The Flare Active Tote is 5.11’s response to the needs of women on-the-go. Whether going to the office or the gym, staying local or traveling, this bag will expand to accommodate. 5.11 Tactical’s website touts the Flare Active Tote with these accolades: “Plenty of smart storage and flexibility live large in this lightweight, durable tote. The Flare Active Tote’s TacTec™ CCW compatibility and yoga matte storage are peace of mind in a bag.”

Here’s the deal: I love bags. Love ‘em. Like my husband loves guns & gear, I’m a bag lady… but not in a cat lady sort of way. As a wife, a mom and a businesswoman, I always need to schlep stuff around like some sort of Himalayan Sherpa. Sometimes the stuff’s not even mine, but thanks my sons early days in the Boy Scouts, I learned the motto: Be Prepared. I’ve even been accused of packing bags into bags; well yeah, that’s how you sort similar items for easy access. Compartmentalizing is simply my way of life. And my bags need to stay just as organized.

Flare Active Tote
Off to the Gym

First of all, let’s challenge the Flare Active Tote with an easy trip to the gym. Mornings at the gym have provided me with a little morning escape for years. I swear I can get ready twice as fast because I’m not answering questions, emptying the dishwasher, finishing a quick load of laundry. My only task: getting dressed in peace & quiet. That’s the benefit. The downfall is relocating my closet & bathroom; this is where a good bag earns its keep. The 5.11 Active Tote has two expandable front compartments perfect for sneakers and a mesh pocket inside for a water bottle or shower essentials. The CCW compartment is secured by Velcro on both sides, so you could choose to forego that functionality and carry a yoga mat.

The next test: a Board Meeting in the capital city. The Flare Active Tote accompanied me to an industry association meeting. Packed with my iPad, a notepad, business cards and about 50 pages of meeting minutes & agenda items, I wore it crossbody and it wasn’t bulky or awkward. The black exterior remained classy and smart-looking with ready access to the hidden CCW compartment.

Flare Active Tote
Aboard a charter boat in Grand Cayman

But the ultimate test for a bag is undoubtedly traveling. Could this Tote meet the rigors of family Spring Break? Would it be as good as the 5.11 Mira 2 in 1? In short: yes. In detail, it served as my flight carry-on, cruise ship embarking luggage, charter boat pack, shore excursion satchel and beach bag. The Flare Active Tote was durable, flexible, expandable, and wearable.

Bravo 5.11: the Flare Active Tote is functional, stylish, and earns it’s keep amongst my favorite bags.

5.11 Flare Active Tote specs courtesy of

  • Two large front compartments store shoes or other large items
  • Interior water bottle mesh pocket
  • Interior zipped pocket for more storage
  • Cross body removable & adjustable strap
  • Padded handles for comfortLightweight fabric on body
  • Ultra-durable 1680D Nylon fabric on bottom of bag
  • Heat transfer reflective branding
  • Imported
  • MSRP $74.99

Written by Brandie Meisner (wife of author Erik Meisner)