21 September 2007

Best bag for toting diapers and laptops? Talk amongst yourselves.

Timbuk2 toteWe've all got our own ideas about what makes for an ideal diaper bag. But when you add a laptop into the mix (as many of us Parenthackers have) the requirements change. Tricky to store electronics and juice boxes in the same place.

Sarah (author of In Need of Chocolate) likes her water-resistant Timbuk2 tote:

We discovered the Timbuk2 zip-top cargo tote several months ago and realized that it would make a perfect diaper bag.  I have the small one (they come in small, medium and large) and I use it to carry a change of clothes, small first aid kit, crayons, playdoh, books and whatever I would keep in a purse for myself whenever we go out to eat or somewhere that my 3 year-old might need extra clothes or entertainment.  Then when I go to work at a coffee shop, it's the perfect size to hold a laptop sleeve with my 12-inch laptop as well as my cell phone, wallet, etc. We have a blue and tan one that works great for my husband to carry as well.

I'm a fan of hands-free, so a backpack works for me. I used an Eagle Creek diaper bag backpack for years, but I see it's no longer available (at least not on the Eagle Creek web site). Fine -- it didn't have enough structure for good laptop storage anyway. I find that converting a laptop-friendly backpack into a diaper bag works much better than using a diaper bag backpack with a laptop sleeve. Padding, interior structure, and a rugged, waterproof, stand-up base are all features I look for, plus an exterior pocket for bottles or sippy cups. The Wenger Synergy is a popular choice.

MelaniaOf course, not everyone wants to trudge through life looking like a tourist or a hiker. What if you want a bag that can handle the kid gear and the electronics and looks fab? I recently had the pleasure of reviewing the Melania laptop bag by J'Tote. Wow. Soft leather, stylish details (including the surprisingly practical bamboo clutch handles)...it was the best-looking part of my outfit. The soft cotton interior would do best with non-leakables (in other words, better suited for those with older kids), but overall the bag is comfortable when fully-loaded and used with the included padded shoulder strap. The price is high compared to the other bags I've mentioned here, but if you're a bag-o-phile, that may not matter to you.

Do you have a favorite laptop bag/diaper bag? What features do you consider essential?

Your comments

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Check out Overland Equipment's Laptote 17 ... looks like a good bag. http://www.overlandequipment.com/everyday_utility.php?name=laptote17

My little sister just had a baby and they use their Timbuktu bag as a diaper bag. When we needed a diaper bag we used a messenger bag I received at a conference. (Now our son carries his own stuff in a back pack.) I love that laptop sleeve above (the exact one actually), but it was too pricey so I sewed my own.

my Land's End Do-it-all Diaper Bag got the most use of all my choices. the separate areas can hold a laptop (but I put it in a protective sleeve first) and it held everything else with room to spare. and it doesn't look like a "baby" bag. it wore like a champ and still looks new after 4 years of heavy use. I have a slightly older version of what is on their site now:

http://www.landsend.com/pp/DoItAllDiaperBag-76275_109422_-1.html?CM_MERCH=SRCH

for $30 + shipping, it isn't too expensive.

I use this Eddie Bauer diaper bad every day as my briefcase for my laptop, and as my diaper bag- it's perfect, pockets for everything including my cell phone, ipod, bottles, wipes, I can carry it all- I also like the fact that it doesn't look like a diaper bag.

http://www.target.com/gp/detail.html/ref=br_1_3/601-6618779-5641742?ie=UTF8&frombrowse=1&asin=B000QFDO84

The only time I take a laptop with me when I also have kids on tow is while flying. I have a flattish, briefcase style laptop bag and I use it for the laptop plus extra clothes and diapers, and I tuck magazines/paperback storybooks in the outside pocket. THen I take a largeish purse with a few diapers, wipes, snacks, etc.

BUT on a recent flight I almost got screwed -- I was told the airline (Northwest) was strictly enforcing a one carry-on per person rule, and that included both laptop bags AND purses. Luckily, since my 2-year-old had his own ticket but no bag, I successfully argued that one of my bags could count as his.

But parents, be aware.

We've had the Lands End 'standard' type diaper bag, and their backpack bag. Like the backpack one better, especially for multiple kids at once. Hands-free, and no swinging around.

But then, at this point, we use just about anything as a diaper bag, depending on situations. Tote bags get used a lot, of various sorts, better if they have interior pockets.

(gah, forgot the laptop part...)

Laptops are carried separately. Usually in shoulder-strap bags, so the backpack diaper bag is helpful (that is, not two things on one shoulder).

I don't think I'd feel safe putting the laptop in with the kids stuff, or vice versa. I'm afraid I'd forget and put something sticky or damp near the laptop. Mommy brain ya know.

I have the Eagle Creek Vagabond bag. It fits diapers for both my children and my small Mac. I LOVE this bag. I have gone the Skip Hop and Timbuk2 route, but this one seems to be the all around winner (and least expensive).

I love, love, love our Timbuk2 cargo tote bag, size medium. We found it in the clearance section of REI at the end of summer this year. It holds everything for me and DS all day long and easily switches up as my work bag when I teach part time during the week. My favorite part is it never ever tips over, no matter where I set it down!

The reason we didn't get the small is because it rubbed my armpits when I used the over the shoulder straps; good info if you're debating between the two sizes!

I'm a big fan of my Haiku bags.

I frequently carry my laptop in it with diapers, drinks, cameras, etc. I like my Timbuk2 bags as well .. but the Haiku bag usually works better for two kids + electronics when I need it - and as just a diaper bag, it is pretty efficient for holding everything and keeping things separate (and sippy cups upright)

I really like the material and colors .. check them out ...

http://www.haikubags.com/ultimate.html

There's a great conversation around how to use a Timbuk2 bag as a diaper bag on: http://getsatisfaction.com/timbuk2/topics/do_you_guys_make_a_diaper_bag

We're "all ears" for more great feedback on how to make a hack-kit for turning our messenger or tote into a killer diaper bag.

xo
Timbuk2

OMG! Love that Melania tote. Asha, you get all the good review schwag. (Any chance you're raffling that off, say to the person who can submit 5 hacks the fastest between now and tomorrow????)

The best solution we ever came up with was the Skip Hop Diaper Caddy (or similar knock off at Target) -- you could put the diaper essentials in there, and throw everything into your (ugly, corporate logo'd, but functional) laptop bag.

I recently discovered that my 12.5 inch laptop fits nicely into my Skiphop daddy bag. It will even accomodate a laptop sleeve of your choosing or, and don't tell anybody, you can use the included changing pad for extra protection.

My vote also goes to the Land's End Diaper Bag. Cute, functional, and plenty of pockets for 'extras'. I took out the center divider and like the big space even better.

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