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ALPAKA Bravo Tote Review

Far from bare bones, the ALPAKA Bravo Tote has a well-organized front compartment and a water bottle pocket that makes it a viable alternative to a daypack.

Our Verdict

8.1 /10
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  • Very structured and easy to pack unlike typically baggy totes
  • Well-organized front compartment for everyday carry items
  • Tote handles are thick and supportive


  • Exterior water bottle pocket is too tight for insulated bottles larger than 18 ounces
  • Main compartment’s zipper track warps, making it somewhat tricky to open
  • Unstructured tote handles flop around when not in use

Technical Details

90 %

Carry-on Compliance

View 131/145 Airlines

36 %

Like the Look

Polled on Instagram

  • Capacity


  • Weight (lb)

    2.15 lb (1 kg)

  • Dimensions

    13.78 in x 14.96 in x 5.51 in (35 x 38 x 14 cm)

  • Notable Materials

    Recycled Polyester, Ripstop Nylon, YKK Zippers, DWR Coating

  • Warranty Information

    Warranty & Repairs

Buying Options

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Full Review

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If there’s one thing about ALPAKA’s gear that isn’t lacking, it’s organization. The brand knows how valuable gear segmentation is to its customers, whether they’re commuting back and forth from their offices or traveling internationally. Thus, we rarely see products in their lineup that have compartments bare of any pockets or without a HUB accessory of any kind. The same applies to their take on a tote bag.

ALPAKA Bravo Tote Bench
ALPAKA Bravo Tote | Bravo tote, bravo.

The Bravo Tote isn’t exactly the kind of tote you’d imagine taking to the farmers market (though don’t let that stop you, obviously). Instead, it functions more like a tote made for the everyday commute and daily carrying, thanks to its front compartment that readily organizes a lot of everyday carry items. Simply put, this tote doesn’t just specialize in bulky groceries or professional equipment; we daresay it’s contending with a daypack. So, if you’ve been insisting on rocking a tote for your daily needs, check this out!

External Components

Given this is an ALPAKA product, you can expect the usual set of durable materials and urbanized aesthetics. Forget the baggy totes people take to the local farmers’ market made of hemp. ALPAKA took the humble concept and dressed it in their Axoflux recycled polyester (with DWR coating, of course). It’s a 600-denier fabric, which isn’t very heavy compared to the 1680-denier figures some ballistic nylon fabrics tout. Yet, it’s resilient for most encounters the city commute can throw at you, like sudden light rains and small coffee spills. That said, it’s somewhat strange to see plain reverse coil YKK zippers covering the main compartment while the front gets a beefier AquaGuard-like zipper track. The plain reverse coil zipper track is much more pliant and easier to open, though, so that may be the reason.

ALPAKA Bravo Tote Tag
ALPAKA Bravo Tote | The entire tote feels well-structured.

The YKK zippers come with what appear to be Hypalon pulls, the same ones we’ve seen on other ALPAKA gear. However, these ones are more plasticky and not as nice to the touch. The ALPAKA branding (the small tab) still uses more Hypalon-like material, so it’s interesting to see a different material for the zipper pulls. They still help when your fingers are slick with sweat, though, so we won’t harp on them too much.

Overall, the styling is definitely on brand for ALPAKA. Despite our penchant for all things black, we went for the Army Green colorway because it looks very classy without blending in with the sea of other black bags. Tote bags wouldn’t be our first choice if we’re bringing one into a corporate board room meeting, but we’re confident this one will pass—doubly so if you’re the designated donut person hauling in the goods.

ALPAKA Bravo Tote Luggage
ALPAKA Bravo Tote | A luggage pass-through comes in handy if you’re traveling with a roller.

There’s a strong and valid temptation to hunt for extra external features on a very city-flavored tote like the Bravo Tote. Indeed, you’ll find a luggage pass-through at the back, two sets of handles/straps—one of which is detachable—and a water bottle pocket. It’s not bare-bones by any means, though it’s also not overwhelmingly equipped like other bags laden with attachment loops, clips, and bungee cords.

The first set of handles are typical tote handles permanently attached to the bag. They’re notably soft, softer than the usual seatbelt-like material that these appear to be made of. We dig that the middle portion you’re expected to hold is folded over and has a bit of padding built in for comfort. We’ve seen totes from other brands skimp on this part; while those work fine, these feel kinder to the user. One nitpick is that they just kind of flop around independently since there’s no clasp or wrap to hold them together—a minor annoyance that we’ve seen on a lot of totes, in fairness.

ALPAKA Bravo Tote Close Handle
ALPAKA Bravo Tote | These tote handles are surprisingly beefy.

The tote handles are large enough to carry by the shoulder, but there is a detachable strap available as well. It’s an entire crossbody strap that’s very beefy to match the Bravo Tote’s 14-liter size. The padding is really thick, but so is the quick-release buckle, which slides along its width to disengage rather than using a side-release mechanism. Lastly, the strap attaches diagonally across the Bravo Tote’s top via rotating clips, which should minimize twisties and a tangled mess whenever you pick up the bag.

Fit Notes

ALPAKA Bravo Tote Side By Side
Left: Eric Hergenreder, Height: 6’0″ (183 cm), Torso: 18.5” (47 cm) | Right: Lauren Maternowski, Height: 5’6” (168 cm), Torso: 16.5” (42 cm)

The tote handles are pleasantly large enough to hang on the shoulders. Some totes handle this poorly, where it almost feels like you’re clutching a bag by your armpits; this is not the case here. That’s not a trivial observation, either. The Bravo Tote is notably portly, even for a 14-liter bag, because of all the thick materials used, so proportionately sized handles are much appreciated. As stated, we also like how there’s padding involved as well, not just plain thin straps, so it’s at least comfortable for short hauls.

ALPAKA Bravo Tote Strap
ALPAKA Bravo Tote | The crossbody strap is ideal if you’re carrying the tote for any significant time.

That said, the included crossbody strap is the way to go if you’re carrying the Bravo Tote for any significant amount of time. Its thick padding guarantees comfort, and adjusting the length is, thankfully, easy. You can lengthen either side of the strap, though we usually only adjust one side since it’s easier to do while the bag is on. Speaking of sides, we find it ideal to put the large buckle behind us for a much cleaner look. Of course, you can put this at the front so you can easily disengage it since the entire strap can be reoriented by detaching and reattaching it.

Inside The Tote

One feature we appreciate on most bags is an external water bottle pocket. No matter how spacious a bag’s main compartment is, nothing beats the peace of mind separation brings. Bonus points for ALPAKA putting in the effort to make this water bottle pocket look very stylish, too. The stretchy gusset doubles as a triangular black accent piece. On the other hand, the base’s mesh gusset is notably well-hidden until a bottle is inserted, stretching the entire pocket open.

ALPAKA Bravo Tote Water Bottle Close
ALPAKA Bravo Tote | The exterior water bottle pocket is notably tight-fitting.

We dig it when aesthetics and functionality come together seamlessly. However, we wish the pocket was just a bit bigger. As it stands, fitting an 18-ounce insulated bottle is already tricky, and anything bigger is nearly impossible to fit—a shame since we like bringing bigger insulated bottles when we’re testing bags. Aside from the pocket’s lack of stretch, part of the problem is that the Bravo Tote is very structured, so bottles that are inserted curve into the bag. This issue is further compounded once the main compartment is fully packed out.

Just above the luggage pass-through is a hidden zippered pocket where you can store sensitive valuables. Passports, wallets, cash, cards, IDs, etc.—those can all live in here, though you’ll want to keep it to flat items since this pocket sits directly against you. Truth is, we don’t find much use for this on a day-to-day basis. It’s not very convenient to access while we’re wearing the tote, and by contrast, the front pocket is roomier, more organized, and easier to access (though not as stealthy and, therefore, not as secure).

ALPAKA Bravo Tote Pocket 2
ALPAKA Bravo Tote | A well-organized front compartment greatly helps if you plan on bringing any everyday carry items.

The front pocket has a wide opening courtesy of its horseshoe shape. Though we generally expect AquaGuard-style zippers like the one here to be a bit sticky, this one is surprisingly smooth to operate—that is, when the bag is set down on a table, for example. Once we’re wearing the Bravo Tote, it’s sometimes easy to leave both zippers off to the side behind us; you have to make sure it’s towards the front so they’re easy to reach. Is it an “us” problem? Arguably so, and it’s a small nitpick at best.

The front pocket offers a lot of options for organizing everyday carry gear. It’s honestly one of the more impressive aspects of the Bravo Tote since totes usually excel more in terms of space rather than organization, let alone organization this granular. There are two mesh pockets on the front side and two liner pockets at the back. In between the liner pockets are two pen slots, and there’s even a lengthy key leash above. It’s an integrated version of ALPAKA’s magnetized MOD Key Tether, and we really like using it since the magnet makes detaching and reattaching very trivial. A close comparator in terms of organization would be the Bellroy Tokyo Wonder Tote 12L with its split front compartment, though it’s not quite on this level of organization.

ALPAKA Bravo Tote Zipped
ALPAKA Bravo Tote | The zipper track slightly warps towards either end, making zipping tricky sometimes.

The twist is that the front pocket packs optimally if you’re only filling it with small everyday carry items. Large accessories like packable jackets and rolled-up buffs are too irregularly shaped and bulky. All the while, a fully packed main compartment robs way too much space for us to comfortably fit items like those anyway. Fortunately, the Bravo Tote is still a tote, so all of your large gear will inevitably have a home in its spacious main compartment.

The main compartment’s opening is covered by a lengthy zipper track—that’s not just stating the obvious, by the way. The track’s length is actually greater than the top side’s length, and having the excess track tucked into the bag itself has created slight crests on either side. So, what’s the problem? Having to drag the zippers over these crests creates notable resistance, making unzipping rather tricky at times. Furthermore, the crossbody strap from earlier is pre-attached across the zipper track, meaning it gets in the way. Fortunately, there are loops on either side of the zipper track, so you can just reattach the strap however you want.

ALPAKA Bravo Tote Empty
ALPAKA Bravo Tote | There’s a laptop sleeve inside.

We also dig that ALPAKA didn’t constrict the Bravo Tote’s opening by running the zipper track along the very edge. Instead, there’s a fabric gusset housing the zipper, which generally allows for a much wider opening that makes packing easy. This is all worth mentioning since not every tote has a closure, and a zipper is probably one of the harder ones to get right without compromising the simplicity of this style bag.

The inside of the main compartment is surprisingly well-organized, too, considering most totes have none. There is a laptop and document sleeve on the back side and a trio of large drop pockets on the front side. The drop pockets are large enough to fit a bottle, and we prefer using the flanking ones over the exterior water bottle pocket because we can easily fit a 22-ounce bottle inside. Of course, you increase the risk of damaging your laptop in case of a spill, but it’s a worthwhile tradeoff for our use case.

The laptop sleeve is well padded with a stiff frame sheet covering the interior side, while a soft fleece-like liner is on the far side. It can fit up to a 16-inch MacBook Pro, and even the adjacent document sleeve can fit a 13-inch MacBook pretty comfortably. Admittedly, the amount of space left once you’ve packed all of the main compartment’s pockets is significantly diminished, but there’s still enough space for two or three packing cubes or pouches.

ALPAKA Bravo Tote Stuffed
ALPAKA Bravo Tote | Spacious, but there are also a lot of pockets to potentially occupy.

Additionally, packing all of these pockets and spaces is a cinch since ALPAKA made sure to beef up the Bravo Tote’s structure. So structured is the Bravo Tote that it’s a distinct feature called a self-standing design. True enough, this tote stands upright thanks to its relatively wide and stable base and thick materials.

Usage Timeline

Initial Usage

Condition: Excellent

  • Super roomy tote for only being rated at 14 liters
  • Digging the internal organization all around
  • Has a very classic ALPAKA aesthetic that we’re digging
2 Weeks of Use

Condition: Excellent

  • Sleek material is holding up well and gives the bag a professional look
  • Super easy to load up with gear without getting overstuffed
  • Have to be a bit strategic about what pocket you put things in, though
By Lauren Maternowski
Created March 4, 2024 • Updated April 4, 2024
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