Of all the packing tips out there, I tend to rely on one basic tenet when it comes to streamlining the entire process: quality over quantity. On average, I’m headed to the airport three to four times a month, so I try to find clothes and travel accessories that cut down my decision-making time. Whether it’s a singular pair of jeans I can wear with everything or a piece of carry-on luggage that works for most trips, I’ve found investing in these high-quality, versatile items makes my life as a travel writer infinitely easier—and keeps my city-sized apartment from getting too crowded.
I applied the same principle when I searched for a leather carryall tote last year. I wanted a bag that would replace all of the mediocre options I had collected over the last decade and serve as an alternative to my favorite travel backpack. This led me to Cuyana and the brand’s now-sunset Classic Zipper Tote. When the lightweight, roomy bag arrived in the mail, I knew it was the one: It fit my 16-inch laptop, phone and computer chargers, a book, my Bose headphones, and a small toiletry bag. The small interior zipper pocket kept my wallet secure but accessible, and the top zip ensured all of the contents stayed sealed inside. After carrying my new tote on its first flight, I promptly donated the rest of my larger personal item bags.
But then, in March 2023, Cuyana released three updates to its fan-favorite Easy Tote Collection. According to the brand, the Easy Zipper tote (which comes in Classic, Tall, and Small sizes) was designed with “beauty, quality, and functionality in mind,” and was born out of customer requests for a zippered version of the Cuyana Easy Tote. Since I loved my initial bag so much—and it’s no longer available to buy—I wanted to test this newer style and see how it stacked up to its predecessor. Of the three different sizes, I went with Classic, the version that seemed most similar to my previous purchase.
Each of the sizes have similar features—a sunken zipper, D-rings to attach adjustable straps, and compatibility with the brand’s System Flap Bag for additional organization—and they all come in five core colors (black, caramel, cappuccino, stone, and dark olive) and two seasonal colors (sage and biscuit).
Although it was advertised as an “airy, unstructured tote that carries it all,” I was honestly a bit hesitant about the sheer amount of volume this bag could hold. My other bag fits all of my in-flight essentials as well as a small satchel (the trick for getting around the “one carry-on and one personal item” rule); I wasn’t sure if this tote could do the same. Fortunately, that worry ended up being unfounded. As far as dimensions, the new bag is about an inch shorter than the older version, but its additional three inches in width more than make up for it. Not to mention, the top handles are also an inch longer.