A New Must-Have Beach Bag
A new Beach Bag on the retail radar
By Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon
CJ Travel Editor
If I had a dollar for every cheapo beach bag I’ve used and discarded during my years of Caribbean travel, I’d be rich. It’s definitely time to upgrade to something that’s both functional and stylish, that I can carry for work and play at home in Miami, as well as on my frequent island jaunts. So when State of Escape’s Escape bag recently showed up on my retail radar, I jumped at the chance to beach test it on a trip to Barbados.
Designed by two Aussies, the signature carryall is appropriately made of two beach- and water-friendly materials: neoprene (the fabric used for wetsuits) and thick sailing rope, which forms the straps and trim. Large (approximately 15”w x 12”h x 9”d) but lightweight, it can also be worn with its sides folded in and snapped closed for a smaller profile. Each bag comes in a large zippered mesh pouch (which makes a nifty lingerie laundry bag), and there’s a small neoprene pouch attached to the interior via a metal carabiner on a length of rope that’s handy for loose items.
WHAT WE LOVED As I sashayed through Miami International Airport and later in Barbados, I can’t tell you how many compliments I received on the red/orange Hot Coral color, which is bright, bold and bound to get you noticed. In a world where every second woman seems to be carrying a Louis Vuitton Neverfull or Michael Kors Jet Set, my Escape was an equally stylish (and functional) departure from the norm. Even with my laptop inside, the rope straps were comfortable and didn’t dig into my shoulders. And the bag fit easily under the aircraft seat, emerging uncreased and in good shape once we touched down.
While a bit large for my 4’9” frame, the Escape is big enough to hold everything I needed for work (including my 12” laptop) and then some. If you’re the type of person who leaves the house with your gym clothes and sneakers, work files, bottled water, snacks, makeup and personal accoutrements in three different bags, this tote could be the answer to your prayers. And it’s perfect for a beach vacation, corralling towels, reading material, iPods, cameras, and a change of clothes in one stylish package.
At this price point (just over $200) I expect quality, and the bag delivered. The neoprene is thick and sturdy and the seams and stitching stood up well. When (inevitably) it got dirty, I tossed the tote into the machine on a delicate cold-water cycle, hung it to dry for about an hour, and it emerged as good as new, with no fading, color transfer, fraying of the straps or tarnishing of the metal studs and inner hook.
Most of all, I loved how the bag was equally appropriate on Miami’s city streets as it was on Caribbean sand. The hot coral is perfect for the sunny 305, but the black, charcoal, navy or gray versions would work equally well in a less balmy metropolis.
WHAT COULD USE SOME WORK After a week of wear, there are two things I felt the bag was missing. Since I used it for my laptop, I wish the tote had a stiff liner for the bottom to give it a bit more structure and to prevent excess strain on the straps. I got around this by actually laying my MacBook Air (protected in a padded sleeve) flat on the bottom of the bag and then piling my other stuff on top, but that’s not an ideal solution. I also would have appreciated a hook or snap to close the bag in the middle. Neither of these things are deal breakers (especially if you’re only using it for the beach), but for an investment of more than $200 for what’s essentially a casual bag, you want perfection, no?
THE BOTTOM LINE: The Escape carryall is simple yet stunning, a classic addition to your bag collection that will take you not just to the beach but also far beyond. Sure, it costs considerably more than a plain canvas sac, but if you want to invest in a tote that will last you through several summers (and all the other seasons), the cost per wear is reasonable.
WHERE TO GET YOURS Shop online at stateofescape.com. The Escape carryall starts at $230.