The Osprey Tote Bag Review: Sustainable and Stylish for City Travel

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The Arcane Osprey Tote Bag is made entirely from recycled fabric and yet you’d never know it. When it comes to city travel, everyday working in cafes and light hand luggage options for flying, this is my favourite Osprey Tote Bag.

Note – we were provided with a sample Osprey tote bag for review purposes. All views remain ours, all ours!

The Osprey Tote Bag Review: The Arcane Tote

Hey, welcome back, we’re going to have a look at the Osprey Tote bag. I’m Abi, professional travel writer and founder of Inside the Travel Lab and I’m going to put this bag through its paces.

Abigail King travel writer black and white image in cafe
My face after using the Osprey Arcane Tote Bag

So, the Arcane Tote bag, as it is called, comes in a variety of colours, and there’s actually a lot going on.

Now, unlike a lot of the rest of the Osprey range, this is not designed for hardcore backpacking up the side of a mountain, but this is for a bag for out and about town.

And of all the various suitcases and bags that I’ve collected been given or reviewed over the years, this turns out to be one of the ones that I’ve used the most. I tend to use it for going about town with my computer and stuff, into cafes and business meetings and the like.

Arcane Osprey Tote Bag Review Front Image
The bag comes in lots of stylish colours

Features of the Osprey Tote Bag

There’s a lot going on. There are  a lot of different features. So, let me talk you through what’s what.

How to Carry the Osprey Tote

First of all, let’s talk about how you can carry it.

Number one involves the traditional tote way.

Number two is as a backpack.

Here’s a video to walk you through how you can transform the bag from tote to backpack:

Made From Recycled Fabric

The Osprey Arcane tote is made from recycled material, which is amazing!

Instead of plastic tabs, they’ve used metal in a bid to be more sustainable.

Using the Tote Bag as a Backpack

From the backpack point of view, like I said, this isn’t something that’s going to be perfectly ergonomically designed for slipping around on ice and boulders.

It’s a basic backpack for short journeys around the city. But having said that, the part of the bag that rests against your back is ridged and made from quite thick foam.

So that means two things. One, it protects your spine from the pressure of what’s in the bag. Two, the ridged foam lets a little bit more air flow around, which makes it much more comfortable.

Arcane Osprey Tote Bag zip open with contents
Zipped pockets galore!

Storage in the Osprey Tote Bag

Now here’s what’s going on in the storage department.

Expandable Section

This Osprey tote bag has a really high zip-open, zip-close section at the top. When you’re not using it, it rolls down and fits into the rest of the bag to give a clean, minimalist line.

What is the point of that you may ask?

Well, I think it’s often really good, particularly for clothing. If you’re travelling around or across town and you’re going to have to take layers off, like cardigans and coats, then it’s really handy to fit them in the bag to leave your hands free.

And even when it’s full, you can still carry it as a tote, which looks smarter than backpack for meetings. It also means you’re more likely to keep your things with you in museums and places where backpacks are not allowed.

Zipped Pockets

The Osprey Tote Bag has a huge front area with virtually no structure – and no zip. That’s for one of the tote bag straps but it’s also a good place for maps or magazines, things that you cant to grab quickly.

And then there’s a relatively hidden zip section on the front that’s also quite deep. This is great because it makes it that much harder for anyone who’s following you or standing behind you on the tube to get in and steal your things.

Interior Storage/ The Main Bag

Inside, there’s just one big deep pocket. In the video, you can see that my hand disappears to halfway up my arm. There are no dividers so you can put almost anything in there – folders, a large camera, gym kit, whatever.

However, the main part has a slight snag. I would quite like the zips to extend at the sides a little bit because inside, it does get a little bit dark.

And in practical terms, that means it can be quite hard to find what you’re looking for if you’re not somewhere really bright. So particularly on a plane when the lights are down, you’re going to struggle to find things in here. However, for a normal day around town, it’s absolutely fine.

The Laptop Compartment

Also in the main section is a laptop compartment. Your laptop or tablet will slide in and sit straight against this flat part on your back.

Pens, Keys and Personal Storage

And then on the front of the laptop compartment, you have slots for three or four pens , a red clip for keys and an internal zipped section for valuables like hotel key cards, medication and things like that.

The Osprey Tote Bag in Summary

Surprisingly, I find the Arcane Osprey Tote bag much, much more useful than I ever thought I would. And I think that’s because of the taller section at the top that can roll down.

If you went for the black version, it’s just about smart enough that you could get away with taking it to most business meetings. I think you can also get it in a really raucous brilliant, bright yellow, which would be great if you work in media or design or somewhere where you can just have fun.

Arcane Osprey Tote Bag in Cafe
An Osprey tote in the wild

So, I love what they’ve done with this bag. I look forward to seeing the next few iterations, but it’s a really useful bag that I get loads of wear out of already.

And like everything with Osprey, it’s just really well made. The handle is well designed, it’s ergonomic, and it’s going to last.

The Osprey Tote Bag Specs

Weight: 0.8 kg

Dimensions (CM): 46L / 28W / 23D

Fabric: Recycled Polyester Packcloth


  • Internal organisation pocket
  • Grab handle
  • Internal key attachment clip deep down
  • AirScape™ backpanel with foam ridges for ventilation
  • Internal padded laptop and tablet sleeve
  • Tote handles and harness fold away.
  • 100% Recycled Fabrics
  • PFC Free DWR Coating

More Travel Gear Reviews

So that’s that the Arcane Osprey Tote bag review, do check out the others.

We’ve got lots of bag reviews, but we do more than just review gear. Find our other travel gear reviews and packing lists here. In particular, check out the ultimate travel packing checklist with printable.

We travel around the world as well bringing stories back there. My name is Abi. I’m from Inside the Travel Lab. We have an experimental take on travel and lifestyle. I hope I’ll see you there. Take care then. Bye!

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