When I pulled the AlmaRose MAXINE bag out of its box, I immediately noticed its stately size, the bold Kelly green leather and the overabundance of pockets that are any type-A mama’s dream-come-true. But let’s be honest: There are a lot of big, pretty and organization-friendly diaper bags out there. What really blows me away about this one is its versatility.
Like all moms, I do more than just wash bottles and wipe bottoms. I work, I travel, I play … and I even (occasionally) go out with my husband and my friends. Through it all, I’ve never found a single bag to stick by my side … until now. For me, the MAXINE is the one bag to rule them all.
Let’s get its one drawback out of the way: It’s big. Really big. It’s so big that, when I pulled it out of the box, my husband asked me if it was a baby bag for carrying our actual baby. It’s a 21.5-by-15-by-8.37-inch bag—that’s larger than my printer. Because it’s so large and made of leather, it’s hefty even when it’s completely empty, and the shoulder straps are the only carrying option.
With these facts making up my first impression, I was a little nervous about using the MAXINE as my daily carrier. But after a few short days of toting, the MAXINE went from being the big, green elephant in the room to being my go-to bag. Let me tell you why …
It looks good. That may not matter to everyone, but I think we can all agree that there are some places where those vinyl-coated pastel baby prints just don’t jam. The Italian pebble leather is professional and grown-up, but the Kelly green color and gold metal accents beg you not to take it too seriously. AlmaRose describes it as a “diaper bag in disguise,” and I found that to be absolutely true—I recently took the MAXINE as my carryon for a (baby-free!) business trip, and when I shared with the many compliment-givers who stopped me that it was a diaper bag, every single one showed genuine surprise.
It’s thoughtfully organized. This bag may be massive, but it’s definitely not a cavernous bottle-eating black hole; on the contrary, it’s one of the most sensibly organized bags I’ve ever carried. There are two exterior pouches, one with a snap closure and the other with a zipper, and the inside is just plain impressive: There are pacifier and key holders, a padded iPad pocket with a snap closure, two bottle pockets, a huge zippered divider, a cellphone pocket and two smaller (and glorious) multi-use pouches with zippers and mini-pockets galore (one of which even has a built-in credit-card holder with six slots). And I have to emphasize that all of these organizational touches are just so darn precise! All of the pockets are easy to access (even when the bag is full), things don’t fall out if the bag gets toppled over (which is hard to do) and I haven’t had to dredge the bottom in search of my keys, wallet or a pacifier (at all).
It also comes with a folded changing mat and removable zip-top envelope pocket, the latter of which gives you a grab-and-go option when you don’t want to lug the whole bag into the store. This envelope pocket is a huge perk for such a large bag, and it’s something I use daily.
It’s insanely well made. If you’re looking for THE bag to take you from baby No. 1 all the way through numbers two, three and four (and then still look good enough to accompany you to their dorm room drop-off), this is it. I’ve already mentioned the attractive leather exterior, but the interior is worth bragging about, too: It’s stain- and water-resistant and a lovely grey color that’s dark enough to hide messes, yet light enough to let you see the bag’s contents. Everything is wipeable and sturdily stitched, and the zippers (inside and out) are all notably smooth and solid. Also, the bottom of the bag features those fancy little metal feet that promise to protect it from puddles of apple juice and partially chewed crackers.
All of its negatives are positives. I’m not typically a fan of open-top bags, but this one is sturdy enough that it sits upright and the storage compartments keep everything in place. I also mentioned earlier that the shoulder straps are the only carrying option; while this lack of adjustment/flexibility may be a drawback for some, I couldn’t think of a more comfortable way to carry this big bag. The straps stay put and don’t cut into your shoulder, even when the bag is full. Plus, the straps add to this bag’s streamlined look as a non-diaper-bag-diaper-bag.
Additionally, it’s seriously amazing how much this thing holds without looking like you’re hiding a week’s worth of groceries and a wallaby in your diaper bag. I can take my daughter’s books, toys, snacks, diapers, a change of clothes and all of my mom stuff—and still have plenty of room to spare. Carrying this bag makes me feel like Mary Poppins’ sassy younger sister.
It’s pretty obvious that I’m a big fan of this diaper bag. However, if you’re looking for something petite and lightweight with a hands-free option, this is definitely not the bag for you. And I wouldn’t necessarily want to lug this around on a hot day at the zoo, or try to maneuver it with a wiggly baby on each hip.
On the other hand, I think that mamas who are desperate for a bag that can take them through all walks of life—from the grocery store to a weekend at grandma’s, and from a conference room to a coffee shop—will be just as impressed with the MAXINE as I am.
Where to buy: almarosebags.com