At this year’s Overland West I saw this tote bag at one of the vendors, it struck me as ‘Tacti-Cool” at the moment so that was interesting but I knew I wanted to walk the event a bit and see what was out there. I wandered around the displays and rigs the rest of the afternoon and towards the end of the day went back and bought the CAB-1 (Carry All Bag One) from the crew at Exploro. At the moment, I wasn’t sure what I’d use it for…
Once I got back into reality I found myself using the tote for almost everything from daily trips to the office, weekend errands, camping gear and crafts hauler, etc. Damn, after using a wide range of messengers, backpacks, slingpacks with lots of organization all built in I was pleasantly surprised that the “big-open-bag” format works really really well for so many of my everyday needs.
Flash forward a few more months and now I’ve accumulated two additional totes, a Tote – Grocery Bag from BCT and most recently the CaB-2 from PDW. There are things I really like about each bag so this article will focus on my favorite features of each tote.
Exploro CAB-1 Tote
As the Exploro tote was the first one I picked up, I’ll start there. What struck me the most was the large, nicely done MOLLE/WEB panel on the front of the tote and it didn’t hurt that they had the foliage green colorway in stock at the event.
The front features a nicely sewn web platform on the front with a loop platform for your favorite patch. The two straps are just long enough to go over your shoulder if you’re a husky guy.
Granted, the “Tacti-Cool” appearance was what initially grabbed me. While I haven’t attached a host of pouches to it, I find it a super practical place to stash a sharpie, a penlight or flashlight plus a Grimlock or two.
The CAB-1 is a very well-constructed tote that will hold up to hard use, whether that is hauling camping gear or for everyday carry. The main panel of fabric wraps all the way around the front, bottom and back of the tote.
This tote is the latest fix to my nylon addiction and features a very similar size and profile to the Exploro tote. The difference are in the addition of a pair of shorter handles (yep, love the orange pop color) and a large front pocket instead of web panel. I do wish the long straps were a touch longer.
The double handles provide great options for hauling gear either over your shoulder, in your hand, or in the crook of your elbow.
Like the Exploro tote, the main panel is made of one piece of fabric and forms a “U” where the straps are attached.
Yeah, I like the orange color pop, did I mention that?
BCT Tote – Grocery Bag
The Black Center Tactical Tote delivers above and beyond expectations for its stated purpose. While the lightest weight and smallest tote amongst the three, this is the one I’ll buy again, especially with California’s new bag ban.
The BCT Tote is made to order, you choose the fabric color, web color, Velcro color and stitching color. Very cool and virtually endless options.
As far as a grocery getter, this bags dual-handle and single shoulder strap setup works phenomenally. The shoulder strap is plenty long enough to carry across body or over your shoulder and the shorter handles make it an easy transition from your shoulder to either hand.
Its lighter weight means that it packs smaller and for me is more likely to have a permanent place in the car for those mid-week trips to the grocery.
Pick your own colors!
One line summaries:
Exploro CAB-1: Rugged, tactically styled tote bag, built to haul whatever you want.
PDW CaB-2: Rugged, lower visibility tote bag, heavy duty construction, nice fit and finish.
BCT Tote – Grocery Bag: Everyday essential for your grocery shopping or medium-weight hauling needs.
What would I like to see added to any of these bags, without getting away from their intended “big open bag” format:
1. Add a paracord loop or loose length of paracord so you could hang your keys or other EDC items handily.
2. Perhaps a thin layer of cushioning on the bottom, just a little bit of piece of mind when your small camera or gadget finds its way to the bottom of the bag.
4. Just for the patch geeks: A large loop panel on the inside to store your latest patch grail or giveaway.
3. This last is less ‘toteworthy’, and would add to the cost of the bags manufacturing and materials… Imagine a removable divider that split the tote into two vertical chambers. It would be great for your grocery getting or for keeping books and other flat items vertical and optimally organized.
Review and photos by Matt Frederick