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Parental Unit

Regular price $145.00
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Parental Unit

Materials:

U.S. high tenacity 1050 denier ballistic nylon — or — Ultralight 400d Halcyon/420d nylon ripstop exterior
200 denier Halcyon/nylon ripstop fabric lining
#8 YKK coil zippers


Construction:

Made in USA
100% finished seams


Specs:

Dimensions: 18.5” x 12.2” x 7.9” / 470 x 310 x 200 mm
Weight:
1050d Ballistic: 19.5 oz / 553 grams
400d Halcyon®/420d nylon ripstop: 15.3 oz / 433 grams
Volume: 13 liters, 793 cubic inches (ASTM Standard Measure)
Total O-rings: 10 (4 in the main compartment, 2 in the front top pocket, 1 in the front bottom pocket, 2 in the back top pocket, 1 in the back bottom pocket)


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 StrapsOrganizer Pouches, and other accessories for custom organization. We've included one 8” Key Strap in Black.

The center compartment opens with a top zipper. 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 three plastic snaps that allow you to join them together, dividing that one big space into four smaller and completely 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.

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 1050 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.

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Design Notes

The story of the development of the Parental Unit Diaper Bag is a long and circuitous story indeed. Originally, I had hopes of introducing it with two cool accessories: a diaper changing pad, and a truly waterproof zippered pouch (to keep wet stuff from getting everything else in your bag wet too, or to keep dry stuff from getting wet with everything else). The diaper changing pad went through several false starts: I designed and built a very cool pad that was held in its folded-up state by small magnets: with a flick of the wrist (of one hand, no less - you've got the baby in the other hand, right?), you could open the pad. However, the materials were problematic as they weren't readily machine washable, plus the pad ended up being far more expensive to build than even we could justify. After much consideration, I realized that there were plenty of affordable and washable changing pads already on the market, and that what I was working on was, on all fronts, overkill.

The completely waterproof zippered pouch, on the other hand, was coming along pretty well: it was going to be made for us by a company that specializes in welding plastic (in our case, the heavy-duty clear urethane we use on our Clear Pouches). It featured a very specialized, truly waterproof/airtight zippered closure that was going to be made for us by a new, small company that had invented it. We had samples made, we tested them and we were excited. Well, I was very excited, anyway. Then, in the eleventh hour, the company decided that it wasn't able to offer us the zippers it has promised us: the military also wanted the company to develop something, we couldn't compete for the company’s time and attention. I think I was a little heartbroken, as the first samples of this pouch were so cool, and I knew we'd want to eventually offer it in other sizes and configurations for other users as well.

So back to the drawing board with the whole idea I went, eventually realizing that most people are going to use Ziploc® -type plastic bags anyway, and are likely to already have a favorite changing pad. So then... I needed to get down to the nuts and bolts of the bag itself. Again, watching how people used their existing diaper bags was key: being able to access the pockets and compartments with one hand, while the bag sat on your hip, was the Holy Grail (though most parents claim to have eyes in the back of their heads, I think they'd prefer to have as many arms and hands as a Hindu God or Goddess). I wanted the bag to be very flexible in its organization, with the maximum number of pockets/compartments that accommodated the largest array of the common objects that most parents tended to carry. And I wanted to make sure that the basic bag would also be usable to non-parents: parenthood lasts a long time, but our bags tend to last even longer.

I'm pretty proud of results, and I think the finished bag speaks for itself.
- Tom

Build your own organization

your bag already has great built-in organization. that said, you may want to add these optional organizational accessories to further organize and protect what you carry.

visible variant TB0555

Shoulder Straps

The Standard Shoulder Strap has a .25" / 6 mm texturized rubber pad, making it a good choice for those looking for some comfort but not needing the over-the-top comfort of the Absolute Strap. The Absolute Shoulder Strap has a unique, patented, internal control-stretch system, making it the ideal shoulder strap for those who carry hefty loads or simply want the most comfortable strap available.

visible variant TB1251-ND

Travel Stuff Sack

Our Travel Stuff Sacks serve a variety of purposes: they stow and compress items like down/polyfill jackets and vests (constraining them to a smaller amount of space). They're also great for packing baby clothes and organizing extra items within the Parental Unit.

Lifetime Guarantee

You can expect your TOM BIHN bag to give you years of hard service. Our bags are guaranteed to be free from defects in materials and workmanship for the life of the bag. That means if something goes wrong and it's our fault, we'll fix it at no charge.

Defects in materials or workmanship are uncommon and are most often evident while your bag is still new. Keep in mind that daypacks and briefcases are often subject to serious wear in everyday use. We often see TOM BIHN bags that are still solid and in use after five, ten, fifteen, even twenty or twenty-five years, with minor repairs needed here or there. But remember: only true love lasts forever.

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