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The best tote bags for carrying your daily essentials in style

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If you want a new tote bag in your wardrobe, check out these top choices for cute tote bags. While some tote bags come with a fancy designer label, others are just as fashionable and functional without one. Totes are a timeless style that you can use at elegant events or just for casual day-to-day use. The best part about these bags is that they are functional, convenient, and ‌look good all year round.

Investing in a smart tote bag will mean you have a practical purse that you can use for years. It’s also versatile, so you can carry it to work, to the grocery store, to the gym and even to a picnic. This helpful guide will help you find the right tote bag for your needs.

Top Picks

Best overall: TopDesign 12-Pack Tote Bag

This pick by TopDesign is great for grocery shopping bag. If you’ve been looking for a tote bag to shop in style, this is one of the best canvas bags you can buy.

It is suitable for casual use and is made from 100% natural cotton that offers durability and comfort. The canvas tote bag also has extra bearing capacity, making it ideal for grocery use.

The plain tote bag, available in a range of solid shades, is multifunctional. Give it a personalized touch by painting and decorating it just the way you like it. If you are just starting your small business, adorn these affordable tote bags with your company logo, then hand them out. You can also DIY creative designs on these totes and gift them to loved ones. This tote’s versatility puts it at the top of our list for tote bags in 2022.

Pros

  • The set of 12 has you covered for different uses

  • Wide straps make it easy to carry

  • Medium-sized bag doesn’t look over the top

  • Perfect size to carry groceries and other heavy items

Cons

  • Doesn’t have a zipper

Best value: Champion Signal Tote Bag

With a sporty-chic vibe, the Champion Signal tote is another excellent choice for casual use.

Whether you need to carry your belongings to the gym or hit the soccer field, this bag can hold all your important items in one place. It also features a zipper closure for added security. The dual-tone design is an elegant choice that adds some fun to your look.

This briefcase-shaped tote bag is an affordable option that guarantees you will serve a cool and fresh look, whether you’re walking into the workplace or a sports field.

Pros

  • Wide shoulder straps make it convenient to carry

  • Polyester adds durability

  • Secure to carry a laptop and other valuables

  • Enough capacity to serve as an athlete’s bag

Cons

  • Doesn’t include compartments

Most stylish: Kate Spade New York Canvas Tote Bag

Hunting for the coolest bag to carry your books to and from the library? Don’t look elsewhere because this designer tote bag is your best bet.

This high-quality canvas bag has a stack of classic books printed on it, making it a cute choice for avid readers.

The canvas tote bag can also be used for other purposes. Carry your essential belongings as you run errands for the day in this cool bag which is sure to be a head turner. It's also an ideal weekender tote, and can also ‌be used to carry groceries or food to a Sunday picnic.

Pros

  • Includes internal pockets to hold small stuff

  • Can hold a standard-sized laptop

  • Makes a great addition to your bags’ collection

  • These bags offer great value for money as they’re reusable

Cons

  • Not very large

Best personalized option: BeeGreen Personalized Canvas Tote Bag

This box-like tote bag is a classy yet casual option that's very versatile.

Personalized with an initial, this BeeGreen bag is perfect size for storing all your daily necessities without being too bulky. The unique tote bag has a zipper pocket inside to hold your phone and other valuables, and there's also a button closure on the outside.

This multipurpose bag is the ultimate choice for travel, work, exercising and grocery shopping. It features double stitching inside that makes it sturdy enough to hold many items without breaking or tearing, and the high-density embroidery on the front ‌really sets it apart.

Pros

  • Moisture-resistant bag keeps your belonging safe if exposed to water

  • Long cotton handles are convenient to carry

  • Includes multipurpose pockets

  • Handwash and reuse as per your needs

Cons

  • Doesn’t include a full zipper closure

Most affordable: CVNDKN Reusable Canvas Tote Bag

You don’t have to spend a fortune to get your hands on this functional tote bag. If you need a sturdy tote bag ‌you can use for various purposes, this is the one for you.

Featuring a basic design, this large canvas tote bag is ideal for grocery shopping, as a beach bag or any other use you can imagine. The eco-friendly material is strong enough to carry heavy items without tearing. You actually get two bags for an affordable price, which means you can carry even more groceries to your car without wasting tons of plastic bags.

Besides being environmentally friendly, these plain tote bags give you total creative freedom. You can turn them into a DIY project and draw your favorite patterns on the front and back.

Pros

  • Large enough to carry groceries and other heavy items

  • Blank canvas tote bags can be personalized

  • Cross-stitching on the handles makes them sturdier and easy to carry

  • Cost-effective bags are reusable

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with a zip closure

Tote bags buying guide

You can buy a fabulous tote bag without digging deep into your wallet. The key is to follow a few simple rules to find a style that works best for you. This guide will help you make the right choice when shopping for a stylish new tote bag.

Why do you need a tote bag?

Make a list of what you need a tote bag for, then look for a suitable one that fits the criteria. Some tote bags have one large zippered pocket, while others feature several compartments that can hold both large and small items.

If you carry a lot of smaller items, then a tote bag with pockets inside is probably a better option for you. If you just need it to carry your grocery or your laptop, then a simple zip-top tote bag may suffice. A more structured tote bag is ideal for carrying all lots of daily essentials, whether you’re going to work, hitting the gym or going on a picnic with your family.

Size matters

One reason people buy totes is because they’re spacious enough to store all your items in one place. These bags are often larger than a regular handbag and come in different sizes. You can buy a standard size if you need it for smaller items like your wallet, smartphone and keys, but a larger tote bag can accommodate bigger items such as a laptop, gym gear or work folders.

If you often carry your laptop or water bottle with you, make sure the tote bag you choose has appropriate dimensions.

When shopping for a tote bag, you should also check the width of the straps. If a larger bag has thin straps, they may dig into your shoulder and cause you discomfort when carrying the bag.

Material

It’s important to choose a tote bag in a durable material that will stand the test of time. The two most common choices are leather and canvas. If you’re vegan or don’t like to wear real leather, you can also find stylish faux leather options.

Tote bags made from different materials will have different price tags. High quality leather totes are usually more expensive, while canvas is relatively cheaper, but comes with its own set of pros and cons.

Color and design

Color can also be an important deciding factor, especially if this is a bag you’ll be carrying often. Neutral colors are a good choice because they’ll be easier to match with your outfits. Rest assured, there are also tote bags in fun colors and patterns if you prefer a bag that stands out from the crowd.

Security feature

A top closure or a sturdy zipper is recommended, especially if you use your tote bag to carry your laptop, phone, keys and other valuables.

Tips for caring for your tote bag

Keeping your tote bag clean will keep it looking like new for years. Unlike leather bags, you can wash many canvas tote bags to remove stains. Here are a few tips to keep your tote bag in top shape:

  • Declutter: Start with clearing the bag first. Empty the contents, then shake it upside down to remove all debris and trash from the inside.

  • Get rid of the sticky stains: If there are stains on your canvas tote bag, use a powder or liquid detergent and apply it to the stained area. Do not rub it in as this could cause the stain to spread or cause further discoloration. A leather shiner or wet cloth can do the trick for leather bags.

  • Wash the canvas bag: Always wash a canvas tote bag by hand to preserve the painted patterns and designs. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendation before washing your canvas bag.

  • Let it dry: Let your canvas tote bag air dry naturally by hanging it on a clothesline. Tumble drying can shrink or deform your tote bag, so avoid that. Once it dries completely, place it in a dust bag to keep it from growing bacteria or fungi.

  • Store it perfectly: When the tote bag is not in use, it is best to store it in a way that preserves its shape. Fill it with tissues or magazine paper, and avoid folding your tote bag.

People also asked

Q: What’s the actual purpose of a tote bag?

A: Just as the name suggests, it’s a bag you can use to tote items around. When your regular bag is too small to carry everything you want to bring along, a tote bag can save the day. It can easily hold several big items, including a laptop or a change of clothes or shoes. Whether you’re strolling around the city or looking for a chic way to lug your laptop and other essentials to the office, a tote bag is a great option.

Q: Can I clean my tote bag and reuse it?

A: It depends on the material of the tote bag you have. You can use a wet cloth to clean some, while others require professional help for buffing and shining to return to their pristine condition. Leather bags should be handled with care, while canvas bags can often be washed at home. Always check for care and cleaning instructions with the brand or label before attempting to clean the tote bag by yourself.

Q: What’s the ideal size of a tote bag?

A: These are often large bags, but what’s ideal for you is subjective. The sizes vary ‌and you can choose based on their intended use. A casual tote bag is usually larger, so it can carry your daily essentials, groceries, work documents, and even your laptop. Always check the dimensions to make sure it suits your needs.

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