Tote bags have a funny cult following that seem to gravitate around independent bookshops and obscure branches of Univesity of London libraries. As far as cultural references go, you don't get more literal than carrying around a brand concept all day, and I love the fact that the 90s obsession with logos has come full circle and is now the bastion of liberal-minded shopping.
I first saw the Maptote range stocked at the Red Door Gallery. At around £20 a pop they don't appear cheap, but you'll be carrying round a beautiful bit of design all day instead of a pleather-primark-mullberry rip off. Let's face it, sometimes cheap is cheap and maps totes aren't.