The Ultimate Guide to Tote Bags for Men and Women

Tote bags are arguably one of the mostly commonly utilized bags across the world. This is largely because these bags have a number of uses, making them a good fit for many different environments and situations. Of course, this does depend on the type, size, design, and material of the tote that you get. Since it is difficult to find a bag that fits everyone, you will need to figure out which one is best for you.

Since there are a number of factors that come into play when making this decision, we have taken all of the hard work out of the process. All you need to do is refer the guide that we have put together and that contains all of the information that you should know about totes.

A Definitive Guide to Selecting a Tote Bag

When it comes to casual bags that are carried by hand, a certain amount of confusion ensues. This is often because many terms are used interchangeably or there isn’t a clear definition of one type of bag. As you can imagine, this can make your task of finding a good tote bag even more difficult.

Well, we are here to put an end to the misunderstanding. This article clearly outlines what a tote bag is as well as the things that you should look out for when purchasing one. In short, it contains everything that you need to know on this subject:

The Difference between a Tote Bag and a Handbag

The two types of bags that are most commonly mistaken for one another are tote bags and handbags. This is because they look quite similar and in many places, the names are used rather fluidly. Despite this, there are actually a few differences between to the two. To start with, tote bags tend to be a bit more unstructured than handbags. This means that the bags often can’t stand upright when empty.

Also, while this isn’t a hard and fast rule, tote bags are typically a great deal larger than most handbags. This is because one of the main functions of a tote bag is to allow you to carry a large number of items. Not to mention, tote bags tend to lack compartments. Instead, there is just one large space where you can arrange your items. Handbags, however, have segmented sections, compartments, and pockets.

Since tote bags have evolved quite a bit, not all of the bags necessarily lack proper closing mechanisms. Nonetheless, many of these bags do. Handbags, though, always have features that allow you to close the bag up tight.

Types of Tote Bags

There are actually several different types of tote bags available, although they may appear to be similar at a glance. Here are the various designs you can choose from:

Grocery Tote Bag

This is perhaps one of the more recognizable types of tote bags. In fact, these increasing in popularity as people are gaining interest in reusable, eco-friendly bags. Grocery tote bags prevent the use of disposable plastic bags when you go home with your groceries.

Laptop Tote Bag

A laptop tote bag is a bag that contains a specialized compartment for most electronic devices including laptops and tablets. These compartments are often padded to protect the devices from shocks and bumps. If you are choosing this type of bag, you will need to check that the compartment is large enough to hold your laptop or tablet.

Beach Tote Bag

Another place that you are likely to see tote bags are at the beach. The main draw of these bags is that they are quite durable and can withstand being exposed to the elements for long periods of time. In most cases, they also tend to be water resistant.

Travel Tote Bag

Although this type of tote bag isn’t as common, they do work quite well, particularly for airlines. Of course, these bags do have a bit more security features than most others. They also tend to have a few compartments and pockets as well.

What are Tote Bags Made Of?

Tote bags are actually made from a wide variety of materials. Since they have so many uses, you will need to find one that is made from fabric that is relevant to your requirements.

You will probably not be too surprised to find that canvas tote bags are one of the most popular kinds of bags around. One of the standout features of canvas is that it is quite strong and durable. Therefore, it is capable of easily carrying a heavy load without tearing. These bags are also easily painted or printed on which is why you will typically find such brightly colored and patterned styles. Due to its strength, this material can be a bit heavy. So, canvas tote bags may have some weight to them, even when empty.

Cotton tote bags are also common enough. While they don’t boast the same strength as their canvas counterparts, they do have the benefit of being quite light. This makes them ideal for small shopping trips or for lightweight items. Of course, this means that cotton tote bags aren’t necessarily the strongest option around.

Then, there are jute bags which are now in big demand. Jute is a thread that is made from vegetable fibers and is, therefore, quite environmentally friendly. These can be used as chic tote bags although they are more typically found as grocery bags as an alternative to plastic disposable bags.

You will also be able to find a leather tote bag or two if you look hard enough. The main purpose of these bags is fashion. They look quite trendy and luxurious although they can be a bit difficult to maintain. These bags customarily can’t hold as much as some of the other tote bags.

For everyday use, you will come across tote bags that are made from nylon. This material is strong, relatively lightweight, and can even be water resistant if it has been coated with polyurethane layer. If you need a stronger bag, there are some available in ripstop fabric which prevents the bag from wearing down.

Fastener Features

The most basic tote bags don’t actually have any fasteners at all. This means that the bag is left open. The advantage of this is that you are able to pile in a greater number of items into the bag. Now, this works well for groceries and if you are traveling in your own vehicle. However, if you will be going about in public or want to ensure that your belongings are kept safe, then you are going to need a tote bag with a fastener.

This, of course, leads us to the type of closures that you can expect. One of the most common (and sturdiest) options are zippered tote bags. While these prevent you from packing too much into your bag, they are also useful for making sure that everything stays in. It is best to look for a zipper that goes all the way across, from one end of the bag to another.

Some of the tote bags have magnetic tabs on either side of the opening of the bag. They are typically placed in the middle so that they tabs can effectively hold the bag closed. The benefit of this type of fastener is that it is easy to open and close when you need to take something out or place something inside the bag. However, this may not be the most secure option as there is a chance that items may fall out.

Capacity and Size

Tote bags are available in a variety of capacities and sizes. There are even micro options that can hold around 5 liters or less. These, however, don’t serve all that much purpose. You will find that most tote bags are of medium sized. This means that they can carry between 10 and 25 liters worth of items inside. The larger bags can accommodate up to 40 liters at a time.

With tote bags, you have to keep in mind the balance between capacity and how much weight that each bag can carry. Considering the construction of the tote bag, there is a limit to the load that these type of bags can carry. Not to mention, because of the carrying system, it can be difficult for you to carry around a greater weight as well. So, just because you opt for a large tote bag doesn’t mean that it can contain a considerable weight.

Now, as mentioned, some tote bags can be used for travel purposes. This means that you can take it on the flight with you. Of course, this is provided that the bag adheres to the rules set down by the airlines. In most instances, your tote bag can’t be longer than 22 inches, wider than 14 inches, and have a depth that is greater than 9 inches. To be completely sure that your tote bag is right for travel, though, you will need to check with your specific airline ahead of time.

Additional Features

Here are some of the other details to keep in mind:

Aesthetic Appeal

The fun thing about tote bags is that now, they come in a variety of colors and patterns. It is quite easy to make a fashion statement which means that you don’t need to settle for a boring style, even if it is to be used as a grocery bag. You can instead go with something bright and bold or muted and classic.

Expandable

If you are all about packing as much as possible into your tote bag, then you should be looking for one with an expandable option. This way, you will be able to get additional capacity out of your bag, depending on the occasion.

Insulated

If you want to carry groceries or snacks for a picnic in your bag, you may want to consider one with insulation properties. This will ensure that your hot and cold items will remain this way until they are taken out of the bag.

So now you know everything that you should about tote bags and the factors to consider when choosing one.

Top 10 Best Tote Bags


1 – Calvin Klein Monogram


Calvin Klein Monogram Tote Bag
  • Calvin klein monogram tote

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Calvin Klein Monogram:

Reviewers like these things about the Calvin Klein Monogram

  • Users have noted that the Calvin Klein Monogram bag is sturdy and big enough to let them store their everyday essentials, including makeup and gadgets.
  • Many of the reviewers indicated that the bag has a wide center that allows to take out anything or put it back inside the bag without any hassles.
  • Several users felt that it is adaptable for women of virtually all heights.
  • Reviewers thought that it is practical, spacious and stylish, all at the same time.
  • Other reviewers said that the bag comes with a flap closure, ensuring that things are kept inside safely.
  • Users noted that it.
  • Other users praised its synthetic lining which makes it more durable than its counterparts are.
  • Users said that it fits the modern woman of substance and style.
  • They also said that the pack is easy to clean.
  • Testers also noted that it has a durable construction.
  • Users recommend the backpack for everyday office or school.
  • Other users pointed out that it stands up on its own without falling over.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A reviewer thought that the bag is really expensive.

2 – Patagonia Lightweight 22L


Sale
Patagonia 2018 Canvas Beach Bag, 25 cm, Big Sur Blue (Blue) - 48808
  • Patagonia rucksacks.
  • Handbag free time and sportwear Unisex Adult
  • LW Travel Tote Pack (48808)

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Patagonia Lightweight 22L:

Reviewers like these things about the Patagonia Lightweight 22L

  • Reviewers agree that the Patagonia Lightweight pack keeps the hands free and moves with the body.
  • Other reviewers praised its bright, stylish color.
  • Reviewers found that the bag is sturdy and well-built.
  • Users pointed out that it is packable and lightweight.
  • Other reviews thought that its size is just perfect.
  • Testers indicated that it stood up well in the washing machine for cleaning.
  • Other reviewers said that it has tote bag handles as well as backpack handles and places for water bottles.
  • They also mentioned that it has a space to hide away the straps.
  • Users thought that it could hold a ton.
  • Laptop users praised its buckle that can be clipped off and on quickly without unthreading the straps.
  • They have also mentioned that it is made from supple, featherweight fabric that stuffs away into its own pocket for easy storage.
  • According to those who have used the bag, it carries whatever the day requires.
  • They also said that it features a large zippered main compartment for easy access.
  • Testers also noted the presence of an external zippered organizer that swallows the entire bag when it’s not in use.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A user thought that the pack is too pricey.
  • Another user had an issue with the lack of a key clip.

3 – Sherpani Sloan


Sherpani Sloan Ash Laptop Tote, Ash
  • Sleek. Modern. Cool. The Sloan summed up into three words.
  • This throw all tote is the perfect companion for any woman on the go.
  • The exterior features dual zippered security pocket for quick access to personal essentials.
  • The interior has a key FOB and features a 17" padded laptop sleeve.
  • When carrying the Sloan you don't just look good you also feel good. All bags in Sherpanis' Essentials collection are made from 100% recycled material.

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Sherpani Sloan:

Reviewers like these things about the Sherpani Sloan

  • Most of the buyers considered this as a sleek and stylish tote bag.
  • Other buyers said that the bag is quite large but its nice design makes it easier to find items.
  • Reviewers said that the bag has roomy middle pocket to hold bigger items.
  • Other reviewers said that the inside pockets keep the laptop secured.
  • Most of the buyers said that the bag is ideal for both travel and professional uses.
  • Few reviewers mentioned that the thick strap of the bag makes it comfortable to carry on shoulders.
  • All the colors of the bag area appealing in looks as confirmed by the users.
  • Most reviewers said that the bag is made up of recycled materials.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Some users said that the bag should have had squared bottom.
  • A user said that the bag comes in only one size.

4 – OGIO Hamptons


OGIO Hamptons Women's Tote
  • Shoulder strap length: 24"
  • Includes interior back wall zipper pocket and one exterior zipper pocket, Fully padded fleece lined laptop compartment with elastic closure fits most 15" laptops

Here’s what the reviewers think about the OGIO Hamptons:

Reviewers like these things about the OGIO Hamptons

  • A large number of buyers found the bag very stylish.
  • Reviewers also appreciated the compartments of the bag and found them roomier.
  • Some users said that the bag is lightweight and comfortable to carry on shoulders.
  • Other reviewers mentioned that the strap and body of the bag is well padded.
  • As per most of the buyers the compartments of the bag are logically and practically designed.
  • Many users said that inside lining of the bag helps in finding the items in the bag easily.
  • Most of the buyers claimed that the inside sections of the bag are well secured.
  • A user mentioned this bag is more “on-the-go” rather than being professional type.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Reviewers informed that the handle of the bag is too short.
  • Some reviewers mentioned that it is difficult to fit bigger sized laptops nicely in the bag.
  • A few buyers mentioned that he side pockets of the bag aren’t too deep and not quite useful.

5 – Adidas Squad III


Sale
adidas Squad III Tote Bag
  • Lifetime Warranty - built to last
  • Large main compartment and two zippered endcap pockets for easy separation
  • Durable 750D body fabric
  • Adjustable shoulder strap for comfort

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Adidas Squad III:

Reviewers like these things about the Adidas Squad III

  • Most of the reviewers said that the color of the bags looks nice.
  • Many reviewers said that the extendable area of the main compartment can store extra items.
  • Reviewers mentioned that the zippered compartment has soft interiors and buyers can place delicate items like jewelry and phones etc.
  • Users said that the straps of the bag are thick and highly durable.
  • The water bottle containment of the bag is big enough to hold a big water bottle as confirmed by the users.
  • Most of the buyers said the size of the bag is apt for gym or short travel.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Users said that the bag does not have padding on the shoulders.
  • Some users mentioned that the shoe compartment of the bag is too tight to fit bigger shoes.
  • A user mentioned that the inner lining at places is too thin.

6 – Amy Butler Harper


Sale
Amy Butler for Kalencom Harper Tote
  • Upscaled botanical prints & modern styling give the Harper Tote it's signature elegance and urban cool.
  • Beautiful & adjustable leather strap handles with antiqued aged buckle hardware hold the natural linen exterior adorned with fresh patterning.
  • The gorgeous pocketed interior is lined with cotton prints from the Breeze collection.
  • Fabric Handbags
  • Handbags

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Amy Butler Harper:

Reviewers like these things about the Amy Butler Harper

  • Several users noted that the Amy Butler Harper bag’s upscaled botanical prints & modern styling give its signature elegance and urban cool.
  • Reviewers thought that the bag is a good quality with a nice design.
  • According to those who have tried the bag, its leather handles add a stylish touch to this allover printed tote bag.
  • Reviewers thought that it offers plenty of storage for all of the days to day essentials.
  • Users found that the bag is beautifully constructed from textured linen fabric.
  • They also mentioned that it is perfect for laid-back days and casual excursions.
  • Users also praised its unique two-tone design with a chic allover print and contrasted adjustable leather handles that make it comfortable to carry.
  • Several reviewers have pointed out that the bag interior is detailed with a pocket to hold your keys, cellphones, or other small accessories.
  • They also mentioned that its bottom is same linen material as the sides.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A reviewer thought that the bag needs an additional pocket on the inside.
  • Another reviewer said that the bag is a canvas like material.

7 – Under Armour On the Run


Sale
Under Armour Women's On The Run Tote
  • UA Storm technology repels water to protect your gear from the elements
  • Main compartment zips shut on top with reflective pulls
  • Side stash pocket lined with soft Velboa to protect valuables
  • Large interior media pocket
  • Removable shoulder strap & comfortable handles provide multiple carrying options

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Under Armour On the Run:

Reviewers like these things about the Under Armour On the Run

  • Many users love how the removable shoulder strap & comfortable handles provide multiple carrying options.
  • Some users said it has a lot of room for all their gym clothes, shoes, and other stuff.
  • Some users love that it’s so lightweight that it’s so easy to carry.
  • Many reviewers love how it can fit a ton of stuff without feeling too weighed down like a sack.
  • Others thought the shoulder straps are the perfect length.
  • Some reviewers find it the perfect workout or overnight bag.
  • Many users love how they can carry it as a satchel or carry it by the top handles.
  • Others find it as their go to bag for weekends.
  • Many reviewers find it seriously spacious and cute to carry around.
  • Others find the colors elegant.
  • Some reviewers find it very convenient and nice looking.
  • Others love how the mesh exterior gives this tote a sophisticated look.
  • Some reviewers find it perfect for gym clothes and workout tools.
  • Some users love the presence of a shoe compartment.
  • Many reviewers thought it maintains a professional and cute look for work.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Some users find the mesh thin and flimsy.
  • Others find it too big.

8 – Vera Bradley Preppy Poly


Sale

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Vera Bradley Preppy Poly:

Reviewers like these things about the Vera Bradley Preppy Poly

  • A lot of users find the material very easy to wipe clean.
  • Some reviewers thought the straps are a good length and the colors very true to the picture.
  • Others are glad with how it easily fits laptop or notebooks to use for work or school.
  • Some love its durable fabric that’s also water resistant.
  • Others like how the exterior side pockets comfortably hold 16oz water bottle.
  • Many users find the bag very practical yet cute.
  • Some reviewers find the straps heavy duty and can stand larger, heavier items.
  • Many owners thought it’s very well made with sturdy trim.
  • Functional pockets, bright colors, easy-wipe fabric, holds a ton and perfect size are cited as the main reasons for choosing this bag.
  • Some users find the pockets in perfect spots.
  • Others thought it’s gorgeous and spacious, deep enough to store a laptop.
  • Many users love its lightweight material.
  • Some reviewers like how it doubles as a great overnight bag since it has so much room and pockets.
  • Many reviewers find the pattern lovely and stylish.
  • A lot of owners love that it comes with a lot of well-placed pockets to accommodate lots of items.
  • Other users find the stitching very solid.
  • One user said it’s perfect for a mom with kids on the go.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Some users said the handles are slippery and slide off the shoulder easily.
  • One reviewer said it’s not very structured so it flops over if not very full.

9 – Vera Bradley Iconic


Sale
Vera Bradley Iconic Vera Tote, Signature Cotton
  • PERFECTLY SIZED: Our machine washable Iconic Vera Tote measures 15 x 14.5 x 6 inches with 11 inch strap drop and featuring 1 zippered exterior pocket, 2 exterior slip pockets, and 6 interior pockets along main interior compartment
  • CHARGE UP: Our charging station works on all phones and is conveniently accessible while charging via the charging port from the main compartment to front zip pocket
  • CARRY-ON COMPLIANT: We made the perfect air travel carry-on bag with the Vera Tote, designed for both functionality and fashion as you head toward the runway
  • READY FOR ADVENTURE: Whether you are excited about a trip abroad, an outing to the beach, or just looking for a way to pack up everything you need on the daily the Vera Tote is your adventure companion
  • HERE AT VERA BRADLEY: We believe that beauty is to be celebrated in all we do with our innovative brand and enduring products - from rich and refined to spacious, stylish, and road trip ready

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Vera Bradley Iconic:

Reviewers like these things about the Vera Bradley Iconic

  • Users said that the bag has lots of room with plenty of pockets to store things in.
  • Reviewers have mentioned that it has a zippered pocket in front to keep cell phones.
  • Most reviewers said that it has a zipper closure on top.
  • Many users praised the fact that the inside material is wipeable.
  • Most users said that it is very comfortable on the shoulder.
  • Several users said that the bag is made of high-quality material.
  • Most reviewers agreed that the backpack is well worth the money.
  • Users also said that they liked its construction and the fabric.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • One user complained that one of the pockets inside ripped.
  • Another user said that it costs more compared to others.

10 – Michael Kors Jet Set Travel


Sale
Michael Kors Jet Set Travel Large Tote (Ultra Pink)
  • 100% Saffiano Leather
  • Measures 15-3/4"W x 11"H x 6"D; 9-1/4"L double handles
  • 1 interior padded pocket, 1 zip pocket, 2 slip pockets & center zip compartment
  • Laptop compatible (std. size 13"-15")
  • Lining: 100% Polyester

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Michael Kors Jet Set Travel:

Reviewers like these things about the Michael Kors Jet Set Travel

  • Some users find the lining perfectly stitched.
  • A lot of users love the inside and outside pockets for convenience.
  • Other users liked the feet on the bottom keeps the bag in place without toppling over.
  • Many users thought the leather is durable and wipes down nicely with just a damp cloth.
  • Some users liked how it comes 4 pockets to keep things organized inside and it zips shut.
  • A lot of users thought the purse is a perfect size.
  • it’s not too big and not too boxy.
  • One user said it’s one of those bags that can go from casual to business attire, to cocktail.
  • Parents who bought the bag for their daughters thought it’s a very stylish and well-made bag, able to fit all her essentials.
  • A number of reviewers particularly liked how the inside pockets allow them to have a vast number of organized areas that they can also see into easily.
  • Some reviewers thought the feet are tall enough to actually keep the purse bottom off the ground.
  • Other users find the hardware beautiful and the zippers strong.
  • Manu users liked how it fits everything they need without being bulky.
  • One user commented that this purse is not only beautiful, but thoughtfully put together for optimal organization.
  • Some reviewers noted the one side with two pockets that are cell-phone sized and can easily accommodate any device.
  • Beautiful, sturdy, practical, durable, perfect size, storage capacity are some of the reasons for choosing this bag.
  • One user who’ve used the bag for months said it is still holding strong, strap is still firm and secure, no signs of wearing down or cracking and offers just enough storage space.
  • Some users thought it looks classy, not so heavy and comes with many compartments.
  • Others find the zippered top helpful in keeping the contents hidden and secure.
  • A lot of reviewers thought the bag is gorgeous and practical, with many sections inside to organize and be able to locate your things easily.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • One user said it’s a beautiful purse but finds the zipper very difficult to open and close.
  • Some reviewers about how the straps fell apart easily.

About MightyGoods

Here at our site MightyGoods, we have checked thousands of reviews in order to build the biggest directory of backpacks, luggage, handbags and lots of other bags.

So far we have checked more than 2,1 million reviews!

Using our bag review summaries, we aim to help you find the perfect bag without having to spend a lot of time reading an endless list of reviews.


Last update on 2018-12-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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