. Despite its flaws I like the Manfrotto Street Backpack and thought I could not really go wrong with buying the sling as well. While the compartment is nice and rather spacious the main zip and the straps made this bag a terrible hassle to use. I even went back to using my old shoulder bag which could barely fit the X-T3 and a water bottle or another lens. I ended up buying a different bag for twice the money which is much better. Not that this bag was cheap but as the saying goes “buying cheap means buying twice”.

Pros:
– stylish look
– spacious camera compartment with good padding
– comfortable padding in the back
– stands upright when not used with water bottle or tripod
– can fit a 10″ tablet
– zipped pouches inside

Cons:
– impractical zip makes storing and retrieving gear difficult
– straps are not padded, single pad shifts around
– no length adjustment on the fly, dangling straps
– uncomfortable position when swung around to access gear
– rather bulky

Verdict:
A stylish, spacious but very impractical sling bag. I would not recommend buying it.

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