JoTotes Review

On Wednesday I received my very first long-awaited JoTotes Betsy bag. I've been wanting one for over a year, but I didn't want to pay the hefty $100+ price tag. With a wedding looming in my future, I knew I couldn't rely on Justin's pockets to hold all of my lenses, camera batteries, memory cards, and flash. I bit the bullet and bought the Betsy bag in teal.

Over the past year, I really and truly wanted the yellow Betsy bag. I thought it would be fun and brightly colored. However, since yellow and black are Georgia Tech colors, and I am completely anti-Georgia Tech (Go Bulldogs!), I bought turquoise instead. I would have worn all black to the wedding I was going to shoot a la professionalware, and, as stated before, clearly yellow and black should never be worn together! Nobody in my family saw it as odd that I would order turquoise since that tends to be my go-to anyway.

When you are seeing this brightly colored turquoise bag online, I can guarantee you that the color you see is what you will get (unless your monitor or phone settings are completely whacky!). The turquoise is truly a bright color and not at all muted in any way.

If you aren't a fan of turquoise though, don't despair. The Betsy comes in a variety of colors, specifically yellow, black and brown. You can have an exciting brightly colored bag or something more normal. It's all up to you!

The bag comes in a cardboard box that says "Your Special Delivery" which, frankly, reminds me of babies and cowboys. It's the font, I promise! Then when you open the box. . . you know those things the nurses wear at the hospital on their feet? Yeah, there's like a big one covering the JoTotes bag. Why? I don't know. The branding seems to be all over the place and not consistent. Plus, what is the box going to do to the bag? Why can't it just be wrapped in packing paper? Or nothing? It would be way more exciting to have it wrapped in packing paper; it'd be like opening a gift! Because honestly, when you order a $100+ bag, you kind of want to feel like you are opening a gift. Plus, would it really be so difficult to put a little "Thank you for shopping with JoTotes" handwritten note in there? That would have totally sent me over the moon in happiness! (I was already pretty excited to begin with!)

Needless to say, the customer service I received prior to ordering my bag was sub-par as well. They were decently quick to respond to my concerns (5 hours). Their e-mail was very impersonal though, and it ended up confusing me more than helping. Apparently they have one standard shipping method they will use unless you contact them immediately after purchasing, send money to them through paypal, and let them know you want 2 day shipping. Why this is not an option upon checkout, I have no idea. An e-mail that expresses excitement and interest in me as a customer would have been nice. Even sending me a link to pay the special 2 day shipping fee in the response would have been nice. (JoTotes, are you listening?) Overall, ordering was confusing, and I recommend going through a site like B&H instead. B&H does not promise 2 day shipping, and actually state that they get their bags from elsewhere, and it could take as many as 7 days extra. I appreciate the honesty and directness from B&H. I do have to mention that JoTotes was correct; I did receive my bag within 3-5 days. 4 to be exact.

Let's get back to the bag. . .

The bag is faux leather and awesome. It came with two straps, one longer and one shorter, three short and one long inner adjustable pad with velcro for easily moving around inside the bag, and a removable shoulder pad. I didn't like that I had to put everything together, but, at the same time, it made the bag seem completely customizable to my own preferences. After many years of using free/cheap computer/camera bags, I have fallen in love with this bag. You don't know what you are missing until you get a well made quality bag that actually sits on your shoulder and doesn't hurt. In the past I've had a lot of problems with the weight being off balance. When the weight on your shoulder is off balance, it hurts. so. much. While this bag will not fit my laptop, I can definitely see myself getting a separate bag from JoTotes for just that purpose sometime in the near future.

The inside of the bag is grey. Like I said, it has three removable grey pads and one large removable grey pad to help you separate your gear and keep it safe. I currently have all of my manuals in the larger pocket, my 50mm, flash, and 60d with telephoto lens attached all fitting nicely in the bag with room to spare! Other photographers have had success also fitting a small 13" laptop in the bag as well. If you have a larger laptop, like me, you should not expect it to fit. I always worry about making bags too heavy for me to comfortably carry, so the prospect of having two bags and only carrying the one I need (i.e. camera equipment or laptop) seemed like an ideal scenario for me. There was definitely room in the bag had I wanted to put my canon xt in there as well.

In case you hadn't noticed, this bag has a LOT of pockets! With two pockets on the front exterior, one in the back, and one in the top, you definitely have room to put all of your stuff! I've got my camera batteries and memory cards in the front pockets, but I have seen where other photographers tend to put keys and cell phones in those pockets. The back pocket is, according to the JoTotes website, large enough to hold an ipad, although I don't have one to try this with. I could imagine using that top pocket for paperwork; it seems made for it.

One of the best things about this bag is that it doesn't scream "I'm a camera bag!". It probably is more likely to scream "I'm a purse!" which is not much better when dealing with thieves, but it definitely feels more conspicuous and less attention drawing. However I would be lying if I implied in any way that this is a small bag. Perhaps it's my petite frame, but this bag is indeed a big bag. It drives me crazy that it is so stiff and won't fold in on itself fitting closer to my body, but it is nice that I don't have to worry about the bag falling over when I set it on the ground. And in case I haven't mentioned it before, I love that I can wear the bag either on my shoulder like a purse or I can go for the cross body fit when I'm busy taking pictures and I don't want to worry about the bag falling off of my shoulder. (Of course, I also have a husband for that, but JoTotes did a wonderful job thinking about those single ladies or the ones that don't have a husband following them everywhere!)

Would I recommend JoTotes?

ABSOLUTELY. Go buy one. yesterday.

If you don't like it, they have a 30 day, unused bag return policy. What do you have to lose?

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