This review presents the new Roam camera sling from bag manufacturer Wandrd.
The Roam is the first sling released by Wandrd. It comes in three sizes: 3, 6 and 9 liters. The last two are mostly similar in features, while the 3L is more of a hybrid between a sling and a waist bag. We are testing the 9L version in black (it also ships in tan). We are testing a pre-release copy; the Roam will be globally available in December 2021, but pre-orders are already possible1Wandrd provided this pre-production bag for review at no cost, but as always, we never provide a positive review in exchange for compensation of any sort; these opinions are as honest as we can possibly make them. Light & Matter does receive commission from products ordered directly from Wandrd, Amazon, B&H, and most other vendors that we link to..
Slings are often favorites of photographers who want to travel light. They allow quick access to a decent amount of gear without being too cumbersome. On the other hand, their versatility is limited. Because of their small size, they generally cannot carry a laptop, and their small internal volume limit the amount of extra gear that can be carried.
The Roam specifically addresses these issues by offering impressive expandability. Let’s take a look.
The Roam Sling uses a common design. The exterior is extremely well made, with solid fabric and lots of features. The fabric tends to get dirty quickly, but is also easy to clean. There are two straps and buckles on the front, well positioned to attach a tripod or umbrella.
There is also a thin compartment at the front, with a separator for the key clip (so that your keys will not scratch other objects).
The bottom holds a unique and well-executed element: a hidden sleeve with cinch-ties at each end, perfect for a tripod or water bottle. The fabric adds some welcome protection. This system works very well, and is one of the differentiating elements of the Roam. A tripod inserted there is stable, but still quickly accessible.
The sides of the sling include curved grab handles. Sadly, there is no means to attach a camera clip. The strap is removable, and attaches to the plastic buckles visible here.
The top shows a large X-shaped handle. As shown above, the back is curved to follow the wearer’s body shape. There is an interesting compartment towards the back.
This compartment serves two purposes. The first is a simple slim pocket, wide and deep. A fold at the bottom provides extra separation. However, the main (and unique) purpose of this pocket is to transform into a laptop compartment.
Another zipper at the bottom allows the pocket to expand downwards.
The pocket is then ready to receive a laptop. It could be inserted directly, but wouldn’t be protected. Thankfully, Wandrd also designed an accessory laptop sleeve which slides in the Roam’s back pocket.
The sleeve is held in place by a strap hidden in the back pocket.
The laptop sleeve really makes the Roam more versatile than the typical sling bag. I’ll come back to the laptop sleeve in greater detail below.
The back of the Roam also hides a stabilization strap, useful when biking or moving around a lot. It can tuck away inside the back padding. This padding is perforated and includes air channels for better ventilation.
The main compartment is accessed via a U-shaped opening. The compartment is rather boxy, and the 9L version ships with two dividers. The top flap includes a pocket which surprisingly opens in the middle instead of the top. It does not include internal organization.
The back of the inner compartment features yet another pocket, this one with several features. First, it is deep enough to accommodate a tablet. The back bears three small pockets (perfect for memory cards), similar to the Wandrd Prvke backpack’s side access. There are also two larger separations for larger items, such as cables.
The internal dividers bend partway to the top, and can create shelves. However, since their Velcro is strong, they are difficult to reconfigure on the fly. Most users will probably leave them in their original position.
The main compartment offers a good depth. It can accept a DSLR or mirrorless camera with a standard zoom mounted, and can even accept larger lenses such as Pentax’s DA* 60-250mm F4. It will not be deep enough for a 70-200mm F2.8, however. The compartment is also wide enough to accept medium-sized cameras on their side, as shown above.
Laptop sleeves are nothing new, but the one from Wandrd offers a few interesting elements.
The zipper is fully sealed. In addition to the top handle, there are loops next to it and a band covering the whole width. These can be used to attach accessories (see below).
The interior is nicely lined. There are triangles in the corners to hold the laptop in place.
Thanks to a fold on one of the panels, the laptop can be raised if desired. The panels are stiff enough that the laptop is stable (the laptop above is 15 inches).
Even with a rather thick laptop, the sleeve remains slim enough. Like the Roam, the Laptop Case is available for pre-order at a discount, directly from Wandrd.
Wandrd also offer a Tech Bag, available in three sizes. We are looking at the larger version, which isn’t all that large, really. It’s also currently available… no need to pre-order!
The Tech Bag is surprisingly robust, made of the same tarpaulin as the Roam sling. The back shows two grab handles and C-clips for attachment.
These clips allow attachment to the laptop sleeve (or other of the company’s bags). A user could add a strap, and have a compact setup to carry just a laptop and accessories.
The Tech Bag sports two compartments. The larger one has several smaller organization pockets. One side provides three pockets and a pen holder, and the second side gives you two more pockets. Given the size of this pocket, more compartments would have been welcome. Wandrd recommend inserting their small-size Tech Bag into the large (designed to fit) if extra organization is required.
The second pocket is lined with soft fabric, ideal for a mobile phone. There is a well-hidden pass-through for a cable. The main compartment could hold a battery to recharge the phone.
The bottom provides another grab handle and loops for attachment.
The Roam is an impressively well-made bag.
The level of craftsmanship is superb. The fabric attracts dirt, but is robust, weather resistant and easy to clean. The bag is solid and will last a long time.
The number of features also puts it above many other sling bags. The front straps, bottom sleeve, modular laptop compartment all contribute to deliver impressive expandability. The Roam is rated at 9 liters but, with all those options, its actual capacity is much larger.
Internal organization is good, without breaking any molds. On the plus side, there are many pockets to organize small items. The main compartment offers a good volume, but its width means that with smaller objects, there will be some wasted space. The dividers can create shelves, but these are not ideal, and we suspect most people won’t use them.
In use, the bag has proven comfortable even over long periods. Even smaller body sizes like the rookie photographer above enjoyed using the bag. While it doesn’t use a fancy adjustment system, the strap’s length can be quickly modified.
The opening is wide and opens away from the user, something we always appreciate. It is easy to reach inside any compartment or pocket while wearing the bag.
The laptop sleeve really is excellent. It features a small amount of bells and whistles, but everything on it serves a purpose. Its integration in the Roam is a true bonus.
The Tech Bag is also interesting, smaller than some competitors, which can be a good thing. It would be a bit small to carry a family’s worth of chargers and cables, but for 1-2 people, it’s well sized. The bag is less rigid than we’d expect, which can be annoying as it doesn’t always hold its shape. The zippers paths are not always as fluid as we’d prefer.
It’s not easy to create a unique product in the increasingly crowded camera bag market. With its differentiating features, the Roam sling manages to do that. It’s not perfect, but it’s excellent. Photographers familiar with the other Wandrd products will feel right at home, and newcomers are likely to enjoy this introduction to the company’s products.
The Roam goes head-to-head against several popular products on the market.
Two of its obvious competitors are the Peak Design Sling and the Moment Rugged Sling, both of which we discussed in the past. What sets apart the Roam from these two slings is the expandability, thanks in particular to the hidden bottom sleeve and the laptop accessory. The build quality between the three is comparable, and the Peak Design Sling has the advantage of proposing the Flexfold dividers, as well as an attachment point for a camera clip. Price is also similar between the three products, although the laptop accessory will increase the total cost of the Roam.
Think tank also offers a sling with comparable features, the Urban Access. The design is different, but the general principles are similar and Think Tank is another company offering excellent craftsmanship and a lifetime warranty. Mindshift Gear’s Photocross slings propose a different design, oriented more strongly towards difficult climatic conditions.
The Roam can hold its own against these products. Geared more directly towards urban environments, its adaptability sets it apart, and its features list can put some competitors to shame.
Pre-Order the Wandrd Roam
As mentioned previously, the Roam has not been released to the public yet, but they are already taking orders at a 15% discount, so you can get yours in the first batch that’s shipped out if you want one and also save a bit of money. The Wandrd Roam is expected to ship in December, with full prices ranging from $99 to $149, depending on the size.