- Most tote bags are bottomless sacks that lack organization for large items like laptops, and security for small items such as keys and wallets.
- Accessories brand Bellroy makes a Classic Tote ($89) with multiple pockets and compartments that keep even the smallest of items secure in its place.
- I was able to carry a ton of stuff from New York to New Jersey via public transportation easily, and didn’t have to dig through it all to find my phone, keys, or wallet.
All of the tote bags I’ve bought in the past have been deep bottomless pits that lack structure and organization. They’re perfect for the beach or an overnight trip where you just throw everything in and call it a day.
But like clockwork, every time I pack a tote bag, I’ll get to the last few (very important) items like my keys, phone, and wallet, and have to figure out a nook where they’re least likely fall out. If I bury them at the bottom of my tote, they most likely won’t fall out, but I also won’t be able to easily access them either. If I place them in the outer pockets, I can grab them easily, but so could anyone else. It ends up being a lose-lose game.
Surely, I can’t be the only person who wants an organized tote that straddles fashion and function. Knowing that our Insider Picks team loves the accessories brand Bellroy and its thoughtful designs, I tested out its Classic Tote ($89) to see if it would live up to the hype.
It’s a 15-liter tote with double shoulder straps, and five different compartments and pockets designed with ergonomic accessibility and durability in mind. The Classic Tote comes in seven colorways – five solid colors (Ash, Ink Blue, Black, Olive, and Red Ochre) and two color combinations (Blue Neon and Desert Ochre).
I used the tote to go to my parent’s place in New Jersey recently for Father’s Day, and as always, I had a ton of random things that I needed to bring. My haul included a stud finder for my dad, athletic bands and lacrosse balls for my sister, and supplements for my mom. On top of that, I was returning a bunch of my mom’s Tupperware, and needed to bring my laptop too so my parents could help me with my finances after dinner.
Somehow, the multiple pockets helped maximize space and gave me much-needed organization without looking bulky.
The main compartment is pretty roomy, so I was able to toss in all of my stuff without needing to worry about space. The Classic Tote also has a 15-inch zippered laptop compartment so I was able to store my work laptop without worrying that it would get scratched or broken.
In addition to these two big compartments, the interior also has two more interior pockets – one of which has a handy zipper. I tossed my wallet in the zippered pocket with plenty of room to spare, and my Father’s Day card and sunglasses in the adjacent open pocket.
The best part of the Classic Tote is the zippered exterior pocket where I can safely put my phone. It’s roomy enough to fit my iPhone X and right on the edge of the tote where your hands can easily access – no more digging around pockets that are always in the center of the bag and impossible to reach without taking the bag off your shoulders.
There’s also a key leash inside that same pocket, which I gladly use to avoid digging through the depths of my tote – and to avoid that tell-tale jingle of loose keys.
Overall, the Bellroy Classic Tote has two major factors that most of my other totes do not – organization and security.
I needed a bag that could carry a wide assortment of random things and essentials alike, but also needed them to be secure and organized. This tote had a ton of pockets that helped group things together, along with zippered pockets that kept valuables like my wallet, keys, and phone secure – and easy to reach.
While I definitely trust Bellroy’s durability after taking this tote all the way to Jersey via public transportation, know that it does come with a three-year warranty that covers the bag for defects related to materials and workmanship, which is a fair amount of time for any item let alone a tote bag.