- Sally Kaplan
- This $39 all-purpose L.L.Bean tote bag is one of the best and most useful things I’ve ever bought.
- It’s on sale now through November 19 for 25% off with code “SAVE25.”
- It’s super rugged, has a waterproof lining, and the large size ($39) is large enough to hold an entire weekend’s worth of clothing. It also comes in medium ($35) or extra-large size ($45) depending on your needs. There’s also a version that zips up and has a detachable shoulder strap.
- My cat, Papaya, seems to love it almost as much as I do.
You may be wondering why I felt the need to write an entire article on a basic tote bag when there are so many other cooler, newer products out there.
The reason is simple: I really believe that sometimes the absolute greatest products can also be the most basic.
As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing more useful in this world than an oversized, all-purpose tote bag – one that can be used to carry a full weekend’s worth of clothing, or multiple bags of groceries, or a ton of beach-day supplies. One that’s strong enough to tote all the products I test home with me on the subway, yet stylish enough to bring around on the weekend, too.
About a year ago, I ordered this $39 L.L.Bean Hunter Tote, and have since been carrying it with me everywhere. It’s the perfect blend of all things practical and pragmatic – it’s large, sturdy, has a waterproof lining, is reinforced and rip-resistant, and best of all – it’s cheap (now through November 19, it’s actually even cheaper with L.L.Bean’s 25%-off sale with the code “SAVE25”).
The bag comes in three sizes (medium for $35, large for $39, and extra-large for $45) and three colors (black, drab, and camouflage). They were designed, as the name suggests, for hunters who need to carry a lot of gear with them on trips – but their features are also particularly helpful in daily life. You can even get them monogrammed, which I sort of wish I had done when I first ordered my bag.
I have the large camouflage version, as well as L.L.Bean’s newer medium-sized zippered bag, which I’m also very obsessed with. It’s slightly pricier at $45 for the medium, but it comes with a shoulder strap and a secure zipper.
Here they are next to each other for scale, plus my cat Papaya who loves to sit in the large one:
- Sally Kaplan
The bag on the left also comes in sizes large and extra-large (the same as the regular tote), and features both a zippered top and a detachable shoulder strap. In this photo, I showed the zippered panel standing up, but it also folds down into the bag to look essentially identical to the plain tote.
As you can see, the large size is meaningfully spacious. I’m able to pack quite a lot into it, and I honestly don’t know why anyone would need the extra-large size (except to carry around actual equipment of some sort, or perhaps laundry). In my opinion, a fully packed extra-large bag would be too heavy to carry anywhere – but if you do consider sizing up, I recommend going for the zippered one with a shoulder strap since it’ll make the task of lifting and carrying a full bag much easier.
The one downside of the plain tote is that the handle straps are just short enough that you can’t quite fit them over your shoulder, which can make carrying a packed bag pretty heavy.
Here is another gratuitous photo of Papaya in her favorite tote bag:
- Sally Kaplan
In terms of capacity, I can fit an entire weekend’s worth of clothes into the large tote, or a full day’s worth of beach essentials, which generally comprises a large towel, snacks, sunscreen, water bottles, a change of clothes, a cover-up, and a hat, all with room to spare.
If you’re looking for the right size to order for your average daily needs, I’d say to go with the medium. It holds my laptop, wallet, keys, lunch, an umbrella, sunglasses case, and can fit a good bit more than that.
Overall, this tote is just one of those really nice things to have around, whether you use it all the time or infrequently. It’s virtually indestructible, incredibly practical, and well-made. I know I’ll have mine for the rest of my life, or at least until Papaya turns it into her own personal nest.