Anyone who has kids—heck anyone who’s accidentally wandered through the baby department at Target—knows our culture often treats kids as accessories and that an entire industry is built on convincing parents they need to buy a diaper-load of coordinating goods to survive and properly enjoy parenthood. One of the prime items many parents buy is a diaper bag—generally a big nylon/poly bag with lots of zippers and pockets to store diapers and all the other crap you buy for you and your baby.
But most diaper bags are expensive and, frankly, a little ladylike. They’re patterned (like dazzle camo for spit up) and/or branded with playful fonts. I admit, they’re practical, and I’m not ashamed to carry one; but given the choice, I’d rather lug my diapage in a less flowery bag. Plus, like all other baby items these are short-term investments; kids are in diapers for only so long. Why not use a bag that will still be useful and good-looking when your kid’s in elementary school?
I’ve suggested game bags (like those from Brady) for this purpose before. They look great and are often lined with waterproof fabric, and although I stand by that recommendation, such bags are no bargain and used game/fishing bags are… disgusting. Maybe worse than used diaper bags.
I’ve chosen instead to carry a tool bag–mine is from Kaufmann Mercantile and is maybe more tool-bag-inspired, but Carhartt and Klein Tools make similar canvas/leather bags that are pretty tough and look it. Maybe stuffing diapers, wipes, and bottles in there rather than wrenches makes me a blue collar poser, but I also wear chambray workshirts and milsurp jackets to my office job, so my judgment is skewed. The big advantage of a good tool bag, in my opinion, is the top closure: these bags use two metal Cs joined with a hinge–they stay wide open so you can have one hand on a baby and one to grab what you want without having to hold the bag open. Some tool bags have lots of pockets, which can be helpful if you are carrying a lot of small things (besides a baby). Others have just a couple, which works fine for me. The Kaufmann bag is a little more refined than the others, but any of the three bags looks better than your average diaper bag, and can perform comparably.