It’s hard to imagine our lives without canvas tote bags. As one of the original eco-friendly alternatives, the staple bag is a mainstay in so many wardrobes—whether it’s because you have a pile of reusable shopping bags shoved in the corner, or you use one as your daily catch-all.
“Canvas bags are a must-have staple because they are practical and super functional, but they are also super fashion-forward,” says stylist and costume designer Ariel Tunnell. And, while the shopping bags we might hoard technically count as canvas tote bags, Tunnell says the canvas tote bag is not to be confused with the freebies we’ve collected over the years. According to wardrobe stylist Taylor Greeley, the canvas tote is now what the briefcase was to the ‘50s and ‘60s. “It is the staple item for carrying around daily essentials,” she explains.
Byrdie Researched & Approved
Our top pick is the L.L.Bean Large Boat and Tote because it's affordable, durable, and features a classic design. If you're wanting something more trendy, we recommend Marc Jacobs' The Large Tote Bag. Not only is it spacious, but it's designed from thick canvas so you know you'll get a ton of use out of it over the years. It even features a luggage strap and three interior pockets.
With its essential function in our wardrobes, we set out to find the best canvas tote bags, and searched high and low to find options that are sustainable, have pockets, can double as a purse, and more.
Find our top picks for the best canvas tote bags, ahead.
L.L.Bean Large Boat and Tote
In the name of canvas tote bags, there’s nothing more iconic than the L.L.Bean Boat and Tote. This durable bag does it all. It’s great as an everyday bag, for the office, at the pool and beach, as a carry on—you name it. The handcrafted tote is high-quality, can withstand heavy contents, and also has some fun customization options, like the choice between eight colors, size, closure, and monogramming.
Price at time of publish: $35
Material: 100% cotton | Dimensions: 15 x 17 x 7.5 inches
Everlane The Canvas Teardrop Tote
Everlane is our go-to for sustainable style. And, this tote meets all of our standards. The bag is designed with sustainably sourced organic cotton constructed in a unique teardrop silhouette, giving it a little something extra to stand out. We love it as an everyday handbag, but it’s also spacious enough to moonlight as an overnight bag, carry-on, or school bag—and is durable enough to hold all of those books, too.
Price at time of publish: $65
Material: 100% organic cotton | Dimensions: Not listed
JOANN Canvas Tote with Rope Handles
You don’t need to spend a lot to secure a great tote bag. JOANN’s Canvas Boat Bag is under $10, is made from durable construction, has comfortable handles, and includes a front pocket for easy access. And, if you love a craft project and want to add some more style, you can always decorate it. From tie-dye to patches to embroidery, there are endless ways to dress it up.
Price at time of publish: $10
Material: Cotton | Dimensions: 19 x 15 x 6 inches
Marc Jacobs The Large Tote Bag
The Marc Jacobs Traveler Canvas Tote is the designer canvas tote. Designed with heavy-duty cotton canvas, a secure zippered top closure, and roomy over-the-shoulder handles, the tote bag makes for a great everyday purse replacement, travel bag (hence the name), and work bag. It also has an interior zip pocket and wall pockets for added organization.
Price at time of publish: $215
Material: Canvas | Dimensions: 16 x 13 x 7 inches
Best Value Pack
TOPDesign 3-Pack Stylish Canvas Tote Bag
Canvas tote bags are the ultimate eco-friendly shopping bag—so stocking up is a must. For a high-quality value pack, we love this trio from Amazon. The large bags come in a variety of colors and are made out of durable 12-ounce canvas, so they can hold a lot of weight.
Price at time of publish: $33
Material: Cotton | Dimensions: 21 x 15 x 6 inches
Best on Amazon
Carhartt Legacy Essentials Tote
Amazon is a great place for canvas tote bags, but our top pick for this category has to be the Carhartt Essential Tote. This bag is a good carry-all tote with interior pockets for your phone and keys so you can stay organized, and an ultra-roomy bucket to fit all of the things. The handles are also a little longer than some other options, providing more comfort while carrying.
Price at time of publish: $30
Material: 100% polyester | Dimensions: 12.6 x 14.75 x 5.3 inches
Best for Work
MAKR Work Caryall Tote Bag
The best canvas tote bag for work is MKR Work Carryall Tote available from Madewell. This tote is a spacious as others but even better thanks to its large exterior pockets great for chargers, headphones, or even a paperback for the subway or your lunch break.
Price at time of publish: $210
Material: Cotton duck canvas | Dimensions: 12.5 x 17 x 5 inches
Best for Errands
Baggu Duck Bag
When running errands, we need a bag that can support everything we collect along the way, with the option to wear it on the shoulders or across the body for added comfort. The Baggu Duck Bag is our go-to style for these needs as it’s the perfect convertible bag. It has comfortable top straps that wrap around the shoulders, plus an adjustable crossbody strap. On top of that, it also has room for your laptop and other essentials.
Price at time of publish: $39
Material: Recycled cotton | Dimensions: 12.5 x 17 x 4.25 inches
Best for Travel
Calpak Hotel Calpak Tote Bag
The CALPAK Hotel Tote Bag is a canvas tote that is easy to pack—just roll or fold it up and stick it in the side of your bag. It's also great for travel because, despite its simple design, it has interior pockets and organization for all of your souvenirs, or even for organizing your dirty laundry. Finally, it's made of high-quality cotton, boasts a ton of space, and is ideal for over-packers and trinket collectors alike.
Price at time of publish: $22
Material: 100% cotton | Dimensions: 15 x 16 inches
Notabag 3-in-1 Convertible Backpack
A tote bag that doubles as a backpack? Yes, please. The Notabag Convertible Backpack comes in over 30 colors and patterns and is specifically designed with straps that easily slide into tote bag or backpack shape, depending on what you need in the moment. It’s a great bag for every day as it can morph with whatever you need while on the go, is durable, and comfortable enough for all-day wear.
Price at time of publish: $28
Material: Cotton and nylon blend | Dimensions: 6.93 x 4.09 x 1.65 inches
Best for Picnics
Pottery Barn Canvas Picnic Tote - Set for 2
We are obsessed with this Canvas Picnic Tote from Pottery Barn. The bag boasts a mix of cotton canvas and wicker, giving it a slight nod to the iconic picnic basket. It also has lots of room and storage for all of your essentials, and even comes with necessities like plates, wine glasses, and utensils.
Material: Cotton and wicker | Dimensions: 14.75 x 11.5 x 13.5 inches
Best for Everyday
Big Bud Press Everyday Tote Bag
We can’t leave home without our Big Bud Press Everyday Tote Bag as it truly lives up to its name. The Los Angeles-made tote bag comes in over a dozen colors, has two large front pockets for necessities, and is large enough to carry everything you need throughout the day. Additionally, it’s a great sustainable option, too, as it’s made from locally sourced materials and dyed with non-toxic, low-impact dyes that are better for the environment.
Price at time of publish: $35
Material: 100% cotton denim | Dimensions: 16 x 14 x 3.5 inches
Vince Camuto Orla Textured Canvas Tote Bag
If you want a natural canvas tote bag that has a little something extra, this pick is a must. The natural canvas colorway features intricate detailing on the front with added rope texture on the handle. It has a large slip back pocket, plus an interior slip pocket for added organization, has enough room for a 13- or 15-inch laptop, and is made of high-quality, durable cotton canvas.
Price at time of publish: $138
Material: Canvas with cotton lining | Dimensions: 16 x 11.5 x 5.5 inches
Fanm Mon Cherry Canvas Tote Bag
We love a tote bag with some personality, and this one from Fanm Mon caught our eye. The Cherry Bag is made of cotton canvas and designed in shopper silhouette, so it’s big enough to hold a day’s work of essentials, whether you’re going to the office, running errands, or even heading to the beach. It’s the perfect simple and sophisticated style.
Price at time of publish: $209
Material: Cotton canvas | Dimensions: 14 x 18.5 inches
Best for Books
Goddee rPET Bassi Market Tote
Known for carting tons of books everywhere you go? Us too. Our go-to canvas tote bag for books is this one from Goodee. The canvas bag, made from recycled plastic, is designed with an exterior pocket perfect for a small paperback (plus more space inside if we need to sneak in a few more titles). The bag also doubles as a simple overnight tote, too.
Price at time of publish: $125
Material: Canvas made from 100% recycled plastic | Dimensions: 16 x 15.5 x 3 inches
How We Researched
To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours researching the best products on the market in this category, evaluating their key features—like ingredients, shade range, or design—in addition to reviews from customers and other trusted sources. We then used this research to assign a star rating from one to five (five being the best; one being the worst) to certain products on the list.
Meet the Expert
What to Look for in Canvas Tote Bags
With so many styles available, Tunnell says it’s important to consider which one works for you. “Think about your daily life and what style and kind of bag would benefit you most,” she explains. “If you are looking for a daily multi-use option that could double as a purse, think about something slightly more fashion-forward with interior pockets to keep you organized." In addition to pockets, strap comfortability is another style feature to consider, especially “if you are in the market for a large carry-all style that could get heavy once it’s loaded up.”
“Always check the care tag to double-check it’s a washable option,” says Tunnell. And, when considering care, the color is also important. “Consider the color with your lifestyle—white can be hard if you tend to spill or stain, whereas a cute stripe or pattern could camouflage spills and stains.”
“A great bag is one that can stand upright and is not floppy,” says Greeley. With that in mind, structure is important to consider (especially if you want a bag that is easy to pack!).
Are canvas tote bags machine washable?
“Most canvas tote bags can be tossed in the washing machine at a cold setting to prevent shrinking,” says Greeley. “You may also take a little soap and water to the bag, rub in circular motions to remove stains, and always air dry." However, since canvas tote bags are usually cotton, there is always a possibility of shrinkage if you add in the washing machine; read the care instructions carefully beforehand.
What are the sustainable benefits to carrying a tote bag?
“Reusable tote bags are such a better, common sense alternative to single-use plastic bags,” says Tunnell. “In the US, about 100 billion plastic shopping bags are used per year and only 1 percent of them are recycled properly." She adds that so many of them “pollute our planet by ending up in oceans and other wildlife environments, causing a lot of damage to our animal population.” Using a canvas tote bag instead of a plastic bag “is one of the easiest and best things we can all do."
Why Trust Byrdie
Contributing writer Jessie Quinn has a bachelor’s degree in fashion journalism. From working in the fashion closet and interviewing designers at NYLON to now writing about the best style trends for various publications, Jessie researches and sources the best fashion finds. When researching the best canvas tote bags, Jessie tuned into her fashion experience, as well as her knowledge of fabric and design from her personal sewing projects, to determine what makes a canvas tote bag the best. Additionally, she considered, size, function, quality, and design.