Summertime calls for a trip to the beach. Though this summer calls for a few seaside adjustments, like social distancing and face masks, you’ll still need the proper gear to take with you. Once you’ve gathered all your beach goods together (don’t forget sunscreen!), it’s time to put it all in a bag. For that, you need a beach tote.
Beach totes come in all manner of styles and the best ones are durable, have enough space to hold your personal effects plus your seaside accoutrements. These aren’t exactly your everyday tote bags, but they could function as your daily driver. Whether your speed is an all-natural approach with a burly canvas bag, or a high-tech tote with sophisticated water-repellant coatings and a grip of zips, daisy chains and pockets, there’s a tote out there begging you to go to the beach.
Additional contribution from Evan Malachosky.
Best Overall Tote Bag: Herschel Insulated Zip-Top Tote
It's almost as if the designers at Herschel crafted their Alexander tote specifically for the beach. (They did.) It's insulated to keep cool drinks cold and leakproof to keep wet bathing suits or melting ice from pouring out of the bottom. Plus, there are three exterior pockets, reinforced handles and a zip-top closure. This iteration comes in an assortment of colors, but plain black is always a safe bet.
Best Upgrade Tote Bag: Joshu+Vela Utility Tote
In case you feel like bringing wine to the beach, Joshu Vela’s Utility Tote can do that. Though its pockets are based on vintage tool bags, they conveniently hold your favorite orange wine quite well. They come in a variety of colors and feature bridle leather handles and even more pockets for non-enological essentials. And while we know that Joshu Vela makes another bag literally called the Beach Tote, we love a bag with pockets.
Best Affordable Tote Bag: L.L.Bean Boat and Tote
It’s hard to talk about tote bags without mentioning the legendary Boat and Tote from L.L. Bean. Originally made to haul loads of ice, these make for a perfect tote for hot beach layouts. You’re usually limited to just two picks in the triangle of price, style and quality. Somehow, the Bean’s managed to get all three points. They’re affordable, they look great, and they last a long, long time. They come in a variety of sizes and colorways, each of which looks better with age.
Rains Tote Bag
If you're the type that sits too close to the water, Rains' tote is ideal. It's water-resistant — courtesy of a waterproof shell made from 64-percent polyester and 36-percent polyurethane — zips shut, and has its own internal pockets, too. It comes in an array of colors, but olive, in my opinion, looks best.
The North Face Base Camp Tote Bag
For fans of The North Face, this tote proves as durable as their other bags. For first-timers, this option offers a high-quality product at an entry-level price. It's made from 60-percent polyester and 40-percent nylon, boasts 19L volume, three interior pockets and convertible backpack straps.
Patagonia Black Hole Gear Tote Bag 61L
Patagonia’s Black Hole bags are seriously tough. I’ve used a Black Hole duffle to carry well over 100 pounds of equipment, so this bag can definitely hold your sunscreen and beach towels. It’s made of 14 ounce 900-denier recycled polyester ripstop fabric that’s coated with a weather-resistant TPU-film laminate and DWR and includes an external zip pocket as well as daisy chains for any add-ons you might have. If the massive 61L size is more than you need, they also make a more reasonable 25L version, too.
Puebco Large Labour Tote Bag
Made in India from durable cotton canvas fabric, Puebco’s Large Labour Tote Bag is just as suited for lounging in the sand. It’s a generous size at 18.1″ x 25.5″ x 11.2″, so it can handle hauling your beach towels as well as lunch for the whole crew.
Steele Denim Tote
Steele’s built up its reputation for making some of the burliest canvas bags since it opened its doors in the 1920s. This beach-ready bag is made with the brand’s 11.5 oz denim, water repellant 1,000 denier nylon and full-grain U.S. cattle hide leather.
Noah Core Logo Tote
Made in the US from 100-percent cotton canvas, Noah's Core Logo tote riffs on the classic L.L. Bean Boat and Tote. It's simple, durable and adorned with a design that matches the brand's nautical look.
Epperson Mountaineering Large Climb Tote
Epperson’s Large Climb Tote is another super durable option that you’ll be passing down to the next generation. The 1000 denier Cordura nylon body is tough but lightweight and water-resistant. The tote also includes military-grade webbing for the handles and daisy chain, a secure snap top and climbing-spec cord closure, as well as seam binding, for a clean-finished inside.
Battenwear Packable Tote
This nifty tote packs down into its own interior pocket, rendering it an option you can shrink down once you've hit the sand or carry in-hand if its contents are no longer needed — i.e. you packed some snacks, etc, etc. It's cut from durable rip-stop nylon and features a cross-body strap for easy carrying.
Orvis Nylon Adventure Tote
Orvis' simple and affordable tote option is constructed from durable nylon (ballistic on the bottom) and easy-to-clean PVC backing. There are interior pockets for your valuables, and the top zips shut, keeping them locked inside.
Vans Vault OG Tote
Vans' OG Tote features handles that are best carried — not strewn over your shoulder — but that doesn't detract from its portability. The 100-percent cotton construction makes it light, while leather accents add interest. It's roomy inside and zips shut.
Resails Original Recycled Sail Tote
How beachy can one bag get? Resails’ Original Recycled Sail Tote bag plays up the nautical theme, upcycling vintage sailcloth to make its one-of-a-kind bags. Sailcloth is a great option for bags because it’s lightweight and super strong. To make matters even more durable, Resails also lines its bags with oxford nylon for extra protection and water-resistance.