December 1, 2014

nsh Reviews the Parental Unit


nsh is quite well-known on the Forum for her detailed, well-written minimalist packing lists (check out her lists for Hong Kong, Chicago, and Honduras).  Recently, she and her husband became parents, an event that puts any human being's organizational skills to the test, but which can be particularly trying for people who believe that less is more and want everything in its place.  nsh seemed like the perfect person to take the new Parental Unit diaper bag for a road test.  She put it through its paces and here's what she has to say:  

Babies require gear. No matter how much of a minimalist I am, one cannot deny that there is a certain amount of stuff that my 6 month old, Leila, needs when I leave the house. I carry:

A Snake Charmer filled with 6 diapers in size 3, a packet of wipes, and a onesie for a change of clothes;
A travel changing pad;
A Size 1 Travel Stuff Sack, which holds a binky, a small lovey, and some rattling toy for Leila;
A Bitybean baby carrier;
A "Mommy Pouch"—aka 3D Mesh Organizer Cube—with Clear Organizer Wallet, phone, sunglasses, journals, and pens, as well as a scarf or thin blanket for nursing;
A water bottle for the grown-up(s).
(We don’t have to tote around bottles or food for Leila just yet.)

I tried all kinds of diaper bags and was largely dissatisfied with the functionality and/or the aesthetic form of the bag. When Darcy from Tom Bihn approached me to review the Parental Unit, I was ecstatic for the opportunity. In fact, when the email arrived on a Friday evening I exclaimed, “Oh my God!” and my husband ran into the room thinking something crazy had happened to the baby. It was that exciting for me. In return for the bag, I was asked to provide an honest review. And here is my honest review:

My expectation of a functional and beautiful bag that both parents could carry or sling across stroller handlebars was far exceeded by the Parental Unit. I love it.

Function: The bag easily fits all of Leila’s gear. I haven’t yet refined my organization of the bag but it can handle all my gear and then some. When paired with a Snake Charmer, a Pocket Pouch, TB wallet, Travel Stuff Sacks, and 3D Mesh Organizer Cubes, I can grab items with one hand even while holding Leila. There are three different large zippered areas that have pockets and internal organization that make packing and accessing the bag extremely efficient. Even when fully loaded, the bag feels light on the shoulder or across the body.

Also, the straps of the PU are a perfect fit when hung across the bars of our stroller without knocking into the cup holder. We have a Maclaren Quest stroller (we love it and recommend it because it works from birth to 40 lbs, is moderately priced, weighs only 13 lbs, collapses easily, and has a small footprint, making it perfect for travel, small car trunks, and navigating city streets or crowded malls).

Form: The P.U. is beautiful. All of our TOM BIHN gear has a black exterior with some type of colorful interior and assorted colors of Snake Charmers. I opted for the Black Ballistic exterior with Ultraviolet Dyneema interior so that my husband wouldn’t mind carrying the P.U. and we could easily see inside the bag. If you like colorful exterior options then TOM BIHN has many of those too.

Finally, the quality of craftsmanship of the P.U. will last us through Leila’s diapering years and beyond. I can see this bag becoming my full time purse. You could easily fit an 11 inch MacBook Air or an iPad in the bag. A lot of people might want the P.U. even if they don’t have babies!

Thank you to TOM BIHN for the opportunity to review the P.U.


Thanks, nsh!  To see more user photos of the Parental Unit, visit the Forum.

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