Disclosure: the manufacturer provided a sample to Meeple Mountain, but had no editorial input into this review.
As you might have seen in our Top 6 Board Game Bags mega review, there are a wide range of bags on the market which are suitable for transporting your precious games. Some are custom designed for that purpose, while others are happy discoveries. In this review we’ll be taking a look at the Game Haul: Gateway Tote Bag from Top Shelf Fun.
In a previous review of the Rothco Canvas Parachute Cargo Bag I focused primarily on size; being able to transport a large number of games. But the Rothco wasn’t designed for board games. As you might guess from the name, this bag was designed from the ground for board gamers. Keep reading for the details, but this is one bag you should really have in your collection.
Game Haul: Gateway Tote Bag
At Meeple Mountain we grade all board game bags using the same 4 sets of criteria: Straps, Functionality & Durability, Capacity, and Portability, Price & Availability. How did the Game Haul: Gateway Tote stand up to our tests? Let’s find out…
The straps on the Gateway Tote Bag are 1.5in wide heavy duty black nylon with reinforced stitching at the touch points on the sides of the bag. The bag has a single wrap around padded handle at the top which can be secured with velcro. The straps are flexible without being thin, and durable without being stiff and scratchy. Because this is a tote bag it doesn’t include backpack straps.
My only complaint about the straps is that they might be a bit too long: they measure exactly one foot from the top lip of the bag to the handle. I’m 6’ 4” and the bag reaches nearly to the ground. I imagine that for someone of average height, this could be an issue. I’m pretty sure the length has to do with relieving stress on the sides of the bag, but it’s still something to be mindful of.
Functionality & Durability
The mouth of the Game Haul: Gateway tote is the same size as the bag itself which makes it very easy to load and unload. The clear side also makes it a cinch to see what you’ve already got in the bag.
The walls and bottom of the bag are made of durable nylon, and the interior appears to be covered in a thin coating of some sort of material to prevent ripping or tearing. The bag is capable of standing up on it’s own, even empty.
The marketing materials may claim that it “holds up to four 12x12x3 “Ticket to Ride” box-sized board games.*” but it can hold more than that. In fact I got an extra game in top, and still had room in the mesh pouch on the side for some D&D manuals or small box card games.
Smaller sized boxes like Reef or Scarabya are narrow enough that you could even get another game on to the side as you can see in the picture below.
Portability, Price & Availability
The Gateway Tote bag is thin enough to be easily foldable, and could easily be tucked inside a backpack, suitcase, or other carrying container. Three of the bag sides, and the bottom, are made from a durable nylon fabric which feels quite heavy duty, while still allowing the bag to be folded up and stored. The fourth side is made from a .5mm thick clear plastic sheet, which allows you to see the contents of the bag at a glance.
The padded handle feels comfortable in my palm, and when being carried, spreads out the weight across my hand. Because the bag is so durable, it can be easy to load it up with heavier games, as I did on my trip to San Francisco. The bag never complained, but I noticed that I had to switch hands every few minutes for comfort. Because the Gateway Tote is capable of carrying a Ticket to Ride sized box laying flat I found that I was sometimes forced to carry it further away from my body than was comfortable. I wager that very few people will be carrying this bag for as long as I was, so please keep that in mind.
The Gateway Tote is currently available on Amazon for $10.99, which honestly is a steal. You could order it on a Wednesday and get it in time to pack for your weekend plans.
I recently traveled from Nashville to San Francisco and back with the Gateway Tote and was pleasantly surprised at how well it held up. I lugged it through 4 airports, put it in the overhead bin for four flights, and carried it to and from my office in the trunk of numerous Lyft trips, and it performed like a champ.
I posted about the bag, and my travels on Facebook and Twitter and received a number of amazed comments from people who wanted to know what the bag was, who it was from, and where they could get it.
The Game Haul: Gateway tote from Top Shelf Fun far exceeded my expectations for a bag at this price point. In fact, when I realized how inexpensive it was my estimation of the bag actually increased. Top Shelf Fun has done an excellent job designing a bag which meets its intended purpose. The Gateway tote is $10.99 on Amazon, and could very well be the perfect “bag around town” you’ve been looking for. Go pick it up today!