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Favorite day bag/purse

Trying to find a day bag that is right for me. Holds a water bottle and other day touring essentials, but not overly large. Backpacks don’t work for me because of a shoulder issue. The ideal solution would be a crossbody bag, but I’d consider a tote. Lots of organizing pockets are not a requirement. I’m curious what other folks use. Please share your recommendations. Thanks!

Posted by
2764 posts

My first trip I took the tom bihn parental unit, which I love for all the pockets, but it was just too big.

https://www.tombihn.com/collections/shoulder-bags/products/parental-unit?variant=42617482576061

Next, I tried the tom bihn small café, but hate the open back compartment and lack of pockets. My sister uses this one and likes it.

https://www.tombihn.com/collections/shoulder-bags/products/small-cafe-bag?variant=42699297063101#description

Now I’m using the tom bihn icon, and it’s working pretty well, but I wish it had a few more internal pockets.

https://www.tombihn.com/collections/shoulder-bags/products/icon?variant=31270249758783

Almost forgot I also tried the tom bihn side kick, which I love for all the pockets, but it is a tad too small.

https://www.tombihn.com/collections/shoulder-bags/products/side-kick?variant=8932411539519

Good luck in your search!!!

Posted by
111 posts

I use a nylon crossbody purse by Tumi. It is about medium sized and sits pretty flat against my front.

Posted by
75 posts

I've found my Harvey Seatbelt bag to be a really good bag/purse while traveling. I use mine as a crossbody, but the strap is adjustable so it could also be a shoulder bag. The seatbelt fabric is incredibly tough and well wearing and I've had people stop me in the street when traveling to ask where I got it and it's nearly 10 years old at this point (but the company still sells 'em)! I also really like it for travel since it just has one zipper on the outside, so easy to manage if in an area/situation where pickpockets are a concern. Inside, there is a pocket on each side, one zippered and one not. Otherwise it's wide open inside, which works well for carrying everything from a water bottle, book, lunch, to stuffing a jacket or sweater in there. Size wise it's about 12" wide and less than that tall, so not huge.

The closest I can find on their website right now is the one below, which is the same size and pattern as mine, but mine is all grey. I'm not bold enough to for this pattern. You can also find Harvey's on sale at other stores (I got mine at Fireworks Gallery here in the PNW), and Ebay...

https://shopharveys.com/collections/crossbody/products/messenger-ltd-bowl-a-rama

Posted by
43 posts

I've also used a small and a medium Tom Bihn cafe bag before, both worked well for me. The last few trips I've taken one of my Rough & Tumble city safaris. They do have interior organization and can three way carry, which I appreciate.

Posted by
108 posts

My favorite is a Baggallini bag. It is a crossbody and made of super light weight nylon. There are a bunch of different styles, but my favorite is the Hobo. It has a water bottle pocket on each end, enough pockets to be useful, comes in lots of colors. You can get them from Amazon and usually from TJ Maxx or Marshall's or used on Ebay or Mercari.

Posted by
1532 posts

I have an Eagle Creek purse that is very practical and lightweight. however, I am not sure if it's made anymore. Take a look at Sea to Summit bags. They are very lightweight though not that cheap.

Posted by
6776 posts

I used to use the Tom Bihn Medium Cafe Bag and had planned on using it on this trip, but now intend to use the Tom Bihn Side Kick. It's on the small side so it might not work for you, but I don't bring much with me - just passport, wallet, small notebook and pen, and collapsible water bottle. If I'm planning on doing any shopping, I will bring a packable tote with me.

I will say I love the TB Medium Cafe Bag - it makes a great day bag, imo, but it's almost gotten too big for me.

Carrie, I almost bought the TB Icon, but backed out at the last minute when I realized it didn't have a top zipper. Don't know why but that was a dealbreaker for me. I do love the other zippers, though and the pockets.

Posted by
5631 posts

I carry a Kipling Alvar crossbody bag
https://www.kipling-usa.com/alvar-crossbody-bag/HB4061.html?dwvar_HB4061_color=437#uuid=bebQsiaagZZtUaaadaBo73XvcP

I like this purse because it is compact, lightweight, has a tether for keys and an interior zippered pocket. I don’t carry a lot when I travel and I rarely carry a water bottle when I am just sightseeing. This purse could handle a small water bottle, but not a larger one. There are some larger Kipling bags if a large water bottle is a neccessity.

Posted by
1307 posts

I like my Travelon cross body bags which have side pockets for water bottle and/or umbrella and little clips for securing the main zippers.
They come in a variety of sizes and colors and are quite durable.

Posted by
95 posts

Thanks, everyone, for your helpful suggestions!

Posted by
2732 posts

What Laura said. I really like the Kipling Alvar bag.

Posted by
6776 posts

I carry a Kipling Alvar crossbody bag.

I like Kipling bags - I have a crossbody bag that my daughter absconded with and a large tote (great bag but can't use it as a personal item as it's a black hole). My granddaughter loves the monkey keychain that is on every bag, so for Christmas I got her a small crossbody bag that she loves.

You can almost always find then at Sierra for deeply discounted prices - that's where I've bought mine. https://www.sierra.com/s~kipling/

Posted by
332 posts

After years with large PacSafe bags (too heavy) and an assortment of Baggalinis (the straps always shift on my neck), my daughter recently introduced me to Baggu. I’m in the Netherlands now with the fanny pack in black and white pixel gingham (looks a bit like houndstooth) and I’m wearing it as a crossbody sling bag - Perfection! The fabric is super light, but water resistant and very durable and the extra long adjustable strap is very comfortable. I have been wearing this all day, everyday for the last ten days without the hint of a neck ache. I’ve even ridden bikes a few times and it stays in place.

Between the two outer pockets I can fit an iphone, small first aid/med bag (with an epi-pen), sunglasses in a hard case, a transit card case, lipstick, hand sanitizer, tissue pack, moleskine note book, small pencil case, reusable cloth shopping bag and my extra phone charger. I could fit a small water bottle in the larger pocket if I left one or two things out. (I like to carry a water bottle in my jacket pocket.) When I travel, I wear an extra small PacSafe crossbody wallet under my outer layer for all of my valuables. So, no cash, cards or passport in my day bag.

Edited to fix link

Posted by
2473 posts

After carrying a larger bag on trips for many years, I decided earlier this year that I really needed to find something smaller. I rarely used stuff I was dragging around all day.

This is what I chose, and used on my trip to Portugal last month. It worked really well, and my favorite detail is the hidden slip pocket at the top for my phone.
https://www.baggallini.com/modern-pocket-crossbody/POK730-BG.html

Posted by
1625 posts

Just a normal Fossil Leather cross-body bag, with a zipper top, make sure any crossbody you get has a zippered top closure.
I like one large inside bin with a small zippered pocket, and one to two outside pockets for things I want to access frequently and do not want to have to unzip the large pocket where my money is. So in the outside pocket is my sunglasses, lip balm, hair ties, maybe a metro pass. I might also stop before a museum entrance and transfer any paper ticket I have to that outside pocket so again, no need to be opening the big zippered pocket. That purse stays on my 24/7, even when I eat.

Every night I dump the purse out and restock it with what is needed for the next day, which could include topping off the cash in my wallet, adding any tickets needed, maps etc.

Posted by
2145 posts

I bought a Tom Bihn small cafe bag for a trip last month and it worked very well. I was concerned about the contents falling out but it was no problem. I used a mini clear organizer pouch that hooked to the bag for my cash. I just ordered another small size pouch to hold miscellaneous items for my next trip. The bag looked good and was more rugged than a purse for hiking/walking.

https://www.tombihn.com/collections/shoulder-bags/products/small-cafe-bag?variant=42699297063101#description

Posted by
95 posts

Thanks again, everybody! I ordered the Kipling Alvar. I found it in grey only for 50% off at Macy’s.

https://www.macys.com/shop/product/kipling-handbag-alvar-crossbody-bag?ID=15809984&CategoryID=26846

Discount good only for today.

I now remember buying a couple of “black hole” Kipling totes in some funky patterns whenever I’d go through a European duty free. I think I’ve donated them when I was decluttering my house. ☹️

Posted by
648 posts

WOW! I just looked at all the Kipling bags on sale at Macy’s.
This forum is great because if it weren’t for the info here, I wouldn’t have known I “needed” a new bag.
Thanks (?) everyone.

Posted by
2445 posts

Wow Mardee, some of those are marked waaay down! I keep forgetting about Macy's since they closed the nearest one to me and working from home since covid I don't buy "work clothes" anymore.

Posted by
358 posts

I bought a Travelon crossbody bag in black. It's OK - but not all water bottles fit in the side pocket, and it's a little shallow so they can fall out. Size is nice, I can fit a small umbrella and a sweater or light jacket in there along with all the usual travel stuff. But it's heavy empty and the strap bugs me. So I got a Peak cross body bag. Lightweight nylon, lots of pockets, only thing lacking is a water bottle pocket, but mine fit inside the bag easily enough. Not "slash-proof" like the Travelon but not concerned about that.

Posted by
6776 posts

I keep forgetting about Macy's since they closed the nearest one to me and working from home since covid I don't buy "work clothes" anymore.

roubrat, me too! No more need for work clothes! My law firm was actually located in Macy's corporate headquarters in Cincinnati. But then Macy's decided to move everything to NY, so they sold the building and the tenants left. It was a shame because we did get some nice discounts from them occasionally. :)

Posted by
160 posts

I love this bag! I wore it as a crossbody bag, but it can be a backpack. It has lots of pockets and a water bottle pocket. It is inexpensive and held up well.

Posted by
38 posts

I have a large Kipling bag (Zelenka) and a small flat Lesportsac bag that I used for travel. I take both with me and use one depending on what I'm doing and where I'm going that day.

The Kipling bag will hold a water bottle, small book/ travel guide and other things and has many pockets to keep items organized.
The LeSportac bag has an inside divider and two outside zip pockets.