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.
This stylish, eco-friendly Paperclip diaper bag is somewhere between a diaper bag backpack and a structured, top-held handbag. It can be worn on the back with a set of detachable shoulder straps (they are not exceptionally comfortable in the case of prolonged wearing). Alternatively, it can be slung across the body like a messenger bag or carried in the hand like a briefcase. The bag is essentially one large compartment, with a flip-over vegan leather top 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 including a laptop compartment. There is a clear, waterproof zippered pouch that can store wipes or dirty diapers, there are mesh pockets and zippered hideaways for baby gear and there is the ample main compartment, which is big enough for easily a dozen diapers, wipes, burp cloths, baby bottles, and anything else. On the outside, it features a large drink holder and a small accessory pocket for pacifiers and keys. Finally, the back has a pass-through pocket that you can place over the handles of a carry-on suitcase for easy access while traveling.
In a truly ingenious move, once opened, the tote can be zipped down both sizes and the last remaining panel will then fold out into an impromptu changing table, making the Willow something of a multi-function one-stop shop. When folded out, the rigid interior pieces hold the entire backpack upright and provide a clean, sturdy, machine washable changing pad complete with sidewalls for changing on the go. Stroller straps can be purchased separately.
Everything seems well-built. The materials are soft, eco-friendly, and pleasant to the eye and touch. Perhaps the only criticism to be leveled at the Paperclip Willow is its size. Suffice it to say: For all of this space and these myriad features, you’re looking at a relatively hefty tote. 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 baby bag that shuns the notion that you have to carry a non-descript, shapeless purse-like contraption, look no further than the Paperclip Willow.