Attitude Supply ARB Tote VX21 Review – Carryology

Attitude Supply ARB Tote VX21 Review - Carryology

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Attitude Supply is the brainchild of self-taught Italian designer Michele Fasano. Ever since the successful Kickstarter campaign for his first backpack ATD1 back in September 2018, Attitude Supply has firmly stayed on the radar of many in the carry community. And for good reason – the ATD1, despite being nearly 3 years old, to this day remains the king of expandability and versatility, becoming a unique product and being in a league of its own.

Many were hoping for the ATD2 (which is as inevitable as the next Marvel or Star Wars movie). But Michele decided to address another need and offer something different than the follow-up to his award-winning backpack. Meet the Attitude Supply ARB Roll Top Tote Bag – your new best friend.

After using it for a while here’s what I have to say about it.

Attitude Supply ARB Roll Top Tote Bag

SPECIFICATIONS

Name: ARB Roll Top Tote Bag

Brand: Attitude Supply

Format: Tote bag

Dimensions: – 37 to 60cm / 14.6″ to 23.7″ tall –  45cm/17.7″ wide (Flat) – 15cm/6″ deep

Volume: Around 16-28L

Weight: 500 grams

Material: VX21

Price: 199 EUR (Modular shoulder strap not included)

Attitude Supply ARB

Who It Suits

  • Anyone looking for a minimalist bag made out of excellent materials would quickly fall in love with this simple yet functional new offering from Attitude Supply
  • Those who like to have extra capacity while keeping things light and agile will appreciate the overall size as well as the expandability of the ARB Tote
  • Anyone looking for a compact foldable tote durable enough to carry groceries, gym clothes, travel clothes – you name it.

Who It Doesn’t

  • Those who plan to carry their laptop, camera, and other fragile items without a protective case would not find enough padding in the ARB Tote to comfortably use the bag day in and day out
Attitude Supply ARB

Design

Looks

The Attitude Supply ARB tote is as simple as they come. A rectangular shape with enough depth and width to accommodate all kinds of items – from your lunch to a camera case, a packing cube to last you a weekend, or a full set of gym clothes. The black, slightly shiny surface of VX21 with a signature diamond pattern adds more character to an otherwise simple-looking tote.

ARB Tote

When opening the bag you are greeted with a very pretty beige liner that looks excellent, adds contrast, and makes it easier to navigate the contents.

I personally greatly appreciate the minimal branding of the bag. No flashy logos or oversized brand names, just a small subdued black-on-black embroidery.

Attitude Supply

Materials & Hardware

The main material is tried and true Dimension Polyant VX21. A fabric that has made its way into some of the most popular recent releases such as the Remote Equipment Charlie 25, Able Carry Max, and A19 Pathfinder just to name a few.

The unmistakable diamond pattern with its outstanding abrasion and water resistance makes this one of the best fabrics to choose for the exterior of the bag. Bonus points for how effortless it is to maintain it. The fabric doesn’t attract dust, lint, or dirt and can be cleaned with just a swipe of a wet cloth.

One of the subjective downsides of VX21 is that it’s somewhat noisy. A minor gripe considering the numerous benefits it offers.

The dark beige liner is made out of 210d, DWR-treated, and PU-coated High Tenacity nylon. This not only looks great but also performs really well – hard to stain and easy to clean. I love low-maintenance bags!

Attitude Supply ARB Tote

The hardware is a combination of magnetic Fidlock V-Buckles (used for the rolltop closure and on the removable shoulder strap) and YKK zippers (beefy #10RC on the outside pocket and a simpler #8 on the inside zippered pocket). These look and work as you would expect from the best German and Japanese manufacturers.

Overall, the materials complement each other well. Nothing feels over-engineered, and using the bag on a daily basis is a joyful experience.

ARB Tote

Features

Part of the charm of the bag is that it’s not busy or overwhelming in both aesthetics and features. This means that there are not many features but they’re all meticulously implemented.

The signature feature that made the ATD1 a legend unsurprisingly finds its way to the ARB tote. I am of course talking about the unrivaled expandability. Attitude Supply did not specify the volume of the bag. But with multiple loadouts I can estimate it in the range of 16L to 28L, which is quite impressive for a tote bag.

The rolltop design adds volume when needed, yet stays out of the way most of the time.

Rolltop tote

Another feature that was appreciated throughout my testing is multiple modes of carry:

– Briefcase mode is quite handy with shortened top handles

– Over the shoulder using the shortened removable shoulder strap or extended top handles

– Crossbody using optional removable shoulder strap (there is a standard version and a bit more expensive padded one, I personally recommend spending extra on the padded one)

Attitude Supply ARB Tote

These are all comfortable, useful and make the bag quite versatile to tackle different scenarios.

I have to mention that it’s the first time I’ve seen both padded and expandable top handles on a tote. Normally it’s one or the other. Somehow Michele made both work on the ARB tote. Good job!

Last but not least, there is a luggage passthrough on the back of the bag. This lays flat when not used but is handy if you want to secure the tote on top of your roller luggage. This seems like a great example of an “always need you, never want to see you” type of thing.

Attitude Supply ARB Tote

Performance 

Space and Access

As mentioned before, the expandability of the Attitude Supply ARB tote from 16L to 28L makes it extremely adaptable not just to all kinds of situations life throws at you but also to different body types and sizes. A remarkably universal unisex product.

The access to the main compartment is only available via roll top, which might get a tad inconvenient if you need to access the compartment often. Alternative side access would do wonders here (something low-key like on the Arc’teryx LEAF Courier 15 would add a ton of convenience and usability). I hope this will be considered in the future iterations of the bag.

Pockets and Organizing

The organization is simple and elegant  – there is a somewhat concealed dual-zipped front compartment that has a few flat pockets and a key clip (perfect for a magazine, tablet, e-reader, etc.), and a cavernous main compartment expandable via roll top. The main compartment has one flat zippered pocket (perfect to store the most valuable items like a passport or wallet). The rest is a single generous, well-visible space that can accommodate all kinds of things.

Tote pockets

Comfort

As with most bags that offer multiple carry modes, the comfort of each is not equal and the ARB tote is no exception here.

Thanks to the adjustable length and generous padding of the top grab handles, the bag is very comfortable to carry in hand (briefcase mode) and on the shoulder.

The comfort of the crossbody mode however would depend on two things – the load you carry and the strap. Allow me to elaborate. The bag is spacious and expandable so you can really cram a ton inside. This makes it big and heavy and consequently less comfortable since the pressure is applied on one shoulder; no surprises here. The modular shoulder strap that has to be purchased separately was actually designed not just for the ARB tote but for the ASP Sling Pouches as well. Naturally, the same strap would not perform equally well on a 2L sling and 28L tote.

Attitude Supply ARB Tote

After using the modular shoulder strap with the ARB tote my concerns were unfortunately confirmed. The 25mm-wide strap just doesn’t cut it when it comes to carrying a packed tote cross-body or on the shoulder. Under heavy load, the strap dug into my body and was far from comfortable. The issue becomes more prominent during warm weather when I simply wear fewer layers and there is less cushion for the strap. I wish Michele would offer a wider, padded version of the strap that would take into account how heavy the Attitude Supply ARB tote can be when packed to the brim. Something like this would make more sense.  

Weatherability

I’ve been using bags made out of VX21 for a few years and not once have I had an issue with the elements getting in. Additionally, the rolltop securely seals the contents from even the harshest weather conditions. So unless you forget to close the zipper on the front compartment, your contents are safe and will stay that way for years to come.

Rolltop tote

Alternatives to Consider

  • Ancoats Bag Company Tote: This bag that I had the pleasure of reviewing a year ago shares a lot with the ARB tote – multiple carry modes, VX21 material, Fidlocks, etc. It is definitely smaller, not expandable, and also lacks a high-visibility liner. If you don’t need expandability and need to carry your laptop, Ancoats is an excellent choice.
  • Boundary Supply Holdfast Tote: An ultra-minimal foldable tote made out of VX21 at a fraction of the cost. The Holdfast is great if you need the simplest grab-and-go bag possible, don’t require any organization, and are on a tight budget. A unique selling proposition of the Holdfast Tote is the ability to fold into a small zippered pocket. This means you can always have a 19L tote neatly stored for quick errands. 
  • Remote Equipment BRAVO 18: This also features multiple ways of carrying. The BRAVO 18 is great in many scenarios thanks to the lack of an inner liner and the big bucket design. The cinch top, however, does not fully protect from the elements. Also, the BRAVO 18 is less suited to a business environment, unlike the ARB tote that would not feel out of place in the office. 
  • Chrome Industries BLCKCHRM 22X CIVVY TOTEAt just $95 the CIVVY Tote is certainly more budget-friendly and features a simple, elegant design. It does lack the expandability of the ARB tote and has a very distinct boxy look but might work better for those who need to carry a laptop without a case.
Attitude Supply ARB

The Good

  • A simple, durable, non-complicated bag that will outlast your grandchildren 
  • Best in class expandability
  • Beautiful and practical high-visibility liner 
  • Excellent build quality and materials
  • Multiple carry modes allow the ARB tote to adapt to different scenarios and use cases
  • Very light for the capacity it offers

Not So Good

  • The bag has no structure or padding, which means that you need to be extra careful with your tech inside – laptop or camera
  • Access to the main compartment only via rolltop can be limiting and at times inconvenient
  • Under heavy load, the removable 25mm shoulder strap digs into the shoulder. I wish a wider padded version was offered with the bag
Attitude Supply ARB

Verdict

Attitude Supply has done it again. As with the ATD1 backpack, the Attitude Supply ARB tote is not for everyone. But being able to seamlessly change the volume on the fly sets this bag apart in the crowded tote market. 

Great build and materials, multiple carry modes, and unassuming yet stylish aesthetics – the bag checks many boxes and has become a personal contender for the tote of the year.

If expandability and versatility are top priorities for you, do not sleep on the Attitude Supply ARB tote. These are made in small batches and are often not easy to get immediately. Just make sure you also get a more substantial shoulder strap.

ARB Tote

This article was written by new contributor, and self-proclaimed bag whisperer, Alexander Dotsenko. You can check out his work here and here.


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