Contributing writer Letty Muse Tomlinson stumbled into diaper bag heaven. Here’s her review!
I should probably be writing about something of great importance like children’s nutrition, or searching for a preschool for my two-year-old or finding the right questions to ask my pediatrician at regular check-ups. But no. Today, I just want to gush about our latest gear purchase: a DadGear backpack diaper bag.
Once I was well into my second trimester, it occurred to me that I would probably need to upgrade from our diaper bag. It was a neoprene diaper bag from BuiltNY, and I don’t think they make it any more. It was excellent for us with just one kid, but I suspected two children’s items would crowd the bag relatively quickly. It fought valiantly to accommodate the needs of a toddler and a quickly-growing infant, but alas, my suspicion was correct and by March we were on the hunt for a diaper bag to satisfy two kids.
I decided pretty quickly that I wanted a backpack. Shoulder bags are fine with one kid, but it’s hard to carry a baby on a hip, a bag over a shoulder and manage a free hand to offer a two-year-old to grasp. Plus, with chronic lower back pain and low-grade scoliosis, evenly distributed weight appealed to me. I also wanted a backpack that had a sufficient number of compartments and preferably didn’t look like a diaper bag, but also didn’t look like a hardcore accessory off the racks of REI.
I seriously considered the JuJuBe Packabe. I’d read glowing mom reviews of it. A woman I’d bought a cloth diaper from was selling hers and after I got to take a good first-hand look at it and liked what I saw. However, they retail new for around $140 and that was about $50 – $90 more than I was hoping to pay. I watched several on eBay, but ultimately decided to let them go based on two things: 1) the designs are a little too girly for me (and certainly for my husband); even the solid color ones just seemed overtly feminine and 2) the backpack straps looked too thin due to the fact that they convert to a single hanging strap.
My gaze then fell to the DadGear Backpack. DadGear is a diaper bag company aimed at a male audience (who knew?!) whose popularity, I assume is eclipsed by Diaper Dude, as many dads I know have a Diaper Dude bag. I mulled the purchase over for a few weeks. Did I really need a backpack that was built with parenting in mind or could I just go buy a cheapie backpack at Target and fill it with kid detritus? I went for it, and boy am I glad I did!
I’ll begin with aesthetics: DadGear offers a wide variety of colors and designs for their bags, even pink. Most, if not all, of these lack any feminine or infant appeal to them. With the exception of pink, most of the standard colors and designs look like they came straight from the Coleman camping company. Their graphic designs appear created with the intent of luring every dad who prefers to tap his toe from Nine Inch Nails to Neko Case to Nickelback. (Yeah, Nickelback.) Next, their compartments: There are nine – count them, 9 – separate compartments in this puppy. Including a “wet wipe window” and a separate “diaper hammock.” I’ll let you sit with that for a while. … Feels good, doesn’t it? Two of these compartments are bottle compartments zippered on the sides of the bag, positioned nicely behind mesh bottle holders, themselves. Not only is this a backpack, it knows you might need a break from it for a while, so it includes stroller straps that stow away very easily in one of the 9 compartments. And it comes equipped with a diaper-changing pad. It’s not fancy, but it keeps your kid’s tuchus from having to touch those icky public restroom changing tables.
I’m pretty pleased with all that I can fit in mine. In the diaper hammock, I fit 2 – 3 disposable diapers and pull-ups per child, plus one all-in-one cloth diaper. In one bottle compartment/sleeve, I can fit an 8-ounce baby bottle and a toddler cup in the other. There is almost no protrusion from those sleeves, so in front of them, I can fit my own water bottles. In the main compartment, I can fit a large Ziploc bag with two full changes of clothes for the kids, plus an extra onesie for Luna and a t-shirt for Cliodne. I also fit my nursing cover, my Baby K’tan wrap, a small receiving blanket, a light sweater for Clio, a couple of tubes of sunscreen, two small toys for Luna, a small pad of construction paper and washable crayons for Clio, and a snack-pack. I could still fit more, but I don’t want to go crazy. It’s really roomy! Moving toward the front, the next compartment holds the changing pad that came with bag (though sometimes I include the BuiltNY one we have), a pair of gallon-sized Ziploc bags I use as wetbags, a collapsible potty seat folded up and stored in its plastic zip bag, and a single bib that could be used for either girl. In the next compartment, we keep a Little Golden Book, hand sanitizer, hand lotion, a pair of toddler flatware, a bib for each girl and my wallet and cell phone. The last compartment is the wipes window, and that’s all you’ll get out of it, but that’s all you need. With all that I’ve been able to fit in, I still feel like I could probably fit more, if needed. It doesn’t feel over-loaded, or even to capacity.
My only complaint thus far with this bag is that it has a tendency to be front-heavy; when set on the ground, it sometimes topples forward instead of sitting erect. However, I’ve found that filling the main compartment to 2/3 capacity or more seems to alleviate that. My favorite aspect of this bag is that even when fully loaded, it doesn’t feel weighted down. In fact, it feels surprisingly light. As one who loves to carry backpacks, I’ve become accustomed to a loaded backpack pulling my shoulders down and adding strain to my hips. Not so with this one. At least not so far. I had a strong positive hunch about this bag, and I’m happy to discover that I was right to follow it!