Have you been looking for a tote that could work as a purse but also function as a stylish gear bag? If so, the Oberon Design Everyday Tote may be perfect! I received mine just before our vacation, and it soon became a favorite. At $195, it is not inexpensive, but it is well made and should last for years.
The Everyday Tote is composed of bench crafted waxed canvas and leather; it measures approximately 12” tall x 17.5” wide x 6.5” deep, and it weighs 1.75 pounds empty. The majority of the bag is waxed canvas, which I have learned is an incredibly resilient and easy to care for fabric. When ordering a tote, you can choose from six hand-embossed leather designs, and the totes are available in Field Tan & Black, Field Tan & Wine, or Charcoal & Black. I chose the Celtic Hounds design in Field Tan and Black. Each bag is handmade, each bag is unique, and after you place your order you can expect to wait 5 – 10 days for your bag to be crafted.
The way tote’s design puts leather in places where it will pop against the waxed canvas, but the leather is used judiciously so that the bag won’t start as overly heavy before any contents have been added. The embossed leather panel covers a front pocket that measures 9.5″ wide x 6.75″ tall. The remainder of the center panel above the pocket is also covered in a very deeply grained leather. Leather also lines the top of a second, much deeper pocket that measures 17.5″ wide x 10″ tall.
The main interior of the bag is a large open pocket that measures the full 12” tall x 17.5” wide x 6.5” deep. On the back of this open area is an organizer panel composed of black nylon edged in black leather. This panel has three open pockets — one sized for a larger pen, one that measures 6.5″ tall x 5″ wide, and another that measures 3.75″ wide x 5″ tall; one of the two larger pockets should easily fit your smartphone, even if it is a larger phablet. There is also a 10″ wide x 8″ deep zippered pocket at the top of the panel which should be perfect for stowing loose items that can get easily lost.
There is also a leather fob with a metal clip on the inside of the bag to keep your keys from sinking to what could become a bottomless pit depending upon how much “stuff” you happen to be carrying. I’m not judging you, I promise!
The Everyday Tote has adjustable 0.75″ leather shoulder straps that can provide a maximum drop of 13″ (if you put the straps on the last hole). These flat straps are pretty comfortable, all things considered. I had another bag with me that I was using on the trip, and rather than flat straps it used rolled leather straps; I can assure you that flat is ever so much more comfortable when you are loaded down with an extended battery pack, your wallet, an epi-pen, various souvenirs, and a couple of beer mugs that you’ve managed to score during the day.
But if it were up to me, I would have made the shoulder straps a full 1″ wide; I think that extra bit would have made them even more comfortable without making them any more likely to flop off a shoulder.
Rather than use buckles, Oberon Design has used the Sam Browne studs that I like so much, and that we previously saw used on their messenger bag.
The beauty of the waxed canvas is that it will begin to develop a patina shortly after you start using your bag. The canvas will also acquire scratches, wrinkles, and other beauty marks over time; these just help personalize your bag. Since I was storing the Nokia Lumia 1020 in the pocket on the back panel so often, and because my bag seemed to be perpetually full with goodies we picked up each day, the back of my bag actually has a round imprint from where the oversized camera hump on the 1020 embossed itself into the bag’s canvas — similar to the way that a cowboy’s pair of jeans will get a round spot on the rear pocket he carries his Copenhagen in.
I love the fact that the waxed canvas is so durable. I set it on the ground in countless locations, and not once did I worry that it would get dirty or scratched up. Granted, I didn’t set it anywhere that looked obviously wet — waxed canvas is water-resistant, but not necessarily waterproof — and I certainly didn’t want to mess up my bag or its contents … but I was never too worried about it otherwise. This is a bag that you can use without fear, and it is one that you can fill in a variety of ways.
The tote doesn’t come with a laptop sleeve, and it isn’t marketed as a laptop bag, but I quickly learned that it worked very well for carrying my MacBook Air. I kept the Air inside the larger front pocket; granted, I didn’t have they laptop inside anything protective, but I had no problems.
One of the things that I didn’t expect, but that I came to appreciate, was how the Everyday tote was able to fold flat. I usually carry a larger tote onto the plane along with my carry-on bag, so the Oberon Design tote was packed inside my checked luggage. Upon arrival, it unfolded and was ready to be carried as a smaller and (much) lighter alternative to my other (huge) bag.
Everything about the Oberon Design Everyday Tote is first class, from the materials used to the way it has been assembled. Based on my past experience with Oberon Design’s products and based on my favorable impression of this bag’s construction, I fully expect the Everyday Tote to hold up and look great for many years to come. This is a bag that can be adapted for whatever you need to carry; it would make a great school bag, purse, laptop bag (just add a laptop sleeve if you aren’t as adventurous as me), or travel tote. However you wind up using your Everyday Tote, it will hold what you want to carry while looking fabulous.
The Waxed Canvas and Leather Everyday Tote is available directly from Oberon Design.
What I Like: Beautiful designs available on three different color schemes; hand-made to order; holds an amazing amount of stuff; light enough when empty that it doesn’t start heavy; folds flat for packing when traveling; flat straps are adjustable and comfortable unless the tote is overloaded; bag should last for years, even with heavy use; bag takes on a patina that gives it character and personalizes it as yours
What Needs Improvement: Depending upon how much you carry, the straps may dig in a bit — I wish they were just a little bit wider
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample