Tom Bihn as a Diaper Bag: which do you use, how do you organize it, tips?
We just got back from a 10 day trip to Costa Rica with our new baby (9 weeks old). She did fantastic, but I quickly realized that the pack I was using as a diaper bag was not ideal and was a little too small. (Not a Tom Bihn bag, it was an Obersee I received as a gift ).
So now after returning I have decided to purchase a Tom Bihn bag to use as a diaper bag. It is an investment, but considering I will be carrying a diaper bag for years to come I think it will be well worth it. And later it can transition to an everyday pack, and eventually the little ones school bag!
I have been doing a lot of comparisons and think maybe the Synapse 25 would be a good choice for me. It is a backpack, so it will keep my hands free for the little one. (This is important to me and why I am leaning this route instead of the Parental Unit bag. Also the many pockets look like they will keep me organized). For additional organization I am thinking about using the Side Effect for my personal items (wallet, chapstick, etc like a purse...can double duty as a daily purse or a waist pack for those trips to Disney) and place it in the front bottom pocket. Then I am thinking of getting a Freudian slip for the large main pocket so that I can organize diapers, wipes, creams, etc in it. I even thought about getting a cache as well for the main compartment so I can easily slide in and out the changing pad.
Am I crazy, is this overkill?
Does anyone else use the Tom Bihn bags as a diaper bag? And if so, which do you prefer? What are your tips and tricks for organizing the multitude of baby stuff needed? Where do you store the baby bottles or cooler on the bag you use? Suggestions on how to make straps to attach it to a stroller (we have a Bob jogger, which by the way was amazing for use in Costa Rica on the uneven ground and hikes!).
Thanks for the help!
I discovered TB looking for a diaper bag about 3 1/2 years ago and started with a S19 which I soon discovered was not enough volume for baby paraphanalia! Your idea of a FS to organize diapers and such is great. I didn't think of that when we used the S25 and instead used a PCSB inside the S25 so that when we're out and about and need a diaper change, I could reach for the items cross body. The changing pad, ointments and onesies fit in there as well and as he got older, I used it to prop his head on the changing table/surface. If we're going somewhere close by, like church or getting groceries, I just grab the PCSB along with my SE that I also used my wallet. It does fit perfectly in the lower compartment. We would store milk bottles in the 2 side pockets and middle water compartment. I recently placed an order for the padded waist strap because carrying a wiggly 30+ pound toddler and a S25 was straining my back.
When we travel and I know we'll be out walking, I switch over to the Pilot, CP, DLBC or LCB so that I can put it on the stroller. The bottom compartment of our stroller was not deep enough to slip in the S25 (but the PCBP fit).
Another great diaper bag is the Smart Alect. A big open black hole to organize
SE in lower compartment of the S25
2 10 oz water bottles in the side pockets and a 20oz bottle in the middle compartment, PCSB inside. Hope this helps with capacity ideas.
Last edited by RDR3; 03-19-2017 at 01:29 PM.
Reason: added pictures
Have you looked into the Parental Unit? It's a TB diaper bag, although it has appeal past the diaper stage or for those who don't have kiddos.
Thank you for your reply and photos! I was on the fence about the S19 vs the S25, and I'm glad to hear that you settled on the S25 as well for the same space reasons I was considering. I like your use of the PCSB as a mini diaper bag or a grab and go changing bag. I'm thinking that might be a good option as well. Also It looks like the bottles fit perfectly in the side pockets. Now if only that middle back pocket was insulated, and there were o rings on the top of the back panel (for stroller straps) it would be the world most perfect diaper bag IMO.
The parental unit looks great, but I want to go with something that is a backpack style to keep my hands completely free, and to help offset the weight of the baby on my chest when I have her in the carrier. I used a backpack diaper bag in Costa Rica and it was a life saver, especially when it seemed like I had a thousand things to carry plus baby!
Originally Posted by xtoq
Over time I actually found that I carried less and less paraphernalia for the kids because I usually just didn't use it. Eventually I settled on a Clear Quarter Packing Cube (I believe I've posted pics but I just can't get the search function to find them) with about three diapers, a wipes package with about a dozen wipes, a little bottle of hand sanitizer, change sheet (not a pad, just a plain sheet with waterproofing on one side, so it folded up very small), two rolled-up sets of clothes (one for the baby, one for the older kids), and one t-shirt for me. This diaper kit went into whatever bag I carried for the day with my own stuff - usually a Synapse 19 (I prefer backpacks when out with kids too).
I preferred this because I could just take the diaper kit out and hand it to my husband if he was going to change the diaper, or leave my pack with him and just take the diaper kit if I was doing it. It also was easy to make sure it got restocked when I got home, and if I was leaving the kids with my mom, I could just hand her the diaper kit and she'd have what she needed for them and I'd have my stuff. It's sort of the reverse of what you're thinking - instead of leaving the bag with the kid and taking the kit (Side Effect) for you, I left the kit with the kids and kept the bag with me.
I think a Cache for a change pad is overkill myself, but YMMV of course. There are lots of places in the Synapse to stash things like that. A bottle will fit in the water bottle compartment (of either size Synapse) easily, and a small cooler will be able to fit in the main compartment.
I dearly love both my Synapses, but I don't think a kid will be able to manage a S25 until they're quite a bit older - it's a big bag even for me. The 19 is still big on my eight-year-old (she's pretty petite, mind you). If you are a backpack person, you may find that even when the kids are older, you still prefer hands-free bags. Personally I would pick the bag that works for me rather than planning to pass it on - though these bags are so useful and well-made that I suspect you'll be able to pass it on anyway if it's not your thing in a few years.
I know you are asking for a backpack but I thought I'd throw in what I do for a diaper bag.
I use a LCB. Inside I have a rolled up change of clothes, 3 diapers, some snacks, and some hand sanitizer. The inside has plenty of room to spare. The outside has the change pad with a pack of wipes. Zipper pocket has a multi tool, spoon, and a few odds and ends.
The LCB works perfect for my situation. That being said, I'm only ever away from home for a few hours so I'm not needing a cooler or anything like that.
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We had space inside to put a soft sided insulated bag for pumped milk and put a mug with hot water in the middle water compartment to heat up milk when we were on the road. This boy3 had a lot more GI issues than my other 2 so we pack everything he may need when we travel. When we took him to Disneyworld 2 years ago, I split up his things into a Co-Pilot that I hung on the stroller and S19 on my back.
Hope you find the bag that fits your needs
Originally Posted by FoxValleyDame
Somewhere in Ambato, Ecuador, a nice taxi driver is strutting around with a beautiful purple Parental Unit (and an ultralight Android smartphone). Enjoy brother!
Like a previous poster, I also cut the normal kit down to a Eagle Creek Specter Cube with just the basics (changing pad, some extra diapers, a little cream). This made it super easy to throw into whichever bag was being used that day (or sometimes no bag at all, just the cube in the pocket of the stroller). It also made it easy to share duties back and forth between me and my wife when out and about.
I got my wife a beautiful blindingly pink GoRuck bullet (10L) to use as a minimalist diaper bag, but she ended up always grabbing the red Synapse 19 for the extra space it provided.
Last edited by luthercale; 03-19-2017 at 08:08 PM.
Everyone's suggestions so far are great. I haven't purchased anything yet, so it really helps to hear from experienced parents who already have "tried and true" methods of diaper bag organization. Since I am a new mom, I seem to still be living by the method of having every conceivable item that could possibly be needed conveniently stashed away in my diaper bag. With time and practice I'm sure I can cut down to more streamlined methods like those mentioned here. I'm still leaning towards the synapse, as it seems like it would be the best for an every day carry bag for me to keep my hands free. It sounds like a packing cube or two inside will help me out my diaper "kit" together best for convenient use. Plus the side kick to use for my personal items. Any other suggestions are very welcome!
Doh! Reading comprehension was low yesterday. XD
I use a Synapse 25 for my kids. I have a 2 and 4 year old. We need less stuff than you though. I have a snake charmer where I keep diapers, wipes, a bib, and hand sanitizer. It fits in the bottom pocket of the Synapse. We take it out of the Synapse and just carry the snake charmer when we need to change our two year old. I am hobbyist photographer. I always carry a small mirrorless camera and strap. I have attached two Peak Design anchors that I can attach my camera strap to if we need to change her hands free. I use a Peak Design Leash. It is tiny and can fit in the palm of my hands rolled up.
I would just use some ziplock bags for extra clothes. If they spit up and need a change, I wouldn't want those clothes to roam free in my bag.
Thanks for insight! I do carry my DSLR with me in my bag and it will need a home in the new diaper bag. I haven't seen the Peak Design camera accessories before, but they look pretty nifty. I love the leash and anchors you mentioned, especially because I'm not crazy about my current strap and it seems to take up a lot of unnecessary room.
Originally Posted by mcumeda
To solve the dirty clothes issue (since my little one currently seems to be plotting when she can fit in a diaper blow out at the most inopportune times) I am using a cheap small packing cube that I got on Amazon that has a built in plastic pouch for dirty clothes. I am able to pack an outfit for me and two for her in it, and stuff the carnage into the plastic area when needed.
I used a Smart Alec as my diaper bag, and like just about every other new parent, started out carrying everything under the sun, but eventually wound up wandering around with a mostly-empty bag by the time he was six or seven months old.
What worked for me, was carrying a Skip Hop diaper clutch, which is basically a sturdy changing pad that also holds 4 diapers and a couple travel packs of wipes (along with a roll of biodegradable bags and, if you need it, a tube of diaper cream). That was great to quickly pull out for diaper changes, and it made it very convenient to keep everything in one place.
The diaper clutch went into the main compartment of the SA, along with a dry bag holding a change of clothes, and then I kept frequently accessed stuff (sunscreen, hand sanitizer, bib, snacks) in the outside pockets, so I could get to them quickly.
I already had the Smart Alec, but if I were going to buy a new bag, I would have probably gone for the S25.
I absolutely understand the desire to carry stuff. But I heartily recommend a Daylight Backpack for anyone who can get by with the size.
I found it perfect for a diaper bag. We are hopefully aging out of diapers soon, and the DLBP will remain my bag to go out with my son.
The advantage is that it is big enough to carry what I need, but smaller and easier to carry (and climb and run) than my Synapse. The key is using stuff sacks with key straps. A change of clothes. Snacks. Toys to entertain him at a restaurant. Each one fit into a sack. When they were clipped to the bag, I never lost anything. I love the bag. I preferred the Backpack to shoulder bag. And I will use ithe Daylight for long after I give up diapers.
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