New Wandrd ROAM is a Compact Sling That Cleverly Cradles a Laptop

The WANDRD ROAM sling is the first one that’s accommodating to a laptop, but why don’t they just make a messenger bag?

Gear bag brand Wandrd is back on Kickstarter with a new bag — and this time, it’s not a backpack. The Wandrd ROAM Sling is a quick-access camera bag that can be worn over either shoulder, the back or front, or even as a fanny pack. But, it’s also a rare sling in that it offers the option to carry a 16-inch laptop and a tripod. This is one of its biggest innovations. The bag just launched on Kickstarter today, May 26.

The Most Innovative Thing about the WANDRD ROAM: The Laptop Bag.

Sling bags are typically too small to fit a laptop. Slings with a laptop sleeve can typically only carry a 13-inch laptop, with a few that can handle a 15.6 inch. Wandrd is using an external laptop bag, in 13 and 16-inch sizes, that latches onto the ROAM Sling itself. And the laptop bag could very well be the most innovative aspect of the ROAM. Besides carrying a laptop with a bag that’s smaller than a laptop, the laptop bag also doubles as an ergonomic stand. This is also one of the coolest things about the laptop case.

The laptop bag bends to allow the keyboard to sit at an angle for a more ergonomic position for your wrists. It positions the laptop like the cheap IKEA laptop stand I use at my desk. The way that it folds reminds me of the Apple Magic Keyboard’s different screen angles. And, it’s not something extra you need to pack since it’s part of the case itself.

We’re actively playing with a prototype of it. So we put a MacBook Pro from 2015 in there. Unfortunately, the laptop stand doesn’t even stay rigid. If you put the slightest amount of weight on it, it collapses. We double checked by taking a look at the product image above. And it really didn’t work. However, WANDRD has been known for sending prototypes that don’t have all the kinks figured out. Hopefully the final version will be better.

Along with attaching that laptop bag, the ROAM Sling also has a pocket at the bottom that can accommodate a tripod or a water bottle. The main pocket has a camera cube built-in, with removable dividers, while a front pocket stashes smaller accessories. You can basically think of the ROAM as a contained camera cube with straps all over it. It’s not a bad idea, and WANDRD was going to inevitably do this anyway.

Ambidextrous Support and No Waist Strap?

The ROAM is also designed for wearing on either shoulder. Wandrd says the five-point adjustment system is reversible and designed to work on either shoulder and for multiple body types. An optional lockdown strap goes under the arm to help keep the sling from sliding around. Spending just a few minutes with a pre-production sample, the bag felt pretty steady walking, but it would need a waist belt to keep it from moving side to side, particularly for commuting by bike.

THINK TANK has a sling with both waist straps and a shoulder strap. It’s made commuting so much easier. We have yet to truly test a production unit, but the pre-production unit is showing its flaws. If you’re loading up a laptop and camera gear, the bag is going to get pretty heavy. In that case, you’d want it to just be a messenger bag.

Built Tough

The ROAM is built with the same materials as the Wandrd PRVKE (a Phoblographer favorite for backpacks) for durability and weather resistance. That includes weather-resistant YKK zippers. The PRVKE Lite only leaked slightly where two zippers met when I tossed it in the shower, so the ROAM could be similarly great for splashes and rain. The sling’s back also has an air-mesh panel, similar to the cushioning on the updated PRVKE bags.

The Precursor to a Messenger Bag?

WANDRD mainly focuses on backpacks, though the company has a duffel and a hip bag as well. The ROAM Sling could be the company’s way of testing the waters for shoulder bags. It’s unusual that the company doesn’t yet have a messenger bag. However, Wandrd says that the adjustable strap does allow for a messenger-like hip carry and the more traditional sling back and front carry. 

The bag is launching in three sizes — 3L, 6L, and 9L. Unfortunately, the laptop case, which can be used on its own without the ROAM, is only compatible with the 6L and 9L versions. Early Bird Kickstarter pricing starts at $42 for the laptop case, $74 for the 3L, $99 for the 6L, and $109 for the 9L. The 6L and 9L will also be available in packages with the laptop case. If the Kickstarter is successful, Wandrd expects the bags to retail for between $99 and $149 individually, with the laptop case at $54 and $59. The Kickstarter is expected to end June 25.

We just opened up two pre-production samples of the bag, so we’ll put the bag through the usual testing and report back just how well Wandrd migrates from backpacks to slings. But, again, the versatility and materials look promising — but there are many sling bags out there for the ROAM to compete with.

Additional reporting was provided by Chris Gampat.

Hillary Grigonis

Hillary K. Grigonis is a photographer and tech writer based in Michigan. She shoots weddings and portraits at Hillary K Photography. A mother of three, she enjoys hiking, camping, crafting, and reading.