Bellroy Market Tote Review
The Bellroy Market Tote’s built-in pockets and lightweight design make it a capable tote that’s both easy to bring along and stash away.
- Has pockets inside for organization
- Lightweight and folds flat
- Liner is easy to clean
- Loose threading raises durability concerns
- Doesn’t include a packable carry case
- Open-bottom pockets aren’t functional for small gear
It is almost impossible to separate the idea of a tote from grocery items. Sure, a backpack or a duffle might have the space and capacity to do the job. But there’s nothing quite like the raw simplicity of a tote bag when it comes to hauling large, bulky items, be it a carton of milk, bundles of cauliflowers, or bottles of champagne. Those examples don’t comprise the typical Pack Hacker grocery list, by the way.
The Bellroy Market Tote is a tote bag specifically designed for grocery duties. We dig its simple, lightweight design and construction, coupled with some clever organization. Yep, that’s right. This isn’t just your typical sack with handles—it’s a bit more than that. We’ve put it through its paces, both as a grocery bag and as a daily tote. Find out what we think of it in the review below.
Materials & Aesthetic
We typically find Bellroy’s products top-notch in terms of the materials they use and how well they’re put together. For the most part, the Market Tote does meet our expectations, except for a few loose threads we’ve seen crop up around the stitching. This is a bit disheartening because it’s our only real gripe against the otherwise solid Market Tote. The main fabric is a 100% recycled polyester (which is made from recycled PET plastic bottles) that feels as durable as non-recycled polyester.
Some Bellroy fans may be disappointed to know that the colorways available at the time of writing are leather-free. These include Khaki, Ranger Green, Smoke Blue, Gumnut, and Black; the latter most is the one we’re sampling in this review. Most Bellroy products have leather accents like zipper pulls and logos. As for the Market Tote, Bellroy’s logo sits on a simple patch of fabric at the base of one of the handles. It does the job, signifying that this is still a Bellroy product through and through; we really can’t complain.
Something worth mentioning is that the interior pockets’ stitching is visible from the outside. It’s nothing too distracting, though, even against the black fabric of our sample. Everything still looks like the typical basic tote bag, all the way from the squared-off shape and down to the no-nonsense single-color fabric. The Market Tote doesn’t have the fanciful aesthetic of Bellroy’s own Classic Tote, but it’s not bad-looking either.
Usage & Features
One of the key features of the Market Tote that we appreciate is its gusseted bottom. This gives the bag a floor, and when a bag has a floor, it usually means it can stand. To cut to the chase, yes, the Market Tote is able to stand, though its structuredness still depends on how well it’s packed. The more it’s packed, the more structured the Market Tote is. Seeing as it’s designed to be taken on grocery runs, we mostly load it up with vegetables and other produce.
Once expanded, there’s no question that this is a 15-liter tote bag. That’s not really surprising given that totes usually excel at spaciousness; it’s what makes them such good all-rounders for hauling items. What sets the Market Tote apart is its built-in pockets. In addition to stuffing it with several pounds of meat and veggies, we’re able to put two wine bottles in two of these pockets. Bellroy thoughtfully left these without floors, so bottles push through to the gusseted floor of the tote itself. This means our hefty wine bottles help prop up the Market Tote instead of awkwardly tilting the whole bag.
The bottles pockets are somewhat limited in their roles, however. Their lack of a floor prevents them from holding smaller items in place. This means unless your grocery list always has wine bottles and baguettes listed, they won’t serve many purposes.
Flanked by the two bottle pockets is a smaller dump pocket where we put our smartphone, wallet, and other everyday carry items like keys and hand sanitizer. We can’t stress enough how handy an extra pocket for EDC is, especially when we’re shopping for groceries. Having somewhere to quickly stash our phone while constantly checking our list is a nice quality-of-life improvement over a tote without any pockets. Additionally, this pocket can also be used to separate food items that bruise easily, like apples or avocados.
Mind you, the Market Tote isn’t the first tote to feature internal organization. Other examples include Tom Bihn’s Truckasana and Timbuk2’s Packable Tote, the latter having a small internal pouch where the tote itself can be packed into.
All of that said, the Market Tote isn’t strictly for grocery runs; it can also be used as a daily tote for clothes and work-related items. We’re able to fit two packing cubes, a 32-ounce Hydro Flask, a tech pouch, and our MacBook (inside a laptop sleeve). Something to watch out for is that the liner is prone to stains. Ours got smudged by residue from asparagus. While it was easy to clean, the slick material doesn’t fully absorb the stain, so it can still smear on other items. It’s not a huge deal-breaker, but something to be mindful of if you’re planning to use the Market Tote for both grocery runs and as a daily tote.
Admittedly, the Market Tote’s handles do look somewhat thin and lacking. However, they definitely have some thickness that makes them comfortable to use. They have a soft, seatbelt-like texture that’s somewhat slippery against clothing made out of silk. The length is also just right so that the tote doesn’t drag along the floor when carrying it by hand. Other than that, there’s nothing much to them. Lastly, the handles are stitched to the main fabric and a small patch inside, acting as reinforcement. This is one area where we wouldn’t want to see any loose threads, and fortunately, there aren’t any.
For something with a 15-liter capacity, the Market Tote is also surprisingly lightweight and compact. Compression is as simple as folding the bag into thirds while keeping the handles in the middle so that they don’t dangle. Unfortunately, the Market Tote doesn’t come with its own pouch like packable totes do. On the other hand, the fold-flat shape is easy to slip between packing cubes, textbooks, laptops, and other tight spaces. The lack of extra pouches also cuts down on things to keep track of, so there’s definitely a trade-off there.
The simplicity of the Market Tote’s construction is its biggest strength. It’s easy to bring when it’s loaded and even easier to stow away when it’s not needed. Coupled with its thoughtful organization, it’s also more adequately equipped than just a huge dump sack where items get jumbled up. For travel purposes, it’s a capable tote bag we like to keep in our back pocket in case we need it—it can certainly fit in there.
- Able to stand on its own
- Tote handles appear thin, but they actually have a decent amount of thickness to them
- There are two pockets inside for large bottles
- Some loose threads have cropped up around the top seams of the tote
- Inside material is easy to wipe clean but has still developed some stains
- Flat bottom allows it to stand up straight, but only if you pack it right
- Open bottom side sleeves are great for wine bottles, water bottles, or even a fresh baguette