My new job required that I upgrade my “daily carry”. Partly this is a result of needing to schlep my laptop to and from meetings around the office and partly because I needed a safe way to transport my laptop and accessories back and forth from home. We can work from home a couple days a week and, as we get closer to icy, snowy weather, the likelihood of needing to work from home made finding an adequate tote bag a priority.
I did a good deal of research trying to find a bag that looked durable but not too heavy. Once you drop a 16″ MacBook Pro into a bag along with notebooks, pens, and other daily needs, I didn’t want to walk with a limp. I had a beautiful Kate Spade leather tote at one point that I never carried because the bag, even when empty, weighed about 5lbs. According to the Apple web site, the 16″ MacBook Pro weighs 4.7lbs! That thing is HEAVY! So schlepping my laptop back and forth was going to require a nylon or canvas bag to reduce overall weight.
The Baggallini Essential Laptop Tote both fit my needs and had a couple added bonuses. First, its made from recycled water bottles so its a recycled fiber. And the price is considerably reasonable — it was about $68 when I purchased it two weeks ago.
The bag includes a bevy of pockets on the exterior: two center front pockets (one snap and one zippered), a pocket on each side large enough for a travel umbrella or a water bottle, and a snap pocket on the back that has a zipper at the bottom to allow the pocket to morph into a trolley strap to loop over a roller suitcase handle when traveling. This will prove handy in 2023, I am sure about that!
Both center front pockets will accommodate a cell phone of just about any size. The front snap pocket was large enough to slide my iPad Pro 9.7″ though it does stick out a bit. But still… big pocket!!!
The large center compartment has a lightly padded section to put a laptop. It recommends a 15″ laptop so I took my chances sandwiching my 16″ MacBook Pro into the pocket but it does fit. There is enough space in the rest of the bag to fit my B6 notebook, pen case, sundries zip pouch and a cosmetics pouch.
There is even an elastic loop to hold a pen above the interior zip pouch where I store an eye glas cleaning wip and a couple spare face masks.
I like the light grey interior fabric which makes it easy to see inside the bag. I had been using a Fjallraven Totepack but there is no lining added to those bags so whatever color the exterior of the bag is, that’s the color of the interior as well. I bought a sensible black Fjallraven and the interior is the black hole. I can never find anything in it without taking everything out or using a flaslight.
The loop straps are long enough to go over my shoulder even with a winter coat on and the crossbody strap provides an alternative way to carry the bag if I’m walking long distances and the shoulder strap gets heavy. The cross body strap does not have any padding so I wouldn’t recommend this bag if you are looking for a more messenger-style bag.
Is this bag cool? No, not really. Its functional and plain but it doesn’t make me feel like a bag lady or too fancy to pair with a sweatshirt and yoga pants either. It feels professional without being too posh, if that makes sense.
The plethora of quick-access exterior pockets are great if you do mostly car commuting. City folks on public transport might prefer a bag with more enclosed pockets.
I had really wanted to get a Bellroy Tokyo Tote but it wouldn’t accommodated a 15″ or larger laptop. I think this Baggallini Essential Laptop Tote is a good alternative if you are carrying a larger than average laptop. And for the price, the quality seems excellent.
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