Nomatic McKinnon Camera Sling 8L review

Access your camera kit quickly and easily in this compact and lightweight sling bag

McKinnon Camera Sling 8L
(Image: © George Cairns)

Digital Camera World Verdict

The McKinnon 8L Camera Sling bag walks a perfect balance between being lightweight, compact, and portable while still providing plenty of storage space for your photography gear. We can’t recommend it to DSLR users but for a mirrorless kit it’s fine and we can highly recommend it if you’re into mobile phone photography and need to transport mics, batteries and mini tripods etc.

Pros

  • +

    Compact and portable

  • +

    Water-resistant

  • +

    Plenty of storage options

  • +

    Adjustable interior panels

  • +

    Molle straps for attaching accessories

  • +

    One-hand closure system

Cons

  • -

    Small gap at bottom of compartment when unzipped

  • -

    Luggage pass-through panel can be confused with a pocket

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For photographers on the go, having the best camera bag (opens in new tab) is essential, but for when you don't need huge amounts of gear with you, sometimes the perfect sling bag (opens in new tab) is all that you need for your key accessories.

The McKinnon 8L Camera Sling bag is produced and sold by Gomatic in Europe and Nomatic in the US. Apart from slightly different Nomatic logos on the front of the bags they are identical. Nomatic produces a range of camera sling bags and backpacks, from a 1L Navigator Sling at one end of the spectrum to the McKinnon 25L Camera backpack at the other.

Prior to testing and reviewing the McKinnon 8L Camera Sling, I tested the 35L Shimoda Explore backpack. The Shimoda was packed full of DSLR kit and accessories and weighed in at 12 Kg. The McKinnon 8L Camera Sling contained my mobile kit including an iPhone 14 Pro Max and various tripods and mics so was much easier to carry - weighing in at a considerably lighter 2.2 Kg.  

The lighter and more compact McKinnon 8L Camera Sling was perfect for shooting on a busy railway line at the UK’s Spa Valley Railway as I was able to keep it close to my chest without it getting in anyone’s way (whereas I would have struggled to squeeze down the narrow corridors of a vintage train carriage carrying the much larger and bulkier Shimoda Explore 35).  

Specifications

Weight: 730g (empty)
Dimensions (DxWxH): 14 cm x 33 cm x 20 cm
Material: 80% Nylon 20 Polyethelyne
Features: TSA Lock friendly zips, External molle straps, Internal organization pockets

McKinnon Camera Sling Bag 8L (Image credit: George Cairns)
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Key features

The McKinnon 8L Camera Sling opens up to reveal two main compartments. One section has velcro dividers that can be re-arranged to accommodate a small DSLR or mirrorless camera. These removable dividers are nicely branded with the same McKinnon skull and crossbones logo (which can also be found on one of the zip toggles.) 

On my test shoot, I packed this section with a couple of mobile phones (an iPhone 13 Pro Max for photography, and an iPhone 14 Pro Max to record me testing the bag) plus supporting accessories such as a Joby Wavo Plus microphone and a Joby Gorillapod tripod head. The spaces on either side of the velcro dividers created extra sections. In one section I stored a SmallRig VB99 mini V mount battery (which I take everywhere to recharge various devices.)

You can use velcro panels to re-arrange the layout of the interior to suit your specific needs. (Image credit: George Cairns)
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The other half of the opened sling bag is designed for smaller accessories. There are two elasticated pockets where I stored the wireless SmallRig transmitter and receiver that I used to record my voice in this review’s supporting video.  There are also dedicated pouches for SD memory cards if you plan to carry a mirrorless camera. 

For extra security, there’s also a zip-able pouch to keep smaller items safely stored. To help you access your kit even more quickly there’s an elastic strap can be attached to a metal hook on the opposite side of the bag. This 'quick release' system means you can keep the bag unzipped while keeping its content relatively safe. Just unhook the elastic with one hand to access the bag’s interior in an instant.

The elasticated quick release system enables you to access the bag’s contents without the need to zip and unzip. (Image credit: George Cairns)
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Build and handling

The McKinnon 8L Camera Sling bag is made from the same sturdy and water-resistant nylon and polyethylene material as the larger and more expensive McKinnon 25L Camera bag. Thanks to a single padded strap you can carry it comfortably on your back or sling it around at your front for easy access to the kit.

The default length of the strap meant that the bag was too close to my face when initially slung around my front but it was a simple matter to extend the strap’s length to lower the bag to a more comfortable and accessible position. Unlike the Shimoda Explore 35's 13 zips, the McKinnon 8L Sling has a single zip which gives you access to the bag’s interior. 

As a result, I was able to access my mobile kit in the McKinnon Sling much more quickly than I could after rummaging through the Shimoda Explore’s multiple compartments for DSLR components. This simplicity of access enabled me to capture the sudden arrival of photogenic stream trains on my test shoot (see this review’s supporting video). 

We found the 8L capacity was perfect for storing our mobile camera phone and supporting accessories such as mics and tripods. (Image credit: George Cairns)
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On the bottom of the sling bag, you’ll find some handy Molle straps. These enable you to hook other accessories (such as a mini-tripod) onto the bottom of the bag.  There are also two columns of Molle straps at the front of the bag.  When you buy a camera bag you expect to use it for years and the McKinnon 8L Camera Sling certainly feels durable and robust.  If you register it then you’ll get a lifetime warranty which makes it an attractive candidate for your cash!

The McKinnon 8L Camera Sling is proudly branded with a skull and crossbones logo in four different places. (Image credit: George Cairns)
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Performance

I enjoyed using the McKinnon 8L Camera Sling while on my shoot at the Spa Valley vintage railway. The fact that you can sling the bag close to your chest means that it is discreet and doesn’t draw attention to your presence as a photographer. This discrete size will help it suit the needs of street photographers who want to go unnoticed by their subject. 

Its 8L capacity was large enough for me to fit all my mobile photography accessories and I enjoyed populating the various pouches and compartments with various bits and bobs. As I was unfamiliar with the bag I mistook the panel at the back of the bag for a pocket, so I was surprised when my iPhone kept falling out. It turned out that this ‘pocket’ is actually a pass-through panel designed to slip over the handle of an airport luggage trolley. 

As a result, it is open at the top and bottom. I feel rather silly making this mistake but happy to fess up if it saves someone else from dropping (or even losing) a valuable gadget. 

When the sling bag is fully open there is a small gap between the open zip and the edge of the bag, so in theory, a small object such as an SD card could fall out of the bottom of the bag when it’s in the open position.  That small niggle aside I had a great shoot and enjoyed using the McKinnon 8L Camera Sling to carry and access a range of mobile phone photography accessories with ease.

Verdict

The McKinnon 8L Camera Sling should meet the needs of photographers who use a smartphone or mirrorless camera systems.  There are plenty of pockets, pouches, and dividers for you to organize your gear to suit your preferences. The single padded sling enables you to carry it on your back or keep it close to your chest to protect your gear in crowds and the durable water-resistant material will help you keep shooting regardless of the weather. 

Read more:

Best camera bags for travel (opens in new tab)
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Best leather camera bags (opens in new tab)
Best camera backpacks (opens in new tab)
Best camera sling bags (opens in new tab)
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George Cairns

George has been freelancing as a photo fixing and creative tutorial writer since 2002, working for award winning titles such as Digital Camera, PhotoPlus, N-Photo and Practical Photoshop. He's expert in communicating the ins and outs of Photoshop and Lightroom, as well as producing video production tutorials on Final Cut Pro and iMovie for magazines such as iCreate and Mac Format. He also produces regular and exclusive Photoshop CC tutorials for his YouTube channel.