The Utility Tote: Newly resdesigned and NEW PICTURES!
The Utility Tote
First, the Utility Tote has been redesigned and it's better than ever. It's one of the simplest Tom Bihn bags but it's also one of my personal favorites. Sometimes I just have a lot of extra junk to bring to work (props for photography, books for people to borrow, clothing to return, etc.) and I grab my Utility Tote, put it all in, and go.
It's the first bag available in the two new colors we've added to our palette: Kelly Green and Navy Blue.
It now has a much-requested interior zippered pocket. The pocket is made out of Dyneema®, a ripstop fabric that you'll be seeing on more and more products (it is currently also used on the ID bag) because of its strength and light weight.
The handles are made with the same Poron® foam we use in the Empire Builder and LUX handles. In side-by-side drop weight tests, Poron® materials outperformed vinyl sponge, neoprene sponge, sponge rubber, latex foam and other materials.
Second, pictures of all available color combinations aren't available yet, but we do have pictures on the Utility Tote page that show the amount of stuff that the Utility Tote can hold, what the inside of the bag looks like, and a close-up of the zippered pocket.
What do you think of the redesigned Utility Tote? What do you think of the pictures -- are these pictures you'd want to see of every product?
Click to see the bigger versions of the pictures on the Utility Tote page:
Comparing the LUX Bag with the New Utility Tote
and Darcy responded
Originally Posted by Joy
One difference is that the LUX is made of ballistic nylon like the Aeronaut, Smart Alec (colored portion), Empire Builder, ID, and Yang Imago, while the Utility Tote is made of cordura like the Buzz and Yin Imago. A second difference is that the LUX was envisioned to work with different inserts that could be zipped into the bottom of the bag -- including ones for laptops, for knitting, and for diapers (according to the original thread).
Originally Posted by Darcy
Cobos' suggestion about differentiating these two bags on the web page for the utility tote makes sense, but I'm baffled by Darcy's statement that the LUX is smaller, when the web page for the Utility Tote states:
while the LUX web page specifies:
From Utility Tote page
Made of 1000 Denier Cordura®
Weight: 12.15 oz.
Overall measurements: 13-1/2" x 12" x 7"
I'm guessing that Darcy is saying that because of the flaring design of the utility tote, it's actually wider than the measurements given on the web page (maybe because they measured the 12" at the base?). Otherwise, the dimensions in the description suggest that the LUX is larger. It would help to see these bags side by side!
From LUX Tote Bag page
Over-all measurements of: 7 1/2" x 12 1/2" x 13 1/2"
Made of 1050 Ballistic Nylon
Here is my post on the LUX bag. And here's a link to the blog posting that shows pictures of the LUX filled with groceries (and with wool).
The newly redesigned utility tote looks as though it borrows from some of the features of the LUX bag (padded handles, and maybe the line of the handles to the bag; different shaped base?) and the Imago (colors and fabrics). This is just from memory, but they may have either changed the fabric for the utility tote (or perhaps the new pictures are just getting better), or else the cordura just looks different as a result of structural reinforcing by the interior pocket and changes to the design shape, so that it gives the impression of a different fabric weight or texture in the photos. The ability to stand up when empty is new.
Some other differences between the two bags: the inner pocket on the LUX only goes half-way down from the top, in order to accommodate the planned zip-in modules, while the utility tote's inner pocket is full size. The Utility Tote has an outside pocket that seems to work well for magazines. From my point of view, probably the biggest difference in selection for usage between the two bags results from the choice of ballistic nylon and the straight vs. wider-at-the-top design of the Utility Tote. Simply put, I find that a great deal of the utility of the LUX bag comes from its free standing nature even when empty or partially loaded. The combination of light weight with the fact that it packs very flat then also make it a natural addition for use with my Aeronaut.
Most bags will stand up if heavily weighted (the pineapple! or maybe the drill <grin>), but you can put fairly sprawly things into the LUX (like cables with ends that would normally poke out at the sides of a bag) and still have it maintain its shape and stand upright. A lot of that is due to the ballistic nylon material and the diagonal criss-cross line edging the two color sections and wrapping down to the base. (Take a look at the side view of the LUX or, even better, the 360 degree rotating view, and think of bias-cut seams.) I'd guess that the LUX does this upright standing and shape maintaining better than the Utility Tote, but that the Utility Tote would be better for grocery shopping (long baguettes or celery can go in slant-wise) or a picnic at the beach. Since one of the items I'll occasionally carry in the LUX is my 12" PowerBook, I prefer the stability features! The ballistic nylon also holds up better in rain, and is easier to keep clean (if you do put this bag on the ground). Color selection is better in Cordura, though. (I got the Imago in the same colors that Just chose -- cocoa and wasabi. The only down side is that if I'm only carrying the PowerBook the Cordura will sag. This isn't an issue if you have a larger laptop or if you're carrying other items in the Imago that spread the load; it just demonstrates the differences between Cordua and Ballistic nylon.)
Darcy, I don't know about the LUX being more "feminine", but depending on enivisioned usage the standards might change: the diaper bag function, one of the envisioned inserts for the LUX, might make the LUX a lot more acceptable carry-all for men to use than an alternative that sports the title "Hot Mama" ;-). And for all the commenters who allude to giving totes to their mothers, aunts, etc. rather than using these themselves, there must really be a generational thing -- because I can remember turning down many offered tote bags from my mother, too. This doesn't detract from the practical usefulness of the LUX. (I usually carry it on my shoulder, like the Knitty Award winner does. It easily switches to a hand tote and works comfortably each way.) Look at this as one of the "stealth-value" aspects of the Bihn design, where a product just turns out to be more useful than you'd envisioned from the description/photos because of the myriad small design details. I find that I use the LUX a lot as a second bag, when I want to dump in library books or gather up odds and ends when I already have another bag packed. I've even dumped in a size 4 Brain Cell (with laptop) when I've been consolidating extra things to carry. (The main reason that size 4 laptops aren't matched to the LUX is that depending on the long dimension of the laptop, it probably sticks up slightly above the low point of the curved side of the LUX -- especially when in a reinforcing case.)
I always pack the LUX with my Aeronaut. The only change in usage from my earlier post is that it always goes in last. The flattened case also acts to smooth over the other packed contents so there are no bulges against the zipper. And it is perfectly matched to the opening size of the Aeronaut so that it easily pulls out when I unpack. Just works for me. YMMV.
And is there any word on the status of LUX inserts?