REVIEW – Oh, look – it is a tote bag. Big deal, right? Who cares? A tote is a tote. Park City, Utah’s SMMT doesn’t think so. Their PowderLoft totes, available in 20L and 35L sizes are designed to change your mind about tote bags with their recycled material construction, lofted and insulated body, water-resistant storage for your stuff, and overall thoughtful design. Let’s check out the larger of the two – the SMMT 35L PowderLoft tote bag in forest black and see if should be toting your stuff.
What is it?
This is a tote bag. It has multiple pockets and carry methods that we’ll get into below.
What’s in the box?
- SMMT PowderLoft tote bag
- Small wristlet bag
- Shoulder strap
- SMMT sticker
- Dimensions: 20” Length x 6” Width x 15” Height (18.5” with top expanded), Handle Drop 9”
- Weight: 2 lbs 13 oz
- Capacity: 35 Liters
- Colors: Forest Black (tested), Jordanelle Blue
- Materials: The shell and lofted insulation are all post-industrial or post-consumer recycled materials and are water-resistant
- Interior pockets:
- Media Pocket: Dimensions 13.25” x 9.25” (sized for iPads and small & medium-sized laptops)
- Two additional tuck pockets plus a zipper pocket
- Two hydration sleeves that can hold a 40oz bottle or wine bottle
- Exterior pockets: 1 with water-resistant zipper
- Additional storage: front and back stow straps for a towel or blanket
Design and features
This is the the SMMT PowderLoft tote bag in the forest black color. It is very dark, almost black, with a subtle dark green tint. Some of the photos make the green stand out a little more than it actually does. The sides of the back are lofted, much like a down coat. It provides some insulation for whatever you put in the bag. It isn’t a substitute for a cooler, but it could help keep a drink or two chilled. It gives the bag a little more elegant look. If you look at the photo above, you can see that the bottom of the bag looks different than the sides. It is a more rugged, canvas-like weave that feels tough. By tough, I mean that it feels like I could drag it over concrete and the concrete would lose the battle. It looks like it is built for abuse with expected outdoor use in the dirt and on rocks.
Those two straps are the stow straps. Here’s a look with a large beach towel tucked in.
A full-length water-resistant double-pull zipper runs across the main opening.
A water-resistant zipper protects the small front pocket.
The closure can flip up, adding a few more inches to the already ample interior storage.
Here is another look at the complete package. You can see the strap on the wristlet.
The beefy shoulder strap clips connect to solid reinforced rings on each top corner of the bag.
The attached handles are large enough to fit over your shoulder and are stitched and riveted for strength.
There is a ton of room inside the bag. One side holds the small media pocket.
It is sized for an iPad or small laptop. It is lined with soft material and closes with a velcro strap.
The opposite side has two tuck-style pockets and one zipper pocket.
There is a key holder near the top in one corner. You can see a collapsed bottle pocket to the left of the key holder.
Here is a look at the other bottle holder. It is large enough to hold a bottle of wine or a 40oz water bottle.
There are four ways to carry this bag. My lovely wife agreed to model for me. From left to right:
- Handles on the shoulder
- Handle carry
- Shoulder strap carry
- Cross-body strap carry
A bag to carry stuff, even if designed well, is only worthwhile if it can hold all the stuff you want to carry. I decided to try filling it up with gear for an afternoon of water volleyball on a chilly 65F-degree day.
On top of my monstrously large beach towel, I added an XXXL shorty neoprene suit, baseball cap, size 12 water shoes, knee and elbow supports, deodorant, lip balm, eye drops, and sunglasses. The PowderLoft bag swallowed all that and closed easily with the towel inside the bag, not on the stow straps. All of that will be wet after playing water volleyball, the water-resistant SMMT bag will protect whatever vehicle I put the bag in – our SUV or golf cart. On the way to water volleyball, my size 12 sneakers, socks, shorts, polo shirt, undergarments, belt, jewelry, and that monster towel all fit in the bag easily.
I’m going to take a slight detour here. SMMT sent along another product along with the PowderLoft bag – a Serpa 16oz insulated tumbler. To be clear, a tumbler is not included with the PowderLoft bag, but since they sent one, I’ll talk about it for a moment. It is a Serpa Tumbler in Dreamscape Blue. It is made from 18/8 kitchen-grade stainless steel and is available in three powder coat colors.
It is a dishwasher-safe, 16-ounce, vacuum-insulated, and leakproof tumbler. The two-piece proprietary top is 100% leakproof. Here is the top steel piece with knurled edges for grip.
It screws into the second Tritan layer.
That layer has a sipping hole.
It screws into the tumbler. You can see the built-in knurls to help when screwing it in or unscrewing it.
The bottom has a non-slip rubbery insert.
The lid has one more trick up its sleeve. It magnetically snaps into the bottom to keep it safe.
Of course, that covers the non-slip base, so it may slide around a bit. It is sized to fit most cupholders, so it is pretty versatile. It sells for $42. Thanks to SMMT for including it.
Back to the SMMT PowderLoft tote bag…
The bottom line is that this is a huge bag that is easy to carry. It has pockets that can help you organize a nice lunch with drinks, or some tech and clothes for a short weekend trip. If your travels take you to rough areas, this bag will help protect your stuff while coming through it unscathed.
What I like
- Very well made
- Nice carry options
- Thoughtful storage layout and pockets
- All recycled materials mean these bags help keep trash out of landfills
What I’d change
- It is a little pricey, but sometimes quality comes with a price
I tried to find something I didn’t like about the SMMT PowderLoft tote bag. I really did. Alas, I couldn’t find any room for improvement until I got to the price. At $248, this is priced at the higher end for larger non0-designer tote bags. For that price, you do get an extremely well-made bag with multiple options for carrying and a ton of organized storage.
The company, SMMT, contributes 1% of every sale to Summit Land Conservancy, to protect the land, water, and the natural environment locally. SMMT strives to use primarily environmentally friendly & recycled materials, where possible. Not a bad philosophy to follow.
The SMMT 35L PowderLoft tote has become my new tote for my outdoor activities, especially water volleyball. With enough room to hold a change of clothes on the way there, and my towel, wet gear, and a neoprene shorty suit on colder days, I expect it to serve me well for years to come.