Slim Work Tote By Bellroy

In the year of 2019, I decided to get myself a tote bag as my daily driver for work. I am still using my Herschel Little America backpack when I’m carrying lots of stuff, but otherwise I’m planning to use a tote bag for most of the time. The decision was made partly because carrying a tote bag looks more “professional” as compared to backpack when I'm in formal wear, and it will cause less creases on my shirt when carrying it. Besides that, I’m also trying to limit myself from carrying unnecessary items with me on daily basis, and a smaller volume tote bag should be able to do just that.

After shopping around for awhile, I decided to go with Bellroy’s Slim Work Tote, which fits my needs and requirement nicely, together with design and look which I really like. Here’s a quick rundown on the specs of this tote bag:

  • Holds laptop up to 15" (it might be a stretch if your laptop is thick)
  • Dimension: 420 x 350 x 60 mm, 13L in capacity
  • Front external zip pocket with integrated organization
  • Soft lined pockets in the main compartment for sunglasses and small devices
  • Back external pocket with button closure
  • Environmentally certified leather was used for handles that can be held or slung over the shoulder
  • Soft-woven polyester shell with zip closure at top and front external pocket
  • 3 years warranty

First of all, I really like the material used on this tote. There’s another version that features a new material which Bellroy called “venture-weave polyester”, but it only comes in Ash colour. I have seen that material in person, but ultimately I prefer soft-woven polyester instead due to the material’s resemblance to canvas fabric. It is not water repellent, however it should survive light drizzles just fine. Do note that as of writing, Bellroy has discontinued the use of soft-woven polyester, hence you can only purchase it with the venture-weave polyester material now.

The beefy yet soft leather handles

There isn’t excessive use of leather trimming on the bag. Bellroy has strikes a good balance in terms of look and design here. The beefy handles made from leather is soft and yet felt durable enough to withstand some abuse. If you are familiar with Bellroy, they pride themselves for making leather goods that aged well with use. Hopefully the leather strap here will behave the same as their other leather products.

There are 3 main compartments in this tote, the front external pocket, main compartment and back external pocket.

The front external pocket is a good place to store items that require easy and quick access such as key and wallet. There’re slots for pen as well, but they are a little too slim to fit in some of the thicker pens that I own. This compartment is closed with a smooth zipper with leather zipper pull.

This is the compartment where I will keep my Bellroy Note Sleeve wallet, Bellroy Slim Sleeve card holder and my Bellroy Key Cover.

Closed with the same zipper as the front external pocket, the main compartment is simple in construction and organization. On one side you’ll find the two soft lined pockets and a pen slot for organizing smaller items, and there’s a sleeve for your laptop on the other side. That’s about it, the remaining space will be the main area for you to chuck all your stuff in.

My daily carry in this compartment includes tumbler, Sony WH-1000XM3 headphone, umbrella, iPad Pro 10.5" with Apple Pencil, reusable bag, wet tissue, microfibre cloth and charging cable. I can add in a light jacket if I want to.

The back external pocket is closed with a button closure, and you can store some thin items here such as documents or books. However, do note that this is the most exposed compartment of all, so it is the most vulnerable when subject to environmental condition.

I am keeping a Lihit Lab pen case and a notebook/journal in this compartment. When I'm reading on the go, this will be the place I'm storing my book.

There are a few things that one should take note before getting this bag. The most important being the form factor of this bag. Usually tote bags are longer on the width and shorter on the length (or height), but this tote is of the opposite. It is longer on the length and shorter on the width, hence making it a "tall" bag to carry.

Slim and minimalistic

There are of course pros and cons to each design, this tote bag will provide you with slim profile when it is carried over your shoulder due to the shorter width, but it may be a tad too long when it is carried in your hand. I’m 183cm in height, and when I'm carrying this tote bag with my hand, the bag is only few inches away from the ground. Hence, you’ll need to pay extra attention when climbing staircase or beware of splashing water on the ground. Do check out the product page for a picture of it.

After using this tote for a month, here are some of my thoughts about it:

Nice leather trim and lining
  • I really enjoy using this bag, and I am using it for both formal and casual occasions.
  • Although the bag may look small and doesn’t carry much, you can really stuff it if you choose to do so. However, it will be a bit awkward to carry it after that.
  • The soft-woven polyester material can catch on dust and dirt quite easily, do take note and be careful about it. I’m not too sure about the cleaning process for it at the moment, that's something I'll need to explore in the future.
  • Laptop compartment could be roomier, and so does the pen slot. So beware if you have bulky laptop.
  • Do note that when you put the tote down and the strap dangled forward, it will pose some blockage for you to access the front external pocket.
  • I’m not sure how well the bag will hold up against weather, especially for me who stay in tropical climate country. Only time will tell how well the polyester and zipper will last. I did applied a layer of water repellent spray on the bag prior of usage.

All in all, do I recommend this tote bag to others? The answer is a sounding yes. If you are in the market looking for a minimalist tote bag, do take a look at this Bellroy Slim Work Tote. Although it may not be the cheapest option out there, however at this point of time, I strongly believe that it’s worth it for the quality, features and design it provides. Hope you enjoyed reading this review of mine. Till then.