We Review the HEX Ranger Sling XL

The new HEX Ranger Sling XL bridges the gap between a large backpack and a traditional sling, combining elements of both for photographers who want to travel light without leaving almost everything at home.

The HEX Ranger Sling XL is available in four different color schemes. Image courtesy of HEX.

HEX Ranger Sling XL Specifications

  • Padded compartment for up to 13-inch laptop
  • Water-resistant, ballistic nylon shell
  • Hideaway rainfly for additional weather protection
  • Generous exterior organizer with HEX’s signature faux-fur lined phone pocket
  • Air mesh back for breathability
  • Bottom cinch straps for tripod or jacket
  • Interior features EVA-padded dividers
  • Dimensions: 14.5” x 11” x 5”
  • Weight: 2.2 lbs
  • Capacity: 15L

I was able to fit quite a bit of gear into the Ranger Sling XL including two camera bodies, three lenses, a GoPro, extra batteries and cards, and even my journal.

Traveling Light(er)

I put the HEX Ranger Sling XL through its paces while hiking with my son and some friends recently. During the day we visited two nature preserves on Long Island, hiked a bunch of trails, hiked to a beach, and explored an old gothic home. I generally carry a small backpack on excursions like this, so it was a new experience to spend the day with a large sling with much more capacity than I am used to for a day trip. The Ranger Sling XL carries a surprising amount of gear, and I was able to lug the following items:

Alex at Sands Point with the Ranger Sling XL.

HEX describes the sling as “camera ready,” and I quickly found out what they mean as it is very easy to partially open the sling while wearing it via the clamshell zipper system and pull your camera out for a photo. The camera sits snugly on one side of the bag with a small to medium-sized lens attached, and because of the design, it is true to form as a sling. To access everything else, though, it needs to be placed securely on a surface and treated more like a backpack (in other words, don’t open it all the way if you are wearing it).

The ability to quickly access the camera came in handy many times during the day, and as I also had the camera fitted with a HEX wrist strap, it was convenient to put the camera away while we were hiking, without having to deal with a neck strap getting in the way of the sling's shoulder strap. I found the sling and wrist strap to be a great combination, although it took a minute to get used to the wrist strap as it has a very open design and does not cinch down tightly on the wrist as some others do. 

The Ranger Sling XL is made very well and has a rigid back, so it doesn’t feel floppy like some other slings. It has a premium feel throughout, including the outside construction and the interior dividers. The padding is thick, the zippers are large, the sling is also water resistant, and includes an additional hideaway rainfly for extra weather protection when needed.

An old shed I captured while on hike with the HEX Ranger Sling XL.

As I mentioned above, the Ranger Sling XL fits an impressive amount of gear. The sling does what HEX intended, and falls somewhere in between a large backpack and small sling, both of which have their drawbacks for street photographers, day trippers, and content creators. I found the size and capacity to be just right for our hiking trip, since I was able to carry enough gear for both myself and my son to use, but also to record video clips of our adventure as well. When we stopped at a local diner in between visiting nature preserves, I appreciated that the sling was compact enough to place next to me on the diner bench without being cumbersome.

The internal dividers can be customized extensively and I actually had extra dividers that I didn’t need for the amount of gear I took along, which was appreciated. I also found the front faux-fur lined phone pocket to be perfect to store my phone, as it provided easy access when needed. The large exterior pocket and two interior zipper pockets also provide plenty of room for accessories like memory cards, batteries, chargers, adaptors, car keys, and more. There are also two small hidden pockets integrated into the shoulder strap which can hold memory cards or other small items you wish to retrieve quickly, which is a fun and useful addition.

An image of my son while on hike with the HEX Ranger Sling XL. The bag was large enough to carry a Canon R5 with 2 lenses as well as the Fuji X-Pro1 and 35mm lens seen here.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the HEX Ranger Sling XL is an excellent camera bag, and one of those products I didn’t realize I needed. This is because the size and capacity are right in between lugging a huge backpack full of gear and a small sling that only holds one camera and a few lenses. With this sling, I get the best of both worlds, because it fits the bill for those times when I want to travel light but still need a good amount of gear, like when filming a YouTube video or out for a day trip where I am taking both portraits and landscapes.

The biggest drawback I found with the sling is that carrying at full capacity does get tough on the back as the day wears on, which resulted in a lot of shoulder switching later in the day since the weight is not evenly distributed as with a backpack. Because of all this, the shoulder strap could do with a bit more padding as well. 

The HEX Ranger Sling XL fits an impressive amount of gear.

What I Liked

  • Excellent build quality
  • Lots of storage capacity
  • Stylish but discreet design
  • Very Customizable
  • Perfect for day trips and content creators

What I Didn’t Like

  • Padded shoulder strap is too thin
  • A fully-loaded Ranger Sling XL is a lot of weight for one shoulder

Purchase

A HEX Ranger Sling XL is available in four color styles and can be purchased here.

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2 Comments
Kenneth Rhem's picture

This bag is everything & nothing. Super well built. Poorly thought out configuration & implementation. I usually don't have time or place to set down a bag during a lens swap. I need a bag that gives me access to the full kit. Tenba (can't remember the model) Thule (covert sling) & Timbuk2 (snoop sling) left a gaping hole in the market. This bag looks great & protects + carries gear well. But, that's NOT what these bags are for. How does the bag help you get to the image you want to make (access cards, filters, lenses, batteries, strobes) faster? It doesn't. It makes sure you are holding them. But, it still slows you down when it matters.

Sure is pretty tho. I looove that icy camo...

Pete Coco's picture

Hey Kenneth, I actually found the design to work quite well for me, and think it fits a size/capacity need. There were a few times I set it down, but mostly I was able to get what I needed while having it shouldered, and change lenses too. And you are right, it's made extremely well and looks great too! What kind of stuff do you shoot?