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Small Shop Bag as my daily carry tote

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    Small Shop Bag as my daily carry tote

    I've been carrying my Small Shop Bag for two days now, and here's my review of it as a daily carry tote. With pictures!

    My husband, who doesn't organize his possessions unless I threaten him with dire consequences, has observed that I like to put bags inside bags inside bags. While initially meant as a humorous comment on my obsessions, I did cipher on it for a while and in the end, I agree. That's what I do. I group like things together, put them in their own container, and then grab the containers I need for that day and put them in a larger container to carry with me.

    I was a big fan of backpacks before my pregnancy when the husband and I frequently walked to work. Lately I've been carrying a tote bag instead, though, because the weather has been unpredictable, I don't have the same range of pregnancy-friendly outerwear that I do for my pre-bulbous state, and my energy level just really hasn't been up to a mile-long hike twice a day.

    Enter the Small Shop Bag. Mine is in Ultraviolet Dyneema. Ultraviolet is an excellent color for an unlined bag; it's light enough that you can find things at the bottom, but it's dark enough to be discreet. Light does shine through the Dyneema, which helps to illuminate the interior. Dyneema also has a pleasant feel: lightweight and flexible, but very strong.

    The shape of the Small Shop bag is a winner. The proportions allow you to carry a wide range of items comfortably, and the bag looks compact when carried on your shoulder. As you can see from the photo below, it easily stands on its own when filled about 60-65% full. In fact, it will stand upright on its own when empty, but I've found it to be more stable with a few things in the bottom.

    The picture above shows how full I packed my Small Shop Bag today. There's still plenty of room for extra stuff. I sometimes end up holding a few things for my husband, so I try not to pack my back 100% full before leaving the house.

    Another nice feature of the Small Shop Bag is that you can encourage the bag to stand open or shut by simply arranging the straps to either fall to the side or cross in the middle. Here's my bag, open and full of today's loot:

    Here's another picture of what was inside my bag when I left the house this morning:

    Starting at about 12 and going clockwise around the photo, there's the Small Shop Bag and three things clipped with key straps to its o-rings: a medium Organizer Pouch in Iberian Dyneema, my car keys, and a small Organizer Pouch in Iberian Dyneema. Then there are three Vera Bradley accessories: a kisslock coin pouch, a e-reader case, and a wristlet. At 3 o'clock is a water bottle and two Luna bars. At 6 o'clock is my floppy hat, which I carry when it is sunny outside. Then there's a small notebook and finally, 3 Baggu Bags and 1 Baby Baggu for carrying home items I buy when I shop.

    The e-reader case houses my Kindle. The wristlet is my wallet, and it contains my cards and cell phone. The kisslock coin pouch carries my wee bit of cash. I like carrying a wallet that also holds my phone, especially one with a two-position wrist strap, so that I can leave my tote behind and run into a store with a Baggu in one hand and my wallet in the other.

    The water bottle and snacks fit in one side pocket. The Baggus fit in the other side pocket.

    The Medium Organizer Pouch is my toiletry bag. It contains lip balm, hand lotion, antibacterial hand wipes and gel, chewing gum, Tums, and a small mirror in addition to a few other bulkier items. Some women prefer keeping their toiletry items in a zippered compartment in their purse, but I prefer the separate bag approach. That way I can just grab my toiletry bag when I head to the restroom instead of lugging my whole purse with me. This is especially handy at work.

    I used to keep my toiletries in a Vera Bradley case, but the extra padding from the quilted fabric is unnecessary bulk. The medium size pouch is plenty roomy for everything I bring with me, and it makes for a slender package that tucks nicely into a tote bag.

    The Small Organizer Pouch contains the gift cards that I received at my baby showers. I keep them separate from my wallet so that I can just hand the pouch to my husband if he felt the urge to shop for the kids (so far, he hasn't).

    One thing I didn't carry today was my camera. I have a small point-and-shoot that I like to bring with me. The camera on my phone suffices for most spontaneous photos, though.

    Another thing I didn't bring was my pen case. I am in pen heck right now. The case I like to carry gets too full over time as I tend to stuff it with things I don't really need. I believe a Pen/Pencil Clear Organizer Pouch is in my future.

    All in all, I'm very pleased with how the Small Shop Bag handles my daily carry items. I love the size and shape and fabric of the bag. The features are minimal: enough without being overwhelming. It carries everything I need and has room left over. My only complaint would be that Ultraviolet and Iberian don't match my Vera Bradley items very well, but I think I can live with that (for now :).
    Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    Great photos!


      Great pictures, and I love how you are using the bag!
      I really, really like TB Bags!


        Thank you, thank you! I'm not a very good photographer but I think the basic idea came across.

        When I first looked at the Small Shop Bag in person, I thought it might be too small. After packing and carrying it, though, I see that it's just about the perfect size for me.

        I've heard tell of a retired blue Dyneema named "Sapphire." I googled for it and found pictures. It would be a nice match to my VB accessories, but I suppose it's too much to hope for that the TB folks would find some leftover Sapphire in a box somewhere and make a few Small Shop Bags with it. I'm all about the blues and greens right now, since they are the main colors in the nursery.
        Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.


          Janine I though I already complimented you on those beautiful pictures but I didn't.

          I am glad to see that I am not the only Pouches enthusiast in the forum. :D

          Your pictures and Dorayme's have me completely sold on the Shop Bag, I might even get a Small and a Large.

          Ultraviolet is soo yummy!

          Much hugs, loving care, do take care and take restful breaks.

          (Please forgive the less than stellar prose, given with heart and kindness but a bit of brain mush because it is sleep time)


            I'm also a bag-within-a-bag enthusiast and love the idea of using the Small Shop Bag as a daily tote. Wonderful pics! Is that a Circa notebook? I'm a Circa freak.

            I can envision going this route for a nice light summer-type bag. I have a couple of the large size Shop Bags. One is used for multiple knitting projects and one will comfortably hold my electric miniSpinner with plenty of room for fiber, etc. I'll try to post some pics soon.
            "For peace of mind, resign as general manager of the universe." ~ Larry Eisenberg


              Oh my google, I was on the blog! ***happy dance***


              I really really REALLY love the Organizer Pouches. It took me a little while to figure out how I could use them. I thought at first that because they weren't gusseted, they couldn't hold much. But actually, the medium size can hold a great deal of stuff, and being without gussets means it naturally wants to the keep your items in a slender, narrow package. Wonderful! I'm about to branch out into the clear ones, the Pen/Pencil size, and maybe even the Large size.

              I can only speak for the Small Shop Bag (at the moment), but I really don't think a person could go wrong with it. I might order a regular one for comparison purposes. I originally went with a small because the regular seems to be about the same size as a Swift, and I've already got one of those.

              And thanks for the kind words. I will certainly take it easy, and try to get as much rest as I can before we bring the boys home!


              Well spotted, that is indeed a Circa notebook! I love them, too, and enjoy printing and cutting down my own pages for them, as well as making my own covers.

              If you have a few key straps, the bag-in-bag approach works out really well in the Small Shop Bag. I have a few of the colored straps, and they make it very easy to locate just the inner bag that I want. I think you hit the nail on the head: this is a great, lightweight summer bag.

              Electric mini-spinner? Awesome! I'm a knitter and spinner, too!
              Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.


                Love your review!

                I had to return the large shopping bag because at 5'3", it was way too big... I felt like I had to walk crooked so that I wouldn't drag the bottom of the bag when I had stuff in it.

                Instead, I just got the small shop bag this week, and I love it! For my "first" small shop bag, I thought I'd just go with the steel one... but what an adorable size! You're right, it really makes for a great little tote bag. The side pockets are very generous and I have no trouble packing water bottles. I am toting it to work... I have my Side Effect in it, my water bottle... and my iPad! Everything fits nicely.

                Maybe I will splurge and get another color!


                  Great review and pictures! And I'm so glad that they decided not to retire the small shop bags (although I use both sizes). I immediately ordered the small shop bags in ultraviolet, when I saw them on the site the night before the new product announcement came out. Of course, since the large pouches in ultraviolet didn't get sent out until later, that gave me time to put in orders for more organizer pouches in Dyneema when I saw how nice the colors were! Lani, I'm your height, and you can carry the large shop bags with the handles over your shoulder.



                    I share that Circa love! I mostly use the PDF (3x5) size. What do you make your own covers out of?

                    What a good idea about the key straps. I've been collecting stuff sacks in the different colors so it's easier for me to identify 'project' stuff or 'personal' stuff. Then, within the sack, I use color-coded pouches. I'm really quite anal about it, I guess...

                    My electric spinner is teeny tiny, which I love because it's so easy to store away from my mischevious pups! I'll take some pics this week of it nestled into it's Shop Bag. Sweet setup!
                    "For peace of mind, resign as general manager of the universe." ~ Larry Eisenberg


                      I just completed a one-week trip using my new Small Shop Bag in Ultraviolet, a Medium Cafe Bag and the Tri-Star. I originally packed the Shop Bag to use as just a catch all, but at the last minute I decided to check the Tri Star (sore back and loooong trek at the airport) so I loaded the Shop bag up with my camera case, 3D cube, ultrasuede pouch and a book and carried it on the flight. I used the bag every day and loved it. Very versatile and with 2 pouches cross tethered it created almost an "X" pattern that kept everything secured neatly inside without worry. Used it as a picnic bag, camera bag, shopping bag and beach bag, allowing me to leave the cafe bag in the b&b.

                      This trip included riding on planes, trains, buses, ferry, taxis, the London tube, a hovercraft and even a chairlift. The combination of the 3 bags made transfers very easy, even with a sore back. The Shop Bag ended up being the "go to" bag and all the pouches kept me quite organized. The bag handled being set down on all kinds of surfaces and any dirt was easily wiped away. Even getting wet at the beach didn't faze it. Still looked like new when I finally got home. Loved this bag. It's so much more versatile than I had anticipated and the padded hand holds make it very comfortable to carry fully loaded.

                      I'm definitely picking another one up, if one is good, two should be even better, eh?