On my last trip I had the opportunity to test Alpaka’s Atom X and Bravo Mini slings. I wrote up a detailed comparison review in case you were thinking of getting either, or looking for a sling in general. The order of the pics are the same order of the sections below. It’s a long read so thank you checking it out! Hopefully it helps someone.
The versions of the Atom X (AX) and the Bravo Sling Mini (BM) are limited edition runs of their usual lines, except these are using black X-PAC™ VX21 and orange ripstop interior fabric.
The non-traditional funky trapezoid shape of the AX is what drew me to it in the first place. I wanted a sling that could truly be a pocket dump so the thin and small design was perfect for that. Plus the plethora of features that you’ll read about below makes this a truly unique carry (and you can wear it comfortably under a jacket, front and back). The BM looks like your typical sling, and that’s not a bad thing! From the side it has an upside down triangle profile, with rounded edges. It has good and different features that you’ll find out about further down.
3. Zippers and Security
All zippers on both Atom X and Bravo Mini slings are water resistant and developed in house. Both Atom X and Bravo Mini have lockable zips but executed differently. The AX has carabiner zips that clip onto paracord loops. Not only is this for the main compartment but the front outside pocket. The BM zips are the ones you typically see on luggage with holes for your own lock. The main compartment has two zips so they lock, but the outside front pocket doesn’t. I used a mini Nite Ize lockable S-biner to lock the zips. Small and functional. I prefer the AX system since it’s integrated, plus you can use the carabiners to clip others things, like keys. Interesting thing to note, the AX zips have a matte finish and the BM have a glossy wet look.
4. Strap Attachment
The thing I love most about these two slings are the angled attachment points, which makes it lay better for cross body carry. Note that on the AX the straps start from the rear while the BM starts on the front. More on that later. The straps on my former Aer City Sling v1 had to fold weird at the attachment points because they came out straight and then had to curve upward. It didn’t look aesthetically pleasing and the folds would poke into me.
The AX has a slim magnetic buckle by Maglockz that is positioned near one of the attachment points. The BM uses a Fidlock V-buckle that is centered. Both Atom X and Bravo Mini hardware have that satisfyingly magnetic “click” and feel secure. Although I like v-buckles I prefer the slimmer Maglockz design and position for front carry. You can lean against something and be totally fine. I did that with the BM and got jabbed right in the center of my back. Note that the v-buckle was added for BM’s limited edition run.
6. External Pockets
Both have rear pockets that are against your body, great for passports or cash. Both have front pockets, but what I dig about the AX is it’s lined with anti-microbial copper/silver lining (naturally, RFID blocking too). The front pockets also have key tethers of different lengths. This is the one design I don’t prefer. If I want to take advantage of the silver lining for my phone, I’m certainly not going to put my keys in there too. Luckily I don’t carry keys so it’s not an issue, but it will be for others.
7. Main Internal Pockets
Both Atom X and Bravo Mini have their own two equally sized slip pockets, but with noticeable differences. The AX uses stretchy material, are sewn at the back, and when sticking my hand in they are palm deep. Meanwhile the BM uses the same ripstop material as the rest of the interior, is knuckle deep, shaped to have some volume and are sewn on the front. When packing and accessing the same items in both I preferred AX’s rear pocket location.
The AX has one main compartment while the BM has theirs split into two with a soft lined divider facing the back. This rear lined pocket is advertised as being the perfect size for the Nintendo Switch, smaller tablets and e-readers. I have yet to use that pocket during my carry, however I’d like to get a A7 Memo Bottle and I’d imagine it would be great there.
One advantage to the AX is easier access because there isn’t a roof to peel back unlike the BM, which of course is there to add depth and volume.
AX is rated at 2.5L while the BM is advertised as 2-4L. The BM can get flat when empty and makes for a good packable sling, same as the AX. Keeping flat items in either bag still keeps a slim profile, but even the AX has limits before it starts to balloon out. I don’t see this as a con because given its size, shape, and capacity the user should know what to expect. The BM is where it gets interesting because it has an upside down triangle shape where it’s larger at the top and tapers down to a single line. Larger items will need to sit at the top, or if at the bottom depending on the pocket it will eat into the other.
9. How it Wears
Excuse the picture quality. I only had access to taking selfies through a mirror. Atom X is on the left in these pics. I like to wear my slings semi-tight. After adjusting the straps and positioning the slings where it felt the most comfortable I took pics of the placement. When wearing on the back, the AX strap keeper is at top of my right shoulder and on the BM the buckle is centered, with its strap keeper also at the peak of my right shoulder. Because of it’s flat and funky shape the AX doesn’t contour much to your back, but the angled rear attachment points helps with the fit. The BM is more forgiving and can hug your back. Since the straps start in the front it pulls the corners better towards the body, as well as the bag having a slight curve. When worn on the front the AM worked best positioned bottom left, whereas the BM was near center.
Overall, I prefer the Atom X because it checks all the boxes of my intended pocket dump use. It forces me to keep my carry minimal and to pack smart. For days I need more capacity and want that traditional sling look I’ve got the Bravo Mini. Also, it’s a great “city” alternative to my beautiful mountainesque Signal Blue Evergoods MHP. (That is until Evergoods hopefully makes a CIVIC sling one day!) I’m definitely keeping the Atom X, and I like the Bravo Mini enough that I have their new black Kodra with BLUE ripstop lining on the way! Which means I may be posting a WTS for the black vx21 in the near future.
Thanks for making it this far! If you have any questions let me know.