Outer Shell Everyday Tote Review: Two Bags in One
Released last year, the San Francisco-made Outer Shell Everyday Tote features a unique two-in-one design that can change shape to fit snugly into a Wald 137 basket or over your shoulder. Following several months of daily use on commutes and day rides, Lucas reports back with this review…
I’ve gone ever deeper down the rabbit hole of basket bags and basketpacking since publishing our Gear Index of Basket Bags in 2020, further expanding the scope of my search for the perfect basket and bag combination. I’ve been alternating among the massive Wald 139, the smallish Wald 137, the middle-sized Manivelle Basket, and a handful of lesser-known options throughout that time—all with a range of bags designed to fit. Along with dynamo lights and fenders, a rack and basket remain right at the top of my go-to recommendations for a true do-it-all commuter. And it’s been my experience that my commutes occasionally happen to take me well beyond the city boundaries to spend a full day on the bike or even a night outside.
Announced in December of 2022, the Outer Shell Everyday Tote is a California-made Wald 137 basket bag that the small brand describes as a “luxurious tote with style and grace.” Available in five fabric options (Brown, Black, Cow print, Multicam Black, and Graphite) with contrasting handle colors, it undoubtedly has style, but I was curious to find out if its touted features set it apart from the now heaping pile of purpose-built bags for baskets on the market. I picked one up in May and have used it almost daily to see for myself. In that time, it has accompanied me on at least a hundred short and long commutes and rides.
Since 2015, Outer Shell has built a strong reputation for quality, and the Everyday Tote’s construction is faultless. Down to the very last stitch, its design and implementation are as thoughtful and meticulous as you’ll find in the world of boutique bike bags. Beyond simply being well-made, the Everyday Tote’s unique selling point is that it has a two-in-one design that enables it to quickly morph from a stout bowling bag shape to something tall and slender, and it can be used in either mode according to your preferences and the size of your cargo. It’s not quite tall enough to be used as a roll-top when placed in a basket, which means it’s also not unwieldy when used at full height.
The Everyday Tote features two sets of super soft cord handles—long and short—that are intended to make it work equally well as a handbag or over your shoulder. I appreciate the versatile design but will note that I find the cord-style straps a little slippery over my shoulder relative to wider flat straps, and managing four tangled straps instead of the usual two can sometimes be a slight annoyance when trying to zip or unzip the bag. I’m not yet convinced that I’d miss the shorter set of handles if it didn’t have them. Additionally, at 6’3” tall, I find the shoulder straps a little on the short side and wouldn’t mind a tad more length, though shorter riders will likely find them just about right.
The bag’s main body is constructed from either a 1000D Cordura (Black, Brown, Cow) or ECOPAK EPLX600 (Multicam Black, Graphite) outer with a light gray ECOPAK EPLX600 liner, making it easy to spot items inside and highly water-resistant in either configuration, though the top zipper is the inevitable weak point. It’s been an unusually rainy spring and summer here in Colorado, and the Everyday Tote has kept contents dry in light-to-moderate rain on several occasions. However, when using bags that aren’t truly waterproof, I’d always recommend packing dry bags for sensitive items. The Everyday Tote also has a rectangular foam padded bottom that helps it keep its shape and stand on its own, side straps for attaching to a Wald 137 basket, and daisy chains along the front and rear bottom edges that can be used to securely affix it to a basket or rack for ensuring it doesn’t go flying out of your basket or off your rack while pedaling over rough terrain.
Finding a sensible configuration and number of pockets and sleeves for basket bags seems to be a challenge for many makers, but Outer Shell nailed the design in this regard. The Everyday Tote has a pair of outside sleeve pockets that work well for a U-lock or water bottle; a large outer pocket with a zipper that’s tricky to access when in the basket but ideal for secure storage; a handy zippered inside pocket that’s conveniently located toward the top of the bag and works great for items such as keys, a wallet, and a multi-tool; and an inner laptop sleeve they claim fits up to a 14” MacBook Pro. I can confirm that my 14” MacBook Pro fits inside, but only vertically, and I typically place mine in the bag horizontally in a padded sleeve out of habit. In all, the number of pockets and their placement strikes just the right balance of being useful for organization without leaving me wondering which of the 10 unnecessary pockets my keys ended up in.
For bikepacking with a basket, I think the Everyday Tote’s size and features make it a close-to-ideal option. Given its hardwearing construction, it’s reasonably light at 530 grams (18.7 ounces), and its dimensions (18” wide at the top, tapering to 14” wide at the bottom; 6” front to back; 11” tall) are well-suited to carrying the essentials without being large enough to encourage overpacking and further compromising your bike’s handling. A front-loaded rack-and-basket setup isn’t ideal for technical trails, but it’s dreamy for dirt touring and easy packing/unpacking at camp. The Everyday Tote would be a great companion for such rides.
When rolling along bumpy roads and trails, I like being able to use the Everyday Tote’s side straps to snug everything down to keep contents from rattling or shifting around. Relative to the many other basket bags I’ve used and owned, the Everyday Tote provides an exceptionally secure fit with a compact shape when cinched down, which is an asset when touring over uncertain surfaces. That said, for more casual cruises around town, I’ll typically just toss the bag into my basket and throw a bungee over the top (Outer Shell doesn’t include one, but any bungee or longer toe strap will do), saving a little time and effort.
The Everyday Tote is priced at $155 in Cordura or $175 in ECOPAK EPLX600 (as pictured). Broadly speaking, that’s a lot of money for a basket bag, but it’s priced fairly relative to other feature-rich handmade offerings. It sits alongside the 137 Basket Bag and 137 Rack Bag in Outer Shell’s lineup, incorporating some touches from each but offering a more universal design that’s better suited to daily life on and off the bike. Inventory is limited at the time of publishing, but I’m told that there are more bags on the way, and you can sign up to be notified when bags in your desired color are back in stock using the form on the product page.
- Material: Cordura/ECOPAK EPLX600
- Dimensions: 14-18” x 11″ x 6″ (35-46cm x 28cm x 15cm)
- Volume: 10 liters
- Weight: 530 grams (18.7 ounces)
- Place of Manufacture: San Francisco, California
- Price: $155/$175 USD
- Manufacturer’s Details: OuterShell.com
- Versatile two-in-one shape is snug and compact when needed
- Top-notch build quality
- Highly weather-resistant construction
- Thoughtful pocket placement
- Expensive option if a basic bag will do
- Somewhat limited color options
- Shoulder straps are a tad short and could be more grippy
- Second set of handles can sometimes get tangled
Outer Shell’s Everyday Tote takes some of the best features of dedicated basket/rack bags and all-purpose totes and combines them into a uniquely adaptable do-it-all bag that will feel equally at home whether you’re bouncing along dirt tracks or casually pedaling through town.
As with all of Outer Shell’s products, the Everyday Tote is built to an exceedingly high standard, and it packs in smart touches that make it among the most user-friendly bags of its kind. Its pockets and sleeves make quick work of organization, its padded bottom and cinchable sides help keep everything protected and in place, and it remains a highly functional bag well after your ride ends.
If the somewhat limiting size of the Wald 137 basket works for you and you don’t mind not having the added volume of a roll-top, I have no hesitation in recommending this bag after several months of regular use.
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