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Whether you are a young professional who needs to carry around paperwork, a parent lugging around accessories for your kids’ extracurricular activities or someone who needs reusable grocery bags to sell to customers, there is a canvas tote bag with your name on it! Canvas tote bags are a wonderful choice for anyone who has something to carry. But with some much variety, how do you choose the right canvas tote bag?

Let’s dive in more deeply.

What is Canvas Material?

One of the most popular types of tote bag is crafted from canvas, a form of woven fabric that can either be made from cotton, linen, jute, or a polyester blend. Canvas is a durable, dense material that has been used to make tents, umbrellas, shoes, awnings, upholstery, and more.

The most kind of canvas is made from cotton and can be broken into two types: duck and plain. The main difference between the two is the density. Duck canvas has a tighter weave than plain canvas.

What is a Tote Bag?

What is a Tote Bag?

What is a Tote Bag?

Not every bag is a tote bag, and not every tote is made from canvas. So, first off, let’s discuss what a tote bag is and what it can be used for. Tote bags are any kind of bag that lacks a zipper, button, or another fastener, aside from the handles used to carry the bag. The purpose of tote bags is to lessen the burden of carrying multiple items.

Not all tote bags are created equally, either. Some are made from less durable fabrics or from recycled plastics. A canvas tote bag, on the other hand, is going to be durable, stylish, and inexpensive.

What Are Tote Bags Commonly Made From?

As mentioned above, tote bags are been fabricated from a number of materials. Depending on what you are looking for, a canvas tote bag could be better than a jute or nylon bag, for example. Some materials will also be more budget-friendly and more widely available.

Here is a brief look at popular tote bag materials:

  • Canvas
  • Jute
  • Cotton
  • Nylon
  • Polyester
  • Polyurethane
  • Polypropylene
  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

Less common fabrics for tote bags include denim, vinyl, and fleece. You will notice that some fabrics are natural while others are synthetic. This creates some contrasting points between the materials that change their durability, weight, and overall price.

For instance, bags made from PVC, polypropylene, polyurethane, and nylon are the lightest available and, therefore, easier to carry than canvas or cotton bags. That said, canvas, nylon, polyester, and cotton are the most durable and resilient. Natural fibers are harder to clean while synthetics are the least expensive.

Of course, that is not the sole difference between synthetic and natural materials.

Natural Materials

This applies to canvas, cotton, and jute.

The benefits of natural fibers include strength, environmentally friendly manufacturing, lower fuel emissions, sourcing from renewable sources, and also biodegradability.

The downside to natural products is that they are likely to stain, can shrink, and colors can bleed from or into the fibers. Canvas and cotton can wrinkle, and they may also absorb odors. Plus, the price tag can sometimes be high.

Synthetic Materials

This applies to polypropylene, polyurethane, polyester, PVC, and nylon.

The pros of using synthetic materials include strength and versatility; resistance to odor, wrinkles, mold, and water; flexibility; and ease of cleaning.

Cons are flammability (never set synthetics close to an open flame); produced from non-renewable, unclean sources like petroleum and chemicals; and lack of biodegradability. A single PVC bag will take centuries to begin breaking down.

Choosing A Canvas Tote Bag

If you plan on purchasing a canvas tote bag, you need to think about what kind of canvas you want—natural or synthetic—and how much you are willing to spend. You should also consider what you want to use the bag for since there are plenty of styles out there.

That is why we are going to break down the features of canvas tote bags, so you can decide if it is right for you!

Are Canvas Tote Bags Eco-Friendly?

One of the main reasons people are turning to reusable bags and totes is the environmental factor. The less single-use plastics the general population uses, the more we can control the amount of garbage being produced. The less garbage, the better off the planet. But is canvas a smart choice for those seeking a greener lifestyle?

Since canvas made from cotton and other natural fibers comes from renewable sources, it is definitely an eco-friendly choice. The bags are biodegradable, too. Since you can reusable canvas bags over and over, you lower the amount of plastic bags you use dramatically.

Canvas Material Weights

Canvas comes in a variety of weights ranging from 4 oz all the way to 24 oz. Popular weights include 6 oz canvas for lower quality totes (also called cotton sheeting totes or cotton totes) and 12 oz canvas bags, which are far more durable. The higher the weight, the heavier the canvas. Most of the time, fashion tote bags are made out of 12 oz canvas, so you know you are getting your money’s worth.

Canvas Tote Bag Sizes

There are a variety of sizes available for you to choose from based on your needs. However, there are also some standard dimensions to help you decide which size is best:

  • Small: Dimensions are usually 12”W x 13”H x 4”D. A small canvas tote bag is usually for the essentials only, such as your wallet, keys, and maybe a small paperback book. You often see small canvas totes being used as gift bags.
  • Medium: Dimensions are 16”W x 15”H x 5”D, making medium bags ideal for shopping bags, school bags, and other everyday uses.
  • Large: Dimensions for large bags are 22”W x 15”H x 8”D. These bags are oversized and can fit bulkier items inside. Most people use large canvas totes for overnight trips or beach and pool outings in the summer.


Tote bags, regardless of what they are made of, come in a wide range of styles to fit every kind of persona. You can find canvas bags printed with an assortment of pictures and patterns to give off a touch of individuality. You can also personalize your canvas tote with dyes and iron-on images. Some companies will embroider your name across the top. The options are endless.

Also, there is really no standard style of canvas totes. You will see that there are dozens of shapes, sizes, and depths. Some bags have longer handles while others have zippered compartments or other unique features. Bags can be square or regular or even round. With a little bit of searching, you are bound to find a canvas tote bag that matches your style.


Now that you know more about canvas tote bags, you should also have an idea about what you are looking for. Or maybe you decided that canvas isn’t for you after all. Whatever you decide, there is certainly a tote bag out there that will serve your needs.

Looking for canvas tote bags? Have questions that were not answered in this article? Then fill out the contact form to learn more about what kind of bags we offer and other great deals!