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10 best tote bags to buy in 2024: stylish, designer, lightweight bags for work and shopping

There’s nothing like a good tote bag. Its timeless, no-fuss design combined with the ability to hold all the stuff you could possibly need to get through the day makes the tote a must-have for every wardrobe. We round up the best buys, as recommended by Mumsnetters.

By Laura Cooke | Last updated Dec 20, 2023

Best tote bags

Whether you’re hauling work stuff, kids’ stuff, holiday stuff or all-of-the-above stuff, sling a trusty tote bag over your shoulder and you’re good to go.

Handbags are something wise Mumsnetters are willing to invest in. Let’s face it: the last thing you want is one of your bag straps giving way while you’re running for the train or to the school gates. But with such a huge range of fabrics, brands and styles out there - from beachy canvas to office-friendly black leather to versatile tote packs - it’s difficult to know which to go for. That’s why we’ve rummaged through the Mumsnet forums and online reviews to highlight the best tote bags to buy this year.

To keep you organised on the go, we've got handy guides to the best women's backpacks, the best crossbody bags, the best laptop bags, the best work bags, the best suitcases, the best cabin bags, the best kids' luggage, the best packing cubes, the best toiletry bags and the best bum bags, all featuring top product recommendations from Mumsnetters.

Best tote bag at a glance

  • Best overall: Longchamp Le Pliage | Buy now

  • Best budget: Zara Basic Tote Bag | Buy now

  • Best leather: Fat Face Chestnut Paris Tote Bag | Buy now

  • Best large: Marc Jacobs The Traveller Tote Bag | Buy now

  • Best for families: Osprey Arcane | Buy now

  • Best for laptops: Radley Finsbury Park Lily Pad Tote Bag | Buy now

  • Best designer: Aspinal of London Tote | Buy now

  • Best for travel: Mia Tui Jennie | Buy now

  • Best faux leather: Matt & Nat | Buy now

  • Best luxury: Louis Vuitton Neverfull MM | Buy now

1. Best overall tote bag: Longchamp Le Pliage

Longchamp Le Pliage tote bag

Price: RRP £100 | Buy now from John Lewis & Partners

Key specs

Size: 30 x 31 x 19cm | Material: Nylon and leather

What we like

  • The perfect blend of stylish and practical

  • Lightweight

  • Great all-rounder - can be used as a work bag, beach bag or changing bag

What we don't like

  • You may feel £100 is a bit steep if you’re looking for a changing bag or beach bag - but many Mumsnetters say it’s worth the price tag

What Mumsnet users say

“I was convinced by the ladies here to buy a Longchamp Le Pliage last summer, and it has been rather a brilliant purchase - top zip, folds up small for storage/packing in suitcase if you don't want to use it at the airport. Fits tonnes of crap in it for the beach, looks more expensive than it is. Will be used again this summer” - OrdinarySnowflake

“I have used Longchamp Le Pliage for years and years, through uni, work, travelling, and so on. The bags are so lightweight and virtually indestructible. I'm very small so lightweight is a must” - catgirl30

Our verdict

Let’s face it, there's one standout winner here. Chic, practical and strong, Le Pliage by Longchamp ticks all the boxes and Mumsnetters are huge fans. Great as an additional bag thanks to its ability to be folded up to the size of a paperback and tucked into a pocket or handbag, it’s sturdy enough to be your main bag too, thanks to the leather straps that won’t let you down.

It’s one of the most affordable designer bags at around £100, and is big enough for a 13” laptop with room for plenty more besides. The nylon is wipe-clean, which makes it a popular changing bag choice, and Le Pliage comes in a huge variety of colourways as well as a mini and a maxi version. Fans of pockets might find it hard to get along with Le Pliage, as it only has one slim compartment. But there’s no denying that this bag is a fab all-rounder.

2. Best budget tote bag: Zara Basic Tote Bag

Zara Basic tote bag

Price: RRP £23 | Buy now from Zara 

Key specs

Size: 46 x 32 x 7.5 cm | Material: Polyurethane and polyester

What we like

  • A solid, good quality bag for a fraction of the price of similar designer bags

What we don't like

  • Limited colour choice

  • No internal pockets or laptop sleeve

What Mumsnet users say

“Try Zara - I have a few non leather totes from there and have been happy with quality and I lug them around all over the place.”  BeaLola

Our verdict

A sturdy, good quality tote bag doesn’t need to cost the earth. The Zara Basic Tote Bag is exactly that - a reliable and professional looking bag that's perfect for ferrying all the essentials into the office.

Wide shoulder straps mean the bag is comfortable to carry, and one large main compartment means that everything should fit in nicely. However it’s worth noting that there are no internal pockets or any handy extras, like a laptop sleeve. A magnetic clasp keeps the bag closed, but you may prefer a bag that can zip shut for extra peace of mind.

3. Best leather tote bag: Fat Face Chestnut Paris Tote Bag

Fat Face Chestnut Paris Tote Bag

Price: RRP £85 | Buy now from Fat Face

Key specs

Size: 29 x 29 x 6.5cm | Material: Leather, with a cotton lining

What we like

  • Handy front pocket

  • Can also be worn as a crossbody bag

What we don't like

  • No internal pockets

What Mumsnet users say

“I have one like this from Fat Face. I've had it for about 5 years and it's still looking really good.” aftonwater

Our verdict

Proving that a stylish leather tote bag doesn’t have to break the bank is this gorgeous piece from Fat Face. Professional enough for work, the Chestnut Parish Tote Bag can be transformed into a casual crossbody with the addition of a navy stripe strap.

The bag has a front slip pocket, allowing easy access to the essentials, while a zip keeps the main compartment secure. It’s worth noting that there are no internal pockets and no special laptop compartment, but reviewers say this bag can comfortably accommodate an iPad. It’s not oversized either, so there’s no chance of everything disappearing into a big black hole at the bottom of your bag, never to be seen again.

4. Best large tote bag: Marc Jacobs The Traveller Tote Bag

Marc Jacobs The Traveller Tote Bag

Price: RRP £230 | Buy now from Very

Key specs

Size: 34 x 42 x 16cm | Material: Canvas

What we like

  • So much space!

  • Bold design

What we don't like

  • The obvious branding isn’t to everyone’s taste

What Mumsnet users say

“I got the Marc Jacobs one - it's fab! Huge size, looks good and fits everything in.”  Midnights

“The Marc Jacobs tote bags are really good and not too expensive if you go for a fabric one. I use one as my laptop bag for work (boujee I know) but it fits so much into it.” Ithoughtisawapuddycat

Our verdict

If you’re looking to add a touch of utilitarian style to your weekend wardrobe, then look no further. The Traveller Tote Bag, by Marc Jacobs, is big enough for work essentials, laptops, gym kits, shopping…and probably the kitchen sink too.

An internal zipped pocket keeps your money, keys and phone safe, with a zipped top adding some extra security. The bold print is a real talking point, but admittedly not to everyone’s taste. If you like the bag but are put off by the size, don’t worry as a number of other sizes (and colours are available).

5. Best tote bag for families: Osprey Arcane

Osprey Arcana tote bag

Price: RRP £104 | Buy now from Osprey 

Key specs

Size: 46 x 28 x 23cm | Material: Recycled polyester

What we like

  • Can also be used as a backpack

  • Nice colour choice

What we don't like

  • You may want something a bit more sleek looking

What Mumsnet users say

"I have this bag and I absolutely love it. Super comfy even fully loaded with laptop, books etc" - ILOVEALLCAKES

Our verdict

For a super-practical everyday bag capable of carrying everyone’s paraphernalia, go for a tote pack. This one by Osprey has long handles for carrying it like a tote, but also backpack straps so you can fling it on your back if you need both arms free for child-wrangling.

It’s got a padded laptop compartment that fits up to 15” devices, and a front panel for keeping small items close at hand. Osprey is an outdoor adventure brand, so the Arcane is designed with comfort and durability in mind. We love the yellow, but you’ll also find it in more muted black or grey.

6. Best tote bag for laptops: Radley Finsbury Park Lily Pad Tote Bag

Radley tote Finsbury Lily Pad

Price: RRP £149 | Buy now from Radley

Key specs

Size: 30 x 49 x 15cm | Material: Recycled plastic bottles

What we like

  • Roomy design

  • Made from recycled bottles

  • Fun print

  • Plenty of pockets

What we don't like

  • Investment price tag

What Mumsnet users say

“I like Radley and I have a few. They are well made and they last.” Immaculatemisconception

Our verdict

Radley is known for its quirky take on timeless style. This large tote bag features a fun geometric print adding a little playful style to your work looks.

Mumsnet users love how well made Radley bags are, praising how long they last even with heavy use.

This tote has a handy inner zipped pocket to keep your keys, phone and essentials secure. The roomy inner compartment has plenty of space to slide a laptop in. And the best bit is that it’s made from recycled bottles, making it the eco-conscious choice.

7. Best designer tote bag: Aspinal of London Tote

leather tote bag

Price: RRP £390 | Buy now from Aspinal of London

What we like

  • High-quality construction

  • Timeless design

  • Made from real leather

  • Internal pockets to help you stay organised

What we don't like

  • Investment price tag

What Mumsnet users say

“Another vote for Aspinal London Tote. I have it in this colour. Game changer. Feel like Mary Poppins with the amount that fits in it. Definitely would easily do a laptop etc and is sturdy. Lots of colours available too.”  BurningRed

Our verdict

If you’re looking to treat yourself then the Aspinal London Tote is the way to go. Granted, it’s not cheap, but it’s definitely a thing of beauty. Mumsnet users love this luxurious bag for its timeless style, spacious design and sturdy construction.

If you’ve just secured a promotion or you’ve been working hard and want to indulge in a long-lasting self-care treat, then this bag could be the one.

Aspinal has handcrafted this bag using the highest quality leather. There’s a wide range of colours and finishes to choose between and the bag is made to last a lifetime. The roomy design has multiple internal pockets, a zip section and a magnetic popper close.

We’re smitten with the grey and blue options but it’s the beautiful padlock detail that’s really caught our eye.

8. Best tote bag for travel: Mia Tui Jennie

Mia Tui Jennie tote bag

Price: RRP £62 | Buy now from QVC

Key specs

Size: 51 x 26cm | Material: Faux leather

What we like

  • Made from vegan-friendly faux leather

  • Beautiful range of colours to choose from

  • Comes with plenty of pockets and accessory bags

What we don't like

  • Some reviewers say the bag is a little on the heavy side

What Mumsnet users say

"I have the Mia Tui Jennie bag. It's faux leather (fine by me) and comes in different colours, is huge, has different compartments" - WrongSideOfHistory

"Great, hardwearing, roomy (lots of pockets!) - and comes in lots of different colours" - beeyourself

Our verdict

The Mia Tui Jennie is a great choice if you’re looking for a tote that doubles as a changing bag or a carry-on bag. It comes with masses of accessories to keep all your things in order, including two insulated bottle holders and a clip for your keys.

Made from faux leather, the Jennie comes in 20 different colours. The bright turquoise lining does stain quite easily, but otherwise a lot of thought has been put into its design, and the manufacturers recommend the smaller Mini Jen if you’re under 5’5”.

9. Best faux leather tote bag: Matt & Nat

Price: RRP £145 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Size: 24 x 30cm | Material: Faux leather

What we like

  • Made from vegan-friendly faux leather

  • Hard wearing

What we don't like

  • This tote bag is on the small size - you may struggle to fit your tech in

What Mumsnet users say

"Quality is amazing, I bought a tote bag for work 4 years ago and it still looks great - it withstands a heavy load every day and there is very little wear and tear on it. Thoroughly recommend" - Nemesia

Our verdict

The smallest of our tote haul, this ultra-stylish bag from vegan label Matt & Nat comes with a removable cross-body strap and a neat magnetic closure to keep your stuff safe.

While some faux leather can crack or have a plasticky appearance, Mumsnetters say Matt & Nat bags last and look good as new even after years of wear. This tote won’t fit a device much bigger than a tablet, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in looks.

10. Best luxury tote bag: Louis Vuitton Neverfull MM

Louis Vuitton Neverfull MM tote bag

Price: RRP £1,410 | Buy now from Louis Vuitton 

Key specs

Size: 31 x 28 x 14 cm | Material: Coated canvas, leather trim

What we like

  • A sturdy, hardwearing bag that will last for years

  • Roomy interior

What we don't like

  • Eye-watering price tag

What Mumsnet users say

“I've got 2 - they’re the hardest working bags I own.” LivingLaVidaBabyShower

“I have MM and use it mainly for travelling as it’s not too big or too small. I’ve also seen them used around the pool as beach bags. I’ve had mine for years and it’s still in great condition but I would freak out if sun cream leaked all over the inside.” Justfivemoreminutesplease

Our verdict

The Louis Vuitton Neverfull MM is an absolute workhorse of a bag. Strong, sturdy and incredibly spacious (it’s called the Neverfull for good reason), this bag has a flat, textile-lined zipped inside pocket and removable zipped pouch, and the whole thing is sealed shut with a hooked closure.

Yes, it’s true that this is a high-end designer bag, with a suitably eye-watering price tag attached. If you have the cash to splash and are in the market for a quality bag with an enviable reputation, then this is the one for you. If you like the idea of having a bit of LV on your arm, but baulk at the price tag, it may be worth keeping an eye on the sales or good old eBay to avoid substandard designer dupes.

How to buy the best tote bag?

The first thing to consider is what you’re planning to put in it. Measure your laptop or changing mat to make sure the dimensions are going to work. Secondly, think about your wardrobe and what style might go with most of your outfits. Leather is usually a no-brainer for bags, but as totes are on the large side, a leather bag can be heavy, especially when you consider all the weight will be on one shoulder. Check out nylon styles for a lighter option that doesn’t skimp on quality.

It’s also worth considering strap length – long handles make a tote more versatile as you can carry it by hand, by elbow or on your shoulder, as well as fitting it over winter coats. Many totes don’t have more than a single small pocket, so to maximise space, consider a bag organiser like this one to save excess rummaging.

What’s the best material for a tote bag?

Nylon makes for the lightest, most comfortable tote bags, while remaining practical and stylish.

What’s the best tote bag to buy?

Longchamp’s Le Pliage is the tote we like best as it combines size, lightness, style and quality, all in one neat, foldable package.

How we choose our recommendations

We’ve thoroughly researched the best tote bags you can buy this season including tried-and-tested bags from a wide range of honest, trusted sources. Here’s how we narrowed it down to our top picks.

Mumsnet community       

When it comes to stylish and practical tote bags, Mumsnetters know a trusty carrier when they see (and use) one.

We first assessed all the recommendations from the Mumsnet community, getting feedback on the best tote bags they have personally used, reviewed and rated, including their favourite models, and must-have additional features. We also considered the reasons why Mumsnetters would avoid certain tote bags.

Expert opinions

We know that choosing the right tote bag takes a lot of thought and consideration, so we made sure our recommendations were well received within the bags and luggage industry, rated or recommended by travel experts and industry leaders.

Trusted consumer reviews

Finally, we scrutinised honest customer reviews on retailer sites such as Amazon and John Lewis to get wider consumer opinions on the products on our shortlist. Through this research, we were able to weigh up the best tote bags for a variety of needs and gain a greater understanding of the pros and cons of each.

About the author

Laura Cooke is a Content Editor at Mumsnet, with a special focus on homeware and product reviews. She's a mum of two and lives in Sussex. Her work has been published in the Daily Mirror, the i, Metro, Stylist and Happiful magazine.

Laura started writing Swears By articles for Mumsnet in 2021 and has since written several buyer's guides and product reviews to help Mumsnetters make informed choices when it comes to parting with their pennies.

In her free time, Laura enjoys going to gigs, learning to play tennis and fish and chips by the seaside.

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