At a glance......
- 1 Backpack Diaper Bags 2020/How much does it cost for a diaper bag?
- 2 Stylish minimalism: Birdling Backpacker/Backpack Diaper Bags
- 3 Simple and functional/Backpack Diaper Bags
- 4 Enough organization for two/Backpack Diaper Bags
- 5 Good for multiple kids/Backpack Diaper Bags
- 6 A featherweight workhorse
- 7 HapTim Diaper Bag Backpack
- 8 Practicality at a low price
- 9 Sophisticated and well-organized
- 10 How we picked
User Review( votes)
Backpack Diaper Bags 2020/How much does it cost for a diaper bag?
- Best Diaper Bag Overall: The Maman Nappy.
- SkipHop Baby Grand Central Diaper Bag.
- SOHO Grand Central Diaper Bag.
- HapTim Backpack Diaper Bag.
- Honest Company Everything Tote Diaper Bag.
- Petunia Pickle Bottom Boxy Backpack Diaper Bag.
- Itzy Ritzy Boss Backpack Diaper Bag.
I interviewed Jenna McLane, a mother and store manager of Tot Tank, a baby gear retailer in Alameda, California. I also consulted Janel Andersen, owner of Bird & Bean, a retailer of baby and child products in Berkeley, California. They shared observations and insights into diaper bag trends, as well as parent purchasing preferences.
I also surveyed more than a dozen parents via social media and in-person about their diaper bag, including how they picked their particular bag, the bag they wished they could have, how they use their diaper bag, and the features they find valuable—and not so valuable. I researched the qualities of a good backpack and combed through reviews on parenting sites such as BabyGearLab, Lucie’s List, Fatherly, and Motherly.
Finally, as a parent of three, including a not-quite-potty-trained toddler, I have spent the past 10 years toting around one diaper bag or another. A longtime journalist, I also wrote Wirecutter’s guides to diaper bags and apps to manage kids’ phones.
Stylish minimalism: Birdling Backpacker/Backpack Diaper Bags
Simple and functional/Backpack Diaper Bags
This lightweight, minimalist cotton canvas pack doesn’t pick up stains easily and has plenty of appropriately sized pockets but its unpadded straps may make it uncomfortable for heavier loads and longer jaunts.
Who it’s for: Parents who don’t want a bag that screams “baby” or “hiking.”
Why it’s great: The Birdling Backpacker is lightweight, easy to clean, roomy, and functional, with a stylish look that says “farmers market” rather than “diapers and wipes.” At 1.7 pounds, it’s one of the lightest backpacks we tested; the 100 percent cotton canvas exterior is soft and durable, and the bag is well constructed—with antiqued metal hardware, it withstands being tossed around. We dropped it on plenty of dirty floors and playgrounds, and though ours was light in color, it picked up a few noticeable stains. We can see ourselves using this bag long after our kids have outgrown the need for it, and the padded laptop compartment makes it easy to convert the Birdling into a work bag.
Care: Spot clean with mild soap. Because the material is supple, we could easily turn the backpack inside out for cleaning.
Pockets and organization: The Birdling’s seven pockets include two open ones on the side for bottles and a zippered one on the front for keys and other small items. You can use the padded laptop panel (for up to a 14-inch laptop), found in the back of the zippered main compartment, to store a diaper-changing pad (not included), and two interior pockets are the right size for diapers and wipes.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: The backpack straps are about 1½ inches wide and made of unpadded canvas, so they’re not comfortable for long, heavy hauls. A changing pad is not included.
Weight: 1.7 pounds
Colors: olive, wheat, gray, stone
Enough organization for two/Backpack Diaper Bags
Good for multiple kids/Backpack Diaper Bags
The main compartment of this well-organized pack has a unique zip top that opens wide and stays open for easy access.
Who it’s for: Parents with more than one child. The Skip Hop Mainframe Wide Open offers plenty of space and pockets to stash everything you need—times two—for daily errands and trips to the park.
Why it’s great: The same kind of thoughtful details we liked in the Skip Hop Duo, one of our favorite regular diaper bags, can be found in the company’s Mainframe Wide Open diaper backpack. The standout feature is the way the main compartment zips open—and stays open. Wide enough to toss in a volleyball (I know because I tried), the mouth is structured along the sides so that it remains open on its own. Not only can you reach inside with both hands to grab whatever you need, but you can also easily turn the bag upside down to dump out crumbs and trash. (Skip Hop also makes a satchel version of the Mainframe, for parents who want a bag that opens in the same way but doesn’t want to carry a backpack). At 1.8 pounds, the Skip Hop Mainframe backpack is among the lighter backpacks we tested; despite its large capacity, it doesn’t feel too clunky.
Care: Spot clean with a damp cloth. Both the polyester exterior and interior of the bag are water-resistant and easy to wipe clean.
Pockets and organization: With 10 pockets, the Skip Hop Mainframe Wide Open offers plenty of space and organization. You can stash bottles in the two open, insulated side pockets; keep keys, a wallet, and a phone in one of three small zippered and snap pockets at the front of the bag; tuck a changing pad (included), iPad, or books in the interior back panel; and store diapers and wipes in the two elastic interior pockets. One Amazon reviewer writes, “I have a toddler and a newborn and with this bag packed I still have room!
Flaws but not dealbreakers: The nylon straps are about 1½ inches wide and unpadded, and can start to dig into your shoulders if you carry the bag for too long. The weight of the bag also doesn’t feel evenly distributed. If you fill it to capacity, as we did for an overnight trip, it will quickly feel heavy on your back and shoulders. BabyGearLab also complains about these straps in its review.
Weight: 1.8 pounds
Colors: black, cement
Ultralightweight and low maintenance: Humble Bee Free Spirit
A featherweight workhorse
This sporty, water-repellent, machine-washable pack is the lightest bag we tested and has ample, well-thought-out pockets and comfortable padded straps.
Who it’s for: Parents who plan to travel with their baby or take their child along for long treks and want the lightest bag possible to carry their gear.
Why it’s great: The nylon ripstop Humble Bee Free Spirit looks like a travel daypack but is designed for diaper-toting parents. At 0.8 pound, it’s the lightest backpack we tested, with wide padded straps and a padded mesh back that make it comfortable to carry for long journeys.
Care: Machine washable with cold water on the gentle cycle.
Pockets and organization: The Humble Bee’s 12 pockets include an opening for an included wipes dispenser on one side and, on the other side, a zippered, insulated pocket that comes with a hot/cold gel pack and can hold up to two bottles. The main compartment has four interior elastic mesh pockets where you can stash more wipes, diapers, and the included changing pad. During an overnight trip, we were able to pack our toddler’s belongings, along with some of ours—including an iPad, a pouch full of charging cables, and a notebook—though that did fill up most of the backpack’s 20-liter capacity.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: We wish the Humble Bee included an open pocket on the side instead of the wipes dispenser (the pocket includes a hole to pull out wipes, so if you remove the wipes dispenser, the hole renders the pocket useless).
Weight: 0.8 pound
Colors: onyx, olive, pebble
Life beyond diapers: Patagonia Lightweight Travel Tote Pack
A general-purpose pack
This combination backpack/tote isn’t designed specifically with diapering in mind, but its few pockets, machine-washable nylon, and light, packable design make it great for travel or everyday outings.
Who it’s for: Parents who want a simple, streamlined pack that they can use for much more than diapers and baby paraphernalia.
Why it’s great: One of our recommended tote bags, the versatile Patagonia Lightweight Travel Tote Pack can double as a spacious diaper backpack. The second-lightest bag we tested, at 14 ounces, the Patagonia Lightweight Travel Tote is a great option for parents on the go. Like the Humble Bee, it’s made with a featherlight, but durable, nylon ripstop (weather-resistant but not water-repellent in Patagonia’s case). Wide, padded, breathable mesh shoulder straps make the backpack comfortable to carry for long hauls, and the waist and chest straps help distribute the weight for those trips when you have to load up with water bottles and extra snacks and layers. It’s the only one of our picks that can be stuffed into a compact pocket and efficiently packed into another bag. Patagonia also offers an excellent warranty.
Care: Machine washable with mild detergent. Turn inside out and secure straps. Hang dry or dry on low heat without fabric softener.
Pockets and organization: The 22-liter Patagonia Lightweight Travel Tote Pack’s six pockets include two open side pockets, offering easy access to a water bottle, as well as a Velcroed back compartment that you can use to store diapers and/or a changing pad (not included). A small zippered pocket inside the main compartment can hold keys, a wallet, and a few other small items, while a large zippered pocket at the front of the bag can hold wipes or other incidentals.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: This pack lacks the organization of dedicated diaper bags. The front pocket, which zips open from the side, feels too large for small items such as tissues and hand sanitizer, and we found ourselves rooting around to find them. You may also end up shoving most of your stuff—diapers, wipes, snacks, extra clothing—into the main compartment, which means you will have to rummage or dump everything out to find what you need. The unstructured design may also make this inconvenient. Packing cubes (or just baggies) can help solve the organization problem, though.
Weight: 0.875 pound
Colors: black, teal, blue, yellow, khaki, navy; subject to change seasonally
HapTim Diaper Bag Backpack
Practicality at a low price
One of the least expensive bags we considered, this backpack has the greatest number of pockets of any bag we tested. But in terms of durability, you get what you pay for.
Who it’s for: Parents who want a diaper backpack that gets the job done without breaking the bank.
Why it’s great: The water-repellent polyester HapTim Diaper Bag Backpack is an affordable and functional bag with inoffensive laptop-backpack looks and better ergonomics than many more-expensive options we tested. We took the HapTim backpack on a hike this winter and found that the padded straps and the padded, contoured back made it comfortable to carry for both a 5-foot-10 man and a 5-foot-3 woman. In the summer, however, we suspect that the thick padding throughout the bag and the 2.2-pound starting weight may make you break into a sweat quickly.
Care: Spot clean with warm water and mild soap, using a damp cloth or soft-bristle brush. We found the nylon interior to be fairly easy to wipe clean, but with so many nooks and crannies, cleaning the bag thoroughly may take some time.
Pockets and organization: Compared with the other backpacks we tested, the HapTim has the most pockets at 17, though that count includes two skinny pockets for pens and pencils. We particularly appreciated the discreet padded pocket on the back for devices and the zippered pockets on the top and the front of the bag for quick access to our keys, phone, or wallet. Two open elastic pockets on the sides can hold bottles; one of them has a zippered opening and can be used for wipes instead.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: The pockets on this bag can be too much of a good thing. It has not one, but two main zippered compartments, both of which include additional elastic interior pockets—so many that we lost track of where we placed our belongings. The two main compartments are also separated by thick padding, adding to the bag’s heft. Though the inexpensive HapTim is a popular option on Amazon, the chief complaint about it is its durability. The manufacturer seems to compensate with good customer service. Several positive reviews say that parts of the bag had broken but were replaced by HapTim, which offers a 90-day warranty.
Weight: 2.2 pounds
Colors: gray, dark gray, gold-gray diamond pattern
Fashion-forward, with lots of features: Ju-Ju-Be Be Right Back
Stylish and thoughtfully designed
This pack combines fun, bold prints and flashy hardware with function-minded features, as well as lots of extras, which some may find to be overkill.
Who it’s for: Parents who want thoughtful, premium details; fun, stylish prints; and machine-washable convenience.
Why it’s great: The Ju-Ju-Be Be Right Back combines comfort, convenience, and style. At close to 2 pounds, it’s on the slightly heavier side but includes padded straps and a padded back with breathable mesh for comfort. Available in basic black as well as a variety of patterns—including collaborations with artists and brands such as Tokidoki—the exterior is also treated with Teflon to repel stains. Though we didn’t test this feature, the backpack has a special coating that the company says limits the growth of bacteria, mold, and mildew.
Care: Machine washes cold, gentle cycle. Line dry.
Pockets and organization: The Ju-Ju-Be Be Right Back zips all the way open to the bottom of the bag so that you can pack it like a suitcase. Some parents may prefer this style, which is popular among backpackers because it can help with packing, organizing, and security, but others may find it annoying because belongings can fall out more easily when the bag is completely unzipped. The Be Right Back also has an elastic key ring, a felt pocket for your cell phone, and a microfiber sunglasses pocket features we didn’t find in other backpacks. Its 12 pockets include two open, elastic bottle pockets on the sides of the bag, a zippered back panel that holds an included memory-foam changing pad, and a tall, skinny snap pocket in the front for diapers and wipes.
Flaws but not deal breakers: For the price, we were concerned to read several Amazon reviews criticizing the quality and durability of the backpack, including the mention of fading and broken straps. Ju-Ju-Be is known for its craftsmanship and for using high-quality materials, such as metal—not plastic—hardware, so we hope the reviews are an anomaly; most critical reviews date back two or more years ago. The exterior bottle pockets are also on the slim side and may not fit larger bottles.
Weight: 1.98 pounds
Colors: 18 solids and patterns, including black, gray, assorted florals, and Hello Kitty
A chic, vegan option: Freshly Picked Classic
Sophisticated and well-organized
This stylish pack is made of supple, high-quality vegan leather, can be carried in multiple ways, and sports details found on high-end bags. It’s heavy, which may be an issue because it has narrow, unpadded straps that can dig into your shoulders.
Who it’s for: Parents who want premium style and details in their diaper backpack.
Why it’s great: Made with soft, supple vegan leather and matte-gold metal hardware, the Freshly Picked Classic looks luxurious but is also sturdy, practical, and functional. At more than 2 pounds, it’s among the heaviest bags we tested but compared with other leather and vegan-leather diaper bags, it’s moderate in weight and comfortable to carry. (We researched but did not test the Fawn Design The Original backpack, for instance, because it weighed in at 4 pounds.) The Freshly Picked Classic’s vegan leather is pebbled and feels more pliant and premium than that of Skip Hop’s Greenwich line, which uses a thicker leather. You can carry the bag multiple ways: as a backpack, as a tote or purse, and, if you attach the additional straps (included), like a shoulder or cross-body bag. Four metal feet also keep the bag off the ground. Both the exterior and interior of the backpack are treated to be spill-resistant.
Care: Spot clean with a damp cloth.
Pockets and organization: The Freshly Picked backpack’s 10 pockets include two open side pockets that make it easy to grab a bottle, a back pocket that snaps closed and can hold flat items such as an iPad, and a zippered pocket in the front for small items. The main compartment is both roomy and organized: four elastic interior pockets can hold diapers and wipes and one of them is insulated for a bottle. The pack also has a back panel pocket with a convenient magnetic closure that can hold a changing pad (included), and an interior zippered pocket can hold keys, wallet, and cell phone.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Within a week of using the bag, the tassels on our backpack ripped off. The embellishment is a small thing, and its loss made little impact on the bag, yet it shouldn’t have happened, at least not so quickly.
Like the Skip Hop Mainframe, the Freshly Picked backpack’s straps are a little more than an inch wide, made with nylon, seat-belt-like material, and not padded. A strip of leather is stitched into the top 8 inches of the strap to soften it, but some customers still find the straps problematic: The backpack straps are very narrow and dig into your shoulders making it very uncomfortable to wear for ANY length of time,
Weight: 2.3 pounds
Colors: ebony, stone, birch, butterscotch, blue, blush, navy
How we picked
Interviews with retailers and parents, as well as our own years of experience carrying these bags daily, told us that a good backpack diaper bag should be:
- Comfortable to carry: We looked for lightweight bags—under 3 pounds—with straps that stay on your shoulders and help distribute the weight of the bag (a sternum strap helps). Though we preferred padded straps, we did not automatically disqualify bags that don’t have them. Jenna McLane, store manager for Tot Tank, said that although thick, padded straps are needed for laptop and school backpacks, they’re not as critical for diaper backpacks because, most of the time, your belongings will be fairly lightweight. More of an issue is whether the bag feels bulky after stuffing everything into it.
- Easy to clean: We favored bags that can be tossed into a washing machine. Other bags are made with a waterproof lining that can be spot cleaned with a damp cloth. With those bags, we weighed how difficult it is to remove crumbs and stains.
- Roomy enough: At a minimum, a diaper bag should hold several diapers, wipes, a changing pad, a change of clothes, snacks, a bottle, a small toy or book, a cell phone, keys, and a wallet. For many of our outings, we also tossed in a portable toilet seat for my potty-training toddler, a sweatshirt, a notebook, and pens.
- Organized with the right pockets: It’s not enough for a bag to have a large number of pockets; the pockets should be thoughtfully arranged and sized so that you can find something quickly, with little or no digging. A mix of open and closable pockets offers the most versatility and convenience. We made exceptions for bags that compensate for a minimal organization with lighter weight. We considered an included changing pad to be nice to have but not a strict necessity.
- Durable: We examined the construction and quality of the materials used to make the bag and checked customer reviews to get a sense of how well it holds up over time. Ideally, parents will be able to use the same bag for multiple children or even after their diapering days are over. We considered whether we’d realistically use the bag once our kids were older.
- Reasonably priced: We capped the price at about $200. Most bags above $200 are from high-end brands such as Kate Spade and Burberry, and we concluded that the cost reflected the name more than a significant increase in quality. We preferred bags under $100 because some people may use this type of bag only for the period when their kid is in diapers. That said, we did find that bags in the upper $100 to $200 range offer thoughtful details, such as felt-lined pockets, and better materials, such as metal instead of plastic hardware. Since you’re likely to tote a diaper bag anytime you’re out with your baby for the first two or so years, you should enjoy using and looking at it.
We cast a wide net, looking at dedicated diaper backpacks as well as popular backpacks that can double as a diaper backpack. From there, we narrowed the list to 15 new backpacks to test (we had already tested five popular backpack diaper bags for our guide to diaper bags).