Timbuk2 Swig Backpack

When I was pregnant I really didn’t know what I wanted in a diaper bag. I didn’t care for designer brands or brightly-colored patterns. All I knew was that I wanted a bag that didn’t scream DIAPER BAG.

I ran across the brand name Diaper Dude and I really liked their concepts. We registered for their basic diaper bag that was all-black and got it; it served us well. The zippers and shoulder strap were very sturdy and the pockets very convenient. Since we travel a lot, I needed a sturdy bag that was comfortable to carry and was going to hold some items that aren’t your typical diaper bag items.

There were only a few things that caused it to fall short. The bag wasn’t quite tall enough for my laptop to fit and I quickly grew tired of wearing it on just one shoulder. When we were out and about (and not with a stroller) I disliked that when I bent over, the bag came with me. I found more and more reasons to leave it at home and just have random items that I might need stashed in my car.

I realized that we needed to switch to a backpack.

With how much we travel, I needed a bag that evenly distributed weight across both shoulders rather than a shoulder bag. I wanted to bend down and not have the diaper bag swing down in front of me.

We navigate airports with our son worn in a baby carrier, and I usually wear my son on my back and wear the diaper bag/backpack in front of me, where I have easy access to my wallet and phone.

We started using a simple Adidas backpack that I already owned. It served its purpose temporarily, but the pockets weren’t really ideal for what we were using them for. Granola bars, crayons and small toys got lost at the bottom of large pockets… or worse, a sippy of milk. Blech!

After only a few months of use, both of the zipper pulls on the large pocket broke off. The mesh pocket on the side had a hole in it and the elastic was weakening. It would still hold a small sippy cup, but a water bottle would fall out.

I was in need of a new bag, and I set about coming up with what my requirements were for this new bag.

  • It has to be a comfortable backpack that’s small enough to be a suitable carry-on for when we fly. It has to fit under the seat in front of me. I have seen some laptop backpacks that are huge.
  • It needs to have a compartment to hold my laptop.
  • It has to be sturdy, well made and simply decorated (no bright patterns or super girly prints as I want my husband to be comfortable wearing it too).
  • It has to have convenient pockets to hold random things like sunscreen, crayons, granola bars, stamps & postcards, my wallet & phone, diapers, wipes and not have all of these items sitting at the bottom of one large pocket.
  • It was to give super easy access to some of the above mentioned items, but especially my wallet and phone.

I found the bag I was looking for in the Swig Backpack from Timbuk2.

You can get one of their stock designs for $89 to $99, and there are some super cute patterns and colors. I splurged a bit and opted to go with a custom-designed backpack rather than a one of their stock bags. I don’t typically like to get all fancy with colors and patterns, but I really liked a couple of the fabric options. Custom backpacks start at $119 and can go up from there. I love that custom bags are manufactured right in San Francisco and come with a lifetime warranty.

So far I am LOVING my new bag.

I have flown with it many times (including a trip to China!) and it has been wonderful. It has what they call Swing Around Access that allows me to reach my wallet or phone from a side zipper rather than having to take the backpack off and open it for my wallet, keys and phone. It also has a second side zipper that lets me grab my laptop the same way, without taking the backpack off. Going through airport security with this backpack has been a breeze!

During a recent trip to Disneyland, my backpack hung from the handlebar of our rented stroller and the Swing Around Access zipper was super convenient in accessing my wallet for more purchases than I cared to count.

Here’s what is in my backpack on a regular basis:

  • two to three cloth diapers (or three to four disposables)
  • small pack of wipes
  • change of clothes for the kid
  • small wet bag (for diapers or wet clothes)
  • one or two small toys (typically a small airplane or bull dozer)
  • small first aid kit
  • travel-sized bottles of hand sanitizer, sunscreen and Neosporin
  • chapstick, hair rubber bands and tampons for the mama
  • a reusable shopping bag
  • a couple of granola bars, fruit strips and/or packages of peanuts
  • a package of Goldfish crackers
  • bottle or sippy of water
  • postage stamps, a couple of pens, and a few crayons or colored pencils
  • my Canon DSLR + battery charger
  • Flip video camera
  • 13″ Macbook Pro + portable mouse & cable (not with me every day)
  • wallet + phone + keys

It’s a tiny bit smaller than my old Adidas backpack, but I’m perfectly alright with that as it forces me to pack a little lighter.

The bag came with a removable chest strap that I use on trips that involve a lot of walking or hiking. And it has the perfect amount of space for the items I want to carry. It has a more rigid structure to it, so it doesn’t sag or even change shape very much when I’m wearing it.

It also has padding in the back to keep random items that are inside the backpack from poking me and makes the bag quite comfortable to wear.

So far I don’t have any cons and it’s exactly what I need in a backpack.

While I don’t have much use for it right now, there’s a nifty bottle opener right on the strap. You know, in case of a sudden onset of I-need-a-beer-right-now-itis.

Overall, I am thrilled with my purchase and would highly recommend this bag to any mama who’s in the market for a backpack rather than the more traditional-styles of diaper bags and wants something that is very user-friendly and comfortable… and has a safe place for your laptop.

Where I bought mine: direct from Timbuk2
What I paid: $114 (thanks to a coupon I had)
Average price range: $69 to $164
Where it is available: Amazon, Timbuk2, Zappos

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