Home > Travel

The Best Tote Bags of 2024

Whether running errands, commuting, or jet-setting across the globe, the ideal tote is not just an accessory; it's a necessity. After months of testing, we narrowed the field to bring you the best tote bags for 2024.

best tote bags(photo/Ryan Kempfer; Elk Raven Photography)
Support us! GearJunkie may earn a small commission from affiliate links in this article. Learn More

Ah, the tote bag — the multitasker that can do it all. Finding the best tote bag to transport books and laptops one day and schlep groceries and climbing gear the next can be arduous. To help you sort through the proverbial tote haystack, we tested some of the top tote bags of 2024. 

Before selecting a tote, you should consider several factors, such as size, composition, durability, and adjustability, to name a few. Think about how you plan to use the tote. Do you plan to use it for your carry-on when traveling? Or for picking up a few items from the farmers market? Maybe you need a tote to transition from the office commute to the beach or a major league game.

The versatility of any tote goes up a notch, especially when you don’t have to worry about the weather. Will your tote hold up to stains and downpours? 

Through her time in the field using these tote bags, our lead tester, Taneika Duhaney, answers these questions and more. As a mother to human and dog children, she’s no stranger to adventures that require a lot of stuff. And she’s very familiar with the search for the perfect bag to carry it all. Taneika took these tote bags to Europe, Africa, and several states along the eastern seaboard for business, outdoor recreation, and sporting events. 

We tested everything from accessibility, organization, durability, and usability. Scroll through our list to find the perfect tote bag to protect your belongings while looking good, whether on your way to the office, a weekend getaway, or a picnic. 

To learn more about each tote’s unique features, check out our buyer’s guide, comparison chart, and FAQ.

The Best Tote Bags of 2024


Best Overall Tote Bag

North Face Base Camp Voyager Tote

Specs

  • Weight 1 lb., 1.6 oz.
  • Volume 27 L
  • Outside dimensions 15″ x 14.3″ x 5.9″
  • Materials Recycled polyester, recycled ballistic nylon
Product Badge The Best Tote Bags of 2024

Pros

  • Padded interior laptop compartment with Velcro strap ensures security
  • Easy access zippered exterior pockets with internal padding to protect valuables
  • Large mesh interior pocket to hold smaller items while still being visible
  • Exterior fabric and zippers are durable and water-resistant
  • Two exterior bottle holders with elasticized borders to secure contents

Cons

  • Zippers not water-resistant
  • Limited color scape
Best Budget Tote Bag

REI Co-op Pack-Away 45 Tote

Specs

  • Weight 1 lb., 12.8 oz.
  • Volume 43.2 L
  • Outside dimensions 15.75" x 12" x 7.5"
  • Materials 300-denier recycled polyester, 1,680-denier recycled nylon
The Best Tote Bags of 2024

Pros

  • Budget-friendly
  • Large main compartment makes it easy to load
  • Hand, over-the-shoulder, and end grab loops make it easy to carry
  • Top compression strap secures bulky or heavy items
  • Two side pockets fit a standard water bottle
  • Moisture and stain-repellent exterior

Cons

  • Lacks interior pockets for organization
  • Thin, sparsely padded bottom
Best Tote Bag for Commuting

Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole Tote Pack

Specs

  • Weight 13 oz.
  • Volume 27 L
  • Outside dimensions 15.5″ x 10.25″ x 8″
  • Materials 70-denier recycled ripstop nylon
The Best Tote Bags of 2024

Pros

  • Packs into its own pocket
  • Padded backpack straps
  • Double stretch-mesh water-bottle
  • Internal zip pocket with a key lanyard
  • Zipper and cinch main compartment closure
  • Roomy main compartment

Cons

  • Unpadded hand straps
  • Water bottle holder lacks a securing mechanism
  • No structure
Best Outdoor Tote Bag

YETI Camino Carryall 35 Tote

Specs

  • Weight 3 lbs., 8 oz.
  • Volume 35 L
  • Outside dimensions 18.1″ x 14.9″ x 9.9″
  • Materials Nylon
The Best Tote Bags of 2024

Pros

  • Watertight
  • Rigid sides keep it upright
  • Thick, molded bottom stands up to abrasion
  • Extra durable handles, can hold up to 50 lbs.
  • Secret rambler sleeves house half-gallon jug

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Pricey
  • No zipper or magnet closure
Best of the Rest

Cotopaxi Viaje 35L Weekender Tote Bag

Specs

  • Weight 1 lb., 12.8 oz.
  • Volume 35 L
  • Outside dimensions 21″ x 15″ x 12″
  • Materials Recycled polyester
The Best Tote Bags of 2024

Pros

  • Separate laundry compartment on the bottom
  • Exterior straps for a yoga mat or longboard
  • Zippered exterior accessory pockets
  • Long and short carrying handles
  • Luggage sleeve
  • Spacious main compartment

Cons

  • Formless
  • No padding

Bagail Clear Bags Tote

Specs

  • Weight 8 oz.
  • Volume 13.5 L
  • Outside dimensions 12″ x 12″ x 6″
  • Materials Vinyl, nylon
The Best Tote Bags of 2024

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Double zippered
  • Adjustable shoulder strap
  • Stadium-friendly

Cons

  • Zipper is not water-resistant
  • Strap is bare-bones without padding

Tote Bag Comparison Chart

Tote BagPriceVolumeDimensionsWeightMaterials
North Face Base Camp Voyager Tote$8927 L15″ x 14.3″ x 5.9″1 lb., 1.6 oz.Recycled polyester, recycled ballistic nylon
REI Co-op Pack-Away 45 Tote
$8043.2 L15.75″ x 12″ x 7.5″
1 lb., 12.8 oz.300-denier recycled polyester, 1,680-denier recycled nylon
Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole Tote Pack
$9927 L15.5″ x 10.25″ x 8″13 oz.0-denier recycled ripstop nylon
YETI Camino Carryall 35 Tote
$15035 L18.1″ x 14.9″ x 9.9″3 lbs., 8 oz.Nylon
Cotopaxi Viaje 35L Weekender Tote Bag
$13035 L21″ x 15″ x 12″1 lb., 12.8 oz.Recycled polyester
Bagail Clear Bags Tote$913.5 L12″ x 12″ x 6″8 oz.Vinyl, nylon
We put in the testing time so you don’t have to; (photo/Ryan Kempfer, Elk Raven Photography)

How We Tested Tote Bags

Are you tired of purchasing tote bags that don’t stand up to daily wear and tear? Look no further! We tested six different totes as carry-on and checked luggage while traveling cross-country and internationally. We also used them for grocery hauls, commuting, and outdoor adventures.

Our rigorous testing focused on the durability and precision of the stitching and seams, the functionality of closures, comfort and adjustability of handles, and suitability for different occasions and purposes. We stretched every pocket, zipped every zipper, packed every compartment, pulled every cord, and snapped every closure. We scuffed the fabrics, stained the handles, and knotted the drawstrings. In short, we put these totes through the wringer.

Over several months, we carefully recorded our observations and the strengths and weaknesses of each tote. We tested in various weather conditions, including rainy weather, cold bike trips, and dry and hot desert excursions. We took extensive notes of our observations, graphed performance, and compared results in every instance.

Our lead tester, Taneika Duhaney, has over 12 years of experience as a bike commuter, traveler, and gear reviewer. Her expertise will help you make the most informed decision before purchasing your next tote bag. Don’t waste any more time and money on inferior totes. Check out our comprehensive review and invest wisely in a tote bag that will endure all of life’s adventures.

The North Face Base Camp Voyager stood out as the best overall tote bag; (photo/Ryan Kempfer, Elk Raven Photography)

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Tote Bags

A tote bag isn’t just a bag. Like your favorite shoe or sweater, the perfect tote can make almost anything right. Sounds far-fetched? Well, not really. Think of the last time you rummaged through your bag, searching for your phone, keys, or wallet. At that very moment, you knew you needed a new bag.

Fear not; this guide can help you narrow down your choices so you can find the tote that keeps everything exactly where you need it, stays out of the way when you don’t, and reflects your current style.

Figuring out which kind of tote is perfect for you can be challenging because we do so many things and need our staple items to keep up. An excellent place to start is by asking yourself how you’ll use the tote. Do you need the tote to carry your laptop to the office one day and then pack gear to build sand castles at the beach the next?

Next, consider how it could enhance your daily routine. Do you need a spacious tote that can double as storage? Or, would you prefer a more organized approach with a laptop sleeve, key lanyard, and multiple pockets for your wallet, glasses, and phone? The choice is yours, and with the right tote, you can be confident in its practicality and style.

Now, it’s time to pick a size. Do you need a large bag to haul groceries, a medium tote for a few essentials, or something smaller that may be a single-purpose tote?

Then, it’s time to consider style. Are you drawn to the sleek structure of a tote, or does the freedom of an unstructured bag, better suit your style? What about color? Remember, the right tote is not just a bag but an extension of your style. If you’re looking for something bigger, to get you through longer adventures, check out our guide to the Best Duffel Bags.

best tote bags
Totes like the Cotopaxi Viaje 35L Weekender Bag make the perfect travel companion; (photo/Ryan Kempfer, Elk Raven Photography)

How Will You Use It?

Why settle for just any bag when you could have the perfect tote? We understand how frustrating it can be to find the right fit, so we’ve taken the guesswork out of it for you. Our totes are grouped by use, size, and color, so you can easily find the one that best suits your needs. Don’t settle for less than perfect when carrying your belongings — read on to learn more about what to consider when searching for your ideal tote bag.

Travel Tote

A travel tote is the epitome of convenience for your weekend trips. These spacious tote bags accommodate all your essentials for a weekend trip or short getaway. Crafted from high-quality materials like nylon, polyester, or other durable fabrics, they are built to endure travel demands.

Travel totes, such as the Cotopaxi’s Viaje 35L, boast a design that’s as practical as it is efficient. This tote is a perfect travel companion with a large main compartment, multiple pockets for easy organization, and a zippered bottom compartment for storing shoes, dirty laundry, or extra clothes.    

For those who require more space, the Pack-Away 45 from REI Co-op is a perfect choice. Its robust polyester and nylon construction ensures that you can pack the tote to the brim or use packing cubes to organize your gear to your liking, all while being confident in its durability.

When your tote is full, the extended collar, which offers easier access than a zipper, secures your belongings with a drawstring closure and compression strap. Similar to the Cotopaxi Viaje, the REI Pack-Away provides a plethora of carrying options. You can choose between shoulder straps, a crossbody strap, or reinforced handles, allowing you to carry your tote in a way that perfectly suits your style and comfort.

The Viaje is the perfect carry-on. However, the Pack-Away may be too large to fit under the seat. Check with your airline to confirm the approved carry-on size. And, if you need something even more expansive, check out these other options in our Best Carry-on Luggage Guide.

We were able to pack a ton into the REI Pack-Away 45, but it can fit so much that it may not fit under your seat if you’re carrying it on a plane; (photo/Ryan Kempfer, Elk Raven Photography)

Commuter Tote

Commuter tote bags are crafted with the daily grind in mind. They’re often constructed from waterproof or water-resistant materials such as nylon or polyester. This feature ensures that your belongings stay dry and protected, even if you encounter unexpected rain showers during your journey.

One key benefit of commuter tote bags is their practicality. Many of these bags, such as The North Face Base Camp Voyager, are outfitted with specialized compartments and pockets, ensuring your essentials are neatly arranged and easily accessible.

A notable feature is a padded laptop sleeve that secures your laptop or tablet while on the move — a significant advantage for students and professionals. Moreover, multiple pockets and compartments aid in keeping smaller items organized and within easy reach.

In addition to their functionality, commuter tote bags often prioritize comfort and convenience.

Like Patagonia’s Ultralight Black Hole Tote Pack, many commuter totes are designed for comfort and convenience. They feature padded handles, backpack straps, or crossbody straps like the North Face Base Camp Voyager. This allows you to effortlessly carry your belongings, even during long commutes or busy days.

The compact size and streamlined silhouette of most commuter totes make them ideal for navigating crowded buses, trains, or city streets without feeling bulky or cumbersome.

The stylish yet practical Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole Tote Pack; (photo/Ryan Kempfer, Elk Raven Photography)

Beach Tote

Beach tote bags are essential companions for a fun day in the sun. Unlike their everyday counterparts, these bags meet the unique needs of beachgoers. They offer ample space and durable construction to accommodate everything you need for a relaxing day by the water.

Beach totes are typically larger than standard tote bags, providing plenty of room to pack towels, sunscreen, snacks, drinks, reading materials, and other essentials. This spacious design ensures that you can comfortably carry everything you need for a day of leisure without feeling weighed down or cramped for space.

One of the defining characteristics of beach tote bags is their generous size, like YETI’s Camino Carryall. The 35L tote is water-resistant to protect your belongings from moisture and prevent the bag from becoming soggy or waterlogged. The durable nylon construction makes it simple to shake off sand or rinse any spills or stains.

Another hallmark of beach tote bags is vibrant colors and fun patterns. The Camino Carryall is available in Navy, King Crab Orange, Agave Teal, and other fun colors. Whether you prefer bright and cheerful hues or more subdued tones, there’s a beach tote bag to suit every taste and preference.

Many beach tote bags come with practical features that enhance functionality. The Camino Carryall has two internal pockets to store smaller items like sunscreen, sunglasses, keys, or smartphones. Additional pockets like the YETI’s rambler sleeves let you keep your essentials organized while you soak up the sun.

best tote bags
The YETI Camino Carryall 35L is awesome for all outdoor adventures, including trips to the beach, lake, or woods; (photo/Ryan Kempfer, Elk Raven Photography)

Fashion Tote

In the world of tote bags, a fashion tote often deviates from the utilitarian focus of traditional tote bags. They tend to emphasize aesthetics and usually serve as trendy accessories.

One example of a fashion tote bag is the Bagail Clear Bags Tote. Unlike traditional tote bags, which usually feature solid colors and classic designs, the Bagail Tote stands out because of its transparent construction. This allows for a modern, minimalist look that’s both chic and practical.

The Bagail Clear Bags Tote is an ideal accessory for attending sporting events, concerts, or other large-scale gatherings where traditional bags may not be authorized because of security regulations. In these situations, the tote’s transparent design allows for easy inspection of its contents while providing a stylish and functional way to carry essential items.

Closure Configuration

When it comes to tote bags, the variety is as diverse as the mechanisms used to secure their contents. Totes designed for utility and functionality often sport a range of zippers, while more laid-back tote bags might feature a drawstring or buckle closure.

When choosing your perfect tote bag, it’s crucial to consider the level of security your belongings require. While closure mechanisms can be enhanced, it’s important to note that retrofitting a zipper onto an open-top tote might be challenging, if not impossible.

Zipper Closures

Tote bags designed for carrying heavy items or valuable belongings are usually equipped with sturdy, practically indestructible zippers. This ensures that your belongings are always secured, no matter how frequently you use the zipper.

Many of the totes we tested feature zipper closures for added security. For instance, The North Face Base Camp Voyager and Patagonia’s Ultralight Black Hole Tote Pack, both commuter-focused totes, have zippers to secure your work or school essentials.

Similarly, the Cotopaxi Viaje 35L Weekender Bag comes with several zippers designed to keep your belongings secure while traveling. Lastly, the Bagail: Clear Stadium Tote features a single zipper that ensures your essentials are secure, whether in a group of 10 or 10,000.

Drawstring Closure

Many casual tote bags have drawstring closures, which allow users to cinch the opening shut with minimal effort. This closure type complements the bag’s relaxed vibe and provides easy access to belongings without sacrificing style.

Patagonia’s Ultralight Black Hole Tote Pack and REI Co-op’s Pack-Away 45 are tote bags with different drawstring closures.

Let’s discuss their versatility. The Ultralight Black Hole has a main compartment with a zipper and drawstring closure. This allows you to carry items that extend outside the tote’s main compartment, meaning you can pack more without compromising on space.

On the other hand, the REI Pack-Away 45 has an extended collar that has a drawstring closure, which is further secured by a buckle strap. This design ensures your contents stay put, no matter how much you carry.

The REI Co-op Pack-Away 45 has a sweet drawstring closure that helps make this bag feel even bigger than it is and it keeps contents secure; (photo/Ryan Kempfer, Elk Raven Photography)

Hook Closure

Tote bags designed for outdoor use or on-the-go activities often use hook-and-loop closures. These closures provide a combination of style, functionality, and security, allowing for quick and easy access to the contents of the bag. Hook-and-loop closures are highly versatile and can range from simple designs to more intricate hardware, making them an excellent choice for customization based on the bag’s aesthetic.

The YETI Camino Carryall 35L has simple hook-and-loop closures that keep contents secure when carrying smaller loads. On the other hand, the REI Co-op Pack-Away 45 has a hook-and-loop closure with a compression strap that fully extends across the main compartment to secure contents even when fully packed.

Size

Tote bags come in all sizes. The right size tote will depend on where and how you plan to use it.

A large tote with easy access to the main compartment and limited closure may be the perfect option for a beach trip. At the same time, commuters and students may need more prescribed totes that aren’t too large and have organization compartments and options to keep belongings secure.

Tote size may vary depending on how the bag is carried. Bags with crossbody straps allow users to shift the bag from their shoulders, which may minimize the size of the bag. For totes with backpack straps, much of the bag’s size is on your back and out of the way. 

Though the Bagail Clear Bags Tote is the smallest in capacity, it actually fits quite a bit and looks great while doing so; (photo/Ryan Kempfer, Elk Raven Photography)

Durability

A tote should be durable enough to protect your essentials. Nylon, polyester, and coated fabrics usually feel substantial without being weighty. These fabrics are often treated to be waterproof, water-resistant, or stain-resistant, enhancing their durability against the elements.

Some totes feature reinforced handles or stitching, especially at critical junctures, like where the handle meets the main compartment, the bottom of the bag, or along seams. Inner linings and padded areas dial up the protection inside and outside the tote.

Weight

The weight of a tote bag is an essential factor whether you intend to use the bag for commuting, travel, or shopping. The bag’s composition usually influences the weight and can indicate durability — but not always.

Many lighter bags are made of nylon or polyester. Though durable, bags made of heavier materials may hold up longer over time.

The lightest tote in our top picks, the Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole, weighs less than 1 pound. YETI’s Camino Carryall, on the other hand, weighs over 3 pounds.

It’s important to consider a tote’s weight, especially if you plan to carry any load over a considerable distance or for an extended period of time. Additionally, don’t discount a tote simply because of its weight since some of these bags can carry anything from logs to blankets.

For our lightest bag, the Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole packs quite a punch; (photo/Ryan Kempfer, Elk Raven Photography)

Features

Ideally, a tote should have features that enhance its intended use, like commuter totes with laptop sleeves, weekender totes with a dirty laundry compartment, and adventure totes with burly, reinforced handles or large, unobstructed main compartments. The features make a tote bag more functional, practical, and versatile.

Other features to consider include the ease of cleaning and whether a tote is aesthetically appealing -— minimalist, trendy, or classic.

Waterproofness

A waterproof tote can be ideal, especially in wetter conditions, so you don’t run the risk of ruining your essentials while commuting or traveling. Some totes have waterproof interiors and exteriors, and some manufacturers use proprietary waterproofing materials.

Nylon, polyester, and vinyl are often used to make waterproof bags. Even if the fabric is waterproof, water can still enter the bag if the seams are untreated. Carefully inspect seams to get an idea of how waterproof a bag may be.

Some manufacturers provide waterproof ratings for some tote bags. This rating usually ranges from 0 to 10,000 mm or higher. The higher the number, the more waterproof the material is considered to be. A rating of 0 mm means the material is not waterproof, while a rating of 10,000 mm means the material can withstand a 10,000 mm column of water before it begins to leak.

Remember, no tote bag is completely waterproof, but some are more water-resistant than others.

FAQ

What factors should you consider when choosing a tote bag?

A good tote bag is a bag that perfectly suits your needs and wants. Before selecting a tote, you should consider several factors: size, durability, organization, versatility, and comfort.

A tote should be spacious enough to carry whatever you need without being bulky or cumbersome. The size of a tote will determine its usage, versatility, and organization capacity. Larger totes may carry clothes on one day and groceries on the next.

Just because a tote bag is spacious doesn’t mean it’s functional, especially if it lacks organization. Some totes have water bottle holders, inner and outer pockets, and laptop sleeves to protect your essentials.

You should also consider what type of material the tote is made from and whether the construction aligns with your needs. Many popular totes are made from nylon, canvas, or leather. If sustainability is important, consider tote bags made from eco-friendly materials like vegan leather.

Finally, the more comfortable the tote, the more likely you will use it. Consider whether you need padded or reinforced straps to distribute the tote’s weight evenly, especially if you plan to carry it for extended periods.

How do I clean a tote bag?

Every tote will encounter dirt, stains, dust, or smells at some point. Occasional cleaning is required to keep bags looking their best. When it’s time to clean your tote, consider the bag’s material, construction, and features.

Bags constructed from waterproof or water-resistant materials like nylon can be spot-cleaned by hand with water and mild detergent. Sticky or very dirty areas may require lukewarm water, mild detergent, and a soft-bristle toothbrush. If your tote gets stained with grease, many manufacturers recommend using a bit of Dawn dish detergent to lift stains gently.

Care should be exercised when cleaning button panels, straps, and porous materials like leather to prevent discoloration.

Depending on the material, some totes can be washed by hand with cold water and mild detergent. Rub the tote lightly with your hands or a soft brush. Air dry or wipe dry, depending on the material. 

What’s a reasonable price for a tote bag?

How you plan to use a tote bag should be your primary consideration when deciding what you are willing to invest. Since many tote bags pull double duty, you should then consider the bag’s construction and durability of materials and accessories.

Some economical totes range from $20 to $100, while higher-end totes, made of premium materials, can average $150 to $300. Some fashion-forward totes can exceed $500.

A well-priced tote fits your everyday needs at a price point you deem valuable.

Footwear

The Best Hiking Shoes for Women of 2024

We hit the trail and traveled over everything from ice to sand to find the best hiking shoes for women. Whether you’re looking to go on short treks or weekend-long adventures, we’ve got you covered with women’s hiking shoes for every budget.

Subscribe Now

Get adventure news and gear reviews in your inbox!

Join Our GearJunkie Newsletter

Get adventure news and gear reviews in your inbox!