The Complete Guide to Choosing Tote Bags: Everything to Know

The Complete Guide to Choosing Tote Bags: Everything to Know

Last Updated on August 6, 2022 by

Next time you’re in a busy public space, take some time to look around. One thing you’re sure to notice is how many people have a tote bag with them. These functional accessories are everywhere and it’s easy to see why: they’re easy to use and quite versatile. 

Not only can tote bags represent who you are and what you believe in but they can also be a bold fashion statement. You can dress them up or down depending on the event and there are plenty of sizes to choose from. 

However, choosing tote bags can be tricky. All of these options can be overwhelming, especially if it’s your first tote bag purchase.  This guide will explain everything you need to know about choosing the best tote bags.

Ready to learn more? Let’s get started.

History of the Tote Bag

Before we help you decide on the best options for tote bags, you’ll need to know the history of these humble accessories. 

Let’s travel back to the late 1980s. This is when the majority of retail and grocery stores made the switch to plastic bags. For many people, this was an environmental concern and there was enough of a roar about it that reusable bags emerged onto the scene. These bags came in various shapes, sizes, and materials. 

As more and more consumers began to use these handy bags, the movement gained traction. People were looking to become ‘more green’ and that included using less plastic. Not only were tote bags a better-looking option but you didn’t have to limit them to the grocery store.

With enough stylish housewives showcasing these bags, they quickly became a fashion staple. Designers started to notice all of the possibilities and created their own elegant designs. 

Now there are seemingly endless options for you to choose from. As you narrow it down, you’ll want to consider a couple of different factors. 


When you compare tote bag features, you’ll want to consider the strength of your bag. Remember that tote bags were created to handle heavy groceries so many of them are rated to manage different weights. Certain material begins to buckle under five pounds while others are made of strong, synthetic materials that can easily handle over twenty pounds.

As you search for your dream tote bag, consider how much weight you’ll be placing in your bag. Is this a simple day-to-day bag that doesn’t need to be particularly strong or are you using it to carry heavy items? Once you know what it will be used for, you can determine the strength needed.


The most conventional shape for a tote bag is a sort of rectangle with simple handles that you can carry on your shoulder. However, you might need a niche tote bag that is specifically shaped for particular items. For example, there are clever tote bags that are built to compartmentalize wine bottles so you can show up to a dinner party in style. 

In the same way that you need to think about what you’ll be using your bag for to determine the strength you need, the same goes for shape. For most people, the simple rectangle shape serves them just fine but it’s good to think outside the box.


One of the most fun things to consider as you look for the right tote bag is what style you want. This factor should come naturally, you want an option that goes with the rest of your wardrobe and has you excited to walk around with it. 

Plenty of your favorite fashion designers likely have their own tote bags you can check out. If you’re not too picky, you can browse your favorite local coffee shop or bookstore, they might have a tote bag that doesn’t only look good but will help rep your favorite place. 

If you’re crafty, you can shop these tote bags. There’s an impressive selection of ‘blank canvas’ bags that are perfect to make your own. This is a wonderful option if you want something unique or if you have a particular message you want to share with the world.  


Most tote bags are made of a nice canvas material but there are other options as well. Remember that, for the most part, the composition of the bag affects its cost and usability. Most materials fall under two categories: organic or synthetic.

Organic bags are strong, biodegradable and a better choice for the planet. Synthetic bags tend to be quite flexible, strong, and resistant to weather. Think of the qualities that matter most to you and be sure to look at online customer reviews before making any big purchases.  


The best part about tote bags is that the basic versions are very affordable. These may not last you long but they’re a great place to start if you’re tight on money. 

The biggest factor that affects tote bag cost is the material that your bag is made of. They can be made of PVC, cotton, nylon, canvas, and more. If you want a durable bag that is made of high-quality materials and environmentally friendly you can expect to dish out extra cash for it. 

Need More Help Choosing Tote Bags?

In a world of seemingly endless options, it can be quite difficult to narrow it down to the best option for you. That’s no different with choosing tote bags! Knowing all of the different options and features can help make that choice a little bit easier.

The first thing you need to do is consider what you’ll be using the bag for and then you can start looking at the other factors. You’re sure to find the bag of your dreams in no time.