No stranger to Kickstarter, I wasn’t surprised when when the project I backed by NIID back in January turned out to be months behind schedule. I’ve backed a few Kickstarter projects now, and only two delivered on time and at the promised quality (Minaal Carry On 2.0 and Wandrd Duo Daypack). So I expect when I put in my backer pledge to basically forget about the project for half a year or so, and I laugh at any projected production timelines that are less than at least 4 months. NIID also had the unfortunate timing of being affected by Covid as well. I was pretty surprised when I actually received the Radiant Sling Bag last week at how well-made it is! Read on for my first impressions and initial review, and to see what fits inside the bag.
It arrived nicely packaged in box, along with a booklet illustrating all the features. And man, it has so many features that I actually had to refer to the booklet and back to the Kickstarter campaign to figure out what some of them were. The first thing I thought when I took it out of the box was “Wow, this is nicer than I thought.” The bag has a good weight to it and does not feel flimsily constructed at all. The grey fabric has the woven look to it, but it is coated in a matte waterproof plastic coating and it feels sturdy. Many parts of the bag are padded, which contributes to its feeling of durability. These parts include the bottom of the bag, the tablet pocket on the inside of the bag, and even the zip pocket on the back of the bag. The hardware feels like a nice metal and with a good heft, which includes the zipper pulls and the hooks for the straps on the bottom of the bag. Even the velcro and the magnetic closures on the bag seems to be of high quality. I was suitably impressed by the build.
For the interior, there are a myriad of pockets which I won’t enumerate exhaustively. There are three exterior pockets, one on the back (which has additional mesh interior pockets) and two on the front. There is an included keyleash inside one of these pockets which is also very nice – it has an elastic so you can use your keys to unlock your door without detaching them. There are additional “semi-open” pockets accessed from the side of the bag as well, and these are reinforced by mesh on the sides of the bag to prevent whatever you slide in there from sliding out of the other side of the bag. On the inside there is a nicely padded tablet pocket and some even more pockets on the other side. Even all the mesh pockets inside the bag were well sewn together and high quality, not saggy or wrinkly. The interior design I would compare favorably even to the Wandrd Duo pack in quality.
The main sling strap has a quick release magnet which works very well. I had to look at the campaign video and instruction booklet to figure out how to use the slides over the straps to customize the quick-tighten and quick-loosening features, but once I figured it out it worked really well. The bag can be easily worn over either shoulder – this is pet peeve of mine, where bag and backpack designers assume a left-shoulder carry for a right-handed person. I’m a right-handed person who likes right-shoulder carry so being able to carry on either side was important to me. My only tiny complaint is that carrying with this naked seatbelt-like strap with a fully loaded and heavy sling bag could get uncomfortable after awhile.
And this thing really does hold quite a bit. NIID claims it holds about 6L. I have it packed here with my Surface Go tablet computer in the main compartment in the tablet pocket, along with a mirrorless camera (Fuji X-A5) with three prime lenses (one of them attached to the camera body). There’s still more room in the main compartment. In the pockets, I’ve got wallet, hard drive, keys, and wireless earbuds. In the semi-open pocket I put a soft water bottle. You could easily attach a tripod to the bottom of the bag as well with the attached straps.
Here I’ve packed it again, except full of “Mom things” – or more accurately, baby things. These include diapers and wipers in the main compartment, some snacks. I have a huge diaper bag for when I need to bring the full complement of food and toys along, but for a quick walk or grocery run where I only need the emergency essentials, this would probably okay.
The NIID marketing materials only include shots of men, so I thought I would include a shot of it on a lady. Here’s how it looks on a 5’2″ woman’s build. Please excuse the rumpled linen pants!
The most direct competitors to this sling bag that I can think of include the Caraa Sling Bag, the Peak Design Everyday Sling, Defy Bags Insidious Sling, Moment Rugged Camera Sling, and the Timbuk2 Vapor Sling.
Two of these (Peak Design and Moment) were designed specifically to hold camera gear, while the others are more everyday. I don’t own any of these bags and don’t expect to in the future, so I can’t comment from personal experience. However, I would expect that the camera slings are likely to be more structured and thus not collapsible/compactible like the NIID when empty or not holding a camera. Defy bags I know from owning the Verbockel are likely to be very rugged with heavy hardware. They are a bit of a different design aesthetic. The Caraa is likely to be super light as air, but doesn’t look quite as packed with pockets and features. I do own the related Timbuk2 Vapor convertible tote/backpack, and can confirm that it is very light and well-organized as well. However, I don’t think the build quality is quite as a nice as the Radiant sling.
Overall, I think the design of the Radiant sling has a very good unisex design, and it’s something I’m sure I could hand to my husband without any embarrassment. It’s also fairly sleek – not too “rugged” or “adventure” looking. The build quality seems great, and the organizational features are top notch. While the NIID customer service seems rather overwhelmed, I have every confidence in the product.