Thoughtful design allows this smaller bag to pull off the same tricks as a full-size messenger bag.

SmartCord Sling Review 3I bought my first messenger bag in preparation for a gaming convention in 2007. I was mortified to be seen carrying a “purse”, but I loaded up anyway and shouldered my belongings toward Seattle. To make a long story short, my self-imposed stigma lasted all of an hour as I realized that carrying this bag meant having easy access to all of my gadgets while retaining the ability to store a backpack worth of purchases from the convention floor. Why am I telling you about this? Because that first messenger bag taught me the importance of having the right tool for the situation. Also, much like working on an automobile with a hodge-podge of ratchet extenders and adapters, sometimes the tool may look silly but the ability to get the job done is the most important concern. After the first day, I lightened up and never gave the “purse” a second thought during my time at the convention.

I am willing to guess that a lot of readers will look at this carrying case and scoff. As far as first impressions go, all of the slick design cannot force the average user to look at this case as anything other than an unnecessary carrying case or perhaps the most damning: a new type of fanny pack. I imagine, however, that any person that is able to push past the initial pessimism and actually try to wear the case will quickly come around to the many positives provided by the manufacturer.

SmartCord Sling Review 4I like that this case is built to be light. While this seems like a negative since any type of fall or drop will not have a reinforced frame to absorb shock, the multiple layers of varying fabric should insure a cushioned fall in the event of a minor accident. I would estimate that any real danger to any devices stored inside would be if the case were to be crushed by a falling bicycle (or bicyclist!) or some other type of crushing force. Drops from shoulder and handlebar level did not cause any internal device damage during testing.

This lightness plays into how nice the bag feels while its single strap is hanging across the chest. The actual storage bag portion of the case can be adjusted to settle wherever it is needed whether a user would like the bag high up on the shoulder or resting against the small of the back. While the strap is worn, a quick rotate of the bag around the shoulder brings the bag and each of the included pouches within reach.

Oh, and a word of warning: While the bag can technically be adjusted to fit over the right or left shoulder, but it is clear that this bag is designed for a right-handed use case.

Speaking of pouches, this bag is capable of storing a 10-inch tablet easily along with a portable battery and the usual charging cables. There is a pouch provided with a silicone covering for controlling a loose earphone cable, should the need arise for cabled headphones while a device is stored in the bag. I should note that the primary tablet storage pouch does not have this headphone passthrough opening. Only the front-most smaller pouch does. I would suggest a pair of wireless headphones if the tablet will be playing music while zipped up in the primary storage pouch.

SmartCord Sling Review 5My favorite pouch is also the one that requires the most care to use. While three pouches on this bag are traditional zip-closed ones, there is one pouch that is always open and allows for quick retrieval and storage of smaller items. This pouch is about the size of the primary storage pouch but with a smaller opening. During my testing, the opening was too small to throw in another tablet or my NVIDIA Shield Portable, but the opening was large enough to accept my iPhone 6 or Nintendo 3DS. Using this pouch is extremely convenient, but it is important not to inadvertently dump out its contents by improperly handling the bag. This opening might easily allow for an overly curious individual to quickly swipe a stored device, so take care to keep track as to what is stored here while traveling beyond the bike path or gym.

For the price, the manufacturer is offering a great way to carry many of the essential “go bag” devices that might be needed for any kind of exercise or travel. It does feel silly to wear a tiny backpack for a tablet and/or accessories, but the case provides such utility that anyone brave enough to try one on should find a worthy storage companion for their next trip.

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