A quality nurse’s bag will have ample storage and be comfortable to carry. It will also allow you to store your medical items in an organized manner so that everything is easy to access.
Naturally, there’s a ton of options available. Everything from dedicated bags designed specifically for nurses, to more fashionable totes appropriate for universal use.
While the look and style of a bag are important, probably the most important issue to consider when buying a nurses’ bag is whether the compartments are appropriate for what you need to carry.
Some designs cater to laptops and tablets while others don’t. There’s also the number of internal pockets, whether they are zip lock, velcro or just open sleeve design.
The price point is another factor of course. You can pay as little as $20 for an adequate bag for nurses. It is also possible to spend well over $100.
And then there is the overall build quality, is the material durable yet lightweight to carry. Machine washable options are definitely recommended for any busy nurse.
In this top 7 review round up we have selected our favorite nurse’s bags on the market right now.
My Top 6 picks
Nurses Tote Bags: The Reviews
1. EDITORS CHOICE: Nurse Mates Ultimate Nursing Bag
My top choice of nursing bag at the moment is the Nurses Mates Ultimate Tote bag. Designed by nurses for nurses (okay so I am not 100% on the first bit, but it is definitely designed with nurses in mind), this bag elegantly features everything we need in a work bag.
The popularity of the bag is a testament to the fact Nurses Mates have got a lot right with this one.
First and foremost, it has a lot of internal storage in the main compartment space. This means larger medical items can be carried without resorting to brute-force cramming.
Inside the main compartment area, there are also 3 zipped off areas that enable you to keep certain items separate while also secure.
On the outside of the bag, there are two side pockets. These two are large enough to carry medical equipment as well as your packed lunch. Now that’s the kind of versatility I love.
The material used for the bag is of deceptively high-quality considering the affordable price point.
Made from water-resistant nylon/polyester fabric the bag is certainly durable, (it can handle the inevitable abuse it will experience by being in the hands of a busy nurse in other words).
It is also easy to clean, another important factor for any medical practitioner.
I also like the heavy-duty zippers. One of the most frustrating things about bags I have owned in the past is that the main bag withstands all my day-to-day needs, however, it is always the zipper which breaks first.
And a nurse’s, bag that doesn’t close properly is no longer any use. I always end up throwing it away. So far so good with the Nurses Mate – the zippers look like they will last for years.
The bag is also easy to carry. The dual handle makes it nice and simple to hold and there’s also a shoulder strap (that can be detached if you need) for hands-free carrying of your work items.
Finally, the Nurses Mates Ultimate bag comes in a variety of styles. Both males and females are catered for in terms of aesthetic preference, with the availability of different colors, patterns, and designs.
Overall an excellent nurse bag that comes highly recommended.
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2. N.Gil All Purpose Utility Tote Bag
One of the things I really like about the N.Gil All-purpose tote bag is the sheer range of colors and designs it comes in.
And while I know a medical bag needs to perform well in terms of storage ability and comfort, it doesn’t hurt to have something that might stand out a little in terms of aesthetics too.
One of the main reasons the N.Gil achieves this (in my humble opinion) is that it is not aimed squarely at nurses.
For some reason, brands think that all we want in terms of style is something professional, i.e bland and utilitarian.
Not so, give me a splash of color any day of the week. Anyway, N.Gil is a great option for those reasons alone.
From a practical standpoint, the tote bag works well too. It is made from water-resistant nylon material that enables the bag to be folded away when not in use.
The main compartment is extremely roomy and features a zip close top. Your stethoscope and other medical items can all be stored here with no problem.
What it does lack are organized compartments. However, the budget price of this bag option allows you to buy storage pouches and other containers that can easily be placed inside the main bag compartment.
There’s still a couple of slip pockets on the front and rear of the bag that closes up via Velcro. These are ideal for those common items that you need most throughout your day.
There’s also a side mesh pockets for your bottled drink, and other smaller utility pocket big enough for a pair of glasses or a pen sleeve, etc.
An exterior D ring is another handy little addition that allows you to attach your keys should you wish.
For carrying the bag there is a pair of handles on top. There’s no shoulder strap for hands-free use, however.
Overall a great bag for those looking for a choice on style. Be prepared to add means of organizing your items in the main compartment.
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3. BEST PREMIUM OPTION: Baggallini Avenue Tote
My top premium pick nurse’s medical tote bag has to be this offering from Baggallini Avenue.
While this stylish bag may not be specifically designed for nurses, it still has all the storage space and versatility you need, while coming in a form that is very well made.
A large interior compartment features a zipper closure so that all your important medical equipment is safely stored.
The interior also contains a padded laptop pocket for those nurses that like to carry one with them. This pocket has a closure loop so that your device remains separate from your other items.
Another benefit is that should you not carry your laptop, this pocket can protect and house other important items.
Several smaller organization pockets are featured on the opposite side of the bag that proves ideal for carrying smaller medical supplies and tools.
The front of the bag also has an exterior pocket for common devices such as your smartphone.
The storage space continues with a couple of side slips suitable for your water bottle or equivalent items.
This premium quality tote from Baggallini Avenue is made out of durable nylon fabric with textile lining. The overall aesthetic is extremely pleasing, while still being suitably robust for a busy nurse.
And should the color depicted in the image above not take your fancy, there are a full 10 other colors available. Stylistically, this bag very much hits the mark.
There’s the normal sturdy handles on top, with a detachable shoulder strap that can be easily adjusted for those that prefer to carry their bag hands-free.
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4. ADC Nylon Medical Bag
There’s a lot of storage space in the ADC Nylon Medical Bag and that is one of the main reasons it makes my top 7 list.
Not only that but things are compartmentalized in a manner that makes organization really easy. There’s a grand total of 13 interior pockets for heaven’s sake.
While some may see that as overkill if you like to keep everything in its place you will appreciate the versatility.
11 of the pockets are gusseted while 2 are zipped. There are also 2 good-sized exterior pockets that are great for carrying those need-to-have-in-a-hurry medical items.
Another benefit of having so many individual storage areas is that you can securely stash important items so that they do not get lost or damaged.
The ADC nylon medical bag also helps further protect your belongings by being extremely sturdy. The overall construction of the nurse’s bag feels robust.
As with most totes, the ADC features two comfortable handles on the top, plus a soft, padded shoulder strap.
What does let the bag down, however, is the lack of style choices. Blue, black and dark green are your only options.
While it does look conservatively professional, I prefer to add a bit of spice to my bag aesthetic and the ADC doesn’t really deliver there.
Still, it is hard to beat in terms of storage organization and for that reason alone the ADC medical bag has proved very popular.
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5. MOST STYLISH: Crest Design Water Repellent Shoulder Bag
While I raved about the N.Gil bag being a great option for the range of designs and colors, and also included the Baggallini Avenue in terms of its premium quality and aesthetic, my top stylish pick actually goes to this little number from Crest Design.
Now don’t get me wrong, style is a very subjective thing. And I am by no means a guru in that department. However, I really like the look of this bag and that’s why it has made my top 7.
Just look at the pictures though. Head to the sales page and you’ll see a full range of fashionable looking bags that really do deliver in terms of style.
The Crest bag also features the kind of storage and organizing space that a busy nurse needs.
There’s a good-sized main compartment with a bunch of convenient compartment slots for keeping your important medical items separate from one another.
A second compartment inside the main is designed to carry a laptop. The bag also features two main inner pockets.
On the outside, the bag also passes with flying colors in terms of available storage. The crest has four zippered front pockets and one back sleeve.
These external areas are great for storing those essential items required throughout the day.
Construction quality is good too, with Crest opting for a nylon/polyester fabric for its durability and water-resistant properties.
The bag can be carried on the shoulder or using the two top handles. The shoulder strap is comfortable and can be removed if not required.
Overall this a top-quality bag that combines style and utility in a manner that makes it more than deserving of a spot in my top 7.
6. Vera Bradley Triple Zip Hipster
This is another stylish bag that may suit nurses looking for something a little more exciting that the standard medical tote bag.
In fact, there are over 20 different styles to choose from. The Vera Bradley Triple Zip Hipster has proven very popular because of this.
There’s still the all-important storage area to think about, however.
And here the bag delivers too. There are several separate storage compartments for convenient organizing of your items.
The open main compartment is great for larger medical tools. There’s also three zippered exterior pockets and a single slip sleeve.
The machine-washable fabric construction also means you can throw this in the washer once it gets dirty and have it looking like new afterward.
Overall a good back with a range of choices and adequate storage functionality. What more can you say?
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7. BEST BUDGET: Rothco HW Canvas Classic Messenger Bag
My top choice budget pick is the Rothco HW Canvas Classic Messenger Bag.
As the name implies this is not a bag specifically designed for nurses, however the easy to carry shoulder design, and ample open storage area means it is well suited for holding our important items.
It also has an appealing vintage aesthetic that will always get my vote in terms of being different from the traditional medical tot bag.
It is constructed from durable cotton canvas materials and has the same flap over cover that I remember from my bag at secondary school.
It features an open, large main compartment that can comfortably hold a laptop as well as other items.
There are also four additional large pockets on the sides and front. These can be accessed easily for your more essential belongings.
The shoulder strap is fully adjustable and means you can carry the bag with comfort.
And did I mention that it is extremely affordable? As one of the cheapest options in my top 7 it is a great budget choice for those wanting a versatile bag with a vintage twist.
Choosing a Nursing Bag – A Buyer’s Guide
There are a number of factors to consider when choosing the best nursing bag or tote for your needs.
The most obvious being size and carrying ability; just how much do you intend to carry with you each day? This will help determine the size of the bag you look for.
The durability of the design, plus how easy it is to clean should also be considered.
And let’s not forget style, we all want a bag that is both functional and looks good too.
Finally, there is the question of price. Nurses’ bags can vary quite considerably in this regard.
True, with the most expensive ones you are often paying for the premium brand name. You should expect high-quality materials and design alongside this, however.
Let’s now take a look at some of these factors in detail so that you can make a more informed decision when buying your new nurses’ bag.
Size of bag
Your bag will be used daily. It stands to reason that you do not want to lug something around that is way too large for your needs.
Why put excess strain on your back and shoulders carrying items in a large bag when you do not have to.
Conversely, packing everything you need into a bag that is too small will make things difficult to retrieve and will be generally annoying.
Why not make a list of everything you generally like to carry with you on a day to day basis.
Beyond nursing equipment, (stethoscope, thermometer, pulse oximeter, etc) do you carry a laptop or tablet?
There are also items such as bandage/dressing scissors, hand sanitizer & wipes. You may also need room for drinks and a packed lunch.
You may be surprised by how long that list might get when you start to think about what you need.
If so, you should look for a large nurse’s bag to accommodate it all.
Pockets and compartments are an important addition to a good nurse’s bag.
Again that list of items you carry every day will be useful. A sleeve for a laptop or tablet is vital if you want to keep your equipment safe from damage.
Good organizational space will also help you access items quickly and efficiently. A space designed to hold your scissors for instance, or holders for pens and thermometer.
Some bags will have mesh drinks holders and other handy additions that will help to maximize storage capacity.
All that being said, if you like a bag that lacks built-in compartments you have the option of buying a travel organizer and inserting this into it.
It is quite clear that the more durable the bag is the better. This is often linked to material and build quality, which is in turn linked to price. (However, low budget options can still be durable in design).
A durable bag will last you longer, will stand more abuse during the working day, (especially useful if it is thrown into the back of the car or carried around on public transport) and will cost you less in replacements over the long term.
The most common types of nursing bag materials are cotton canvas, polyester, nylon, and denim. You can also get more premium leather bags.
The type of material will impact the overall durability of the bag as well as water resistance and how easy it is to clean.
An important area of the bag to look at regarding durability is the strap and how this is joined to the bag. The strap will take a lot of wear and tear and is one of the first areas to weaken and break during long term use.
Zips are also another area that generally becomes damaged. A strong, large zip with quality stitching is what you should be looking for.
On the subject of straps, the bag profile (how it is to carry) is another factor to consider.
Do you prefer handles or shoulder strap? Would that be a single-arm shoulder, a cross-body sling or a bag that offers double strap options similar to a rucksack?
These also need to be comfortable with suitable padding. A strap that acts like a garrote is no fun at all. Likewise, a handle that presses into your palm like piano wire will quickly take its toll if your bag is full.
With the wide range of nurses bags available, all manner of style preferences is catered for. That being said, a bright, multi-colored bag may not exude the professional “vibe” that your patients would prefer to see upon your arrival.
Conversely, a strict, black bag with next to no character may not be in line with your personality and the image you would like to convey.
When choosing a style and look of bag you need to balance your aesthetic tastes with the various factors we have described above, (alongside that issue of professionalism).
Ultimately, you should buy a nurse’s bag that fulfills all your practical needs first and as a bonus, looks good too.
Finally, there is the price consideration. My advice here is to not scrimp on a quality bag that ticks all the right boxes, just because the price seems above your budget.
The right bag will look after you and your gear for a long time to come. Just because you paid a bit more for it to start with, will seem insignificant once it is being used day-to-day.
That being said, a low budget option should not be ignored if it satisfies your needs.