The Best Totes to Haul Your Gear, Groceries and More
As we retire plastics and paper, these do-it-all haulers have emerged as capable alternatives
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Over the years, I’ve amassed a collection of reusable totes that currently stands at 12. That’s 12 carryall bags from grocery stores, department chains, farmer’s markets and one from the New Yorker, each of which serves as an everyday hauler, schlepping my essentials from one place to the next. If you’re like me, there’s a good chance you too own a staggering number of tote bags, many of which you’ll never use but can’t seem to eliminate from your life. Enter: this comprehensive list of the only tote bags you’ll ever need.
Tired of opening my closet to an avalanche of bags, I’ve donated most of these reusable totes to make room for a select few that I now use almost every day. There’s one for the beach, one for groceries, another for gear and a few more that serve a purpose now and then. Considering the fact that cotton tote bags are actually harmful to the environment (you’ll need to use one 20,000 times to offset its impact of production), I’ve made a conscious decision to buy these ones and leave the rest behind.
Below, a roundup of the best tote bags that are spacious, easy to carry, durable, and one that just looks good.
The Best Tote Bags
Best Overall Tote: Yeti Camino 35 Carryall
It comes as no surprise that Yeti tops our list of the best totes. Spacious, rugged and heavily influenced by the outdoors, the latest Camino 35 receives a couple of updates over the previous model, including deployable dividers and zippered interior pockets, both of which organize essentials. Beyond these additions, reliable waterproofing keeps your wet clothes contained, or protects dry gear from dirt and mud, while a molded base helps it stand upright when it isn’t fully loaded. Although serious contenders attempted to dethrone this carryall, only Yeti delivers a sensible balance of space, durability and supportive features.
Best Grocery Tote: CapaBunga Market Tote
While it isn’t as roomy as some of its competitors, I love the CapaBunga Farmer’s Market Tote for its heavy-duty cotton canvas and perimeter of deep pockets. Bulky items fit in the center compartment while the longer side pockets store bottles, baguettes or veggies. There’s also an adjustable strap on the side of the bag to secure flowers, but I’ve been using it to fasten my carabiner of keys. I wouldn’t recommend this tote if you’re grocery shopping for the whole family, but it’s well-suited for post-work bodega runs or, as its name implies, the local farmer’s market.
Best Beach Tote: L.L. Bean Boat and Tote
You could make the argument that L.L. Bean’s Boat and Tote is a carryall suitable for every occasion, but this one stands out in my mind because it’s the same bag my mom packs before heading to the beach, and it’s still in operation after decades of use. Available in four sizes and seven colors, its cotton canvas is double-layered about the base to improve durability and the handle is rated to hold up to 500 pounds. Though I prefer stuffing it to the brim with towels and snacks, there’s also a zippered version for those seeking a little more security.
Best Gear Tote: Patagonia Black Hole Gear Tote
Fit (almost) everything you own in Patagonia’s Black Hole Gear Tote. Toss in layers, shoes, jackets, tools and whatever’s left in your gear closet just because you can. With 61 liters of space, you’ll find more than enough room in this weather-resistant bag for just about anything you can think of. The wide-mouth opening makes it easy to dig around for what you need, and reinforced stitching gives you an excuse to treat the bag with a total lack of respect. Use it, abuse it and don’t worry about anything else.
Best Work Tote: Peak Design Everyday Totepack
It doesn’t take much to design a reliable tote (all you really need is a bag) but that fact didn’t stop Peak Design from creating a carryall with plenty of features. While it functions as a standard bag with 20 liters of space, this tote also features a set of padded straps that transform it into a backpack. Beyond the extra-wide top that’s secured via a magnetic clasp, you’ll find designated storage pockets for a laptop, tablet, camera, pens and other tech accessories. And it even comes with flexible dividers that orient in different positions to help you customize the layout within the bag, making it perfectly suited for your professional needs.
Best-Looking Tote: Parks Project Upcycled Puffy Tote
Think of your tote as more than just a tote. It’s a blank canvas, a vacant billboard, an empty sheet of paper that acts as an extension of you. With such symbolism in mind, consider the Parks Project Upcycled Puffy Tote that blends recycled materials and style to showcase what you stand for. Simple at its core, the primary fabric is composed of recycled puffy jackets to reduce unwanted waste and the bag features a small interior pocket to organize essentials. You’ll also find a Parks Project logo stitched in just the right place to convey your love for all things outdoors.
Best Budget Tote: ChicoBag Compact Tote
If designs, labels and features mean nothing to you, keep it simple and invest in the ChicoBag. Ordinary in every single way, the collapsible tote holds up to 25 pounds and comes in a set of four, so you’ll always have one on hand. After heavy use, throw it in the washing machine to bring it back to life for whatever needs hauling next.
Best Bike Tote: Chrome BLCKCHRM 22X Civvy Tote
Oregon-based Chrome Industries knows a thing or two about bike gear. For starters, the brand is headquartered in Portland, one of the country’s premier biking destinations, but it also got its start nearly 30 years ago and remains a favorite among cyclists. The limited-edition Civvy Tote, though predictable upon first glance, employs rugged carry handles, a weatherproof liner, wet/dry compartments and lots of pockets for storage. Chrome even added a deployable cross-body strap that transforms the tote into a commuter-friendly messenger bag.
Best Insulated Tote: Hydro Flask Insulated Tote
Ideal for hauling food and drink, the aptly named “Insulated Tote” keeps contents hot or cold with the power of Hydro Flask insulation. Consider this for beach snacks, grocery runs or park picnics when food needs to stay hot or beers cold. The exterior fabric is coated with a waterproof treatment and the zippers are water-resistant to protect your precious contents, but you can also use it to carry regular gear as well; the lined interior wipes down for easy cleanup at the end of the day.
Best Lightweight Tote: Hyperlite G.O.A.T. Tote
Hyperlite Mountain Gear is better known for its line of ultralight backpacking gear, but the G.O.A.T. Tote embodies the same principles that put Hyperlite on the map. Made from durable Dyneema materials, both the regular and large sizes weigh under 10 ounces and pack flat, so you might as well keep one handy at all times.
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