I am naturally disinclined toward the idea of a “bag.” A backpack, sure. A briefcase, yes. But a bag? Bag is too nondescript. When I think of a bag, I think of either something to cart home groceries or a purse. So, as we approached the birth of our first child, I had some trepidation about the notion of a “diaper bag,” which unfortunately seemed to be the universally accepted way to cart around the various accompaniments of having a baby. Thankfully, just before our daughter’s birth, my wife introduced me to Paperclip’s Willow, a diaper “bag” in name only. Paperclip’s slogan boldly proclaims that “Changing diapers is cool again,” and while that may be a bit far, it is hard to imagine a cooler experience in the decidedly un-cool world of diaper changes.
The Willow is a stylish, heather grey affair, with a rich piece of brown leather forming its large top clasp. It also comes in a twin variant, the Bear, which features darker grey fabric and a single clasp mechanism (compared to the Willow’s double). Otherwise, the two bags seem to be identical.
The Willow is somewhere between a backpack and a structured, top-held handbag. It can be worn on the back by clipping on a set of back straps (they are not exceptionally comfortable in the case of prolonged wearing). Alternatively, it can be slung across the body or carried in the hand like a briefcase. The bag is essentially one large compartment, with a flip-over clasp top—the leather bit mentioned above—that can either be clipped tightly or, if you’re in a hurry (see: crying baby), will magnetize itself closed securely enough to get you from point A to B. The top flap also features a zipper so that in a pinch, you can dispose with the top-loading mechanism entirely.
Once opened, the interior compartment is segmented into a variety of helpful pockets. There is a clear, waterproof zippered pouch that can store wipes or dirty diapers, there are mesh pockets and zippered hideaways for various changing supplies and there is the ample main compartment, which is big enough for easily a dozen diapers, wipes, burp cloths, bottles and anything else. On the outside, it features a large drink holder and a small accessory pocket. Finally, the back has a pass-through pocket that you can place over the handles of a carry-on suitcase for ease while traveling.
In a truly ingenious move, once opened, the pack can be zipped down both sizes and the last remaining panel will then fold down and out into an impromptu changing table, making the Willow something of a one-stop shop. When folded out, the rigid interior pieces hold the entire backpack upright and provide a clean, sturdy spot for changing on the go.
Everything seems well-built. The materials are soft and pleasant to the eye and touch. The leather is genuine and carries the satisfying scent of new, high-quality craftsmanship. Perhaps the only criticism to be leveled at the Willow is its size. Suffice it to say: For all of this space and these myriad features, you’re looking at a relatively hefty bag. And, because it is rigid (to protect the contents and the table-top mechanism), the bag is not as pliable as a simple backpack. But, what it lacks in softness it more than makes up for in style.
Six weeks into parenthood, I am hard-pressed to think what I would change about the Willow. It is a diaper bag that is handsome enough for the office and practical enough for the park. If you are looking for a diaper bag that shuns the notion that you have to carry a non-descript, shapeless purse-like contraption, look no further than the Willow.
To buy: amazon.com