Best Clear Tote Bags

Updated July 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

18 Models Considered
5 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
204 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best clear tote bags

Last Updated July 2020

If you’re heading to a big game, chances are you’ve been informed that the stadium has a strict bag policy. As a matter of fact, there are now guidelines that originated in stadiums that are used by a multitude of venues, one of which stipulates that only clear tote bags are allowed inside.

Concert halls, sports stadiums, and music festivals now require bags and totes be transparent in an effort to improve safety. Since they’re made of waterproof polyvinyl chloride, clear tote bags can also be used as gym and pool bags. They’ve also made their way into the world of fashion, embracing the on-trend 1980s-inspired beach bags. Perhaps best of all, most clear tote bags are much less expensive than traditional fabric totes — and even easier to keep clean.

Whether you’re a concert goer, sports fan, or beach bum, it’s time to invest in a clear tote bag to store your essentials. We’ve assembled this buying guide, complete with recommendations, to help you choose the best one in time for your next event.

If you expect to carry a water bottle in your clear tote bag, choose a style that stands upright on its own to prevent spills.

Key considerations

Who uses clear tote bags?

Swimmers: People who spend a lot of time at the pool or beach utilize clear tote bags to store wet swimwear and towels. The bags dry quickly, and since they’re waterproof, they won’t absorb water and soak nearby items.

Retail professionals: Many staff members in retail stores are required to use clear tote bags at work. This combats theft because they aren’t able to sneak merchandise out in their bags.

Event attendees: Attend a concert or game and you might be required to use a clear bag that complies with venue regulations. This is especially common in open-air venues and stadiums to promote safety.

Travelers: Carrying a clear tote bag can save time during airport security checks. Since all items are visible, your bag inspection may go more quickly.

College students: If you live in a dorm with a shared bathroom, you can use a clear tote bag to carry your shower necessities. Not all suites have dedicated bathrooms, so the bag makes it easier to carry beauty and hygiene products.

Construction

Material: Clear tote bags are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or other plastic, which is what gives them their durable, waterproof construction. They’re somewhat thick, at around 0.5 mm, so they can certainly hold up to a lot of use. While most clear tote bags are designed to be heavy-duty, some are far more robust than others. When comparing styles, gravitate toward those that are touted as anti-rip or anti-tear. It’s no guarantee, but when the bags feel noticeably superior, they should last longer.

Seams: PVC is somewhat rigid, but these tote bags also have reinforced seams to maintain their shape. Some totes improve the seams by wrapping them in a durable fabric like nylon webbing to make the bag even more rigid.

Fabric: Some clear tote bags have fabric panels, which are most common at the bottom or sides of the bag. While the fabric gives the bag a touch of color, it’s often used to improve the bag’s structural integrity. Depending on the fabric, which may be faux leather or Oxford cloth, its rigidity helps the tote bag stand on its own. When it’s located toward the top of zipper bags, it serves as reinforcement for stitches, which in poor-quality totes can rip easily and damage the PVC.

Straps: Clear tote bags come with two main types of straps: shoulder and crossbody. Tote bags generally have a pair of shoulder straps, some of which stick together with hook-and-loop fasteners for easier carrying. Other tote bags have an adjustable crossbody strap, and more often than not, it is a secondary carrying option for totes with shoulder straps.

Size

Clear tote bags have quite the size range, some of which are small enough to fit only a few items, and others that are large enough to fit towels and beach accessories. There are some mini bags on the market, which only fit a cell phone and a handful of small items, but they’re harder to find.

If you’re attending an event at a venue, you’ll probably need a stadium-approved bag, which is a specific style of clear tote bag. For these places, you’ll need a tote that is no larger than 12 x 6 x 16 inches, and it must be entirely clear. The NFL, NBA, and other leagues have stadium policies — many of which have been adopted in venues nationwide — that require the contents of tote bags to be visible to promote safety.

EXPERT TIP

To personalize your clear tote bag, use permanent markers to create a unique design or pattern.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Pockets and compartments

Most clear tote bags have a single compartment, though certain styles have several. There are adjustable water bottle compartments in some totes, though they tend to be made of mesh. External compartments or zipper pockets are also popular. There are also some clear tote bags that have stitched separators if you like more organization inside the bag as well.

Opt for a crossbody clear tote bag if you want to carry your belongings completely hands-free at a festival or sports game.

Clear tote bag prices

You can find clear tote bags for between $5 and $30. The broad price range is driven by the quality of the materials and complexity of the design.

Inexpensive: To snag a clear tote on a budget, you’ll find plenty for $10 or less. These are probably only good for a couple concerts, so you might want something more durable for an all-day event or music festival. These totes usually have one or two compartments at most.

Mid-range: If you spend closer to $20, you can find clear totes with better structure and durability. These tend to have a few pockets and offer more than one way to carry them.

Expensive: For a top-notch clear tote that will last through quite a bit of use, spend closer to $30. These totes often come with clear accessory bags and often have high-quality closures.

EXPERT TIP

Tote bags are ideal for makeup artists. Not only are makeup and supplies fully visible, but it’s easy to clean powder, liquid foundation, and glitter out of the inside.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Check venue guidelines. Depending on the venue, there may be guidelines or restrictions on clear tote bags. Even if you find information online, it’s a smart idea to call directly to confirm any changes prior to the event.
  • Keep money on your person. Clear tote bags bare it for all to see, so consider keeping your money and credit cards inside a hidden pocket in your clothing.
  • Avoid pointed objects. Be careful not to keep any pointed objects inside your clear tote. Not only are they prohibited in most venues, but there’s a good chance they’ll puncture the bag.
  • Clean the tote. It’s easy to keep your clear tote bag clean. Simply wipe it down with water and dish soap and let it thoroughly dry before using it again.
  • Carry the crossbody strap. Even if you think you won’t need it, err on the side of caution and bring the detachable crossbody strap just in case.
Avoid placing a clear tote bag on very hot pavement. The bag could melt or warp and potentially damage the items inside.

FAQ

Q. Will using a clear tote bag help me get through TSA more quickly?
A.
In some cases, it might make inspection easier for agents. They won’t need to rifle through your bag, assuming your personal items are in the required transparent resealable bags. While it’s no guarantee, anything you do to make inspection more efficient for TSA agents is a good idea so you can keep the line moving.
 

Q. Are clear tote bags child-safe?
A.
No. They often have small parts or rough edges that could be dangerous for children. If your child is still teething, be aware that bags aren’t made of food-grade plastic. The straps on some totes — especially crossbody ones — are long enough to wrap around a child’s neck, so keep them out of reach of children.
 

Q. My clear tote bag seems warped or stretched out. What happened?
A.
Clear tote bags are made of flexible PVC or other plastic. If enough pressure is applied in a concentrated area, it’s not unusual for it to stretch or warp. While you can continue using the bag, be aware that these areas could be slightly weakened, and they’re more likely to puncture.

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The team that worked on this review
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    Bronwyn
    Editor
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    Web Producer
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    Writer

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