$68 List Pros: Versatile, compact, lightweight, great changing pad, travel-worthy, soft fabric Cons: Lacks insulated area, nylon straps can be uncomfortable on bare skin Bottom line: Best value, quality, unisex, light, enough volume for two kids
The Boken Every Day Bag is a shoe-in for Best Value with second highest overall score at a $68 list price, $31 less than third place DadGear Backpack. It is a lightweight, versatile, and comfortable bag made from 100% water resistant nylon. Easy to clean, it quickly morphs from backpack to messenger bag to shoulder tote as well as easily folds into itself for travel and storage. Included is the largest and most utilitarian changing pad in this review. Not bad for $100 less than Editors' Choice PacaPod Picos Pack.
Boken's co-founder, Sawako Yamauchi, a fashion consultant and mother, set out to create a functional, water-resistant, and easy to clean diaper bag that is comfortable, stylish, unisex, and can travel anywhere. We're not going to lie the Every Day Bag surprised us. For a diaper bag, it lacks structure and insulated pockets. Nonetheless, it packs up like a champ with three carry options and is made of such lightweight, soft nylon, that it is, dare we say, comfortable. Its deconstructed, yet organized simplicity allows a parent to pack separately purchased accessories of any brand or type which can be tailored to suit personal needs, such as the Ju-Ju-Be Fuel Cell Insulated Bag for bottles and food.
The Boken's backpack carrying method frees your hands so you can keep your toddler in them (or at least try to).
Storage and Ease of Use
The Every Day Bag earned a 5 of 10 in storage and ease of use. Its internal storage has serious volume but limited compartmentalization. Because it has tremendous carrying capacity, we often found ourselves overpacking simply because of available space. In our research we found many other verified buyers noted the same issue.
As such, the Boken is best packed in a pod-like system, similar to the PacaPod Picos, except you need to come up with your own storage system. An example of this is well-illustrated in the co-founder's video below. We like the idea of being able to tailor accessories like insulated bag, changing bag, and wet bag to suit personal tastes and needs. But for someone who likes to have it all done for them, the planning and organization needed to make this bag optimally perform may be a put out.
As nicely illustrated in the above video, externally, there are five separate storage areas. On the front are two zippered pockets which are nice size for containing quick-access items like pacifier, snacks, burp cloth, sunscreen, and kleenex. On each side, are two deep pockets best used for water bottles or sippy cups; one closes via a generous, adjustable velcro flap (great for baby's beverage) and the other is open with stretchy mesh siding and a gathered elastic top for quick access (perfect for parent's water bottle). Take care, however, as if the elastic isn't stretched by a large container, it will gape and perhaps send a water bottle on the loose. Each of these side pockets can hold two 5-ounce Comotomo bottles stacked vertically for an idea of their generous size. The Boken does not feature an insulated side pocket like the OiOi Wax Canvas Satchel and DadGear Backpack While it would add extra weight and bulk to the bag, we think it would be a worthy addition.
We recommend you keep your keys and wallet in the main compartment's internal zip pocket to prevent theft, as the front two pockets are easily accessible when carried on your back.
On the back's exterior is a large pocket with velcro closure designed to carry one tote and both backpack straps when not in use, but will handle the included changing pad, diapering supplies, and a laptop or iPad. This pocket has light padding to help with comfort when worn in backpack mode. We used the changing pad as extra padding for a laptop; this configuration also adds structure to the bag and made it easier to carry on the back.
The main compartment is secured with a zipper that extends across the top of the bag. Above is a fixed elastic band to shore up the sides of the bag. It may appears useless until you've packed the bag and forgotten to close it. It acts as a pseudo-closure to keep your items contained but accessible. The sides of the bag are not sturdy like any of the other bags we tested so this added measure helps the bag also stand upright. The exposed yet nearly invisible zipper extends from one end of the bag to the other, preventing any gap in coverage as is found on the Skip Hop Duo Signature.
Inside the main compartment, there is one small zippered pocket. This is a great spot for personal valuables like wallet, cell phone, and sunglasses. For travel or storage, this pocket turns inside to fit the entire bag. There is a small, plastic key clip just outside the pocket. The main compartment of the bag is separated into two parts by a mesh fabric with an elastic top. We stored supplies for diaper changes as well as a change of clothes on one side. Again, while there is not nearly as much compartmentalized storage as is found in the PacaPod Picos Pack, the Every Day Bag offers adequate storage space. Dads that have other storage methods in mind will like the bare bones approach because it allows for a lot of customization as done in the video below.
It is recommended that you spot treat this bag by wiping it clean when needed. Our raspberry jam test was easy to perform on the bag: aside from some slight residual stickiness, the nylon cleaned up nicely. During testing, we spilled an entire container of milk inside the bag, which was not going to be so easy to spot treat. So, we threw it in the warhing machine on delicate cycle, cold and hung to dry. The bag withstood the washing just fine and came out cleaner than ever.
While the Boken has little to offer in terms of accessories, it does a masterful job getting the changing pad right. It is nicely padded and large at 22" x 24" (31" on the diagonal). By far the largest of the changing pads we have ever encountered in our diaper bag testing, this pad will remain useful as your child grows.
The Boken scored highest in comfort with a 9 of 10, two points above the next best scoring bag, the PacaPod Picos. The Every Day Bag simply put is just darn light and weight matters. The heaviest bag in this review, the OiOi Wax Canvas Satchel weighs in at 2.7 pounds so the Boken feels light as a marshmallow and nice on the upper body in comparison.
The greatest perk of the Every Day Bag is its versatility. This bag can morph from a backpack to a shoulder tote to a messenger bag with little effort. We founds that it is most comfortable to carry as a backpack. The lightly padded, mesh nylon straps are wide enough to distribute the weight of the bag's contents evenly and breathable. It could benefit from a chest harness like the Pacapod Picos, which helps greatly with security and weight distribution. And, when really packed down, the straps can become uncomfortable on bare skin.
The backpack's straps are partially detachable, much like the Petunia Pickle Bottom Sashay Satchel we tested for mom, except these are secured with plastic clips. Although plastic clips at the bottom of a bag would be likely to break over time, there is a brilliant MacGyver-esque solution here. When not in use, the bottom clips can be tucked into little hidden pockets on the base of the bag and the backpack straps into the back pocket. Voila! Out of sight, out of mind.
Fully loaded, carrying this as a messenger or handbag for an extended period of time becomes a little uncomfortable. The messenger's thin nylon strap adjusts easily but has no padding so it can cut into the skin by the collarbone and is tough on sensitive skin. However, when worn with thicker clothing such as a jacket, it should not pose much of a problem. The tote handles are also nylon without padding; however, the strap is pinched and sewn up the middle so its sides are rounded and subsequently more comfortable than the messenger's rougher edges.
The Every Day Bag scored a of 7 of 10 in quality. Made with 100% rip-stop nylon used for parachutes, it is woven to prevent rips and tears. You would have to cut this fabric with a knife or scissors to get it to come apart. The stitching is impeccable and the colors match the bag perfectly.
Dads are going to appreciate the attention that has been paid to quality closures and hardware found on the Boken. The zippers and their pulls are well made and never stuck during our testing. They are securely stitched in place without any loose ends. While we could do without the speckled velcro, it performs well and serves its purpose. The plastic components are somewhat a quality concern to us: namely the key clip and backpack strap clips. As mentioned, the later can be tucked away when not in use so this is key to longevity. While we are not keen on mesh used for external pockets, the weave this one is distinct and secure. Barring any encounters with a sharp object, the external mesh pocket ought to last.
With its sporty look, the Every Day Bag earned a 6 of 10 in style. In our research we found an overwhelming number of verified buyers who liked its overall appearance. It is a definite departure from the stereotypical diaper bag look, which we think dads appreciate day in, day out.
The Boken is great choice for parents looking for a lightweight, versatile bag for on the go with baby in tow, especially those who travel. Those who want to personally tailor the compartmentalization of baby's bag will especially like it as it has serious volume without structure. As such, it will work well for those with more than one.
We read a lot of complaints that from buyers that felt the $68 price tag is too high for such a bare-bones product. When compared to similarly-priced bags such as the Diaper Dude Messenger II, Obersee Rio with Cooler and the Skip Hop Duo Signature it may appear like you are getting the short end of the stick.
However, in comparison, the quality of craftsmanship is definitely present and it includes a stellar changing pad which you will use all the time. This matters! In our opinion, its quality materials justify the higher price tag and in addition, allow you the freedom to select the best accessories on the market to place inside.
The Boken Every Day Bag is our Best Value Award winner because it has precisely what dads need in a diaper bag: volume, versatility, lightness, affordability, and quality craftsmanship and fabric that is easy to keep clean. For selective dads, hand-picking accessories to put inside will personalize the experience.