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As offices change, so do our work bags. Case in point is the rise of the tote. The simple bag — usually sporting two drop handles and a large, square compartment — has shed its previous role as only a market sack. Now, tote bags are a viable option for lugging laptops, gadgets, papers and other necessities to and from the office.
The best tote bags for work offer more professionalism than most backpacks without the seriousness of a briefcase. In other words, they nail the trend of increasingly casual office attire that we’re seeing everywhere. Plus, when it’s time to enjoy the weekend, tote bags double as a go-to for picnics, day trips and shopping. Tote bags also make an especially good pick in the spring and summer, as they hang away from your body and don’t induce sweat like backpacks.
If you’re looking to pick up a tote for the office, you’re in luck: Brands have noticed all the stylish guys using the minimal bags, and they’re making some of the best tote bags for work that we’ve ever seen.
Tote Bag Buying Guide
Before making a purchase, there are a few things to consider. First, think about the ideal layout for your needs: do you need lots of side pockets? Or, do you need one large pocket for big binders and clothing? The second consideration is material. Look for bags that use tough (and ideally water-resistant) materials like canvas or leather. Lastly, the best tote bag for work should be stylish. As with your office attire, your office bag should be professional and befitting of your work environment.
The Best Tote Bags for Work
1. WANT Les Essentiels Austin Cotton Tote
This Austin tote from WANT Les Essentiels ticks all the boxes. With a structured build and an all-black colorway, it’s professional yet stylishly understated. The fabric is a rugged canvas that’s water-resistant in case of showers on your commute. We also like the pocket layout, which includes a small zip pocket on the outside and a large main compartment. This main compartment uses a magnetic closure, adding easier access and some protection from spills or theft.
2. Filson Rugged Twill Tote Bag
Filson is very good at bringing outdoorsy-ness to an upscale aesthetic. This Rugged Twill tote bag does just that. It’s made of a lightly waxed twill fabric and bridle leather handles, combining for a clean look, real durability and water resistance. Overall, the bag just feels sturdy and high-quality, boasting a stiffness that we really like (it stays upright most of the time when placed on the bottom). The layout is quite versatile thanks to a roomy main compartment and two stow pockets on either side. All three pockets are open top for easy access.
3. Herschel Supply Co. Men’s Alexander Zip Tote Bag
With a zippered top and an oversized design, this Alexander tote from Herschel Supply Co. makes a great work-slash-travel bag. The zip-top means you won’t need to worry about stuff falling out or getting stolen, and a zippered outer pocket also allows quick access to essentials like your wallet, phone or earbuds. The bag also features a ballistic weave fabric that’s tough enough to withstand drops and scrapes.
4. A.P.C. Tote Lou
One of the reasons why people love tote bags is their fun, casual character. This tote Lou from A.P.C. has that personality, making it great for weekend adventures, but it’s also professional enough for relaxed office environments. A fine floral print brings some levity while a premium canvas build and a bold logo make it a high-end item. The layout is straightforward with a deep main compartment and an interior patch pocket for small items.
5. Belstaff Touring Tote Bag
If you need more utility than found in a typical single-pocket tote, check out this Belstaff Touring tote bag. It boasts a total capacity of 28 liters, which is plenty of space for work or travel needs. The load is also divvied up between the main compartment, two snap-fastening flap pockets on the front, a snap-fastening slip pocket on the back and an interior zip pocket. In short, there’s a spot for everything. The bag’s best feature, however, might be its luxurious full-grain leather build.
6. Prada Saffiano Tote Bag
Want the professionalism of a briefcase in a modern tote bag? Go for this tote from Prada. It’s made of sturdy calf leather and a nylon lining — plus the iconic enamel Prada triangle logo on the outside. The layout is designed for the office with two slim zippered pockets (ideal for laptops) and two internal pockets for small items, in addition to a large main pocket. Even though it’s a tote bag, it’ll work just as nicely with a three-piece suit as it does with jeans and a button-up.