The Top Diaper Bag Shoot-out Review

Click to enlarge
BabyGearLab's 2015 Diaper Bag Line-up
Credit: BabyGearLab Staff
Which diaper bag is the best? To answer this question, we spent several months rigorously testing ten of the top-rated bags available from major brands. During our hands-on testing, we compared them side-by-side with contenders until we were sure we knew what qualities make a good bag the best. Each bag was given a score based on the following criteria: capacity, ease of use, comfort, quality and style, and we looked closely at features like changing pads, strap systems, bottle holders and more. We were surprised with some of the results and think you will be as well. We invite you to take a look at the full review below.

Read the full review below >

Review by: ⋅ Review Editor, BabyGearLab

Top Ranked Diaper Bags

Displaying 1 - 5 of 10 << Previous | View All | Next >>
Our Ranking #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Product Name
Skip Hop Chelsea Downtown Chic Diaper Satchel
Skip Hop Chelsea Downtown Chic Diaper Satchel
Read the Review
Petunia Pickle Bottom Sashay Satchel
Petunia Pickle Bottom Sashay Satchel
Read the Review
Skip Hop Forma
Skip Hop Forma
Read the Review
Ju-Ju-Be Be Right Back
Ju-Ju-Be Be Right Back
Read the Review
Babymel Amanda Mini
Babymel Amanda Mini
Read the Review
Editors' Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award  Best Value Award     
Street Price $99 List
$99 from Amazon
$129 List
$129 from Amazon
$70 List
$70 from Amazon
$140 List
$109 from Amazon
$100 List
Overall Score 
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64
100
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61
Editors' Rating
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Pros Durable, easy to clean, great style, inexpensiveWell disguised diaper bag, durable, wipe clean fabrics, certified organic cotton, large capacity, multiple carrying optionsInexpensive, well-made, fantastic accessories, large capacity, really cute lookWell made, quality fabrics and hardware, a pocket for everythingStylish, compact
Cons Few accessories, cheap zipper pulls, shoulder strap is harsh on bare skin.More expensive, tall and narrow bag so items get stacked on top of each other, can cause pilling on clothingFabric handles, no metal feet to protect the base of the bag, cannot pass as a purseExpensive, limited carrying optionsLined with PVC, velcro stroller straps, expensive
Bottom Line A sturdy, affordable bag that can keep up with the busiest of familes, and look good while doing it..A great investment that will remain stylish and functional beyond use as a diaper bag.Ideal for those on a budget, great accessories and no sacrificing function for style.A great, high-quality option for those looking specifically for a backpack to carry their baby gear.Cute bag but only accommodates short trips
Date Reviewed Apr 29, 2015Apr 29, 2015Apr 29, 2015Apr 28, 2015Apr 25, 2015
Weighted Scores Skip Hop Chelsea Downtown Chic Diaper Satchel Petunia Pickle Bottom Sashay Satchel Skip Hop Forma Ju-Ju-Be Be Right Back Babymel Amanda Mini
Storage/Ease of Use - 40%
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
5
10
0
4
Comfort - 30%
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
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7
10
0
7
Quality - 15%
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
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7
10
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9
10
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8
Style - 15%
10
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9
10
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9
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8
Product Specs Skip Hop Chelsea Downtown Chic Diaper Satchel Petunia Pickle Bottom Sashay Satchel Skip Hop Forma Ju-Ju-Be Be Right Back Babymel Amanda Mini
Carry Method(s) Tote Handles
Adjustable Shoulder Strap Stroller Clips
Padded Handles
Backpack Straps
Tote Handles Adjustable Shoulder Strap Stroller Clips Backpack
Quick Grab Handle
Tote Handles
Adjustable Shoulder Strap Stroller Clips
Weight 2 Lbs 2.6 Lbs 1.4 Lbs 2 Lbs 1.5 Lbs
Dimensions 9.5" D x 18" W x 13" H 8.5"D x 17.5"W x 13.5"H 10.5" D x 18" W x 12" H 12" D x 14.5" W x 17" H 9" D x 17" W x 11.5" H
Materials Polyester
Details:
Faux Leather, Gold Metal Hardware
Free of:
Phthalate, BPA
Certified Organic Cotton Polyester Nylon
Exterior Treated with Teflon
Interior Treated with Agion Natural Antimicrobial
Changing Pad:
Memory Foam
Metal Hardware
100% Nylon with PVC Backing
Included Accessories Changing Pad
Adjustable Shoulder Strap
Clip-On Stroller Straps
Changing Pad Wipes Case
Key Clip
Backpack Conversion
Changing Pad
Two Small Zippered Bags (One Insulated)
Changing Pad, Picture Pocket Two Exterior Insulated Pockets Insulated Bottle Pocket
Adjustable Stroller Strap
Changing Mat
Main Closure Zipper Zipper Zipper Zipper Zipper
Number of Pockets Exterior: 8 Interior: 4 Interior: 5 Exterior: 5 Exterior: 2 Interior: 9 External: 8 Internal: 4 External: 3 Internal: 6
Key Clip No Yes No Yes No
Feet Yes No No No No
Cleaning Instructions Wipe Clean Wipe Clean Wipe Clean Machine Wash Cold
Line Dry
Wipe Clean
Origin of Manufacture China China China China China

  • Review Photos
  • Editors' Choice Winners

BabyGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review



Hands-on field testing is an important process in a BabyGearLab review...
Hands-on field testing is an important process in a BabyGearLab review.
Credit: Natalie Hale
When you have a baby join your family, one of the first things you'll most likely notice is that there are a LOT of things you have you carry with you (in addition to the baby!) when it comes time to venture out. From diapers and dollies to snacks and sippy cups, and let's not forget to mention the adult necessities like wallets, cell phones and keys, exactly what to carry it all in becomes a question every parent has to face. But it's not all bad; much like driving a mini van, carrying this type of tote can actually be seen as a right of passage into parenthood. Congrats! You made it.

So, just how do you walk with the elite who have gone before and go about selecting just one bag from the literally hundreds of options available on the market today? Well, we here at BabyGearLab have tried to eliminate much of the guess-work for you by narrowing down the field to just three Award Winning products. With a little enlightenment and guidance, who knows? Maybe you'll find one of them to be your perfect diaper bag.

Editor's Note: For this review, we spent our time testing bags that are geared with mom in mind. But dads, don't despair. We are currently testing bags specifically made for you as well. Stay tuned!

For more on this topic please read our complimentary article, How to Choose the Perfect Diaper Bag.
You may also be interested in our similar review: The Best Breast Pump Bag.

"Be Prepared"


Becoming a parent brings out your inner scout. You begin to live by the mantra of "always be prepared". Every parent inevitably learns this lesson several times over the hard way, be it a screaming toddler whose tantrum could be quelled by a snack or the inevitable diaper blowout that occurs in (name your favorite place here) mid-excursion.

But don't worry, we're here to help. You will be ready.

Not just with fish crackers for the increasingly hungry toddler, but a spare diaper, ample wipes and a change of clothes to boot. To top it off, you've got a changing pad to shield your child from the germs on the changing table in the public restroom, a bag for the dirty clothes and hand sanitizer for you (thank goodness because the soap dispenser was broken. Isn't it always broken in public bathrooms?). A diaper blowout is no longer a major event in your day, just a little wrinkle, and you were ready to deal with it. Anticipating your child's needs in advance is key in keeping your cool in a potentially volatile situation. The diaper bag is your ally in this quest. It is the keeper of things that keep baby happy which in turn, keeps you happy.

Types of Diaper Bags


There are many types of diaper bags available for moms. Of the products we tested we found there were three distinct styles: the handbag with optional shoulder strap, the backpack, and the messenger bag.

The Handbags


Timi and Leslie Marie Antoinette
Timi and Leslie Marie Antoinette
Credit: Timi and Leslie
It quickly became clear that the "handbag style" has the corner on the market geared towards women. Almost all of the bags we tested featured the handbag carrying method, including the Skip Hop Forma, Skip Hop Chelsea, Petunia Pickle Bottom Sashay Satchel, Babymel Amanda Mini, BEABA Stockholm, LeSportsac Ryan Baby Bag, Storksak Bobby, and Timi and Leslie Marie Antoniette. In fact, all of our award winners came out of this category. Most of these bags also sported the ability to be converted to a carry-over-the-shoulder style as well.

The Messenger


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OiOi Messenger
Credit: OiOi
We only tested one official "messenger bag", the OiOi Messenger, although several of the handbags featured this carrying method as an option. We found the messenger style of carrying (or cross-body) to be difficult at times, particularly when we needed to switch our kiddo from one arm to the other. The inevitable weight shifting and balancing act got tiresome pretty quick. The best part about it though, was the fact that you could carry the bag hands free, and trust us, two hands are better than one when it comes to keeping up with your kiddos!

The Backpacks


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Ju-Ju-Be Be Right Back
Credit: Ju-Ju-Be
The final style we tested were "backpacks", which also feature a hands-free carrying method. The Ju-Ju-Be Be Right Back was the only true non-convertible backpack. Our other option was the Petunia Pickle Bottom Sashay Satchel which featured options to make an easy switch between carrying it as a handbag or a backpack.

The backpack method of carrying gear is by far the most efficient, and if adjusted properly, can prevent stress and strain to your shoulders and back. It allows for carrying heavier loads while keeping hands free. It was actually really easy to forget that you were wearing one, unlike the handbags or messenger bags. Once it was secured on your body, you don't really have to fuss with it until you need something from its contents. However, there are a few major downsides to carrying your items in a backpack, namely; keeping valuables secure while in busy places where thieves are a plenty, and the fact that this is a very casual method of carrying a heavy load. It can look and feel strange schlepping your baby's stuff into a trendy restaurant or store when you look like a college student.

Criteria for Evaluation


To properly determine the best bags on the market for parents, we took many factors into account. We gave storage and ease of use the most weight in our scoring, followed by comfort, quality, and style. Read on for more details on the results of our product testing and see which bags received awards from BabyGearLab!

Storage/Ease of Use


Storage is key in a diaper bag!
Storage is key in a diaper bag!
Credit: Natalie Hale
As a new parent, you might notice you start feeling like a pack animal. Pre-baby jaunts to the grocery store have now become journeys where you must be prepared for end of days. Trust us, you will find a balance between over and under prepared for venturing out, it just might take a few tries to get there.

When it came to evaluating the bags, storage and ease of use were the most important criteria we looked at. Because this item is going to be one of the keys to your success in leaving the house with baby, we think it is vital you have enough space to accommodate what you think is important, and (here's the kicker) that it is easy to do so. This is why we awarded the category a sizable 40% of the total evaluation score. When you compare the scores of bags in our ratings matrix, you will find that some of the larger bags actually scored lower in this category, and here's why: despite their ability to hold more, they quickly became less manageable and more difficult to keep organized. In our testing we found a sweet-spot definitely exists between size and organizational options. We also wanted to ensure that some of our other top-rated products could be utilized in these bags and we are proud to say both the Comotomo Natural Feel bottle and Thermos Foogo Phase 3 Insulated sippy cup fit nicely into both the outer pockets and inner insulated pockets.

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Here you have it, everything we tried to fit in the bags we tested. From left to right: Spare clothes for baby, reading for mom, a stuffed animal, make-up for mom, crayons, keys, wallet, sunglasses in case, snacks for toddler, boogie wipes, pacifier wipes, sunscreen, pacifier, hand sanitizer, diapers, Foogo thermos, water bottle for mom, Comotomo bottle, wipes, dirty diaper sacks, burp cloths, and nursing cover.
Credit: Natalie Hale
Clearly, there are a lot of things that parents need to carry to be prepared for an outing with baby. We spent a significant amount of time whittling down a list of items to those we found parents will find ideal to have with them at all times. You can learn more about those items as well as other helpful tips in our buying advice article, How to Choose the Perfect Diaper Bag. In this effort we tried to include all of the following items:*

Items for baby:
diapers
wipes
rash cream
dirty diaper bags
a changing pad
burp cloths
a change of clothes
nursing cover
bottle(s) or sippy cup(s)
binkies, and toys
sunscreen
snacks

Items for mom:
a water bottle
hand sanitizer
snacks
wallet
cell phone
keys
sunglasses
makeup & sunscreen
reading material

*Please note, not all of the bags could accommodate everything we wanted to carry. We indicate in our individual bag reviews where we had to pare down to bare-bone essentials.

Comfort


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This bag came with padded, adjustable shoulder straps for added comfort.
Credit: Natalie Hale
Discomfort is something new parents quickly become accustomed to, but that mentality shouldn't carry over into areas you can control, such as how you carry your baby's gear. When you're about to venture on an outing with your little one, the last thing you should have to think about is how much you dread carrying your stuff. We think it should be considered your trusted ally that brings you peace of mind and is forgotten until you need it. This is where our comfort rating comes in and why we awarded it 30% of the total rating score. There is nothing worse than carting a bag around that is leaving cuts and rashes on your skin or is giving you back problems from not distributing weight correctly. All of these issues are preventable and new parents should not have to experience these age old hazing rituals.

Quality


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The hardware and stitching were all very sturdy on this Petunia Pickle Bottom bag.
Credit: Natalie Hale
A quality bag can come at a cost, but this can and should be viewed as an investment. However, this does not mean you should just blindly buy the most expensive bag on the market. In fact, when you click on our price vs. value tab above, you will find some of the best bags we tested were in fact, the least expensive. This is because high-quality bags are not exclusive to high price points.

We think that having a well-made bag that can withstand the rigorous daily use dished out by parents is extremely important. That is why we are awarding 15% of the total score for these bags based on their quality. This category includes what materials they are made with, the hardware, stitching, zipper pulls, and feet on the bottom of the bag. Of course, not all the bags we tested included all of these great features, and were therefore scored accordingly.

Style


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Petunia Pickle Bottom Sashay Satchel at the beach.
Credit: Natalie Hale
When you become a parent you have to compromise on a lot of things, which is good in many ways. Where we do not think parents need to abandon all hope is in their own stylistic identity. Just because you have become a temporary sherpa for your children does not mean you have to look like you are about to summit Everest on a daily basis, even though it might feel like it.

We recognize that style is inherently subjective but felt it was important to include it in our method of scoring, which is why we only awarded the category 15% of the overall score.

When we compared the bags, we took a careful look at what is currently trending in the fashion world to judge what might be able to pass as a "large handbag" as opposed to a stereotypical "diaper bag". What we discovered was that we preferred bags that easily made the transition between baby bag and purse, such as our Most Versatile Award Winner the Petunia Pickle Bottom Sashay Satchel.

The Winners


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Our winners at a scenic overlook on downtown Honolulu.
Credit: Natalie Hale
We loved our winners so much and we even had a chance to prove just how useful they are by taking them with us on vacation to Hawaii! The Skip Hop Chelsea, Skip Hop Forma, and Petunia Pickle Bottom Sashay Satchel further cemented their award winning status as we tested their tensile on the road.

Editors' Choice Award: Skip Hop Chelsea


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The Skip Hop Chelsea.
Credit: Natalie Hale

It was a close race for our Editors' Choice Award, but ultimately the top scorer was the Skip Hop Chelsea.

We loved the versatile carrying options and how easy it was to switch from carrying it like a handbag to a shoulder bag and attaching it to a stroller was a breeze, although BabyGearLab does NOT recommend this as it poses a risk for strollers to tip over backwards.

The metal hardware looked crisp juxtaposed against the faux leather and other fabrics used on the bag. There are plenty of pockets, but alas, no insulated ones for keeping a bottle warm/cold. We were glad to see metal feet and a quality, washable changing pad. While we did run into a small problem with the zipper pulls (one detached!), this gave us an opportunity to investigate the warranty process at Skip Hop which proved extremely valuable. You can find more information about that experience in our full review of the Skip Hop Chelsea. Without a doubt, this bag is durable, easy to organize and stylish.

Best Value Award: Skip Hop Forma


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The Skip Hop Forma in a garden in Hawaii.
Credit: Natalie Hale

Nipping at the heels of our Editors' Choice was the Skip Hop Forma which received our award for Best Value.

The Skip Hop Forma is a great product. With the quilted look currently on trend, this bag is right on point stylistically speaking. While the Forma lacks the hearty metal hardware and faux leather details of its sister, the Skip Hop Chelsea, it makes up for it with everything else it has to offer. Between the 11 pockets, included accessories (like two small zippered bags, one of which is insulated), easy cleaning (you can turn the Forma completely inside out), and affordability we couldn't help but adore this bag.

Top Pick for Versatility: Petunia Pickle Bottom Sashay Satchel


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One ultra-handy feature of this bag was that it could be worn backpack style! This was a comfortable, secure, hands-free option.
Credit: BabyGearLabStaff

Our final award given was for Versatility. We wanted to find a bag that could not only fit everything we wanted but make it look really good and be easy to carry. This is where the Petunia Pickle Bottom Sashay Satchel was a natural shoe-in.

While it does not boast many accessories, its darling look and adjustable canvas backpack straps won us over. What appears to be a larger handbag at first blush, quickly converts to a comfortable backpack with the nicely hidden black canvas shoulder straps. This is achieved simply by removing the two shoulder straps from the outside pocket and utilizing the brass claws, attaching them to the corresponding rings on the bottom of the bag. The bag can quickly be returned to its handbag state by reversing the process.

Of all the bags we tested, the Petunia Pickle Bottom Sashay Satchel looked least like a diaper bag and easily passed as a purse without the kiddo in tow, which was tremendously helpful.

Natalie Hale
Helpful Buying Tips
How to Choose the Perfect Diaper Bag - Click for details
 How to Choose the Perfect Diaper Bag

by Natalie Hale and Juliet Spurrier, MD
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