Dump Your Tote! Get a Better Bag for the Farmers Market.

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Jayme Henderson)

Collectively, our staff has probably been to hundreds of farmers markets. And while we have lots of thoughts on what to shop for (and how to turn it all into dinner), we also have a lot of thoughts on how to get it home.

An informal survey of our editors revealed two things.

1. Totes and bucket bags are terrible for farmers markets!

The tote is synonymous with farmers markets. But it shouldn’t be! A tote bag typically lacks structure — it’s just a floppy jumble of fabric that is impossible to keep open. Just think back to the last time you bought lettuce and how annoying it was to get it inside that tote bag of yours! Bucket-like bags (you know, those oh-so-pretty woven ones) are a similar issue because although they stay open, there are no compartments and all your goods fall to the bottom, crushing the tomatoes, which you didn’t mean to buy first but totally did by accident.

Plus, with totes and woven bags, the more you buy, the more cumbersome they become to carry. And you have to constantly push the straps back on your shoulder or throw the whole thing behind your back when you want to reach for something (or else your bag will crash into the table). This is no way to shop, you guys!

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2. You should bring a backpack to the farmers market.

So what should you carry to the farmers market instead? A backpack! For starters, they’re much easier to carry around while you shop. And because they have two straps, you won’t kill any one shoulder. Most backpacks have compartments, which help you organize your bounty as you collect it, and those that don’t usually have a large zippered flap, allowing you to see everything at a glance.

Which backpack to get? Here are five of our favorites — and all of them are better than tote bags.

  1. Poler Men’s Rolltop Black, $70: This practical black pack has a roll-top main compartment, a separate mini section (for smaller items like, say, garlic), and a padded pouch for your impulse buys of honey jars. Bonus: It is surprisingly roomy.
  2. FÖRENKLA shoulder bag, $18 at IKEA: If you are looking for an affordable option that’s not short on style, consider this IKEA find. It has plenty of compartments and its red-hot hue makes it stand out from the, ahem, pack.
  3. Fjallraven Rucksack No. 21, from $145: Serious about your farmers markets? Maybe you’re planning on hitting five in a weekend? This classic green-and-tan rucksack can fit all the things you want to buy.
  4. Baggu Canvas Backpack, $28: This backpack is a little more tote-like, but at least you can wear it on, duh, your back and have an easier time shopping.
  5. Lorimer, $85 at State Bags: This bright backpack will help you stand out in a crowd (so your shopping buddies can always spot you). It’s got a padded sleeve in the main compartment, a zippered front pouch, and a small side pocket. The best part? For every bag purchased, the company will deliver another bag — filled with supplies — to an American child in need.

What’s your go-to farmers market bag?