Our design mission was this: a brilliantly useful diaper bag that could be used even beyond the diaper stage.
The Parental Unit has been on the drawing board for a very, very long time. Preliminary prototypes went in all sorts of directions: variations on current designs were proposed and discarded; crazy and cool but impractical accessories were tested and rejected. It spent time on the shelves in the design studio—a sad place not unlike the Island of Misfit Toys. With a growing realization that we were, if anything, over-thinking the whole thing, and had perhaps gone down one too many rabbit holes, Tom returned to the concept in mid 2014, designing from the ground up.
The Parental Unit you see here is the result of Tom's resolve to build a "diaper bag" that does more than just assist parents with changing diapers: it'll help organize and mobilize any parent or parents that participate in the modern world with their young kids. Unless you're just letting them go feral out on the back 40, you're likely to appreciate how the P.U. can make trips to the store, to the in-laws, daycare and even the museum less stressful and perhaps just as much fun as they should be. Plus you won't look like a dork with some huge encumbrance slung over your shoulder, whacking nice people in the face as you navigate the narrow aisles of public transit or cozy restaurants. We particularly eschewed goofy printed fabrics: if you want a bag that screams "I'm a parent!", you'll have to look elsewhere. The Parental Unit was designed to be as svelte as possible, and equally stylish for all genders: long after the kids are out of diapers and on their way to college, the P.U. might still be your favorite go-to bag for everyday carry.
The P.U. is a shoulder bag, intended to be carried over one shoulder or with the strap cross-body, like a bike messenger bag. It comes with the Standard Shoulder Strap, but you can upgrade to the Absolute Shoulder Strap.
In terms of organization, the Parental Unit has it in spades. It is symmetrical front-to-back: both facets have gently curved zippers that open to generous, but not excessive, organizer compartments. Both of these are further divided into three vertical sub-compartments; the dividers themselves are more generous at their tops so that the wearer can easily see down into the sub-compartments. The center of the three is sized to fit most diapers, wipe dispensers (travel or home size both fit) and/or a changing pad; the spaces on either side are good for baby bottles, water bottles, or snacks. Most parents tend to divide the utilization of the bag by putting food and drink on one face and diaper changing accoutrements on the other. Both front and back have smallish zippered pockets that are nonetheless more than adequate for big phones or even phablets, a wallet, keys, etc.
And while we’re on the topic of organization: inside The Parental Unit are 10 O-rings — small, round, plastic rings to which you can secure Key Straps, Organizer Pouches, and other accessories for custom organization. We've included one 8” Key Strap in Black.
The center compartment opens with a top zipper with two zipper sliders. We assume you'll leave that unzipped most of the time for fast access to a toy or a spit-up cloth, but you can zip it shut in bad weather or if you need to stow it during travel. Two billowy open-top pouches are sewn front and back inside this main compartment—you can choose to leave them empty and just take advantage of the large space, or you can use them to further organize changes of clothes and more diapers, or stash food, wipes, rags, etc. The outer surfaces of these pouches have zippers that allow you to join them together, dividing that one big space into four smaller separate ones (we know that's hard to picture—see the images above). You might find that our Travel Stuff Sacks keep changes of clothes better organized, but of course zip-lock type bags are fine too.
Two simple 1” / 25mm webbing handles can be found inside the zipper of the main compartment. These two handles give you an easy way to grab and move or carry the Parental Unit while its main compartment is zipped open. This is mostly to use while loading the Parental Unit: say, moving it from the kitchen to the nursery, for example. Because the handles are sewn inside, they politely disappear when you zip the bag shut.
Outside, near the top on the back, is a 1" / 25mm flat triangular snaphook: if you require fast access to your keys you'll appreciate this, but Junior would probably prefer you put a small teddy bear or binky there instead.
The P.U. is made of easy-to-wipe 525 ballistic nylon, and lined with 200d Halcyon/nylon ripstop. We agonized over whether to use YKK Aquaguard zippers; in the end, we went with standard #8 YKK coil zippers instead because they are noticeably easier to use, and we know that parents often do whatever they are doing with one hand. Otherwise the Parental Unit has the usual TOM BIHN attention to detail in construction: top-shelf materials, taped seams, and lots of bartacks.