Anyone who has ever caught a whiff of a farmer’s market or was urged to opt for a reusable bag at the grocery store is probably familiar with the ubiquitous cotton tote bag. This version of the ultra-simple carry solution is, after all, the most widely produced and available. However, it is far from the only option and certainly nowhere near the best out there, be that in regards to style or function.
In truth, tote bags can be so much more than an afterthought — you just have to know where to look. Ideal for weekend getaways — like beach trips and camping — as well as daily duties — like grocery runs, backyard barbeques, etc. — it’s time to stop thinking of totes as simple cotton sacks. To prove our point, we’ve rounded up the 15 best tote bags for men, all of which offer far more utility and flair than their basic impulse-purchased brethren.
Matador On-Grid Packable Tote
Matador’s seemingly simplistic On-Grid Packable Tote might seem fairly basic at first glance, but it has some hidden talents. For starters, it collapses down to a fraction of its full size for easier transport and storage. But it’s also built from a waterproof Robic nylon, has an “ultra tear strength coating” for increased durability, and even has multiple compartments for better organization — including one that’s laptop-compatible.
Patagonia Black Hole Tote
Patagonia’s Black Hole lineup is nothing shy of legendary in the gear industry at this point. And while most folks are probably familiar with the duffels and/or backpacks, the tote you see here is nothing to scoff at and boasts similar stylistic cues and the same rock-solid construction. It’s also weatherproof, incredibly durable, and made from 100% recycled materials. Sure, it’s a bit more basic in its format, but the rest of its features help elevate it to worthiness as an outstanding grab-and-go bag.
Topo Designs Cinch Tote
One of the bigger issues with most tote bags is that their wide-open main compartments offer little in the way of security. Topo Designs has fixed that issue in their Cinch Tote which, as you might gather from its name, has a drawstring closure to help keep everything safe and sound inside and to keep other stuff, like sand and dirt, from creeping in. It’s also built from durable 1000D nylon and comes in four handsome colorways.
The North Face Explore Utility Tote
Known both for their iconic styling and exceptional quality, The North Face is about as solid as staple outdoor brands get. And their Explore Utility Tote is just another great example as to why. This bag looks the part, done up in an all-black colorway with a bit of useful utility-imbued styling, including a velcro patch and modular exterior webbing. It also has a spacious interior, dual suitcase-style handles, and an adjustable shoulder strap. We wouldn’t call it revolutionary, but it does do everything you’d expect out of a tote (and then some) incredibly well.
Osprey Arcane Tote Bag
Another brand known for their outdoor-focused gear (especially travel-friendly bags), it should probably not be surprising to see Osprey make our list. Of course, even without the association, this bag would still be amongst the best totes out there with its 20L storage capacity, minimalist styling, 15″ padded laptop compartment, and a construction comprised of recycled fabric made from plastic bottles. And it comes in four handsome colorways, so you can pick one that suits your tastes best.
REI Co-op Trailsmith Tote
While most folks know REI as an outdoor retailer, the brand also has an extensive catalog of their own REI Co-op branded gear — much of which is of great quality at more reasonable prices than their big-name competitors. The Trailsmith Tote is one such offering and, believe it or not, also has more value than a lot of other tote bags, even on this list. That’s because this is actually a hybrid tote-backpack, giving it a lot more versatility and convenience in regards to how it can be hauled. If you need a tote with a hands-free option, this might be your best bet, especially on a budget.
Fjallraven Kanken Totepack
Fjallraven’s Kanken is best known as the brand’s top-selling backpack. But they’ve also made an alternative edition that transforms it into a hybrid tote-backpack with an open top, suitcase-style handles, shoulder straps, and more. It still boasts the same iconic styling, numerous colorway options, and even includes a 13″ laptop compartment — just with an open-top main compartment. And that makes it a great middle-ground when compared to the other options around.
United By Blue Convertible Carryall
For their outstanding design, materials, and a mission that helps keep our oceans and waterways clean with every purchase, United By Blue is already one of our favorite brands. But their ever-expanding and -updated catalog also means their suite of offerings keeps getting better and better, exemplified in part by the Convertible Carryall. A hybrid tote-backpack, this updated bag is made almost entirely from recycled materials and comes with a lifetime guarantee. That, paired with its long list of outstanding features, earns it a cemented spot on this list.
Herschel x Birdwell Alexander Tote
Herschel knows a thing or two about making bags and Birdwell knows a thing or two about beach-ready gear and apparel. Put them together and what do you get? Just one of the best tote bags known to man. This bag was actually inspired by the first-ever pair of boardshorts and is actually made from SurfNyl-inspired fabric that’s tough, weatherproof, and looks great. And while its secure, zippered main compartment is roomy, it also has an internal stash pocket so you can keep some small gear better organized and in reach.
Bellroy Tokyo Tote Compact
As mentioned, traditional cotton totes are extremely simplistic — even to a fault. Bellroy’s Tokyo Tote Compact, by contrast, is still minimalist in its design, but it has some handy features you might not expect. The biggest of them is probably the included 13″ padded laptop sleeve, but there are plenty of others of note, as well. They include “pop pockets” for storing bottles or umbrellas, a zippered closure for better security, an integrated key clip, and so much more. Of course, it’s not a bad thing either that the bag is made from recycled materials and premium eco-tanned leather.
Saturdays NYC Draper Beach Tote
Tote bags are supposed to be simple in their overall format, but that doesn’t mean they have to be boring, as evidenced by the Saturdays NYC Draper Beach Tote, which just so happens to look a lot like it was made out of recycled military parachutes. That appearance is the result of its polyester and nylon construction, but the bag also offers plenty of other handy features, including an interior neoprene compartment so you can keep dry and wet gear (like your boardshorts after a trip to the beach) separate.
Filson Rugged Twill Tote
If you want rugged gear with a heritage twist, you can never really go wrong with anything offered by Filson — and that includes the Rugged Twill Tote you see here. Proof positive that a simple grab-and-go bag can still be elevated with good design and solid materials, this bag boasts a durable canvas body, saddle-grade bridle leather straps, and it has a generous 20L carry capacity. Totes are great for their simplicity, but this one has so much more style than its basic brethren.
Outerknown x New Life Project Tall Tote
Founded by pro-surfer Kelly Slater, Outerknown has made it a point to try and do good while also offering spectacularly designed and manufactured gear. It should come as no surprise, then, that they’ve managed to hit that sweet spot with the Tall Tote of theirs, made in collaboration with New Life Project. Not only does this bag look great and offer plenty of storage and durability, but it’s also made partially out of recycled materials — including recycled polyester and Eco Fabric. Better still, they’re also all handmade in a small family-owned workshop in Japan.
RUX Hardshell Tote
The biggest problem one might encounter with most tote bags is that they’re largely structureless — offering little in the way of impact protection for whatever is inside. Well, the RUX has done away with that issue by offering a hard-sided alternative offering plenty of structure, protection, and tons of room. But here’s the real kicker: it also collapses between uses, so it still doesn’t take up much room at all when you’re not using it. And that makes this a really special option for those that want something a bit sturdier but aren’t interested in traditional hard-sided storage containers.
Mission Workshop Drift Tote
Considering the Mission Workshop Drift “just another” tote bag is kind of like saying that a Pagani Zonda is “just another” car — meaning it is so much more than such a dismal description. Not only does this ultra-tough, weatherproof waxed canvas bag boast a 28L main compartment, but it also has numerous other organizational options outside and in. Furthermore, it was made in the USA, has a luggage handle passthrough and a padded 16″ laptop compartment, and so much more. We don’t like to pick favorites, but it’s hard not to be utterly impressed by this bag.
The 20 Best Beach Bag Essentials
Now that you have the perfect beach-going grab-and-go bag picked out, you’re going to need to stock up on stuff to fill it with. Lucky for you, we’ve done the heavy lifting already with our list of the best beach bag essentials.
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