The Best Diaper Bag for Dads
What's the best diaper bag for dad? We tested eight top bags with masculine traits and rigorously tested their performance. Scored metrics include storage and ease of use, comfort, quality, and style. We also focused upon special features like changing pads, carry options, insulated pockets, and closures. While all of these bags constitute the cream of the crop, side-by-side, some clearly performed better than others. Read our review below for further details on which dad-oriented bags shone.
Read the full review below >
Analysis and Award Winners
Best Overall Diaper Bag
PacaPod Picos Pack
Read review: PacaPod Picos Pack
Best Bang for the Buck
Boken Every Day Bag
Read review: Boken Every Day Bag
Analysis and Test Results
A diaper bag is more than just a bag to carry your kid's stuff in. It serves a specific purpose. You have to think of it as a supply cabinet for all the things you will or even might need for your baby (and yourself) when you leave the house. For detailed information about choosing the perfect bag for dad's needs, take a peek at How to Select the Right Diaper Bag for Dad.
Types of Diaper Bags
We spent several months testing tested three different styles of dad diaper bags:
- Messenger — Popular trend for males worn cross-body
- Backpack — Ergonomic leaving arms and hands free for baby
- Convertible — Morphs from messenger to backpack to tote
Ultimately, a backpack and a convertible bag carried home awards.
Backpacks tend to excel in functionality and convenience but can suffer in style. While moms tend to prefer a diaper bag that can disguise as a purse, dads look for simple, monochromatic design, function, and comfort. In packs, we tested the PacaPod Picos Pack, the DadGear Backpack, and the Obersee Rio.
We tested the following messenger bags: the OiOi Wax Canvas Satchel, the Skip Hop Duo Signature, the Diaper Dude Messenger II, and the Diaper Dude Original.
A Note on Stroller Straps — Two of the bags in this review feature straps specifically for attachment to strollers, the Obersee Rio and Skip Hop Duo Signature. We do not recommend attaching a diaper bag to the back of a stroller as it can present risk of backwards tipping and serious injury.
The convertible diaper bag for dads is definitely a niche that needs more variety in the current marketplace. Convertibles can be tricky; while they can accommodate for multiples modes of carry, sometimes beneficial features like padded shoulder straps are lacking. However, we did not find this to be the case with the one convertible bag in this review, the Boken Every Day Bag. It is so light that thick padding wasn't missed.
To find the best diaper bag for dad, we focused upon side-by-side comparison in the following areas: storage and ease of use, comfort, quality, and style.
Storage and Ease of Use
Storage and ease of use weigh most heavily at 40% of the overall score. We really compartmentalized here looking at many factors. When it comes to packing your diaper bag, you need to be strategic about what you carry and how you carry it. There is definitely a sweet spot; being over-prepared to the point of being overburdened is no good.
Organization, Access, and Capacity
A diaper bag with enough capacity to fit everything for a day's outing with dad or daycare is essential. However, the larger the bag, the more challenging it can be to manage, so efficient storage compartments pay off big. The right capacity coupled with useful organization is key. Top scoring bags provided for good organization of supplies and easy access to them. The PacaPod Picos Pack and OiOi Wax Canvas Satchel excel across the board. While the DadGear Backpack has great capacity, we found it a bit difficult in organization and access. However, the bottom of the barrel here is the Diaper Dude Original; although a pioneer in its field, compared to the others in our review, its pockets are poorly proportioned pockets and organization is limited.
The following is our "pre-flight" checklist of non-negotiable essentials for an outing with baby. Take a look at picking The Right Bag for Dad for more detailed information.
- Changing Pad
- Diaper Cream
- Wet Bag
- Burp Cloth
- Change of Clohtes
- Bottle or Sippy
- Snacks or Formula
- Cell Phone
- Water Bottle
- Hand Sanitizer
- 13" MacBook Air
- Reading Material
Ease of Cleaning
Periodic cleaning and maintenance of a diaper bag is important. After all, it is a diaper bag. Day to day, both outside and inside will become dirty, germ-y, and crumb-filled. In "raspberry jam test". Most of the bags in this review could either be spot treated or wiped clean with only the Obersee Rio permitting hand washing with cold water. To see how well spot treatment went, we smeared jam on both the interior and exterior of each of the bags to see just how easy or difficult it was to clean the materials. They all did pretty well with the OiOi Wax Canvas Satchel being easiest and the Diaper Dude Original and DadGear Backpack being most difficult.
While all diaper bags come with a changing pad, we looked for nice extras such as insulated storage, wipes case, key clip, wet bag, feet at the bottom of the bag and special pockets for cell phone and sunglasses. Insulated storage is included in half of the bags in our review: the PacaPod Picos Pack, Obersee Rio, OiOi Waxed Canvas Satchel, and the Diaper Dude Messenger II. The PacaPod and OiOi definitely had the most perks, as would be expected for their higher prices, $70 dollars above the next tier of bags in this review.
Comfort is key and composes 30% of the overall score in this review. Ultimately, the backpacks garnered higher comfort scores as they are easier to carry and put less strain on the body by evenly distributing weight. Messengers with a cross-body carry inherently do the opposite as when fully packed and heavy, they tended to cause muscle fatigue.
In general, the heavier a bag is when empty, the less comfortable it will be when fully loaded compared to a lighter bag, indeterminate of its carry style. Other key features that swayed this score up or down included:
- Padding — Nice, thick padding on straps and back panels can mean the difference between a good and a bad day out with baby like with the PacaPod Picos (below left).
- Material — Soft materials feel best on exposed skin and breathable waffling helps minimize sweating like that found in the Boken Every Day Bag's shoulder straps (below second to left).
- Clips — With a backpack, a chest clip like that in the PacaPod is key in securing load to the back and shoulders. With messenger bags, an adjustment piece or attachment clip in the wrong spot on a the cross-body strap can really be a deal breaker. We found this to be the case with the Diaper Dude messenger bags (below second to right).
The Boken Every Day Bag at a mere 1.2 pounds excels in comfort with three utilitarian carry options (backpack, shoulder strap, tote) and soft nylon fabric. Our preferred mode was backpack with wide and waffled mesh straps that are comfortable distributing weight nicely across the shoulders and back. Because the bag is so lightweight, a chest clip isn't missed.
To the other extreme, the OiOi Wax Canvas Satchel is downright bulky with the heaviest empty weight in this review at 2.7 pounds. As a messenger, this weight was distributed to one side, feeling awkward. Bending over to pick up a child meant that the bag would swing forward simultaneously, a nuisance to say the least. It also scored poorest in comfort with a canvas cross-body strap with zero padding (above right).
Style is inherently subjective and we awarded it 15% of the overall rating for each bag. We had many men rate the bags side-by-side and took notice of current trends such as with the popularity of messenger bags. Once again, the PacaPod Picos Pack rose to the top with an 8 of 10. Its modern, sleek appearance resembles a nice piece of luggage rather than a youthful school backpack.
Buying Advice article to find out more.
— Natalie Hale & Juliet Spurrier, MD
Still not sure? Take a look at our buying advice article for more info.
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