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I need to replace my outer talit bag - the one that most people have as a brittle, transparent, zippered bag with gold piping (e.g.). I am tired of having these bags break on me, and I don't have a designer inner bag to display, so transparency is unnecessary for me.

Can you recommend an alternative? It doesn't necessarily have to have been designed to be a talit bag.

Requirements:

  • Tear-resistant
  • Waterproof
  • When wet on the outside, easy to extract contents without getting them wet
  • Lightweight (ideally, I could fold it up empty and put it in my pocket)
  • Space for a talit, tefilin, and a couple of books
  • Not too ugly to carry into the synagogue on Shabbat

Optional:

  • Special compartments for talit, tefilin, books, etc.
  • Nice-looking Jewish design on the outside, or the ability to add one
  • Shoulder strap, or at least the hooks for one

Update:

On further reflection, and after considering Aaron's answer, I'm thinking that what I'm looking for is like a "stuff sack,"but preferably with more in the way of internal compartmentalization and external strappage, and looking less like a gym bag.

  • "It doesn't necessarily have to have been designed to be a talit bag." - How many upvotes would the recommended product need to change its status from "not מיוחד" to "מחיוד" for its legal qualification as a barrier from the outside world? – WAF May 17 '11 at 23:17
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    @WAF, not sure if you're joking, but it doesn't depend on what most people do, just on whether you designated this particular bag to carry your tefillin. – Alex May 20 '11 at 14:59
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    I just want to say that you described a "gym bag" perfectly. Perhaps all you need is a basic gym bag which you can decorate? – avi Jul 7 '11 at 17:48
  • @avi Thanks! That's an interesting idea. Feel free to post it as an answer. – Isaac Moses Jul 7 '11 at 17:52
  • I guess we'd have to find some that are available for reuse, but this thread would benefit from some pictures. – Menachem May 24 '12 at 19:27
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Based on your description, the first thing to hit me was those Neoprene laptop sleeves. A quick Google showed that it's hard to find ones that are large enough. (Tefillin are kind of bulky, not flat like a laptop)

Then I saw it... a Neoprene diaper bag. no kidding. The one I saw from BuiltNY was very expensive and took up too much space with customized pockets that probably aren't suitable for talit/tefillin. However, that basic black Similac diaper bag you probably have around somewhere meets most of your criteria

1) It's tear resistant
2) Being nylon lined, it's waterproof
3) Seems like contents are easy to extract even if wet.. never actually tried
4) Certainly light weight when empty, but not pocket size.. I don't know what would be
5) Plenty of space for talit, tefilin, and a couple books
6) The basic black kind is attractive enough
7) Has two compartments... use as desired
8) Shoulder strap included

That said... I think there's a market for a neoprene Talit/Tefillin carrier.

EDIT: here are some links to a couple products I found:

  • Based on your feedback, if the cheap diaper bag isn't durable enough, then here's the link to the neoprene diaper bag that seems very sturdy and includes the nylon draw string feature internally that like the "Stuff sack" you linked to.
  • A link to a large bank bag would be flatter (they only picture the smaller size) and somewhat foldable.
  • I like the way you think! My reservations about the cheaper diaper bags are that they may not be fully waterproof, with the top flap not sealing over the cavity, and that they tend to deteriorate over time, developing cracks wherever they crease. As far as pocket size goes, I was dreaming of a thin, strong material without padding, like what a lightweight rain hat is made of. Sometimes, I manage in a crowded shul on Shabbat by stuffing my velvet talit bag into my pocket. It would be awesome if I could do that with something that could carry more, more comfortably. – Isaac Moses Dec 29 '09 at 15:00
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I always found army surplus bags perfect for everything. Hundreds of different sizes and shapes, materials, and usually any color you want as long as it's green. EBay and other places.

Isaac suggested some recommendations: I find the Swiss Army bread bags nice. You've seen them. They fold like, interestingly enough, a clam. One side is leather and in some cases even cow hide, the other a heavy cloth, and some are made with a vinyl instead of cloth that makes it water proof, or at least water resistant.

I carried my esrog and machzor in a gas mask bag this past yontif. A strange shape that forced the esrog container to one side and the book to the other. And unusual markings to keep you interested on the walk to shul.

On eBay, look under collectibles, military, and search bag. Unusually under personal effects. I prefer ones from the 60s and before, and I find the ones from European countries have interesting looks to them.

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    Welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks for the suggestion! This answer would be a great deal more valuable if you could edit in a recommendation of a particular model or category of bags to look for, which either you have found through experience works for this purpose or you can explain why you expect that it would. – Isaac Moses Oct 20 '14 at 3:28
  • What's up with your profile picture? – Shokhet Oct 20 '14 at 18:41
  • Lol, what up with it? My daughter posted it on Facebook once. Trying to explain things and where she came from. So I walked in the kitchen with a duck (not for eating, our pet!). Doesn't everyone carry their ducks? – David Oct 20 '14 at 22:13
  • I was wondering, because I know people who raise ducks to eat (I even have a similar picture of myself in my kitchen holding a duck!). Cute duck, though :-) – Shokhet Nov 10 '14 at 2:47
  • Tip for you -- if you want make sure that someone gets notified of your response comment, type their username, preceded by the @ symbol like this: @David. I only just saw your response just now :) – Shokhet Nov 10 '14 at 2:49
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I use a laptop bag for my tallit. I don't put the tefilin inside the velvet tallit bag, instead I bought a smaller tallit bag that only holds the tallit (It's about 1/3 the size - you will need to learn a new folding style for the tallit).

Then I arrange the items inside the laptop bag - they fit perfectly plus a siddur. The smaller tallit bag is almost exactly the same length as a laptop.

  • Welcome to Judaism.SE, and thanks very much for this creative suggestion! – Isaac Moses May 20 '11 at 15:03
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I use the 4 Liter Sea to Summit Lightweight Dry Sack (archived version of page). This is big enough for 2 pairs of Tefillin (4x4) and a pocket-sized soft-cover siddur.

They make bigger sizes (this particular model goes up to 35 liter capacity).

As for your requirements:

  • Tear-resistant - hard to say, they don't advertise it as such, but I haven't had any problems.
  • Waterproof - Yes. The one I use is not intended for submerging in water, but they make others that are.
  • When wet on the outside, easy to extract contents without getting them wet - I think so.
  • Lightweight - yes
  • Space for a talit, tefilin, and a couple of books - Depends on the size, but yes.
  • Not too ugly - that's up to you. They do have a variety of colors though.

  • Special compartments - only one.

  • Nice-looking Jewish design on the outside, or the ability to add one - No
  • Shoulder strap, or at least the hooks for one - kind of. The one I have has one D-Ring, and when it is closed a handle is formed. They make other kinds that do have more rings and such.

As you can see here, there are many variations on this theme available for purchase. Any camping/outdoors store should have some in stock. Some may be closer to what you're looking for.

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It seems to me, that with your edits, that you described a "gym bag" perfectly. Perhaps all you need is a basic gym bag which you can decorate?

  • I use a very old gym bag from my university. simple, two handles, holds tallit, tefillin bag, siddur, reading glasses. it has carried my son's tallit & teffilin in a pinch. Heavy canvas, which is water resistant. Plus, the logo on the outside never fails to spark a comment when I'm someplace new. That having been said, my wife calls it "the dorky bag." – Marc Oct 28 '14 at 13:48
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A tallis bag tote. If you do a search for this combination of words, you will find a product that should suit your needs, available on websites and at well-known Judaica stores. They are available in different sizes and the extra-large one should be able to hold your tallis, tefillin and at least one book.

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When I asked for recommendations for a bag that could easily hold my Tallith and Tefillin, my laptop computer, and my lunch without busting at the seams, someone recommended this "Bag of Holding".

  • Sorry I'm a little late.....but this isn't really an answer unless you expand and explain what you're saying. Without that, it's more of a comment. – Shokhet Oct 20 '14 at 16:29
  • @shokhet, better? – Seth J Oct 20 '14 at 23:19
  • Yes, better. +1 – Shokhet Oct 20 '14 at 23:20
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I have always loved all the various bags and sacks you can find on At the Front, a company that makes World War II reproductions. Take a look at this page. Unfortunately, all of their products are a bit pricy, but they last a lifetime. Everything they make is of durable canvas.

Here's a picture of my musette bag which I purchased from them. I use this bag for carrying my heavy seforim and tefillin when I go on trips.

enter image description here This is what the bag looks like. A nice "U.S." printed on the front in traditional U.S. Military fashion of yesteryear. There is an adjustable carrying strap, also made of canvas like the rest of the bag. All of the buttons and clasps are made of metal. This bag will last a long time. Mine's a reproduction, but my brother has an original and it is just as sturdy today as it was 70+ years ago.

enter image description here The inside of the bag has two large divided sections, and two smaller pockets. both are great for carrying large seforim (even a full-size Gemara), and especially a bag of tefillin and a siddur.

enter image description here On the back of the bag there is a large map pocket that I think would be perfect for a tallis. Note that all of these pockets probably look small in the pictures but that they are actually quite large.

Plus I must mention that although they are not waterproof, these bags will deflect water if they're spilled on. The water just runs off when something like a water bottle is spilled.

  • Oh, man. That is awesome. As it happens, I've just been watching HBO's Band of Brothers, a dramatized account of real paratroopers in WWII, so this really hits home. – Isaac Moses Jun 27 '17 at 18:16
  • @IsaacMoses - I love Band of Brothers. It is one of my very favorite TV serieses. I have one of the musette bags, and I use it to carry my tefillin and seforim on trips. I am not married, so I don't have a tallis, but there's a big map pocket on the back that would probably fit a one. Should I post a pic? – ezra Jun 27 '17 at 19:01
  • Sure, why not? :) – Isaac Moses Jun 27 '17 at 19:07

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