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As avid travelers, when we got that positive sign on our pregnancy test, I was determined to not let having a baby stop us from exploring and experiencing the world.
So, as I started registering for baby gear, I knew that having the perfect travel diaper bag was going to be a necessity.
^Shopping for the best diaper backpack? Pin it for later!^
Since we were already pretty strict “Carry-On-Only” type of travelers, I quickly set out on the search for the best travel diaper backpack.
What You'll Find In This Artcile
- 0.1 Using a Diaper Bag vs Backpack: Why Use a Backpack?
- 1 What To Look For In The Best Diaper Backpack
- 2 When A Backpack Diaper Bag Isn’t Ideal
- 3 Traveling With Baby
- 3.1 Does A Diaper Backpack Count As A Carry On or A Diaperbag
- 3.2 Must-Have Checklist For Packing Your Diaperbag For Flights
- 3.3 Packing Your Diaper Backpack For Day Trips
- 4 Top Rated Backpack Diaper Bags Reviews
- 5 Best Normal Backpack to Use As a Diaper Bag
Want to see our ultimate top picks for each kind of diaper backpack? Voila! Here you go. Just click the image to read more reviews on each.
Click The Bag Above To Read User Reviews for Each
Want more info, Pros and Cons for several bags in each category and choices to figure out the best pack for YOU? Keep on reading!
Using a Diaper Bag vs Backpack: Why Use a Backpack?
I didn’t question if I should get a traditional diaper bag or backpack for too long. While a diaper bag is great for many reasons, when traveling, using a backpack diaper bag was surely the way to go for the following reasons
Easy and Practical To Carry
While a diaper bag can also be TECHNICALLY hands-free, backpacks are just so easy to wear, especially when handling a baby and/or a toddler. And when traveling, being able to just put a pack on and go is essential.
Perfect For Travel
I’m just a huge fan of backpacks while traveling in general. They are small enough to be easy to stash in overhead bins of planes as well as to shove under a stroller when needed.
As a traveler, I’m always cautious about pick-pockets. Not that baby gear is in high demand, but I like that a backpack just blends in in most cities. You’d never know if I was a tourist or a local most of the time.
A quality backpack style diaper bag is just so much more comfortable than a normal diaperbag. Having the weight evenly distributed over both shoulders rather than just slung across one, or tucked under one arm can make all the difference when out sight-seeing all day. (Read more below for exact things to look for when deciding just how comfortable a bag will be.)
Dads Happily Wear Them
Again, not that Dads can’t or won’t wear a diaper bag, but with a backpack, there are so many options and designs available that any Dad would be willing to sling one on and carry around.
Our Top Pick for a Men’s Diaper Bag Backpack?
Bag Nation Diaper Backpack: Read Pros and Cons On This Bag Below
A crowd favorite for a diaper bag for Dads is the “Dad Gear Back Pack Diaper Bag“
Not Just For Babies
I love having a backpack as a diaper bag because
- I can also easily use it while we travel. In addition to the baby’s belongings, a backpack is typically big enough that you can stash a few of your own essentials, too. I always pack a few snacks for myself (hey, I get hangry!), a jacket, umbrella and my DSLR camera at the least.
- It’s great as the baby becomes a toddler. I don’t feel silly carrying around a diaper bag with my toddler. Instead, I just look like a typical traveler or am out for the day instead of toting around a baby diaper bag
- Ideal for Multiple Kids. Again, a backpack is big enough (yet easy to carry) that I can stash my baby’s gear, as well as my toddler’s, all in one backpack. No need for multiple bags!
Long Shelf Life/ Versatile
If you buy a quality enough baby backpack diaper bag, then it is going to last. Unlike a traditional or a typical diaper bag, a backpack style diaper bag can then be used in the future as a (you guessed, it!) backpack!
I purposefully converted a laptop backpack into a diaper backpack so that when my diaper bagging days are over (who knows when that will be!?) I’ll then have a sturdy, still-usable adult backpack for both everyday use and travel.
What To Look For In The Best Diaper Backpack
This is one of the top things to look for, which is why I am mentioning it twice in this post!
Weight Distribution: Since a backpack has two shoulder straps, it will naturally distribute weight better than other styles of diaper bags. However, you’ll still want to carefully read reviews to make sure that people aren’t mentioning backaches or shoulder straps digging.
To make sure that weight distribution is ideal, you’ll want wide shoulder straps but also make sure you get a backpack that is the right size. Too long and it will sit on your lower back incorrectly. Too small and you may find yourself arching your back too much from the load.
Strap Padding: Look for packs that have really well-padded shoulder straps. This not only helps with the weight distribution but just in the overall comfort level.
Chest and Weight Straps: You’ll find these more in the backpacks that you can convert yourself rather than in the backpacks marketed as diaper backpacks. This is because more of the “rugged” styled backpacks (Think Osprey, Northface, etc) are designed more for the actual travel rather than just fashion.
Breathable: Not a necessity, but definitely a nicety. Backpacks that have a breathable back (often with something like mesh) are great for days that you are walking around in the heat.
A lot of backpacks that are designed specifically AS diaperbags don’t have amazing track records for longevity of zippers and materials. Make sure that you invest in a QUALITY bag so that you aren’t replacing it just a few months in.
One way to do this is to go with a brand you know and trust and just convert it yourself into a diaper bag. I did this with the Osprey Nebula because of the brand’s lifetime guarantee, no questions asked policy and love it, years after purchasing it.
I also find that by converting a really sturdy backpack, that they make for the best diaperbags for long travel. I can rely on them because I’ve used them before, many have stellar warranties and I won’t need to worry about zippers busting!
Pockets, Zippers and Compartments
When looking for the best backpack to use as a diaper bag, you’ll want to consider just how many pockets, zippered compartments and nooks and crannies it has.
Too many and you’ll forget where you put items, not enough and you’ll be dumping out everything to find that one small bottle of but cream!
You’ll want a backpack that has at least
- One Large Main Compartment: Ideal for the bulkier items (extra clothes, the actual diapers, formula cans, etc)
- Front Pouch: Great for smaller items like teething toys, bottles, snacks
- Zippered Slots: Ideal for items like breast pads, chapstick, wallet
- Bottle Holders: For quick access to bottles (both milk and/or water). Most backpacks have at least two on the outside. Many true diaper backpacks also have slots inside specifically designed for actual milk bottles.
Size not only matters when it comes to comfort but also when it comes to practicability.
Many travel rucksacks are simply too big and cumbersome to use as a diaper bag. If you are wanting to turn a backpack into a diaperbag, I have found a laptop-sized bag to be just about perfect.
On the other hand, you don’t want something TOO small that your bag is so jammed full that it’s either uncomfortable or too hard to find items.
So, you need to first determine your need for a diaper backpack.
I find that when I am just out doing quick errands, my smaller, Osprey Daylite bag is the absolutely perfect diaper daypack diaper bag. It’s small, compact and fits just the essentials.
Our Top Pick for a Small Bag for Short Day Activities/Trips?
Osprey Daylite: Read Pros and Cons On This Bag Below
However, this is much too small for a full day of sight-seeing or when out traveling, in which I choose a laptop style backpack that I’ve converted into a diaperbag (more on this below on the “Nebula” backpack)
For many moms, they want a cute, fashionable diaper bag! While I personally lean more on the function over fashion side of things, there are plenty of bags that have both! (Skip below to the “Fashion Designer Diaper Backpacks” section to see some of the top designs)
When A Backpack Diaper Bag Isn’t Ideal
1) If You Are Already Wearing a Backpack or Rucksack
Like I mentioned above, I tend to just pack rucksacks for travel instead of hand luggage. This makes it slightly more challenging to also wear a diaper backpack, but really only when I am traveling solo. If I have a friend or my husband with me, we can distribute the bags so that one of us is on baby duty (diaper bag, kiddo, etc) and the other just has the baggage (yes, we are often THAT family that has a bag on the front AND the back!)
2) If You Are Back Babywearing
Whether we are out traveling or even just out for the day in town, I typically don’t bring a stroller with me, meaning I am babywearing. It is super easy to babywear an infant on your front and a backpack on your back simultaneously. However, when you switch to back carrying your babe, things get a bit trickier. Again, this is only an issue when out solo, but is something to consider if you have an older tot that you wear.
Traveling With Baby
When flying, you’ll want the best diaper backpack for travel.
Here’s some “Flying With A Diaperabag and Baby” FAQ
Does A Diaper Backpack Count As A Carry On or A Diaperbag
If you are traveling with your wee one, you might know that many airlines allow for one small carry on item plus one personal item for ticketed passengers. Therefore, if your babe has a paid ticket, then you (usually) can bring your diaper backpack as well as another item (often a stroller, travel crib, etc)
If They Are A Lap Infant
Technically, lap infants DO have a ticket.
Therefore, they often get a baggage/ carry on allotment as well.
Policies will vary airline to airline, so ALWAYS check the individual airline first, but most allow for a bag for the baby (diaper bag) plus a specific baby related carry on item. This means that often, you will get
- Your own personal item
- Your own carry on bag
- Baby’s diaperbag
- Baby Item
(Again….check the airline!)
However, that is A LOT of stuff for YOU to carry, so while it might be ok policy-wise, just remember your own limitations when it comes to toting all that stuff around.
That and the fact that you also have a baby to carry!
When Traveling, Does Milk In My Diaperbag Count as Liquids
Coming STRAIGHT from the TSA itself, No.
They say that ” Formula, breast milk and juice in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters are allowed in carry-on baggage and do need to not fit within a quart-sized bag.”
However, I will tell you from personal experience that, sadly, not all TSA agents are aware of this.
Here are my tips for traveling with milk for baby:
1. Print off the above TSA guidelines
2. Separate your milk, formula or juice from all your other baggage. Take it out and have it laying in plain site
3. As you approach the scanner, let them know that you have the liquids
4. Be patient and calm. They are allowed to do additional screening and you may have to (gently) remind them of the rules.
Must-Have Checklist For Packing Your Diaperbag For Flights
I love having a hands-free bag while traveling, especially when at the airport and flying.
I never travel without books for my kids. Here are some of my go-to travel books for kids that are lightweight, easy to smash into a bag and my kiddos love them:
- Peek A Boo Forest (This has been a crowd pleaser in our house since day 1 and is PERFECT for travel!)
- Cloth Books (So easy to pack and babies through toddlers love them)
- Very Hungry Caterpillar (How can you go wrong with this classic!?)
This will vary by age of baby, kid, or toddler. I have a whole post about how to survive road trips with toddlers and the same rules, tips, activities and games apply to airplanes as well
NEVER EVER fly with kids without it!
Binky or Other Comfort Items
My babies have their “ba-ba”, others want their lovey. Regardless, don’t forget these and do have them easily accessible in your bag, as you WILL want them to nap at somepoint during the day.
Food and Snacks
Once your baby is eating solids (mine starts at 6 months), having food is the best boredom buster on flights!! Whole apples and pepper slices are our go-tos (yes, really!) as they are great for “chewing” to help with ear pressure.
Setting a few puffs at a time and encouraging eating one at a time can take up a great chunk of time!
Squeezies are easy to pack and are great when you aren’t sure how good meals are going to be (I like getting the whole “meal” kinds in these cases)
Multiple Changes of Clothes
(At least 2 backups and a sleeper if you are doing a long haul flight)
If you think you have enough extra clothes….go ahead and throw in one more for safe measure.
Just when you think you have enough, it is Murphy’s Law that on your travel day your kid spits up, pukes, and has 2 blowouts (sometimes simultaneously).
In fact, if I have enough space in my bag I often throw in an extra shirt for myself as well in case I ever get in the line of fire!
Airplanes are dirty enough, have your own changing mat for mid-flight changes.
Diapers, Wipes, and Cream (travel size)
We made the mistake of throwing in our typical diaper cream once and it got confiscated. Be sure to have a travel size tube specifically for flight days.
Bottle, Water Bottle, Or Sippy Cup
Whether you formula feed or if your kiddo is just old enough, having a bottle of water is always handy (remember to have it emptied before security and refill after the checks).
Packing Your Diaper Backpack For Day Trips
Whether you are traveling and sight-seeing for the day or if you are at home and just going to the park or zoo, having a backpack diaper bag is so nice!
Honestly, I pack about everything the same in my bag as the above for flights. The only things I take out are:
- Extra, extra set of clothes/ PJs
Top Rated Backpack Diaper Bags Reviews
In this section, you’ll find some of the best rated diaper backpacks, made specifically as diaper bags.
- Amazon’s #1 Seller for Backpack Diaperbags
- Quality material
- Holds everything you’d need without being bulky
- Water Resistant
- Super easy to zip (even with one hand!)
- Elastic outside pockets (so bottles don’t slip out)
- Inside liner seems to tear easily
- Comfortable for day wear, but not very ergonomic for long travel
- Plenty of space
- Good compartments and pockets
- Insulated front pocket for drinks/ milk storage
- Great price point
- Many beautiful color options
- Easy access throughout the bag without digging
- Poor shoulder straps (doesn’t distribute weight well, are short) if you plan to carry a lot
- Questionable quality (stitching, material). Many reports of falling apart after even just a few usages
- Bottle holders only hold small, 4-6 oz sizes
- Lifetime warranty
- Plenty of compartments
- Insulated pocket for multi-sized bottles
- Comes with several “extras” such as stroller straps, changing pad, and bonus extra small bag
- Thick padded shoulder straps
- Easy access wipes pocket
- “Sticky” zippers that often lead to ripping at the seams
- Poor weight distribution (ok for short outings, not for long day trips/ travel)
- Can get quite bulky if packed with a lot
- Can use as handback or backpack
- 90 Day Full Money Back/ Replacement Guarantee
- Great customer service/ responsiveness
- Can fit/ hold A LOT!
- Easy back access so you don’t have to dig through large compartment
- Wipe access on outside
- Double check bag as soon as recieved that it is IN FACT the correct bag (and not a knock off- as these are cheaply made)
- Contact the seller IMMEDIATELY if it looks like you did not get exactly what is pictured (Advertised 90 day money back guarantee)
- Large bottles will not fit in holders (ie 9 oz)
- Poor quality straps
- Well Trusted Brand
- Looks more like a backpack than a diaper bag
- Perfect size for day outings
- Not as big as others (maybe too small for days of travel)
- Not as durable as one would hope a “Columbia” brand would be
- Can be used as handbag or backpack
- Beautiful colors to choose from
- Can hold quite a bit without feeling bulky
- Wipes holder on outside for easy access
- Plenty of compartments for organization
- Narrow Straps
- Cheaper version of higher end bags (aka made and fulfilled in China)
- Does not come with diaper changing pad
- Poorly made zippers
- Large bottles will not fit into designated slots
Best Normal Backpack to Use As a Diaper Bag
Why Choose a “Normal” Backpack vs Diaper Backpack
After spending countless hours reviewing diaper backpack after pack, I was finding myself really confused on reviews. I was finding time and time again reports of
- Cheaply made materials
- Bags that were falling apart after just a few months
- Poor ergonomic construction
How to EASILY Convert A Backpack Into a Diaperbag Yourself
I personally found that doing proper research on a really quality normal backpack that had all of the above features of a diaper backpack (large compartments, easy access points, plenty of zippered areas, ets) and then figuring out how to convert and use it as a diaper bag was the way to go for me personally.
I liked that I could find a brand that I knew and trusted already in quality, rugged packs and with just a bit of creativity, I could convert it into an ideal, long lasting, comfortable and quality diaper backpack. Some tried and tested, rugged, quality backpack brands to consider are:
- Make a North Face Diaper Bag (like this one)
- Convert an Osprey Bag into a Diaperbag (like I did)
- Kelty is another trusted brand
1. Look For Laptop Backpacks
A laptop backpack has a lot of great features you can use in a diaper bag. The laptop sleeve easily holds a diaper pad, muslin or receiving blanket and even a guidebook or tablet.
An example of a good bag to convert is this EBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible Carry-On Travel Backpack.
I love it because it has a lot of great safety/lock features (great for day trips while traveling) and it can pack A TON!
2. A Large Compartment is a Necessity
You’ll want one large compartment for all the necessities- the actual diapers, extra clothes, gear, etc. While many of the actual diaper backpacks have an easy access point in the back to easily reach items packed in to the bottom, I use a really simple, easy solution that eliminates the need to have to dump everything out: Packing Cubes!
Use packing cubes to organize your main compartment and you’ll stay super organized.
I put all diapering supplies into one packing cube, all clothing in another, all food/ snacks in one more, etc. I can easily just pull out the ONE cube that I need at the moment instead of frantically searching and digging in a bottomless pit
3. Find a Bag That Has MANY Compartments
A common trend among happy diaper backpackers is PLENTY compartments and tons of zippered areas for quick access points and easy organization.
What Backpacks To Convert Yourself
Mobile Users, scroll to the right to view whole table
|What is Great About It
|See It On Amazon
|*Lifetime warranty- no questions asked
*Plenty of space/ compartments, durable and comfortable
|Swiss Gear 1900
|*Water resistant, Big main compartment, lots of "extra" features (sunglass loop, carabiner, etc)
|North Face Surge
|*VERY comfortable, deep main compartment, many pockets
|*Perfect size for day outings, huge variety of colors
What I Actually Use: Osprey Nebula
The backpack I personally chose and have now been using for close to 3 years is the Osprey Nebula and I simply can’t say enough good things about why I love this as a diaper backpack.
You can read my full review, how I’ve converted the Nebula into a diaperbag and more here.
Designer Bag Backpacks
For many trendy parents, there is no reason to sacrifice fashion for function! From Kate Spade to Coach, here are some of the top designer diaper bag backpacks.
Many of these, you’ll need to use the above tips to “convert” into a diaper bag yourself, but now that you know how easy that is, why not be fashionable and functional all at once!?
|Needs Conversion Into DiaperBag
|See It On Amazon
|Laura Ashley Backpack Diaper Bag
|Tumi Diaper Bag
|Wallaroo Diaper Bag Backpack
Backpack Diaper Bag Reviews from REAL Traveling Parents
When it comes down to it, you want to hear from parents who have used diaper backpacks out in the real world!! Here are X backpacks that some of the top family travel bloggers rave about.
What I Use: Osprey Nebula (see above)
Cath from Passports and Adventures
What They Use: Storksak Charlie
I converted to the Storksak Charlie backpack diaper bag once my son hit about one and a half years old. I needed both hands free to keep an eye (and hold) of a growing, energetic toddler. It was navy blue and comes with a changing mat and handy, single diaper bag inside. Being hands-free was a big advantage as was the smaller diaper bag. This was extremely useful when flying on planes to take into the toilets where space is at a premium anyway. It has just enough room for a diaper, diaper bag and packet of wipes and could hold the changing mat at a squeeze. This smaller bag was perfect when out and about with my hubby and we were taking it in turns to change our son. It meant neither of us needed to take the full diaper bag into the toilets.
The only cons to this backpack was the size of the internal compartments and the zips. The internal compartments were quite large, a bit too much so, making it difficult to fish out smaller items stored within them in confined spaces like on a plane. The zip on the front compartment could get quite stiff at times and became difficult to open and close, so much so I stopped using it. Otherwise this bag was a great diaper bag or changing bag as we call it in the UK.
David Angel from Travel With Little One
What They Use: North Face Big Shot
I bought a North Face Big Shot backpack a few years before our son was born as I’m a regular traveller and needed a good backpack to wear through the day.
Our son was born in 2014 when we were still living in the UK. At the time, we didn’t have a car, mainly because you didn’t need one in a major city, and several bus routes were very close to us.
It wasn’t long before we ditched our original diaper bag and started using the North Face backpack. The two zip compartments at the front were ideal for storing diapers, wipes and disposal bags, leaving the main compartment free to hold whatever I needed to carry.
The North Face backpack is also so capacious that I didn’t need to carry any other bags – everything fitted inside. I was also able to put any wet and soiled clothes inside a plastic bag, which in turn fitted behind the laptop sleeve.
The one drawback I found using the backpack as a diaper bag was that I would sometimes be tempted to carry too much, so sometimes it became too heavy!
Elaine and Dave from Show Them The Globe
What They Use: Bebamour Backpack Diaper Handbag
Since baby J arrived 12 months ago, we’ve been using a Bebamour backpack style diaper bag for our travels.
The Pros: Navigating airports is so much easier with the baby bag on our back and our hands-free! Our backpack is large enough to hold everything and the internal and external pockets and compartments allow us to organize and find our baby essentials quickly.
The Cons: While our backpack is functional and robust for travel it’s a casual option and we prefer to use a more dressy diaper bag depending on the occasion! Having accompanied us to 13 countries in the last year it is looking a little tired and we’re planning to replace it with the latest model before our next trip
Amy from Family Adventures
What They Use: Overboard Wet/Dry Backpack
As a family being able to get outdoors in all weathers is really important to us. We need a bag that keeps our belongings dry whether we’re paddle boarding or splashing in muddy puddles. A wet dry bag converted into a diaper bag is the perfect solution for us.
1. It’s never failed to keep everything dry!
2. It is super comfortable to wear.
1. It only has one internal compartment so we use packing cubes inside to organise spare clothes, nappies and snacks.
There you have it. A diaper bag is an absolute must for every single parent. But if you are a traveler or even just like day outings, having a multifunctional bag that is easy to pack, carry and lug around that lasts is absolutely essential.
Do you know a soon to be Mom or Dad that could use a hands-free diaper bag? Share this with them so they can get the best backpack diaperbag for their individual needs!