The best tote bags of 2019

  • Finding a tote bag that is not only stylish but also big enough to carry all your belongings can be tough.
  • Our top pick is the Everlane Day Market Tote because this sleek, Italian leather bag is affordable, roomy, and well crafted.

Every working woman has lived the struggle of trying to fit everything she needs to get through the day into her handbag. Many of us even resort to carrying multiple bags full of stuff on our daily commutes.

After my last tote bag’s straps ripped – thanks to me constantly cramming more items into it than the delicate bag could hold – I set out to find a durable bag that could fit everything I could possibly need, including a 15-inch laptop.

While there are plenty of tote bags out there, it was trickier than anticipated to find a bag that was as fashionable as it was functional. But after much research and testing by the Insider Picks team, we managed to find five sturdy totes that are large enough to store anything you could imagine.

Our picks were all selected keeping in mind that you’ll probably want to be able to carry them both in and outside the office. Perhaps best of all, every single one of these tote bags costs less than $300.

Here are the best tote bags you can buy:

Updated on 10/29/2019 by Remi Rosmarin: Updated prices, formatting, and links. Added MZ Wallace, Caraa x Athleta, Mark & Graham, and L.L.Bean totes as new picks.


The best tote bag overall

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Everlane

If you’re looking for a durable and affordable bag that can hold more than just the essentials, the Everlane Day Market Tote is your best bet.

The Everlane Day Market Tote is a covetable bag made from 100% Italian leather, that will keep you looking polished all day long. The versatile structured bag is crafted in Florence, Italy and made to be worn with both casual and formal attire. You can choose from red, black, brown, and tan color options.

This is the bag that I actually purchased after my extensive search, and I couldn’t be happier. I ended up on a waitlist for three months to get the Cognac color option because it sold out multiple times, but it was well worth the wait. The popularity of the tote is largely thanks to Meagan Markle, who carried it during her first appearance with Prince Harry.

I am able to fit everything I could possibly need inside of this tote. Besides the essentials like a wallet, phone, and keys, I can slip in my laptop, a sweater, and a change of shoes.

I’m not the only one who loves this tote. The Insider Picks team gave it an excellent review. It also has a 4.69-star rating on Everlane’s website, with many reviewers saying they plan to purchase the bag in multiple colors. It’s also quite affordable in comparison with the competition.

Pros: Durable, spacious, classic design, comes in multiple colors

Cons: Can be a waitlist for certain colors

Read our full review of the Everlane Tote on Insider Picks


The best tote bag for organization

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Dagne and Dover

The Dagne Dover Signature Tote looks sleek and stylish on the outside while keeping all your belongings organized on the inside.

If you are constantly losing things at the bottom of your handbag, the Dagne Dover Signature Tote (Legend) is for you. Designed for those long days that never seem to end, the tote features compartments for everything you could think of, so you don’t waste time digging around.

The sleek and spacious bag has specially designed space for your laptop, wallet, phone, metro card, water bottle, sunglasses, and even lip balm. It also features a detachable key ring, making getting in and out of the house a breeze.

The innovative brand has been a long-time favorite of the Insider Picks team. We’ve tested the Allyn Tote, Dakota Backpack, and Classic Tote, and all the bags get high marks.

There are multiple colors to choose from, including red, yellow, green, pink, and blue. The stylish design will make you want to carry it to not only the office but also after-work drinks.

Pros: Helps you stay organized, multiple compartments, variety of colors, well made

Cons: Not for people who like to throw everything in and go

Read our full review of the Dagne Dover Tote on Insider Picks


The best tote bag for commuting

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MZ Wallace

If you want a tote bag that’s large enough to hold all your belongings, but light enough to be packed down and folded up, you’ll love the MZ Wallace Medium Metro Tote.

MZ Wallace was founded by two dynamic New York City women looking for a bag that could keep up with their lifestyles. When they couldn’t find it, they designed it themselves. MZ Wallace now offers a large selection of quilted nylon bags that can take you from the gym to work to date night and everywhere in between.

The Metro Tote is made from soft, lightweight nylon and weighs in at just under a pound. The bag has enough space for all of the belongings you could need throughout the day. The interior houses six pockets, a detachable pouch, a phone pocket, and a keyring strap. It’s even spacious enough to fit a 13-inch laptop.

The padded nylon handles are easy on your shoulders, though some reviewers say they slip off frequently. The zip-top closure keeps all of your belongings concealed, an important feature when commuting or traveling. Since the bag doesn’t have much hardware and the nylon is super lightweight, it can be folded, rolled, and packed down to fit in a suitcase or in another bag.

The quilted nylon bag comes in 26 colors and patterns, including trendy camos, color blocks, and even lacquer finishes. The nylon isn’t waterproof, but it’s weather-resistant, so it’s durable enough to use rain or shine.

Pros: Lightweight, tons of color options, thoughtful detailing

Cons: Expensive, some say the strap falls off shoulder


The best convertible tote bag

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Mark & Graham

Mark & Graham’s Bedford Convertible Backpack is a beautiful leather tote bag that can be worn three ways for ultimate versatility.

Whether you’re trying to pare down your bag collection or just can’t commit to one style, a convertible bag is a great option. The Bedford Convertible Backpack from Mark & Graham is essentially three bags in one. You can wear it as a backpack, a handbag, or a shoulder bag, all you have to do is change the position of the straps.

The bag is simple, yet stylish in a neutral, supple leather. There’s an all-camel option, or a black bag with camel straps.

The convertibility makes this bag super convenient, as does the spacious interior and smart pockets. True to the form of a tote, the bag has an open top, but the straps can be adjusted to help close the top a bit. On the outside of the bag, there’s a cleverly hidden zipper pocket. This gives you easy access to small belongings, so you don’t have to dig through a cluttered bag to find your keys, but still keeps your important items secure.

Mark & Graham also offers free monogramming on this bag, which adds some nice personalization if that’s what you’re into.

Pros: Convertible, free monogram, quality leather

Cons: Not super secure for travel, not many color options


The best budget tote bag

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L.L. Bean

If you’re looking for an easy, everyday tote that won’t break the bank, the L.L.Bean Hunter’s Tote Bag is a great choice.

L.L.Bean’s Hunter’s Tote Bag is a versatile, all-purpose bag. As the name suggests, the tote was actually made for outdoor activities like dog training, waterfowling, and shooting. Don’t let that deter you, though – this bag will serve you well no matter what’s on your agenda.

The bag is made of a thick, durable, 1,200-denier polyester. The bottom of the bag is reinforced with an extra layer of polyester to make it even sturdier. The seams are double-stitched with water-resistant nylon, so they won’t get ruined or unravel from use, even in bad weather. Inside, the bag is coated with a water-resistant thermoplastic lining. This will keep your belongings dry and makes the bag easy to clean.

The open top lets you fill the bag to the brim, though it may not be the best for commuting or traveling if you want to keep your belongings concealed. If closure is important to you, we recommend opting for the zippered version of this tote. It’s about $10 more expensive, but it comes with an additional shoulder strap to give you more carrying options. [Editor’s note: I have both the medium zippered version and the large tote, and I carry both frequently – the straps could be a little longer for carrying them more comfortably over the shoulder, but other than that, I love these bags.]

The bag comes in medium, large, and extra-large sizes. They cost $35, $39, and $45, respectively, making the totes a really affordable option.

The tote has a 4.8-star rating on L.L.Bean’s website, with many reviewers commenting on the practicality and water-resistant qualities of the bag. It only comes in a few colors, though the black, olive green, and camouflage are neutral enough to go with everything.

Whether you want to use it as an everyday carry-all or a beach bag, this tote works for just about anything. And, at less than $50, it’s an easy choice.

Pros: Affordable, water-resistant, durable

Cons: Open top, not many color options, straps are too short to carry over the shoulder comfortably


Best oversized tote bag

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Cuyana

The Cuyana Oversized Carryall Tote is a durable, extra-spacious tote that will fit a long day’s worth of essentials.

Fashion brand Cuyana was founded with the mission to “create timeless collections for the modern woman through carefully selected fabrics, precise silhouettes, and attention to detail.” All that focus on design shows in the Oversized Carryall Tote.

The versatile, extra-large tote is 21 inches wide at its widest point and 15.5 inches tall. In comparison, Everlane’s tote is only 19 inches wide. It has a detachable strap so it can be worn as a shoulder bag or a handbag, and is made from pebbled Argentine leather. The bag features gold hardware including a full zipper closure to ensure your belongings never fall out.

Many of the brand’s other bags have been tested and positively reviewed by the Insider Picks team, and this tote is equally great in terms of quality and style. It’s a roomy, spacious tote that should hold all your essentials.

The tote comes in four different natural colors, and you can customize it with the addition of a monogram or embossed symbols like a heart, star, and four leaf clover.

Pros: Well made, zipper closure, roomy, can be personalized

Cons: The website warns darker clothing may rub off on the lighter color bags

Read our review of Cuyana bags on Insider Picks


The best gym tote bag

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Athleta

The Caraa x Athleta Everyday Vinyasa Tote looks like your regular tote, but is designed with smart compartments that solve all of your gym-bag problems.

A good gym bag needs more than just room for all the workout essentials. For most of us, going to the gym is sandwiched somewhere between a 9-to-5 job, dinner plans, and a host of other commitments – so we need a gym bag that can keep up.

The Caraa x Athleta Everyday Vinyasa Tote is made to keep up with your busy lifestyle. The bag comes from a collaboration with Athleta and popular athleisure brand Caraa, which is known for balancing practicality and style with its bags. This one is made from neoprene, which is durable and washable.

The bag has two handle options – you can hold it as a tote or shoulder bag, which is helpful if it’s heavy. Inside there are plenty of small pockets made to fit your essentials, like a phone, wallet, and laptop. The sides of the bag zip down, leaving the perfect spot to hold your yoga mat. There’s even a buckle to keep the mat secure. The bottom of the bag unzips into its own compartment, a great place to store sneakers or put dirty clothes post-workout.

It doesn’t have a zipper to close the bag, but there is a buckle that provides some semblance of closure.

While the bag is particularly great for yogis, it’s a great bag for any type of gym-goer due to its smart design and features. Our editor actually carries this as her daily work tote, and says it’s the best tote bag she’s ever owned.

Pros: Smart compartments, easy to clean

Cons: Top doesn’t zip all the way, on the heavier side