We'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.
Of 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?