- Buyer's Guide
If you’re a Carryologist, then there’s a good chance that you own some pretty unique bags. Whether it’s one of our collaborations, a unicorn that you’ve hunted, or a one-off heirloom found in a thrift store at the back end of the earth. But sometimes, all you really need is a simple, effective, carry solution.
Enter the Bellroy Market Tote.
I have found the Market Tote collection to be some of the best value in carry, and one of my most used bags. Ranging from $35 to $49 depending on size, they are the reliable work horses that my family and I turn to for everything from grocery shopping to baby travel.
Both in colour choices and size, the Market Tote has something for everyone. It now comes in three sizes: the City Tote tote (10L), the original Market Tote (15L), and the Market Tote Plus (25L). Colour wise there are eight choices across the line, ranging from the understated to the brilliantly bright.
The three sizes are different in features, but only ever so slightly. The smallest City Tote has one main cavity with two slip pockets, the medium sized Market Tote has one main cavity, one slip pocket, and two pass through bottle pockets, while the largest Market Tote Plus has one main cavity, two slip pockets and a snap closure/secondary handle.
And hey, that might be the shortest ever feature list I’ve had to write in an article for Carryology, and that’s precisely what makes the Market Totes so great. There aren’t excessive bells and whistles on these bags, no hidden pockets for X, Y, or Z. There isn’t a superfluous leather handle, or a watertight zipper. These bags are unapologetically basic, but in the best way. The clue is in the name, these are designed as market haulers, and they do that job admirably – but they also do so much more.
The City, Market, and Market plus all haul gear well. While their inception is an upgrade to the old cotton tote (these are all made from 100% recycled PET plastic bottles), they perform multiple tasks without a backwards step. There are a few ways we’ve used ours that stand out as the best use case for them.
The City Tote is well sized for your smaller carry, I’ve predominantly found mine used for a “top up” shop when I’m just grabbing a few bits from the grocery store, a laundry bag when coming home from a weekend away, or a gym & swim bag. It’s the perfect size for a pair of shoes, a change of clothes, a towel and a water bottle. The slip pockets are a happy home for your wallet, phone and keys while you work up a sweat.
The Market Tote is the original heart of the lineup, and is probably our most used. We use this for grocery shopping every week thanks to a few key features. One, the bottle slip pockets are ingenious. These are essentially sleeves that keep bottles upright while you’re on the move, whether it’s water or wine, you don’t have to worry about your food being crushed or your drink being spilt.
All the totes have a flat bottom, which means they stand very nicely, particularly when loaded out. The Market Tote is also perfect for a picnic or backyard barbeque, it’s easy to haul a couple of bottles of wine and some snacks to a friend’s house without bringing a giant cooler. Even better, it folds up when you’ve finished the goodies inside!
The Market Tote Plus is the big sibling for when you need to carry a little extra. This 25L can be carried two ways, either by the shoulder straps, or by the snap closure which doubles as a handle.
The MTP easily carries a weeks worth of grocery shopping, clothing/accessories for a family of three for a picnic, or an unholy amount of stuffed animals/crunchy books for a five month old.
Functionality & Design Features
All three of these totes are the epitome of simplicity. One of my favourite features of these bags is that I don’t have to worry about failure points, there aren’t zippers to go wrong here and there aren’t a multitude of pockets that’ll tear through from overuse. My original market tote is two years old and going strong after daily use!
Another feature I enjoy on these (and most of Bellroy’s bags for that matter) is the branding, or lack thereof. There are two minuscule bits of branding on the totes. At the base of the handles you’ll find the word mark logo on one side, and the owl on the other, that’s pretty much it. In line with the rest of the design, it’s dead simple.
Across all three totes, there is a similar design language. Clean and simple lines, but also thoughtful touches that make you want to bring these with you. Firstly, they fold completely flat. It’s not uncommon for my wife and I to bring all three totes with us. We’ll lay the City Tote and Market Tote at the base of the Market Tote Plus. They take up no room at all, and give you extra options should you need them. The same can be said of any other bags, these slip wonderful into a bottle pocket, unused laptop sleeve, or even just the base of the bag.
They all stand upright too, which is a huge plus in my book for a tote. Whichever way you find yourself using them, not having to contend with the bag when loading it is a patience saver without doubt. In the same breath, the reinforced handles are there to stay and they are long enough to carry over your shoulder comfortably. Thanks to the durable webbing, there’s none of that rolling fabric that slowly becomes a tourniquet and cuts of circulation to your arm with a heavy bag.
When I think of carry that I use regularly, I use it for two key reasons.
Functionality is top of the list, it always has been, and it always will be for me. That’s the very essence of carry, that it works, and it works well!
Secondly, is reliability. I’ve had beautiful bags that just aren’t reliable, the material might feel weak at a point, or maybe the zipper jams too often for my liking. If I’m going to use something time and again, I need to be able to pick it up, and trust it to work. I feel as though Tote’s are the perfect example of those two criteria, they aren’t about fancy features, they are designed to be undeniable workhorses that come with you on every adventure you have, whether it’s a quick grocery haul, or a day out with your family.
Simply put, if you want to upgrade your carry, you should add at least one of these to your arsenal. Heck, for $123 you can have the whole set, there’s a reason I recommend them to anyone who’ll listen! In my mind, these might just be the best value in carry.