Good news: Ellington Leather updates its backpack tote purse

Some fantastic news for fans of Ellington Leather’s original Sussex travel tote. Some years back, mail order retailer Norm Thompson used to carry a smaller version of Ellington’s Sussex travel tote:

The Ellington Stella tote. Image from Ellington Leather.

The beauty in this bag was its simplicity; it was a simple purse with straps that, when pulled outward, would cinch the top and convert the bag into a backpack. It was great as a smart purse that you could quickly convert to a backpack at the airport if you needed your hands free, or you needed to manage your kids on the go.

The only catch with this bag was that they did away with the popular small size, and only had the larger tote bag size for quite a while. The converted backpack was about the size of a bookpack instead of a smaller purse, and too large if you just wanted a regular-sized purse.

A simple diagram showing how to convert a purse to a backpack. Image from Lazar’s Luggage Superstore.

Ellington did sell a leather version in the smaller size, but the material meant it weighed more, and it was considerably more expensive (usually retailing for over $150.00).

For 2009, however, Ellington has introduced its new “Lightweight Travel” line, which includes a revamped version of this popular bag!

Ellington’s new Lightweight Travel Tote/Pack. Image from

The first thing you’ll notice is that the Lightweight Travel Tote/Pack has a straighter silhouette and is more angular. The center drops down a little more, to create a more flattering shape when you wear this as a backpack. They’ve also changed the fabric from nylon to microfiber, which while a bit stiffer and not as squishable as the nylon, is very travel-friendly and will stand up to a lot of wear. The smarter silhouette means you can probably use this for business travel as well.

Finally, they’ve fixed the main problem that plagued the original small Sussex bag: This newer version now has a zipper that runs the full length of the main opening, making this much more secure than its predecessor.

This new Lightweight Travel Tote/Pack is available in four travel-friendly colors (black, grey, red, and periwinkle). You can find it at a few online retailers such as LuggageOnline as well as from Ellington Leather directly, but your best deal right now is at, where the retail price of $66 has been reduced to $52.80. Not sure how long that sale will be going on for (they are currently having a Spring sale), but even at $66 it’s not a bad deal.

A quick note about the Timbuk2 Metro: Reader Tom left a comment in my previous entry, that he was told by Timbuk2 staff that they plan to phase out of the Metro altogether and replace it with the new Click. Both Tom and I agree that the Metro is a better deal; if you’d like a Metro but haven’t gotten one yet, now may be a good time. There are still plenty of inventory in a rainbow of colors; don’t wait too long!

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