After carrying a dozen top-rated diaper bags on nearly 50 assorted outings for more than a month, we’re sure the Skip Hop Duo Signature is the best diaper bag for most parents. This versatile bag makes it easier to store, organize, and quickly access all your necessary baby gear than any other bag we tested. It has nearly all the features of a great diaper bag at a price as low as almost everything else out there.
The Skip Hop Duo Signature, at 1¾ pounds, was one of the more lightweight bags we tested, yet it felt sturdy and durable despite being shoved, tossed, and dragged around at the beach, on a 5-hour plane ride, and to the pediatrician’s office. Like the better bags we considered, it can be carried multiple ways: An adjustable, padded strap is comfortable to carry on a shoulder, and its tote handles make it easy to set down on a floor (like the best bags we saw, it stands upright). The secret to its superior accessibility is a perfect combination of open and zippered pockets—it’s the most intuitive and effortless bag we saw for stowing and retrieving water bottles and toys at a moment’s notice, it can keep valuables secure, and it’s clear what goes where in the bag. A wipeable polyester interior is straightforward to clean; within five minutes we removed all evidence of spilled milk and crushed Cheerios left in the bag for 24 hours. With a strong rating across more than 1,000 Amazon user reviews, it’s extremely popular, and at its current price of about $50 to $60, it’s one of the most affordable bags we tested—plus, it has better overall features than other competitors we tested in its price range.
Parents who prefer a backpack’s familiar hands-free style should get the DadGear Backpack. It’s bigger than our pick (and a touch heavier at 2 pounds), yet compared with other diaper backpacks it feels more comfortable and less bulky. The design is distinguished by unique touches like a clever chamber dedicated to dispensing wipes. The bag’s unusual opening style is more like a suitcase than a purse, and its large interior was the roomiest of our four final picks—it comfortably held a laptop, iPad, toiletries, medicine, and extra snacks, in addition to our regular baby gear, for a train ride to the airport and a 5-hour flight.
The Diaper Dude Messenger Bag was the slimmest bag we tested, with a 1.4-pound weight and just enough capacity to fit a standard day’s worth of parenting gear. But we found the combination of its eight zippered and open pockets limiting, and it was not as easy to stow, organize, or access our baby gear with this bag as it was with our pick. If you’re set on this style of bag, though, this is the best we found—it’s more versatile than a standard messenger bag, and less complicated than other convertible diaper bags that can be worn in a messenger style.
The easiest to clean of all the bags we tested, the Ju-Ju-Be B.F.F. was also the most versatile, with adjustable, removable straps that allow it to be carried as a cross-body messenger bag, backpack, shoulder bag, or tote. It was arguably the most stylish bag we picked, and definitely the most expensive. For the extra investment, the Ju-Ju-Be adds features not seen in our other picks, including some handy metal feet that elevate the bag off a dirty surface, and convenient touches like a felt-lined sunglasses pocket.
Who should buy a diaper bag
You don’t strictly need a designated diaper bag to leave the house with your child, but having a fully stocked bag ready to go can certainly make it easier to get out the door and change your kid on the go.
Diaper bags are specifically designed to schlep all the things you need for your baby or toddler. Chances are, your little angel will surprise you with the biggest, smelliest, most disgusting blowout when you are miles away from home. Diaper bags generally come equipped with a changing pad, and have room to hold diapers, wipes, hand sanitizer and creams, a change of clothing or two, snacks, and a smartphone and a wallet, often in a series of pockets designed with specific items in mind. Some also have external, sometimes insulated, pockets for milk and/or water bottles, and designated straps to hook the bag onto your stroller. (Note: Though the JPMA and Consumer Reports advise against hanging a bag on a stroller because of the tip risk, most diaper bag makers—and parents—ignore this warning).
Of course, your “diaper bag” doesn’t have to be a bag designed specifically for that purpose—something else may better match your personal style and have a use after your kids are out of diapers. Parents we know have used bags ranging from this lightweight Patagonia travel tote (a pick in our tote bags guide), to a simple cloth grocery bag, to a waxed canvas farmer’s market bag, to a Baggu drawstring backpack or shoulder bag (our top tote bag pick), to a many-pocketed canvas shoulder bag sold on Etsy, to an expensive Tom Bihn backpack that has a pocket layout that works well for baby supplies (wipes in the bottom, changing pad in the main compartment, bottles in the side pockets). “Because of the removable-laptop-sleeve design, I could use the same backpack with and without the kids,” the Tom Bihn-loving dad told us.
Tucking a portable changing pad or smaller diaper clutch in your favorite bag can quickly turn it into your new diaper bag. If that’s your plan, we have a couple of items we recommend. We didn’t do a full comparative test of these, but we (and many other parents) have personally enjoyed using them.
So why buy an actual diaper bag? They’re thoughtfully designed with right-size pockets for essential baby gear, and made with tough material that’s easy to clean—inevitably, milk or juice will spill inside, and crushed crackers will find their way into crevices. Mine has been tossed around in my car, dumped on park benches and dragged across wet grass. I once accidentally left a banana peel in it for a few days. “The diaper bag is for the diapering years,” said Meg Collins, founder of Lucie’s List, a blog that recommends essential baby products for new parents. “It’s meant to keep you organized and sane. You have go-to pockets for your keys, diapers and wipes. You don’t have to think or fumble.” That just may help you escape the house a little more quickly.
Why you should trust us
I spent 10 hours examining nearly 100 top-selling diaper bags online, reading hundreds of user reviews, clicking through nearly a dozen diaper bag slideshows and checking out dozens more dad, gay dad, mom, parenting and fashion sites (even celebrity mommy blogs like Tori Spelling’s ediTORIal). I stopped random parents at a tae kwon do studio, a yogurt shop, and the playground and asked them about their diaper bag. I also informally polled more than 60 moms and dads via social media and other online parenting forums, chatted with employees at four local baby stores, and interviewed parenting blogger Meg Collins of Lucie’s List. I also spoke with Diaper Dude’s founder, Chris Pegula, and representatives of other diaper bag companies.
Personally, I’m the mom of three; my youngest is 18 months old (as of publication) and still in diapers. I’ve changed my three kids’ diapers on the dirty floor of a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, on airplanes, at Target, and in too many other public places. My journalism background includes stints at the San Francisco Chronicle and other major newspapers, and I have reported on family and parenting for publications such as Family Circle, Working Mother, and Salon.
How we picked
We spent 14 hours researching online and off to first create a list of about 40 finalists, culled from the designer bags, cheap knock-offs, and dozens of other bags available. We then combed through hundreds of user reviews on Amazon, Babies“R”Us, Zappos, BuyBuy Baby, and Target, and read dozens more reviews by baby-gear experts and parent bloggers. We spoke in person with four local baby retailers and consignment stores about what their customers want, which brands they carry, and why.1
We also asked parents (including one mom of six) about what they loved or hated about their diaper bag (or diaper backpack). Some parents splurged, others got by with a free diaper bag from a hospital, and almost everyone shared the bag with a partner, nanny, or relative. We considered a wide range of parenting preferences and lifestyles. Multiple kids, cloth diapers, frequent travel, sharing with family members, stowing a bag under a stroller or shouldering it along with a baby carrier—it all affects what you need. For some parents, the look and style of the diaper bag may matter just as much as its form and function.
Despite such a broad spectrum, we found that certain features are almost universally valued. A good diaper bag should be:
- Easy to clean. We wanted to be able to clean the bag with minimal effort, yet have it look as good as new. Ideally, the bag would be machine washable, or at least made with material that could be easily wiped clean and not absorb stains and odors.
- Comfortable to carry. We looked for padded straps, good balance, and a low weight. We took a skeptical eye toward bags that, when empty, weigh more than 2 pounds (we did make a few exceptions). Comfort is subjective, and we wanted to find options for people who find backpacks or messenger bags more comfortable than shoulder bags. Bonus points for bags that could be carried in multiple ways.
- Organized with the right pockets. A good diaper bag needs to be roomy enough to hold multiple diapers, wipes, bottles, extra clothing, and other essentials. We found a variety of pocket-closure types—zippers, magnets, Velcro—go a long way toward making a bag intuitive and easy to access. At least one open, exterior pocket to hold a water or milk bottle was necessary; an insulated pocket for bottles was nice, but not essential.
- Equipped with a changing pad. This is a diaper bag, after all. The ideal changing pad is slightly cushioned and can be thrown in the washing machine.
- Well-constructed. We wanted to find bags that would hold up well through hundreds of trips (and diaper changes) over several years. We dismissed bags that had frequent complaints about broken zippers and other signs of poor craftsmanship.
- Reasonably priced and widely available. You can find diaper bags for as little as $15 and as much as $1,500. We opted for a middle ground, and set a maximum price of $200. We focused on popular bags commonly found at major retailers such as Babies“R”Us, BuyBuy Baby, Target, and Amazon. We didn’t find much for $25 and under. “Don’t get taken by a cheap one, because it’s going to fall apart and you’ll need to buy something else,” Meg Collins, founder of Lucie’s List, told us.
- Good-looking, in broadly appealing colors and/or patterns. We found that many couples share one diaper bag, and that a grandparent, babysitter, or other caretaker may also be carrying the bag on a regular basis. We prioritized bags that could appeal to people with different styles.
How we tested
After applying our criteria, we ended up with a list of a dozen bags to test. As soon as the bags arrived, we examined the overall design, features, and pocket structure carefully. Then my husband and I spent six weeks carrying the bags daily in everyday life, using each bag for at least two days and the best ones for far longer than that (I’m a 5-foot-3 woman; my husband is 5-foot-10). We were consistent in how we packed each one. We kept it to the basics: a few diapers, a travel pack of wipes, a change of clothing for our 18-month old son, an insulated lunch bag with snacks (usually crackers, Cheerios, granola bars, and oranges), a 16.9-ounce disposable water bottle, sunscreen, toys (usually a toy car or two), tissue, hand sanitizer, a smartphone, wallet, and keys.
We ultimately used the diaper bags in nearly 50 real-world settings in two states, including on airplanes, at the beach, at the mall, at Costco, at an amusement park (where birds landed on the diaper bags and pecked at them), and at the zoo, playgrounds, restaurants, a kids soccer game, museums, the doctor’s office, and the pool. Almost all the diaper bags traveled with us during a family vacation to Hawaii, where it was humid, sandy, occasionally rainy, and about 85 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit on most days. We hung the bags on our stroller—which indeed tipped over several times, though luckily not with the baby strapped inside it!—during long walks, and slung it over our shoulders or backs the rest of the time. In the majority of our outings, we changed the baby’s diaper to see how manageable it would be to set up the changing pad and reach the diapers and wipes.
Crushed Cheerios—everybody’s favorite!
Finally, we poured ¼ cup of crushed Cheerios and ⅛ cup of milk into each bag, leaving the mixture to settle for 24 hours. Then we set a timer for five minutes to see how thoroughly we could clean it in that amount of time (because who wants to spend hours cleaning a diaper bag?). We shook them out, wiped them down, and assessed the damage.
Our pick: Skip Hop Duo Signature
The Skip Hop Duo Signature is a sturdy, comfortable, well-made shoulder bag with an ideal array of pockets that make it easier to store, organize, and quickly access all your necessary baby gear than with any other bag we tested. It has nearly all the features of a great diaper bag and costs less than half the price of many of them.
One of the standout features of the Skip Hop Duo is its combination of 10 open and zippered pockets, which make it the easiest bag for storing and quickly grabbing whatever you need, from a water bottle to tissues to sunscreen. The bag has four external pockets that are great for accessing things one-handed. Two are large front pockets that stay closed magnetically and can hold bottles of milk, other snacks, or diapers and wipes. Competitors’ bags have similar pockets, but the Skip Hop’s stand out for their simple but clever magnetic closure. Two additional elastic mesh pockets on the sides of the bag are capable of securely carrying a baby bottle, a Thermos of coffee, a large adult water bottle, or a big container of sunscreen. We found few diaper bags that have two open, external water-bottle pockets big enough to hold a reusable adult water bottle. Like most diaper bags, the Skip Hop also has an external slot on the back for its included changing pad (which is machine washable).
A discreet zippered pocket securely holds your smartphone and keys.
At the top of the bag, a discreet zippered pocket securely holds your smartphone and keys. Another, much larger zippered pocket that runs across the front of the bag can fit a book or e-reader, large wallet, and other miscellaneous items. Inside the main zippered compartment are two elastic pockets for diapers and wipes, along with two narrow, tiny pockets that could hold pens and pencils for you or an older child (but not much more).
The Skip Hop Duo Signature showed no wear and tear as a toddler did his best to get it dirty, including dragging it across the beach and dumping sand inside it. You can flip the bag over to dump out dirt and crumbs, and we were able to successfully scrub off dried milk and crushed Cheerios from the bag’s wipeable polyester interior. The Skip Hop Duo’s deep, narrow main compartment is a bit challenging to reach into to clean compared with those of other diaper bags, but the material is slippery enough that we could still clean it easily enough. Only one other bag, our upgrade pick, was easier to clean.
A combination of open and zippered pockets make the Skip Hop the easiest bag we tried for organizing and accessing your gear.
The adjustable, padded no-slip strap and tote handles make the bag one of the easiest and most comfortable to carry; we found that the adjustable strap is long enough to allow smaller and medium-size adults to carry the bag messenger-bag-style if they choose. Not many in our tests could be carried multiple ways, and we appreciated the versatility when walking long distances or quickly setting the bag down and picking it up again. At 1¾ pounds (our own weight measurement), the Skip Hop was one of the lightest bags among our dozen finalists. It has easy-to-attach clips that make it a cinch to hang on your stroller (although this does run the risk of tipping your stroller over).
The Duo, which has been sold since 2003, has been a longtime best-seller from a company that makes almost two dozen different diaper bags. Just about every retailer we visited—chains, boutiques, and consignment stores, plus online retailers—carried this bag. Parents can pick from a dozen neutral or bold, graphic prints, and on some colors the interior is made of a light-colored fabric so that you can easily see what’s inside (not all diaper bags have gotten the memo on this).
Like most of the best diaper bags we found, the Skip Hop Duo can be carried multiple ways—as a shoulder bag here, or with the shorter handles, as a tote.
We’re not the first to give the Skip Hop Duo high marks: Baby Bargains selected it as the best diaper bag of 2017, BabyList called it one of its best picks of 2017, and Meg Collins of Lucie’s List named it among her favorites. It is among the most popular diaper bags on Amazon, averaging just over 4.5 stars (out of five) across more than 1,000 reviews as of summer 2017. Although few would mistake it for some of the $200-and-up diaper bag options out there, its style is sophisticated for what it is. One Wirecutter staffer seeing it for the first time said it looked most similar to our upgrade pick, “with fewer bells and whistles”—a strong endorsement considering she didn’t yet know that this cost about a third of the price of the other bag.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
The Skip Hop Duo Signature won’t be roomy enough for everybody. It’s big enough for everyday use if you have a single child in diapers, but could feel too cramped if you have more than one young child, are using cloth diapers (which take up more room), plan to travel frequently, or want to carry personal belongings such as a laptop in your diaper bag. When I used the Skip Hop as my carry-on during a several-hour flight, adding my laptop and some basic toiletries to its usual contents, I could barely zip the main compartment. If you’re seeking more space, consider our backpack pick.
Seemingly the most common complaint about this bag is that the main zippered compartment is deep, narrow, and simply not big enough. On the plus side, the narrow compartment means that the Skip Hop Duo Signature isn’t too bulky, as many other diaper bags bags we tested were. But it also means that you may end up stacking your stuff in the main compartment, and not having much room for extras.
Also great: DadGear Backpack
The roomy, comfortable DadGear Backpack looks like a regular unisex backpack. With a 35-liter capacity, it holds more gear than our top pick, and is a good choice for parents who simply prefer to have both hands free when carrying a diaper bag. It had enough space to carry everything we needed for a five-hour plane ride—baby stuff and personal items, including a laptop—yet didn’t feel cumbersome, even with its 2-pound starting weight.
Like the Skip Hop Duo, the DadGear Backpack has plenty of open and zippered pockets to help keep belongings organized. This includes two open mesh pockets on the side that can hold bottles, as well as a side zippered pocket than can also be used for smaller bottles, and a pocket at the top that is the right size for diapers. One unique feature of this bag is a dedicated pocket at the bottom that’s designed to act as a wipes dispenser when opened. We liked that the DadGear Backpack’s interior was a light gray, with contrasting black lining on the pockets, so we could locate what we needed effortlessly.
The DadGear Backpack opens more like a suitcase than a purse, a design that makes it easy to clean, and also may be preferable to certain users.
The DadGear Backpack was also one of the easiest backpacks to clean, because the flaps zip open all the way, opening more like a suitcase than a typical handbag or messenger bag. This allows you to easily dump out crumbs and reach in to wipe away remaining crud gathered at the seams and in the corners. People who would rather see all the bag’s contents rather than dig through it feeling for what they want will likely prefer this design. This openness also makes it easy to pack it efficiently and take advantage of the added capacity.
Our only significant gripe about the bag is with the design of the Velcroed wipes holder at the bottom front of the backpack. Yes, you can reach the wipes easily, which is great. But the Velcro holding it shut is very robust—it’s noisy, catches on clothes, and stiff to open in general.
A dedicated wipes compartment makes emergency cleanup convenient.
The DadGear Backpack is available in 25 styles, including solids, stripes, and graphics, and comes with a lifetime warranty. It is about twice the price of our pick, the Skip Hop. Though we feel both are a good value, and the Skip Hop is a better, more flexible choice overall, this is the best bet if you’re committed to a backpack-style bag.
Also great: Diaper Dude Messenger Bag
The Diaper Dude Messenger Bag is the smallest and lightest of all our picks at 1.4 pounds, with an adjustable, padded strap that makes the bag comfortable and easy to carry. Though roomy enough to fit the essentials, the bag appeared the least bulky of all of our picks. This is the best option if you are already sure you want a messenger bag, but for most people we believe our pick, the Skip Hop, is more versatile and easier to use overall.
Though the Diaper Dude Messenger Bag has eight open and zippered pockets, it was not as easy to organize or manage our baby gear while using it as it was with the Skip Hop Duo Signature. We couldn’t find an ideal place to store diapers: If we kept them in the back, open, elastic pocket with the changing pad, they could fall out. If we stored them in one of the zippered pockets in the front, we had to stuff them in to make them fit. With only a single shoulder strap and no handles, it lacked the flexible carrying options of our pick. For some reason, the shoulder strap detaches on one side only.
The Diaper Dude Messenger Bag was lighter than our pick but not as versatile or as easy to organize.
Of our four picks, it was also the most challenging to clean. The crumbs did not completely fall out when we turned the bag over and shook it, because the openings of the pockets did not open wide enough. The nylon interior is easily wipeable, though. The inside of this bag was much darker than that of the Skip Hop Duo Signature, which made it difficult to see inside for finding things or cleaning. Some color options have lighter interiors, which we would recommend.
The Diaper Dude, which is about the same price as the Skip Hop Duo Signature, has been around since 2003. Despite the “dude” in the name, we found that it has universal appeal. It comes in several colors, in camo, or with skulls plastered on it—a good range, but fewer design options than our other top picks.
Overall, the Diaper Dude is best for someone who wants only a messenger bag and has no interest in carrying the bag in any other way. This was the only “pure” messenger bag we tested; on everything else we considered, a messenger setting was one of the options you got on a convertible bag. The Diaper Dude resembles a typical messenger bag, but with extra pockets for the stuff you need to pack as a parent. It stands out among the other diaper bag options because it’s simpler, slimmer, and has less overall bulk and bloat to it.
That last distinction appeals to some owners. One Amazon reviewer, Stella, said “I bought this bag when we had our 2nd child to replace the big, clunky, ugly, awkward diaper bag we used with our first.” We agree—it could be a great second diaper bag if you’ve already owned one and want to reduce down to the essentials. And although this is a slimmer overall bag than our other picks, it still managed to fit our standard test load of diapers, clothes, and other gear just fine. Unlike some others, though, you’re not going to be able to stuff a laptop in here as well.
Upgrade pick: Ju-Ju-Be B.F.F.
If you’re ready to make a bigger investment in a diaper bag, we recommend the Ju-Ju-Be B.F.F., a durable, well-made, more feature-rich (and fashionable) bag that costs a good bit more than our picks but still offers good value.
It has more flexibility than any of the other bags we considered—it can be worn as a backpack, across your body as a messenger bag, on your shoulder as a handbag, or carried as a tote. The heaviest of our picks at 2.3 pounds, the B.F.F. comes with multiple straps that are adjustable and quick and easy to unclip and remove (though we found that they can sometimes still get in the way).
The JuJuBe B.F.F. had the most configuration options of any of our picks.
This bag is easier to clean than any other bag we tested. A major thing that sets the B.F.F. apart is that this is the only one with the manufacturer’s approval to send it through the washing machine. In our 24-hour-old-milk-and-crushed-Cheerios cleaning test, we gave the bag a quick, perfunctory wipedown, then (per the company’s instructions) removed the straps, turned the bag inside out, placed it in a pillowcase, and tossed it in the machine with the rest of our laundry. When we took it out of the wash, all the milk and crusted cereal crumbs were gone, and it was the only one that truly looked spotless after our cleaning tests.
Another thing that sets it apart is a high-end look and feel as well as some additional features that are nice but not essential—there’s a set of luggage-style feet that keep the bag up off a dirty surface (a feature no other pick has). There’s a unique velvet pocket that protects your sunglasses, a keyring so you can find your keys in a snap, and two open insulated pockets that are nice for bottles (but honestly they were not amazing insulators). Plus, with details such as gold metal hardware, we thought the B.F.F. looked the most fashion-forward out of our top picks. The construction feels really robust, although you do see some occasional complaints of things breaking that really shouldn’t.
The Ju-Ju-Be’s storage capacity is similar to the Skip Hop Duo’s, with a main compartment that doesn’t hold much more than a lunch bag, diapers, wipes, a change of clothing, and a few small toys or books.
A lined sunglasses pocket was among several nice-to-have (but not essential) features unique to the Ju-Ju-Be B.F.F.
The Nightlight selected the B.F.F. as the best diaper bag and Lucie’s List named it one of its top picks in 2017. It comes in nearly 50 patterns and colors that range from the prim to the nautical, to the adorable (yes, the bag comes in more than one Hello Kitty pattern). In online reviews, owners (mostly moms) rave about the design of its pockets and how easy the bag is to clean. And though there are some complaints that it’s not roomy enough, others say it has plenty of space, even for cloth diapers. “We tried SO many diaper bags before finally investing in this one,” said one owner. “This bag fit all the criteria and more! I can easily fit my cloth diapers, extra outfits, everything for me, her jacket, water bottle, snacks for me, and so much more. I love that it is so easy to care for this bag and I can toss it in the wash.”
Aside from features and functionality, preferences and personal style will definitely attract some people to the B.F.F. The look of this bag is simply more suited to some people than the Skip Hop. And having tested both side by side, we consider each a good value. But let’s be honest, if you are ready to pay nearly $200 for a diaper bag, you’re probably not considering this against the Skip Hop. If it were our money, we’d rather buy this than one of the other similarly priced bags out there.
Though the B.F.F. may not literally be a forever companion, we suspect this well-constructed bag would hold up through multiple children. (If purchased through an authorized retailer like Amazon, it will also be protected by a limited lifetime warranty).
The Petunia Pickle Bottom Boxy Backpack is a common competitor to the Ju-Ju-Be B.F.F., and it offers many of the same advantages: It can be converted into a backpack, messenger, or shoulder bag, though the straps are not padded and can’t be removed like the B.F.F.’s. We liked the metal keyring, a feature that we also found in the B.F.F. but didn’t find in the other bags we reviewed. (The DadGear Backpack has a plastic key ring, but its quality was not as nice.) We especially liked the Boxy Backpack’s changing station: a cushioned changing pad folds out from the front of the backpack, revealing two elastic pockets that hold the diapers and wipes. With everything in one place, diaper changing with a squirmy, uncooperative baby was more manageable than with any of the other diaper bags we tested. Unfortunately, the Petunia Pickle Bottom has only two small open pockets, which aren’t big enough to accommodate a reusable water bottle (you can shove a disposable 16.9-ounce plastic water into the pocket, but it’s a tight fit)—and these outside pockets proved extremely useful on our other picks.
The Jeep Diaper Backpack was roomy, and had plenty of pockets for organization, including a zippered, insulated pocket for a bottle on the side of the bag. But it did not have an open pocket for a bottle, which meant that anytime we needed a drink, we had to remove the backpack from our shoulders and unzip one of the pockets. We ran into the same problem with the Bag Nation Diaper Backpack. Almost identical in design to the Jeep Diaper Bag, the Bag Nation Diaper Backpack also did not have any open pockets, though it did have an insulated pocket for a bottle on the side.
The Hip Cub tote made a nice, lightweight (1.6 pounds), over-the-shoulder handbag that happened to be a diaper bag—with a nautical feel. With the exception of one denim model, all of Hip Cub’s bags use some sort of striped fabric. We liked its two open front pockets, similar to the Skip Hop Duo’s (though without the magnetic closures to keep it secured). But after a few weeks, we noticed that the fabric had started to bleed, so the white stripe had a faint blue tint. In addition, we were concerned that our messages to Hip Cub’s customer service went unanswered.
The Carter’s City Tote was the largest tote we tried, and it was the one we used one afternoon when we needed to pack extra clothing for three kids instead of just one. Our chief quibble: The six pockets inside the main compartment are confusing. Labeled “bottles” on one side and “my stuff” on the other, the interior pockets were not wide enough to fit our wipes and diapers, which meant they got dumped in the main compartment with everything else. In addition, though the Carter’s City Tote was the most lightweight bag we tried (8 ounces), the downside of a large tote like this one is that if you fill it to capacity there is more risk of overfilling the bag so that it becomes especially heavy to carry on your shoulder. With unpadded straps, that’s uncomfortable.
The quilted Forma Diaper Backpack is another popular Skip Hop model that can appeal to both moms and dads. At 1 pound, it was one of the most lightweight bags we tried, but when it was filled with baby paraphernalia, the distribution of weight was not as comfortable as that of the DadGear Backpack.
We ran into the same comfort issue with the Skip Hop Greenwich Simply Chic Backpack, which is similarly shaped. A new, upscale addition to the Skip Hop brand, this one is made with vegan leather—which looks nice but results in a bag that weighs 2.7 pounds.
Skip Hop does sell a larger version of the Duo, the Skip Hop Duo Double Signature Diaper Bag, meant for twins and sized to hang on side-by-side double strollers. We didn’t have the opportunity to field-test it, but the Duo Double is about four inches wider than the Duo Signature and has 16 pockets (compared with 10).
We did not consider cult-favorite brand Timi & Leslie because almost all of its bags are made with leather and weigh 2 pounds or more. The OiOi and JJ Cole diaper bags are also on the heavier side, according to their online specs. We were intrigued by some of the newest diaper bags available, such as the Boken Diaper Bag, a lightweight, convertible diaper bag, and the Paperclip Diaper Bag, aimed at dads, with a built-in changing station for when a changing table isn’t available in the men’s restroom. (Like the Petunia Pickle Bottom boxy backpack, the changing pad folds out from the front of the bag; the Paperclip also has a wall on both sides.). Unfortunately, enough customers complained about broken zippers with the Boken Diaper Bag that we decided to hold off on field-testing it, and at the time of our review, the Paperclip Diaper Bag cost over $200.
(Photos by Michael Hession.)
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