Ultimate Guide Of Material Options For Custom Tote Bags

Modern business is full of competition, in order to improve sales performance, more and more promotional activities are needed. 

Custom tote bags are getting more popular because of it’s features like environmentally friendly, durable, low-price, etc.

A nice looking and well designed Custom Tote Bag Represents the brand image and company culture.

How to spend the least money and generate the most benefits is a question that every company should consider before doing promotional activities. So, how to choose the materials of promotional shopping bags?

Here is the Ultimate guide of material options for Custom tote bags, include below:

  • Plastic (PE, HDPE, LDPE, etc)
  • Paper
  • Polypropylene Non Woven
  • Polypropylene woven
  • Cotton
  • Jute
  • Recycled PET
  • 190T Polyester
  • 210D Polyester
  • Satin
  • Nylon
  • 420D Polyester
  • 600D Polyester
  • 1680D Polyester
  • Tyvek
  • Felt

All the above materials has it’s own features, suitable to certain styles of bag.

1. Plastic bag

Plastic bags were widely used in the 20th century because of their low price and ease of use. However, because traditional plastic bags are not degradable, they have produced huge white pollution, causing a series of environmental crises, especially the destruction of the marine environment. More and more countries are aware of this problem and have begun to restrict or ban the use of plastic bags in order to reduce environmental pollution. At present, the mainstream custom shopping bags on the market are basically based on environmentally friendly and reusable materials, such as paper bags, non-woven bags, cotton bags, Recycled PET bags and so on.

With the advancement of technology, there are also degradable plastic bags available at present. The material uses starch, or degradable particles are added to traditional plastics to achieve the purpose of bio-degradation.

2. Paper bag

Usually the paper used in paper bags is kraft paper, white cardboard, and coated paper. Kraft paper is the cheapest because it can be machine-produced throughout the process. White card and coated paper can be coated on the surface, the bag is more beautiful, and the price is relatively higher than that of kraft paper. We can see many use scenes of paper bags in daily life. Such as KFC and McDonald’s take-out food packaging bags, bread bags and coffee cup bags.

It is generally understood that paper bags should be environmentally friendly, but in fact, a large amount of waste water is generated during the paper making process, causing serious environmental problems. Generally, 300 to 400 tons of waste water are generated per ton of paper. The waste water is rich in suspended solids, organic matter, high biochemical oxygen demand, and some toxic substances, which will harm the production environment of aquatic organisms and affect the safety of residents’ water. Imagine how serious this pollution is. But in fact, many people are not aware of this problem.

3. Polypropylene non-woven bag

Although the raw material of polypropylene non-woven bags is polypropylene, because its production process is different from traditional polypropylene plastic bags, it can be naturally degraded after being placed outdoors for 90 days and can be reused. It is recognized as the best substitute for plastic bags in many countries as eco-friendly bag

The material weight and color of the non-woven fabric can be customized. Usually the weight is between 30gsm and 150gsm, and the most popular is 80gsm non-woven fabric, which is moderately priced and has high bag strength. If you customize T-SHIRT non woven bag, you will generally choose a thinner material, such as 35gsm.

You can see Polypropylene shopping bag almost everywhere, bag used like shopping bags in shopping mall, shoes carrier bag in shoes stores, Gift bag on Exhibition Fairs, Promotional bag in Supermarket, all customwith different logo print on bag body, as kindly of advertising.

In addition to polypropylene non-woven fabrics, there are also polyester non-woven fabrics and PLA non-woven fabrics on the market. Because PLA is made of corn, it is more environmentally friendly and may be called the material trend of environmentally friendly bags in the future.

4. Polypropylene woven bag

When polypropylene woven bags are used to make shopping bags, a film is usually coated on the surface, and the surface of the film is printed with exquisite patterns. The bag made of this material is durable and generally weighs more than 20KG. PP woven bag is one of the most popular grocery tote bag, because of it’s good strength and durability.

5. Cotton Bag

Cotton fabric is natural and environmentally friendly, cotton bags made are durable and comfortable. But the price will be much higher than ordinary non-woven bags and paper bags. If the budget is sufficient, cotton is an ideal material for custom tote bags.

Usually the specification of cotton fabric is calculated according to gsm (gram per square meter), some people are used to calculating it in ounces, 1 ounce is equal to 28.3gsm. If add a certain composition of polyester or linen into cotton, will get polyester-cotton cloth and cotton-linen cloth, which are some extensions of the material.

6. Jute bag

Jute is mainly produced in Southeast Asian countries. After China imports, it is made into jute products and produces jute bags. Because jute is the original ecological material, the jute tote bags are very popular. But because of the high price, jute bags are mostly used in retail, and less used as promotional bags to give away for free.

Jute mainly produced in Southeast Asian countries, and is mostly imported by China and processed into shopping bags and other products. With the impact of the COVID 19 epidemic, the jute industry belt in Southeast Asian countries has been hit hard, leading many industries have returned to China.

7. Recycled PET bag

The recycled PET raw materials come from recycled PET plastic bottles, which are recycled into fabric fibers and then woven into RPET fabric. Normally, the material supplier would apply obtain global recyclable standard certification. Because of it’s features of environmentally friendly, durable, and favorable price. RPET is getting more and more popular in bag industry.

Meanwhile, to use a RPET tote bag, also show people’s attitude to protect environment, which means the same for retail industry, who convey their concept of environmental protection. When you want to be different from others, RPET is a good option.

8. 190T Polyester Bag

190T polyester material feels soft and weighs between 45~60gsm. Usually used to make foldable shopping bags, with various styles. Can be made into various shapes, such as  cartoon characters, strawberries, apples, etc.

The material is resistant to high temperatures, so it can be printed by sublimation to achieve a perfect CMYK transfer printing effect. However, the version fee is slightly higher, and it is generally recommended to use this printing when the order quantity reaches 10,000. If the quantity is small, it can be replaced by digital printing, which does not charge a plate-making fee.

9. 210T/210D Polyester bag

210D/210T polyester is very similar to 190T, the only difference is that the fabric is thicker, generally 65gsm ~90gsm. Print ways same like 190T.

10. Satin Bag

The specifications of satin fabric are usually 75×100D, 75×150D and so on. Raw material: It can be cotton, blended, or polyester, and some are purified fiber. Mainly used as garment fabric, like women’s clothing, pajamas or underwear. Because of it’s good handle feeling and silk-like surface, the product has wide popularity to make causual pants, sport wear and bed material, etc.

In bag industry, satin mianly used to make drawstring bag or foldable bag.

11. Nylon Bag

Nylon also known as Polyamide, or PA for short, is a very wear-resistant material with a wear resistance 10 times that of cotton. The appearance is similar to 210T, but due to its high price, it is only used to make some high-end shopping bags.

Ordinary foldable shopping bags are generally replaced by 190T/210T polyester materials.

12. 420D Polyester Bag

420D polyester is a relatively common material in the luggage industry. It’s inside coating layer has option of PU and PVC. Generally, the PU layer material is thinner and can be used as the lining of bags. The PVC coating is thicker and is mostly used as the exterior of luggage.

13. 600D Polyester

Compared with 420D, 600D polyester cloth has a thicker texture and is the most commonly used luggage material. Can be tear-resistant or waterproof.

14. 1680D Polyester

1680D is the abbreviation of 1680D double-strand Oxford cloth. It is a plain weave fabric with double warp and double weft. The original raw material is nylon. 1680D double-strand Oxford cloth has strong tensile strength and abrasion resistance, and noble luster. Most of them are high-end luggage and handbag fabrics.

The finishing is mostly calendered PVC, Youli glue, PU coating, EVA compound, and transfer printing, hot rolling, screen printing and so on. The raw materials of the 1680D double-strand Oxford cloth produced by China manufacturers are mostly polyester bright filaments. But the style, texture and quality are very close to nylon 1680D double-strand Oxford cloth, which the luggage manufacturers call imitation nylon 1680D, imitation nylon, etc.

Imitated nylon 1680D also has many specifications and style changes. The difference in weaving is mostly reflected in the changes in density and grammage, and there are two types of dyeing: liquid vat dyeing and flat vat dyeing. High-demand fabrics are mainly liquid flow cylinders, and this dyeing is preferably a high-density product. This scheme has high color fastness (dry and wet grinding are above level 4), small color difference, and strong graininess. Good gloss. The flat vat has poor dye fastness and large color difference, but the cost is low, which is suitable for customers with low requirements.

15. Tyvek Bag

Tyvek fabric is commonly known as “DuPont paper”, produced by DuPont: one is a high-density polyethylene material. Tyvek was invented in the 1950s, and commercial production began in the 1960s.

It’s a high-density polyethylene that uses flash evaporation technology to process a continuous filament from a polymer through heat melting, and then heat it to bond it to high-density polyethylene; This unique process technology allows Tyvek to combine the material characteristics of paper, film and woven fabric in one, waterproof, breathable, light weight, strong, tear resistance, puncture resistance, high reflectivity, diffuse reflection, UV resistance, texture With unique touch, environmentally friendly and recyclable.

But because Tyvek material is very expensive, so still not widely used to produce Tyvek bag.

16. Felt Bag

Felt cloth is usually made of wool, but considering the economic cost, most of the felt raw materials used to make bags are polyester. Its thickness is generally 1~2MM, the felt bag has good three-dimensionality, beautiful appearance, and various styles.

Most popular Felt bag include handbags and planting bags.


To know material options is the 1st step to order Custom Tote Bag. Many companies hope to show their brand characteristics through customized bags and distinguish them from other brands. Therefore, we need to innovate in many aspects such as fabrics, styles, printing, and so on.

As the first and most basic part of custom bags, fabrics should be selected according to brand characteristics, usage, budget, etc. For example: RPET bags are made of recycled plastic bottles, which can reduce the pollution of plastic bottles to the environment, especially to the ocean. Through customized RPET bags, you can publicize the brand’s importance and attention to social responsibility and environmental protection.

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