Custom Bags and Promotional Totes: The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide
On this page:
- A Bag for Every Occasion or Industry
- Bags for Retail Shops and E-Commerce
- Bags for Grocery Stores and Farmers’ Markets
- Bags for Trade Shows
- Corporate and Executive Bags
- Bags for Employees and Staff
- Bags for Education
- Bags for Healthcare
- Bags for Other Occasions
- Consider Your Budget
- Select the Right Material
- Customization Options
- Production Time and Rush Service
- Additional Options to Consider
- Special Features and Trends
- Brand Names
- Customized Bags FAQ
If you’re looking to give your clients, prospects or employees a gift that’s useful for them and exposure-boosting for you, custom promotional bags are the product for you. Why? Because custom promotional bags:
- Are practical for everyday use.
- Can be used by anyone.
- Are carried everywhere, from public transit to industry events. (That means lots of exposure for your organization.)
Plus, there’s a bag for every organization, event and purpose under the sun. With such a wide selection available, though, it can be tough to know where to start. That’s why we’ve crafted the ultimate buyer’s guide to custom promotional bags. With this guide, you’ll be able to pick bags that are perfectly suited to both your and your recipient’s needs. Read on to find the ideal custom bag for your promotion, from lunch bags to backpacks to totes.
A Bag for Every Occasion or Industry
No matter what your organization does or who your customers are, there’s a custom bag that matches the occasion you have in mind. Let’s take a look at some of the best options for popular types of occasions.
Bags for Retail Shops and E-Commerce
Whether your company has a physical retail space or operates entirely online, custom bags can be a fantastic way to get both brand recognition and far-reaching exposure as they’re toted around. These are some of our top picks for retail and e-commerce shops:
Biodegradable Plastic Bags
Want to spread the word about your shop while remaining eco-friendly? Then biodegradable plastic bags are a great choice for you. The bag pictured above, the 7 1/2" x 10" Biodegradable Plastic Bag, is available in a variety of bold, saturated colors and has reinforced handles.
Frosted Plastic Bags
If you’re going for a chic, more upscale look, our selection of frosted plastic bags will be right up your alley. The bag pictured above is the 8" x 10" x 4" Brite Plastic Bag and is available in an array of elegant colors. Plus, its soft loop handles allow for convenient carrying.
Paper Gift Bags
Other types of kraft paper bags give your shop the opportunity to create pretty and memorable gift bags for each customer. Take the 16" x 12" Billboard White Bag pictures above. Just add some tissue paper and you’ve got a gorgeous gift bag shoppers will be happy to show off.
Laminated Shopper Bags
Laminated shopper bags are durable, weather-proof and easy to clean. The Wide Fabricator Plus Laminate Tote pictured above is made of sturdy polypropylene, is available in 7 attractive colors, and offers a large imprint area.
Reusable and durable, tote bags also have the benefit of a large imprint area. That means even more space for your company logo. Choose from one color, two color or full color imprints as pictured below.
High-quality totes like the one in our one color example, the Traditional Canvas Tote, are popular with customers and have even become downright iconic in some cases. Just look at the tote from The New Yorker, which has become a status symbol in its own right.
Tote bags are also a perfect option for free gifts, whether they’re distributed at makeup counters, bookstores or e-commerce shops.
Bags for Grocery Stores and Farmers’ Markets
At grocery stores and farmers’ markets, there are few things customers will appreciate more than a generously sized custom bag to carry their produce and snacks. Plus, your brand will get exposure long after your customers leave.
Farmer’s market customers love eco-friendly options. Natural cotton bags have plenty of benefits: They’re breathable, hypoallergenic, eco-friendly and durable. The Natural Cotton Tote is available in a variety of vibrant colors with matching drop handles. Like cotton, jute is a natural and eco-friendly fiber that can be woven into strong, super-durable fabric. The Jute Grocery Tote is crafted from a blend of jute and cotton and boasts attractive vinyl handles that have a leather-like look. Customers are sure to love that it’s eco-friendly and made from renewable resources.
Here are some branded bags for grocery stores and farmer’s markets we love:
Polypropylene bags like the Grocery Tote pictured above have the advantage of being reusable and sturdy as well as low-cost. This one features 20" reinforced handles and a reinforced 10" bottom gusset with a plastic insert, and folds flat for easy storage.
Laminated bags stand apart from regular reusable shopping bags because they’re waterproof from the outside and can be easily wiped clean. The Tall Fabricator Plus Laminate Tote is perfect for large shopping trips.
Totes with Pockets
Shopping totes with pockets equip market customers with a place to tuck away coupons, shopping lists and sales flyers. The Vintage Print Grocery Tote is laminate to wipe clean easily and features a fun culinary themed print.
When shoppers forget their reusable totes, you can provide or sell kraft paper bags that can easily be recycled. The Billboard Brown Paper Bag 16" x 12" is a roomy and study option that acts as a large canvas for your logo.
Basic Paper Bags
Although they may be basic, brown paper bags are simple classics that will never go out of style. The Brown Paper Carry-Out Bag pictured above sports twisted paper handles and an extra-wide gusset.
Washable Paper Bags
Most paper bags will disintegrate when washed, but not these. The full-color washable kraft paper bag pictured above can be cleaned in a washing machine and has a lovely leather-like feel.
Bags for Trade Shows
Trade shows offer a myriad of opportunities to connect with your target audience. If you’re looking to deepen those connections with a personalized bag, these are some of your best options.
Plastic Goodie Bags
Ensure trade show attendees remember your booth by giving away samples, prizes and marketing materials in eye-catching plastic bags. Our 12" x 16" Biodegradable Plastic Bags feature reinforced die cut handles for carrying, and will break down when the event is over.
Polypropylene Giveaway Bags
Upgrade your event with sturdier giveaway bags in polypropylene. Don’t let the name fool you, the Full Color Grocery Tote is perfect for storing marketing literature and freebies. Plus your logo will pop in full-color.
Show attendees will love going hands-free with the budget-friendly Drawstring Backpack. It can be worn as a backpack or over the shoulder for access to materials.
At most trade shows, the show organizers will provide attendees with a variety of free promotional items. Tote bags like the TranSport Tote are ideal for this purpose. It’s made from sturdy polyester and features a variety of practical pockets.
This basic backpack features an updated gray heathered style. Attendees will thank you for generous storage space and hands-free convenience when you customize our Heathered Stylin’ Backpack.
Logo Lunch Coolers
The Two-Tone Lunch-N-Carry Enviro Tote makes a giveaway that attendees will love while they are far from home. Add your business card to the clear ID pocket and they’ll remember who gave it to them.
Corporate and Executive Bags
When you’re giving custom bags to important clients, high-profile prospects or executives, you want to make a favorable first impression. All of these promotional bags can help you do just that.
The Tranzip 15" Laptop Backpack is a truly luxurious gift for professionals and executives. Made of rugged canvas with a protective tarpaulin bottom, it is both sturdy enough and large enough for overnight business travel. A dedicated inside sleeve will fit a tablet or laptop.
Laptop bags are some of the most practical types of bags you can give your recipients. The Reversible Laptop Sleeve is made from durable Neoprene, stretches to fit most laptops and features two color choices for your recipients.
Go beyond a laptop sleeve with an entire backpack designed around convenient laptop transport. In addition to a dedicated laptop pocket, the Hive 17" Checkpoint-Friendly Compu-Backpack fits a laptop up to 17", features a zippered main compartment and two side mesh pockets.
Your staff and clients will appreciate the Mercury Messenger Bag for commuting via public transportation. The cross body style lets you go hands-free with access to everything you have stored in its multiple pockets. It also features a convenient media port for headphones.
Whether in the office or on the road, briefcases are incredibly convenient. Take, for example, the Risso Business Briefcase. It features an adjustable shoulder strap and plenty of storage compartments.
Company Logo Totes
From the subway to the street to the next meeting, professionals need easy storage on the go. The Conference Tote fits the bill with a pen loop, 2 mesh pockets for beverages, a front slip pocket and a large main compartment protected by a zipper closure.
Bags for Employees and Staff
There are few better ways to show employee appreciation than with a personalized bag your team can use to rep their company. These are a few of our top picks.
With the right lunch bag, your employees can enjoy a fresh meal in the office every day of the week. The Lunch-N-Carry Enviro Tote is a fantastic choice: it features a clear ID pocket for easy identification, reinforced handles and a spectrum of available colors.
Laptop totes are a clever combination of practical tote bags and protective laptop sleeves. The Tranzip Universal 15" Laptop Tote, features a weather-resistant bottom, hardy canvas construction, unisex design, padded laptop sleeve and plenty of additional pockets.
These days, employees work from home, coffee shops and even the airport in addition to the office. Keep their laptops safe and convenient with the Associate Briefcase that can be carried by top loops or over the shoulder.
Your staff work hard. Help them play hard too with cooler bags perfect for picnics, road trips and other adventures. The insulated Cargo Cooler Bag is large enough to fit six cans.
New Employee Welcome Gifts
Get new hires started on the right foot with company logo welcome gift sets. The Fantastic Five 2.0 includes a lunch cooler, a drink tumbler with straw, a notebook & pen combo, an LED flashlight and a stylus pen.
Multi-Bag Gift Sets
Make your staff feel appreciated by anticipating their every need. The Everyday Tote Bag Combo includes a generous tote bag with front pocket, and an accessory bag to keep small items organized, all in trendy heathered fabric.
Bags for Education
From kindergarten to college, every student needs a reliable bag. Whether a backpack or a sports duffle, any of these bags will be useful to students of all ages. Find the bag below that best suits your education needs.
Gifts for Teachers
Tote bags make ideal appreciation gifts for teachers, administrators and volunteers. The Budget Boat Tote is lightweight yet strong enough to accommodate the weight of books and has a front pocket for planning materials.
Sports & Booster Clubs
The Around Town Duffle is perfect for school teams on the go. It is made from long-lasting polyester and features plenty of storage space, two zippered front pockets and a mesh water bottle.
Higher-end all-in-one backpacks are the perfect choice for busy college students. The Sedimentary Compu-Backpack features a trendy, heathered look, and pockets for laptops and tablets. It is sure to be a hit at your college bookstore.
K-12 Back to School
Basic backpacks are particularly ideal for students in grades K-12. The Stylin’ Backpack is a best-seller with a bright, sporty style. Students will love the zippered front pocket, side water bottle holder and padded straps for added comfort.
Animal-themed backpacks like the Paws N’ Claws Drawstring Backpacks in Bulldog are so cute, every kid will want one. With its roomy interior, easy-to-use drawstring closure and bright colors, this backpack is perfect for even the youngest children.
The popular and affordable Zip-Front Drawstring Backpack is ready to show off your mascot. With 23 available colors, you’re sure to find your school colors.
Bags for Healthcare
Gifts for Nurses
Show nurses you appreciate their work with a high-quality personalized bag, either during Nurses Week or any time of year. Here are a few of our favorites:
Visit our Guide to Nurses Week for more gift ideas for Nurses Week.
Here are a few of our top picks for all types of medical organizations:
Independent Practice Doctor’s Offices
9 x 13 Full Color Plastic Bags
Quilted Lunch Cooler Tote
Color-Pop Mini Tote Bag
5" x 8" x 3" Brite Plastic Bag
Browse our healthcare promotional products page for more great ideas for medical organizations.
Bags for Other Occasions
We’ve only just begun to scratch the surface. You can also purchase custom bags for a variety of other occasions, including:
- Outdoor events: Drawstring bags are lightweight and foldable, making them ideal for outdoor events. We like the Zip-Front Drawstring Backpack.
- Weddings: Small paper bags are perfect for handing out wedding favors and other goodies. We’re fans of the Small White Paper Treat Bag.
- Halloween: Your message will be all over town with branded trick or treat bags. One of our top picks is the Full Color Purple Plastic Halloween Treat Bag.
- Healthcare: Distribute healthcare-related literature while promoting your brand at local medical offices with a colorful plastic bag. We love the 9" x 12" Biodegradable Plastic Bags.
- Gifts for nurses: Show nurses you appreciate their work with a high-quality personalized bag. You can’t go wrong with the Cotton Canvas Nautical Tote.
- Non-profit and charity events: By giving away custom bags at non-profit and charity events, you’ll show you care while gaining exposure for your organization. The Value Drawstring Backpack is a wonderful choice.
- Gym and yoga: Show off your message at gyms and yoga studios across town with a gym or yoga bag. We can’t get enough of the Dune Yoga Bag.
Consider Your Budget
When you’re considering which personalized bags to purchase, you’ll also need to take your budget into account. For instance, if you’re passing out swag bags at a trade show, you’ll likely want to go with a disposable and inexpensive option. On the other hand, if you’re aiming to show your employees some appreciation or impress important clients, a high-quality reusable bag is the way to go.
Fortunately, there’s an array of choices for every budget and occasion. These are the best custom promotional bags for each price range:
Perfect for large events such as trade shows, conferences and the like, these branded bags are all available for $5 or less.
Non-Woven Drawstring Backpack
With its generous capacity, lightweight materials and tear- and water-resistant materials, the Non-Woven Drawstring Backpack is perfect for field trips, commuting and more. It’s crafted from durable polypropylene and is available in a veritable rainbow of colors.
Large Best Value Grocery Tote
Made from water and tear-resistant polypropylene, the custom Large Best Value Grocery Tote isn’t just reusable and eco-friendly. It also has a larger capacity than most disposable paper grocery bags, and folds flat for easy storage.
Budget Boat Tote
This custom bag looks much more expensive than it is. The Budget Boat Tote is crafted from rugged polycanvas accented with colorful trim, making it perfect for groceries and errands, as well as both school and work.
All priced at $10 or less, these printed bags are ideal for distributing at slightly smaller events or offering as a free gift to new customers.
Mercury Messenger Bag
The Mercury Messenger Bag is the definition of functional. It’s made of heavy-duty polyester that can handle plenty of wear and tear, and also features a convenient media port, a water bottle pocket, organizer pockets and an adjustable strap.
The Ovation Portfolio is a durable custom bag that’s both sleek enough for a business meeting and convenient enough for everyday use. It’s equipped with a zippered main compartment, handy water bottle pocket, an ID window, pen loops, front pocket and more.
Budget Boat Tote
Your next company picnic or corporate day trip won’t be complete without this portable Cargo Cooler Bag. It’s insulated, crafted from tough nylon and large enough to fit an entire six-pack of cans.
If you’re looking to show employee appreciation or thank attendees of small and intimate events, you can’t go wrong with these personalized bags. Best of all, they’re each available for less than $20.
With its sturdy, comfortable build and convenient pockets, the Apex Backpack is universally appealing. Your customers and employees will love bringing this backpack to the gym, classes, hikes and more.
Around Town Duffle
The Around Town Duffle is just as perfect for the gym as it is for weekend trips. It’s made of hardy polyester and is outfitted with roomy zippered pockets, a mesh water bottle pocket and a non-slip shoulder strap.
Travel Shoe Bag
Once you try the custom Travel Shoe Bag, you won’t know how you ever lived without it. Made of robust polyester, this bag features extra zippered storage pockets and a large rubber handle, as well as cleverly designed vents to help shoe odors escape.
When you’re looking to reward exceptional employee performance, impress VIP clients or sway important prospects, these $20-and-up custom bags have your back.
High Sierra® Packable 30" Wheel-N-Go Duffle
The High Sierra Packable 30” Wheel-N-Go Duffle is simply the branded bag for recipients who are always on the go. It’s made of rip-stop nylon and durable polycanvas, can be packed into its own drawstring pouch and can be used as either a duffle or backpack.
Roomy, sturdy and cleverly designed, the custom Expedition Duffle is sure to be a hit for multi-day trips. Plus, it can easily double as a gym bag. It features a massive main compartment, a ventilated end pocket, four additional zippered pockets and two mesh water bottle pockets.
KOOZIE® Tailgate Rolling Kooler
Have an upcoming company tailgate, picnic or barbecue? The KOOZIE Tailgate Rolling Kooler is a must. It boasts a spacious main compartment, mesh side pockets, a zippered front pocket, a collapsible handle and four wheels for easy transportation.
Select the Right Material
Which material best suits your needs? With many to choose from, it’s easy to find the material for you.
Polypropylene is a hydrophilic (water-absorbing) substance used often in grocery bags or other shopping totes. This material is best used for heavy duty items, as it is sturdy and puncture resistant. Polypropylene can be laminated for extra strength and shine or non-laminated.
Plastic PVC is used to create a stylish, clear bag. These bags are trendy and stylish for on the go. This material is thin, flexible, and smooth to the touch.
Kraft Paper is a material that can be easily disposed of or even reused. The material can be made to be washable or just a disposable paper bag. These paper bags are often sturdier than your traditional lunch bags, making them a great carrier for small items.
Polyester is a strong, durable fabric found in many backpacks. It is known for its resistance to wrinkles, abrasion, and stretching. If you’re in need of a heavy-duty bag, polyester is right for you.
Polycanvas is a synthetic fabric made as a more efficient material than leather. It is durable an similar to Polyester. Another option perfect for a heavy-duty bag.
Ripstop is a woven fabric often made from polyester or nylon. The fabric is very resistant to tearing and ripping and is often used in sails, hot air balloons, or parachutes. This material takes heavy-duty to a whole new level.
Cotton is a common fabric across the world. It is a soft, breathable fabric often used in clothing. Cotton is often strengthened and used for beach tote bags.
At this point, you’re probably starting to get closer to a final decision and want to get into specifics. That’s where these customization options come in. Simply mix and match the options you prefer and watch your perfect promotional bag take shape.
Select Your Imprint Area and Type
The imprint area is the area on each product that will display your logo and unique artwork or message. The size of an imprint area will vary depending on the size and type of item you choose, and the dimensions are always available on each product’s page on our website.
When deciding on the type of imprint you want on your custom bags:
- First consider the size of the imprint that comes standard with your choice.
- Then, determine whether you want to go for a simple one-color look or a full-color look, as well as an engraved, debossed, embossed or embroidered look.
Let’s take a look at the options.
A one-color imprint is usually the most affordable choice. Just because it’s less costly doesn’t mean it’s less impactful, though. With the right color choice, your logo can stand out against the background of your custom bags.
A two-color imprint is just what it sounds like. It is best for adding impact and contrast to simple, clean designs.
Eye-catching full-color imprints have color variation throughout the logo design and can make more complicated artwork look truly stunning. If you have a recognizable logo with multiple colors, a full-color imprint will be the way to go.
Types of Full-Color Imprints
Thermal Transfer Imprint
Full-color imprints include thermal transfer imprints, as seen here on the Full Color Design Plastic Halloween Treat Bag. Thermal transfer imprints won’t fade over time and are compatible with a wide array of materials.
Full-color imprints also include dye sublimation, as seen here on the To-Dye-For Sublimated Drawstring Backpack. Dye sublimation is a rich and high-quality full-color imprint that can incorporate bold and gradient colors.
High-quality embroidered logos are long-lasting and present a professional and upscale look for your brand. Plus, the use of multiple thread colors can create a multidimensional effect.
Engraved, Debossed or Embossed Patch
Laser engraved, debossed or embossed imprints on a patch will give a retail look to your promotional bags. Both engraving and debossing create a recessed design, while embossing creates a raised design. Either way, your recipients will appreciate having an item that is not only useful but looks polished and high-end, too.
One prime example is the laser-engraved Seaport Dopp Kit.
Also consider a debossed patch like the one that decorates the Bar Bag, a caddy for bar tools.
Embossing is a raised design, as opposed to debossing which is a recessed design. It is not a common option in bags, but can create a unique effect, as it does on the Textured Eurotote.
Production Time and Rush Service
Imprinted bags run the gamut in terms of production times, so always remember to plan ahead if you need to have your custom branded bags by a particular date.
If you’re in a jam, though, there will always be a suitable option with rush or 24-hour service. Pair it with rush shipping and you’re sure to make your deadline.
Here are some popular promotional bags available with rush or 24-hour service:
Pack Away Shopping Tote
Available in an array of vibrant colors, the Pack Away Shopping Tote comes with a built-in drawstring bag for hassle-free storage. Once packed, this tote is so small it can easily fit inside a purse. If you’re in a rush, we’ve got you covered with two-day service.
Nautical Times Tote
Constructed of durable polyester, sporting unique nautical details and available with 24-hour service, the Nautical Times Tote is a no-brainer. With a bag this aesthetically pleasing, your recipients won’t have any idea you were crunched for time.
Additional Options to Consider
These are some other things you can consider to ensure that your custom bags are perfect for your needs.
Only interested in purchasing promotional bags made in the USA? No worries — we’ve got plenty to choose from.
Special Features and Trends
Solid colors and basic materials will never go out of style. When you want your custom bags to stand out, though, just take a look at some of the current trends and popular special features available.
Here are some of our top picks:
Iridescent: From fashion to home decor, iridescent items of all kinds are having a major moment. Take advantage of this rainbow-hued craze with iridescent promotional products. We love the Holographic Gift Tote, which is crafted from sturdy polyurethane and features comfortable double handles.
Metallic: If you’re looking for promotional bags with an attention-grabbing touch of bling, metallic bags are your answer. We like the Shine On Tote, which features a durable laminated finish and long easy-to-use handles.
Natural and eco-friendly: Show that your brand cares with a natural and eco-friendly bag. We’re fans of the Eco-Woven Lunch Bag, which is outfitted with colorful trim and foam insulation.
Patterned: Sometimes solid colors just aren’t going to cut it, and that’s where patterned custom bags come in. We’re especially fond of the Morgan Patterned Drawstring Bag, which sports a selection of modern patterns and a handy drawstring closure.
Marble: A marble bag is ideal for creating a luxe look that stands out from the crowd. We love the Marble Patterned Tote, which is crafted from sturdy polyester and features a realistic marble design.
Canvas backpacks: Stroll through any college campus and you’re sure to see plenty of students sporting attractive canvas backpacks. We like the Urban Edge Cruz Canvas Backpack, which is constructed from cotton canvas and features genuine leather accents.
No matter which type of custom bag you choose, you’re guaranteed to reach your customers in a big way. After all, a 2019 study from the Advertising Specialty Institute found that:
- Seventy-three percent of consumers own promotional bags.
- Consumers keep promotional bags for an average of 11 months.
- One promotional bag will generate 3,300 impressions in its lifetime.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, 50 percent of consumers are more likely to do business with the company that gave them the promotional bag.
Next time you’re looking to reach new customers, show employee appreciation or make a company event more special, use this buying guide to choose a custom bag that’s perfect for you.
Pair your logo with the brands that your employees, customers and clients already know and love. Here are some of the most popular lines we carry and customize:
Frequently Asked Questions About Customized Bags
- Q: How do I find a bag that matches my company color?
A: Once you select a bag style you can sort on the website by color.
- Q: Are all of your bags waterproof?
A: No, but the heavier the material the more water resistant they are. Bags made of 600 Denier are a heavier polyester, so water does not saturate the material as fast as cotton. We also carry items called “Dry Bags” these are made to be totally waterproof. The material is waterproof, and all of the seams are sealed to keep water out.
- Q: Can I have a bag that is custom in size, color and shape?
A: Yes, you can but in many cases the minimum quantity needed to buy is very high. We do have the Build—Bag series where you can change the color of the bag and the handle color:
- Q: Can I have all items that I purchase put into the bags I buy to make a custom kit for me?
A: We do have custom kitting service available for a fee, we will put all of your items together to save you time and staff needs. The items come all ready to hand out at your event.
The even easier solution is to take one of our stock kits or bundles.
- Q: Should I put screen print or embroidery on my bag?
A: The answer is mostly decided by preference. Most tote bags and bags of higher quality fabrics can be logoed in either of those decoration methods. Thinner material works better with screen printing or heat transfer. The embroidery on thinner material would pucker and not look good.
- Q: How big is the bag that I am looking at?
A: The size of each bag is in the description. A tip to keep in mind when looking at tote bags. If there are only 2 measurements, for example 15” W x 8” H, then there is no gusset. Gusset is the side panel that determines how wide is the bag when it has stuff inside. A bag that measures 16” W x 12” H x 6” D has a 6” gusset so there is a side panel and you can put something wider or more items inside.