As someone who reviews luggage for a living, I often feel jaded about weekender bags. It's the one product category that consistently lets me down: A carry-all tote bag can be praised to the high heavens online, but I'd find it wanting in terms of functional pocket designs. Meanwhile, most of the more practical duffels are lacking in the looks department. And don't get me started on the different bags I've had to give away due to how unexpectedly heavy the material is IRL. This constant trial and error is why I was initially a bit reserved when I was first asked to test out the Catalina Deluxe Tote, the bestselling weekender bag from Lo & Sons (and 2022's Most Wanted MVP Awards winner).
As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about. I used the tote on a recent weekend break to Portland, Oregon, and on a round-trip flight between California and London. Since then, it has quickly climbed the ranks and become my favorite "personal item" to board a flight with.
You could immediately tell that so much thought has gone into the finer details. The zippers never got caught even when I was rushing to repack my pack at TSA. The recycled polyester material was sturdy, lightweight, and seriously waterproof inside and out: My water bottle was not fully screwed on in one of my journeys, and the leakage didn't bleed through the bag. Unfortunately, this meant that it took ages for me to notice this little accident, but I'd imagine this being a blessing in the rain. It was also incredibly easy to clean; a quick wipe down with some alcohol wipes was all it needed to look brand spanking new again.
The real clincher for me is the impeccable size and shape of the Catalina Deluxe. It has just the right width measurements to stay put atop a carry-on suitcase without sliding off, especially if you use the trolley sleeve. It's not too big to feel really cumbersome, yet has enough internal storage to fit my laptop, toiletries, a spare pair of shoes, and a change of outfit. It slides right into the underseat area of the plane (which can be a struggle with other bulkier bags).
No doubt about it, this is going to be my new go-to carry-on. But, if you don't want just one travel writer's opinion, I've also enlisted three other well-traveled R29 editors to take the bag out for a spin around the world. Keep reading for their no-filter takes — and we have also picked out other on-sale products that are great for travel.
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"I've brought my Catalina Deluxe everywhere, from weekend trips to Connecticut to week-long stays in Chicago. It's attractive, and the messenger strap makes it a lifesaver for running through the airport. My husband also mentioned how the longer shoulder straps made it so much more comfortable than other travel bags. I was first drawn to it for its bottom pocket that was advertised to be able to hold shoes. Living in NYC and riding the subway, I'm not a fan of mixing my shoes with my clothes, even if it has a dust bag on. I can confidently say that I've continued to gravitate toward the bag for that sole feature.
"If there is one characteristic I would improve on, it's that the bag is floppy with it being canvas. It's not waterproof, and you have to be a real Tetris organizer with this one. If you start throwing things into the bag that don't seamlessly blend with one another, the bag will lose its shape and bulge. Maybe it's best as a gym bag? If I start to overpack, it'll lean over and won't sit properly on my suitcase. I'm curious how the 600D Recycled Poly holds up to the canvas version." —Vivien Lee, Fashion Affiliate Writer
"When it comes to traveling, I am what you would call 'a bad packer.' So I really love a bag that comes with a packing tutorial. The Catalina Deluxe Tote came right as I was about to traverse the world on an international flight from NYC to Japan, and I believe it was sent to me by the universe.
"First things first: she’s cute. I opted for the Dark Navy Camo colorway that appealed to my sense of style (aka dark but not basic), and I was surprised at how durable the recyclable material felt. It is a little rough to the touch, but it’s wayyy sturdier than any of my other bags in the same size.
"Speaking of size, not only was it big enough to fit everything I needed for the entire 14-hour flight, but it also had enough room for an emergency outfit, all my toiletries, and a pair of sneakers. (I’ve had traumatizing lost baggage situations and wanted to be prepared!) I also loved that it has an outside zipper that can be adjusted to slip over the handle of my suitcase to make the airport part of traveling a whole lot less painful. But best of all? It fit right under my seat and didn’t need to be stowed away in any unfortunate cabin overhead. My only real qualm is that it didn’t have a designated water bottle spot. But, everything else was so good that I’m willing to carry the bottle in hand." —Charlotte Lewis, Sex & Wellness Writer
"I’ll be honest, I have far too many canvas tote bags from my travels and shopping events, but I didn’t have one that was suitable for holding more than a water bottle, maybe my laptop, and small purchases from my adventures. So I was more than willing to add a new (and much more handy, durable, and spacious) canvas tote to the mix with Lo & Sons’ Catalina Deluxe Tote in a beautiful mauve-y shade.
"So far, I’ve used it for a few weekend trips (as a supplement to a duffle bag when I have more to haul around with me). I’m super duper appreciative of the bottom pocket to separate my belongings. It perfectly holds smaller pairs of shoes and slippers, and at the end of my trips, I stuff some of my dirty laundry in there so it doesn’t mix and mingle with my clean clothes. I also appreciate the detachable strap, adjustable compartments, and luggage sleeve, which all make this chameleon-like tote bag really versatile." —Victoria Montalti, Associate Affiliate Writer
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