Here at BMT, we love backpacks, and we’ve written about several of them over the years. We appreciate that some of them come with detachable daypacks, like the Osprey Farpoint 55 or the Osprey Meridian 60, giving us convenient options for day use and main luggage.
Backpack styles are great for certain day use situations, like hiking or going to the beach, but they’re not always ideal. It can be a nuisance to remove the backpack when you need something while sightseeing around a town or city. Plus, carrying it on your back out of sight can also leave you vulnerable to theft if the zippers are not secured.
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Women could consider using a purse, but a typical women’s shoulder bag or purse may be too small to fit all the items needed for a day of sightseeing. Plus, if the bag’s handles are short and rest on just one shoulder, you are also vulnerable to theft, and you’re likely to hold onto the strap with one hand the entire time.
Related: Travel Backpack Review: Osprey Farpoint 55 + Osprey Packs Meridian 60L 22″ Wheeled Carry On Review
Since backpacks and purses aren’t always the best options for day use, in this post, we’re going to look at some of the best crossbody bags for travel, as recommended by our own BMT Community.
A crossbody bag (or messenger bag) is a perfect compromise between a backpack and a purse. You’ll be hands-free and have easy access to the items inside. Plus, you’ll feel assured that your belongings are safer from theft.
Related: How to Pack for Long-Term Travel in a Carry-On
What to Look for in Crossbody Bags for Travel
First and foremost, a good crossbody day bag should be both comfortable and large enough to hold what you need for the day. This could include a cell phone, wallet, water bottle, camera, extra layer, umbrella, etc.
Here are a few more important features to look for in a great crossbody day bag for travel:
1. Must have zippers: Zipper enclosures, plus the crossbody design, will help protect your belongings from theft.
2. Made of waterproof (or water-resistant) material: This is a must! Best not to let the elements ruin your trip (or your iPhone!).
3. Must be durable: A crossbody bag should be able to endure years of 20,000-step journeys across cities and sticky pub floors it may rest on while you dine.
4. Fits a water bottle: It’s important to stay hydrated while sightseeing!
Related: Pack Light and Carry On, For Males!
Suggestions from The BMT Community
With these criteria in mind, these are the best crossbody bags for travel according to our community members:
Travelon Crossbody Bags
The community mentioned Travelon many times as the go-to brand for travel bags. The brand carries a wide array of bags and travel accessories for women and men with various security features.
All Travelon’s Anti-Theft bags feature slash-resistant body panels and straps, zipper locks for each compartment, and RFID blocking technology. You know you are safe from slash-and-grab thieves, pickpockets, and electronic identity theft with these features.
Besides great security features, these bags each have at least one water bottle compartment and are made with durable, water-resistant polyester material.
What BMT members have to say about Travelon:
“I have a Travelon purse that meets all of those requirements. My DSLR even fits in it.”
“Awesome brand of products. Practical and was perfect for rain in London. It also protects against credit card scans and knife slashes.”
Haiku Crossbody Bags
These crossbody Haiku bags check all the boxes. Plus, it’s a company owned and led by women who creatively use recycled plastic bottles to build each bag. So, purchasing one supports women in business and the environment. Win-win!
What BMT members have to say about Haiku:
“I traveled everywhere with a Haiku crossbody! Different sizes and options to fit various needs.”
Daymakers Crossbody Bags
Be Safe Bags by Daymakers has many of the same security features as Travelon, including locking zippers, reinforced slash-proof straps and material, and RFID technology.
These bags will hold all you need for the day, including a water bottle. Although durable, the nylon twill construction may need a waterproofing treatment. See treatment suggestions below.
What BMT members have to say about Daymakers:
“… the bag I got converts in different ways, including everyday purse and fanny pack. Lots of [protective] factors would be needed for the bold thieves of European cities. Also, [the] fabric [is] easy to care for and durable. I do find, though, the one I have is too small to carry a normal 16oz or so water bottle.”
Kipling Crossbody Bags
Founded in 1987, Kipling provides durable, lightweight, and functional luggage and handbags for women. The crossbody designs meet our criteria with zippers, water-resistant nylon material, and a large enough main compartment to hold a water bottle.
What BMT members have to say about Kipling:
“I have a few [Kipling] bags, and they’ve been sturdy for years.”
LeSportsac Crossbody Bags
LeSportsac has been making durable bags perfect for busy travelers since the 1970s. These zippered designs are all large enough to hold a water bottle and your other daily needs and are constructed with water-resistant nylon material,
What BMT members have to say about LeSportsac:
“I like LeSportsac for their aesthetic/practicality combination- they come in lots of prints and sizes and hold up well, though are more water-resistant than waterproof.”
Ameribag Crossbody Bags
Healthy Back Bags by Ameribag come in many sizes and colors that will appeal to both women and men, but all share the same ergonomic and functional design.
Look for the bags made with distressed nylon and polyester – they are water-resistant. The ones made with microfiber can be made water-resistant with treatment. See below for treatment suggestions.
All the following Ameribags have zippered closures and are large enough to carry a water bottle. The zipper to the main compartment lies hidden against your back when worn, so your belongings are secure.
What BMT members have to say about Ameribag:
“I love my Ameribag that does all that.”
Distressed Nylon Healthy Back Bag
Swissgear Crossbody Bags
These Swissgear bags meet all the criteria – made of durable, water-resistant material, large enough to hold a water bottle and all your other daily needs, and they all have zippered closures. Plus, both women and men will appreciate the universal styles and colors.
What BMT members have to say about Swissgear:
“I use a Swiss Gear crossbody purse. It’s waterproof, and I can fit my wallet, my Brita water bottle, and a book in there at least. I’ve had it for a few years now, and still looks new.”
Sling Backpack – no longer available
Fly Fishing Bags
A flyfishing bag might be unconventional, but they seem to hit all the marks. They are made to be used while in the water, so you know they are water-resistant. These bags may look technical, but they have room for everything you need to bring with you for a day of sightseeing or hiking.
What BMT members have to say about fly fishing bags:
“It sounds silly and may not be what you want appearance-wise, but do some Google searching for fly fishing bags. You may find one you like that works! I love my sling bag: tons of pockets, it’s made to be spun around your body, so you don’t have to take it off to get anything from inside, and a lot of them have a designated water bottle pocket. Not many are waterPROOF, but most if not all are at minimum water-resistant.”
FishPond Summit Sling Fly Fishing Pack
Maxcatch Fly Fishing Sling Pack
BLISSWILL Multifunctional Outdoor Tackle Bag
Pacsafe Crossbody Bags
Lastly, our picks for great crossbody bags for traveling are these Pacsafe bags. They meet all the criteria, and like Travelon bags, Pacsafe bags are popular in the travel industry for their RFID technology, slash-guard construction, and zipper lock features.
Additionally, Pacsafe bags come equipped with the extra security of Lockabout security clips, which are easy-to-use strap clips to secure your bags while not being worn (like on public transportation).
Citysafe Anti-theft Handbag (CS200)
Metrosafe Anti-theft Shoulder Bag (LS250)
How to Make Your Bag Water-Resistant
As mentioned, all of the bags included in this post are made with water-resistant materials, but if you want to take extra precautions, here are some options:
Option 1: Spray it with a waterproofing product like Scotchguard or HydroLok Liquid Repellent Treatment. Follow the directions on the container of the product you choose, and keep in mind that most treatments call for an overnight or 24-hour drying period.
There are also easy DIY methods, as well.
Option 2: Mix up your own waterproofing solution and use a paintbrush to apply it to your bag. Follow these easy directions:
Option 3: Some say that rubbing a candle over the bag and using a blow dryer (on a low/warm setting) to fuse the wax to the material will work.
By Brittany Quaglieri with help from The Budget-Minded Traveler Community
Add to this list! Is there a brand of travel bags out there that we didn’t mention?
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