Reusable Bag Comparison November 06 2014
We've been asked by many customers what the differences are between various brands of reusable shopping bags. They want to invest in some ecofriendly tote bags, but aren't certain which style offers the best value and quality. Our buyers have reviewed many, many styles of reusable tote bags personally, putting them through rigorous product testing, analyzing product quality and determining which reusable bags are the best. Here are their findings:
1. ENVIROSAX BAGS - for many years, this has been our top rated brand of reusable bags. Envirosax was a pioneer in creating ecofriendly tote bags, and the high quality remains. Envirosax bags hold 44 pounds of weight and fit about 2 plastic grocery bags worth of products inside comfortably. The material is ripstop polyester (similar to umbrella material) which is water resistant. The seams are very durable and we have customers still using the Envirosax tote bags they purchased from us over 10 years ago. Another nice feature is that Envirosax designs are stylish and fashion-friendly, unlike the typical store bought reusable bag which typically just features their logo or is a solid color. Envirosax bags measure approximately 18.5" wide x 16" high x 3" deep when fully open (note they are not gusseted, so they will not stand up on their own if empty), yet when you are done with them they fold and roll up and snap shut to a tiny 4" x 1" diameter roll for easily tossing into your purse or pocket. The shoulder straps are 9" long and wider so they are more comfortable if you plan to load the bag full of heavy items. Gone are the days of using the excuse that you forgot your bags at home! Envirosax totes are easy to clean, just wipe with a damp cloth and hang to dry (usually dry within an hour or two), and you can toss them in the washing machine periodically to sanitize them or give them a super thorough wash. Our buyers deem these as great tote bags for grocery shopping, flea markets, produce markets, malls, libraries, beach bags, gym bags (great for wet towels, suits) and more. Envirosax bags are typically sold in 3pk or 5pk sets.
2. LOQI BAGS - this brand is considerably newer, however the factory who makes LOQI bags is the same factory who once manufactured Envirosax bags, so reusable tote bags are familiar to them. A very similar bag style to Envirosax, the LOQI bags also offer a 4.5" x 4.5" interior pocket (which is designed so you can fold up the bag and store it inside it's own interior pocket as an option) and a separate matching zipper pouch for storage. It still features the tabs with snaps like the Envirosax so you can roll it up and snap it shut as a 3rd storage option. LOQI bags hold 44 lbs of weight and measure 20" wide by 16.5" high with 11" handles. Also made of water resistant polyester material, our buyers have found the LOQI bags to be of similar quality, shape and durability to Envirosax. A team of European designers create new styles for the LOQI bags so this brand usually has trendier (and sometimes edgier) graphics. Machine wash and hang to dry makes for easy cleaning of the bags. LOQI bags are typically sold in sets.
3. FLIP & TUMBLE BAGS - this brand offers a slightly different concept in ecofriendly tote bags. Their 24/7 bag features solid colors only (no patterns available at this time) and most bags have dark bags with light handles (or vice versa) and rather than handles in the center of the bag meant for carrying by hand or over shoulder, the Flip & Tumble reusable bags are meant to carry over the shoulder as they have one large handle. Each bag holds 35 lbs of weight and measures 12" x 14" x 5" when fully open. When you're done and ready to store the bag you simply squoosh it together and fold it in on itself to create a 3" diameter squooshy ball similar to a sockball (fun for the kids in the car, too!) which is easy to keep in your purse or pocket, though not nearly as compact as the Envirosax or LOQI styles. F&T bags are sold individually so carrying a few can take up some room. For that reason, our buyers see these bags as more convenient for beach, gym, library or produce market and less handy for grocery shopping (since most people like multiple bags for this) unless you do small grocery trips. Still easy to launder by machine washing in cold water and hanging to dry.
4. CHICO BAGS - The Chico Bag Vita style is the closest to the above bags in capacity and style. Each bag holds 40 lbs of weight and is made from "woven polyester" which easily stuffs inside the attached pouch with small carabiner clip so you can clip a bag to your belt loop or purse for convenience. Our buyers found that the material in Chico Bags has a less substantial feel in thickness and durability than the other bags reviewed. It tends to appear wrinklier when completely open for use. Measuring 19" x 12.5" high when fully open, it doesn't offer as much space as other bags in the category. There are currently a handful of solid jewel-toned colors this bag is offered in and no patterns at this time. Our buying team feels this bag is best suited for use outdoors when hiking, camping, going to flea markets, etc. when you want to bring along a storage bag but don't need anything bulky or substantial. Use for large grocery trips during our review these were not ideal as you needed more bags to contain all of the items and having to open and "unscrunch" them each from their pouches was time consuming.
5. BAGGU BAGS - this brand offers several unique features for reusable tote bags from other styles already mentioned. Baggu shopping bags offer a 6" wide gusseted design, so the bag will stand up easier for filling it. There are two straps allowing for either carrying over shoulder or in your hand, however they are positioned on the ends of the bag, allowing a more wide open area for filling. The downside to this is that when you fill them to the top, it is more difficult to put both straps together to carry over your shoulder than the styles (like Envirosax or LOQI) where the handles are positioned centered on the front/back of the bag. Material of Baggu bags is ripstop nylon polyester and each bag holds 50 lbs of weight, making this brand the one which carries the most. Bags measure 25.5" high x 15.5" wide (keep in mind they measure the height INCLUDING the handles), so it is similar in size to Envirosax and LOQI. When done, the bags fold into a matching separate 5" x 5" square velcro pouch for carrying. Baggu offers a variety of patterns and designs and bags are typically sold as 3pk or individual. Again, our buying team found that this style works very well for produce markets and other smaller shopping trips, but it is cumbersome to open multiple pouches and remove bags for a larger grocery trip, although the benefit here is that once you get them open, they will hold more than the Chico or Flip & Tumble bags. Baggu are machine washable, hang to dry.
There are other brands of reusable shopping bags, but these are the Top 5 Reusable Bags on the market today and we have thoroughly reviewed each brand's offering in multiple scenarios over an extended period of time. Our clear winner is Envirosax bags for their longevity, ease of use, compact design, durability and convenience. Second place goes to LOQI bags for similar advantages, plus the added benefit of an inner pouch to hold coupons or car keys/cell phone, etc... and a variety of options for storage. Third place goes to Baggu for their gusseted design, variety of patterns and durable quality. Fourth place to Flip & Tumble for a high quality bag, with limited options and colors/styles, and last place to Chico Bags. Of course there are also store woven or jute reusable bags which typically have a blah look (or free advertising for the store even though you're buying the bag), subpar quality (in many cases you cannot launder these, or if you do, they won't last more than a few months at best), and won't hold much.