When Shawn first contacted me to write for Tools & Toys, I never imagined a future where I would get to write about a lunch bag.
This has to be the most unique product I’ve ever reviewed.
I’m convinced one of the greatest ways to save for retirement is to bring a lunch from home each day. Depending on where you live and the quality of food you want to eat, buying lunch can cost anywhere from $5 to $15 (or more) a day — or $1,305 to $3,915 a year. Some people may find value in spending that kind of money. Not me.
Instead, I’ve become a huge fan of leftovers. Casseroles, lasagnas, and soups are my particular favorites. Throw them in a container in the morning, add a banana or an apple, and throw in a bottle of water and you’ve got yourself a hearty meal for a tenth of the cost of eating out.
Of course, making the food, packing the food, and transporting the food to your workplace is a chore. I used to use old plastic grocery bags to do the job.
The Rural Kind Tin-Tie Lunch Bag is now the go-to bag for such a task. It offers great durability, surprising utility, and a dash of flare to an otherwise boring part of my working life. This lunch bag screams “curated” unlike any other product I’ve ever owned.
But it comes at a cost.
Rural Kind wouldn’t have any premise for making a high-style lunch bag if it didn’t use top shelf materials. From the waxed canvas exterior to the leather closure band, the Tin-Tie Lunch Bag derives most of its positives from its design.
The waxed canvas has a particular style and feel to it. After a few weeks of use, the canvas picks up a few marks to give it extra character. The Slate color is particularly handsome and more subdued than the Teal color, and looks much less like a boring paper bag like the Tobacco color.
The waxed canvas material has its share of pros and cons. On a positive note, waxed canvas is extremely durable. There’s no pulling, tearing, or ripping this material — you can rest assured your lunch inside is well protected. But consequently, waxed canvas isn’t flexible or expandable — the Tin-Tie comes in one size and one size only. If you can’t pack your lunch into a single container or two, you likely won’t fit it inside Rural Kind’s Lunch Bag.
Another reality of waxed canvas is its cleanliness — or perhaps lack thereof. Leather is easier to simply wipe and keep clean, while waxed canvas requires extra care. Cleaning instructions for Rural Kind’s waxed canvas can be found on their website:
It is always best to clean off dirt with a stiff brush when the bag is dry. However you can also use a damp soap free cloth to help clean off stubborn areas of dirt or stains. Avoid using washing powder and soap on the bag as this is likely to affect and remove some of the fabric’s wax coating. Never machine wash or dry-clean your bag.
On the exterior, I don’t much care about some scrapes and dirt smudges. But if I’m going to use this lunch bag for the rest of my life, I hope decade-old food doesn’t accumulate on the inside of the bag.
Leather Closure Strap and Fasteners
The leather closure strap is of the highest quality and has the only visible branding on the Tin-Tie Lunch Bag. The half-inch wide piece of leather lines the top of the lunch bag and has two brass snap fasteners for closing the bag. It’s thick and durable and sure to last a lifetime.
I really like the color coordination between the Slate waxed canvas and the natural leather closure strap. Most of the Tin-Tie’s marketing shots make the leather closure strap look orange in color, but it’s far more subdued in real life. The Slate/orange color combo looks far less pleasing than the Slate/natural combo if you ask me.
The brass fasteners on the ends of the leather strap are equally impressive, giving absolute confidence in the life of this bag. Hard plastic snap fasteners break easily and don’t hold when there’s real weight inside the bag. Using brass ensures strength and durability — two of my favorite characteristics for any bag.
The brass fasteners are fastened to the waxed canvas via copper rivets, continuing the impeccable material selection. In the same manner the brass fasteners instil confidence in the closure, so too do the copper rivets.
Actually closing the bag takes some practice.
Included in my little package was a handwritten note highlighting how to properly close the bag.
- Pack your containers and food inside the bag.
- Turn the bag so the leather closure strap is facing away from you.
- Roll the top of the bag over twice, directly away from your body.
- After two rolls, the leather strap ends with fasteners fold into the lunch bag’s side fold. Attach the male brass fasteners to the female end.
With the top folded over, you carry the Tin-Tie Lunch Bag just like those old paper lunch bags we all had back in elementary school. This gives the Tin-Tie Lunch Bag a hint of nostalgia, if the overall design wasn’t already clear.
A Few Further Observations
In all seriousness, this is a lunch bag — there’s only so much to be said.
- To reiterate, the Rural Kind Lunch Bag’s durability should never come into question. Waxed canvas may be more difficult than other materials to keep clean, but this bag is thick, heavy, and ready to take a beating. The same can be said about the leather closure strap and the fasteners.
- Inside the bag is a small leather sleeve to slide in a piece of cutlery or two. All the cutlery in my house is either too long or too thick to fit inside the sleeve, meaning I leave cutlery loose inside the bag. It’s not a deal breaker, but I’m not sure what kind of cutlery would fit in this sleeve, let alone two pieces of cutlery.
- As mentioned, waxed canvas doesn’t flex or stretch at all, ensuring you can only fit a few small containers inside the bag. This is my biggest complaint about the bag. Straight up, the Tin-Tie Lunch Bag just isn’t big enough.
The more I think about it, the size of the bag may only be my second biggest complaint behind…
I started this review with the argument of saving money by taking lunch from home each work day. And this is where that whole argument falls apart.
Rural Kind’s Tin-Tie Lunch Bag is £65/75€/$85. If you want to amortize this over a lifetime, then sure, it’s a reasonable price. But you’re definitely paying for all those high quality materials. If you use 5 cent plastic grocery bags like I used to, it would take 1,700 grocery bags to pay for this bag. That’s a lot of leftovers for lunch.
If Waremakers and Rural Kind hadn’t sent this bag for review, I would’ve had a hard time purchasing it. Now that I have the bag, I genuinely like it. I’ve had a lot of comments from co-workers when I carry this bag in with me first thing in the morning. So while I’m not sure if the Tin-Tie Lunch Bag is worth the price tag, you certainly won’t be disappointed if you decide to pick one up.
In short, if you have a curated list of items and if you want the best and only the best, the Rural Kind Tin-Tie Lunch Bag is a good buy. If you’re looking for something more simple than the highest quality lunch bag, the Tin-Tie Lunch Bag might be a silly buy. It’s not like it adds some sort of magical taste to leftovers for lunch.
The last section on price puts a damper on the overall attitude surrounding the Rural Kind Tin-Tie Lunch Bag. If I didn’t comment on price, you’d think the lunch bag was the coolest, most unique product we’ve highlighted here on Tools & Toys.
But throw in a near $100 price tag after shipping and everything changes.
Each part of this lunch bag is phenomenally well-made. I couldn’t be more impressed with the quality of the waxed canvas/leather/brass/copper combination, especially in this color.
Putting them all together yields an incredible result — albeit small and albeit pricey.
Sometimes though, $100 is worth the raised eyebrows and pending comments you’ll receive in the lunch room.