Although it has a classic backpack appearance, the DadGear Backpack is a heavily-equipped, highly functional diaper bag that dads will love. Made in the USA, this high-quality, luggage-like piece features bells and whistles in all the right places like a unique diaper wipes dispenser on the lower front. While it gets a little tricky to keep organized and is not as light as some of the other bags we considered, it delivers the features you need. The real bonus of this backpack is the overall design disguises the diaper bag functionality so no one needs to know it's a baby bag which means you can use it long after your little one outgrows the need.
DadGear Backpack Review
Pros: Highly functional, great specialized pockets, two insulated bottle pockets
Cons: Large pockets can be difficult to organize, no mesh backing for airflow, lacks chest clip
Our Analysis and Test Results
The DadGear company was launched in 2005, two years after two dads became inspired to create the best diaper bag for dads after failing to find suitable options already for sale. Founding partners, Scott Shoemaker & John Brosseau, have a passion for baby gear and strive to create quality products with style and superior functionality. DadGear creates diaper bags dads can confidently carry, and moms will love as well. They have backpacks and different sizes of messenger bags with a variety of color and graphics options. They even offer wearable diaper bags in the form of vests and jackets.
There is much to like about the DadGear Backpack. With eight exterior pockets and a key clip, there is enough storage for personal items like a cell phone, wallet, water bottles, and quick-access baby items. It dons two insulated bottle pockets which are a dream come true for those long outings. There is even a bonus area for quick access to wipes at the bottom of the main compartment under a secret Velcro panel that opens up (with some elbow grease). In our testing, we find the backpack's hardware and fabric durable and the stitching sturdy. However, the polyester weave fabric is more difficult to clean than some of the competition.
The metal hardware, zippers, pull tabs, and fabrics held up well during testing. The external bottle pockets are a heavy mesh that did not snag, and the backpack has a useful reflective stripe on the front. A few online reviews comment on issues with hardware quality, but we did not experience this in our pack.
For carry comfort, the shoulders straps are well-padded with breathable mesh lining that feels somewhat rough, so take note this will rub on bare shoulders. Adjusting the shoulder and the back panel of the straps is easy, with a simple tug or release of the straps. The back panel is cushioned and comfortable to carry.
Some of the DadGear packs look like they belong on a school campus. However, all of the styles are functional and utilitarian, so there is likely a design good for almost any dad. Major kudos to DadGear for designing a nicely disguised reflective strip; safety and style rarely blend this well. We love that you'll be proud to use this for your needs long after your baby is out of diapers.
The DadGear Backpack is average in storage and ease of use. While its internal volume is capacious, it lacks structure in its main compartment so things can get quickly jumbled if you don't plan and organize with a pod-like system. Nonetheless, the main compartment does fully zip down, so you can let it all hang out to find what you are looking for if your location allows.
The straps and padding are comfortable to carry, but it is a let down that the polyester fabric rests directly on your back which limits airflow and can cause a sweaty low back. It's no fun to be chasing the kids around on a hot day and to have your back a sweaty mess because of a lack of air.
While the backpack boasts a robust and durable material that will come at a bit of a price. At 2.6 lbs, this is one of the heavier bags we tested, and it lacks a chest clip. After you load all of the necessary gear into the bag, it will get heavy. Carrying all of the weight on your shoulders and back can be taxing on your already tired body. We think that the addition of a chest clip would help to make this comfortable bag more so.
We love the functionality and organization that this bag offers. It is sporty enough for dads not to feel like they are carrying around a typical diaper bag. While it could use an upgrade to allow airflow and a chest clip, we believe that you will be happy with the rugged style and ability to continue the use of the bag when your diapering days over.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD and Lindsay Selig