I Found the Goldilocksian Ideal of a Tote Bag

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It fits more than you think it will.

I’ve always preferred to lug stuff around in a tote bag. Unlike a backpack, a tote won’t cause your shirt to ride up every ten steps, and you don’t have to contort yourself to take it off on a crowded train. For years, I was partial to my Rootote (a free gift with a subscription to Monocle), so named because it housed an interior pouch (like the marsupial) that you could access via side zipper. And I stayed loyal, even though I could barely fit a pair of sneakers and shorts inside, or when my passport and headphones would spill out after I’d lay it underneath the airplane seat in front of me.

I looked past its problems because the bag passed a crucial test — handles that were long enough to be comfortable on my shoulder, but not so long that the bottom of the bag grazed the ground when I carried it like a shopping bag. You’d be surprised how many totes (at least the ones you’d carry on a flight rather than to Fairway) fail the test! Forget about pulling the Want shopper over your shoulder. Good luck trying to look slick with the short and long handles on the Mismo tote.

It’s unisex, too.

But the Rootote’s been languishing over a closet door handle ever since I discovered the Makr weekender tote, which passed my shoulder-to-hand test and had none of the Rootote issues I’d explained away like a resigned spouse. Instead of lengthening to accommodate more stuff, the Makr goes wide — enough not only to carry a pair of shorts and sneakers, but also a Kindle, a pair of jeans and three shirts for a long weekend (first for my college reunion and then a getaway to New Hampshire). Its fold-over style creates a makeshift closure system that still keeps everything within easy access, and the two interior pockets is all I need for pens and knickknacks (any more and I just end up stowing things I forget about).

And this is a bit obnoxious to admit, but the only-more-comfortable-with-time leather handles have a Filson-esque quality without being as immediately identifiable — it’s also unisex in a way that “manly” Filson bags aren’t. At $200, it’s admittedly spendy for a tote bag (especially with the Baggus of the world, though there is a more affordable and even machine-washable $150 all-canvas version), but consider the rarity of a tote that does triple duty as weekender, grocery bag, and gym bag. Think of it as three $67 bags that take up the closet space of one.

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I Found the Goldilocksian Ideal of a Tote Bag