Chabee Diaper Bag Review

I never thought I’d be writing a product review for a diaper bag. As a parent for over 20 years and as a Stay At Home Dad over the last 15 years I’ve used an wide variety of diaper bags and backpacks to get the job done for schlepping around diapers, wipes, spare outfits, snacks, toys, kleenex, Cheerios and an assortment of other necessary items when out and about with my kids. I was never really very particular about the style of the bag. Anyone that knows me understands that I can rock a purple or pink bag just as comfortably as a blue or brown one. I just need the bag to hold everything that I need and to be comfortable to wear. And easy to clean. And durable. When my five year old was born my wife thought it would be nice to get me a more manly diaper bag since most of the previous ones had been what would be considered more girly, for lack of a better term. She found one that had been created by dads and looked manly. Only problem was that one of the shoulder strap buckles (made of plastic) broke a week or so into my use of it. For the next few months that diaper bag worked pretty well, but it irritated me that I could only use one shoulder strap instead of being able to wear it like a backpack. I actually replaced it with a backpack a short while later. When my two year old was born I didn’t even bother with an actual diaper bag. I grabbed my favorite Jansport canvas backpack from the closet and filled it with the essentials. I suppose that’s what having my sixth kid meant. Forget the formality of it all and just go with my old reliable backpack.

I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m telling you all of this when the title indicated that this is a product review. Well, almost a year ago some guy I had never met in person but who was, like me, a member of a Facebook group for SAHDs, asked us dads for feedback regarding a diaper bag he was in the process of making. This guy, Jesse, seemed nice enough, so I responded and told him much of the same stuff that I shared in the paragraph above. I figured that was it. Well, a couple of months ago, he contacted me out of the blue to thank me for the help and encouragement from earlier in the year and to ask for my address so that he could send me a diaper bag to review. Two days after I responded with my information a box was delivered to my front door. My kids excitedly helped me open it up and were slightly disappointed to discover that it was “only a diaper bag”. I examined it for a few minutes before setting it aside to finish making dinner. The next day I decided to start using it so that I could get a good feel for how it would perform over the course of a few weeks. Well, that was about six weeks ago now and here’s what I found.

First, this bag is made of waxed canvas. Unlike the cheap plastic of many bags or even regular canvas like many backpacks, this bag feels different.

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Pouches designed to hold smart phones and tablets

Jesse told me over the phone that he’s passionate about honesty in his life and in his company. He said that there’s only one company in the U.S. that makes such high-quality waxed canvas and that’s the one he uses, even though it’s a little pricey. He didn’t want to get it from overseas where it’s the product of unethical labor practices, even if it would be cheaper. The quality of the material is obvious from the very first touch. It took a trip to the Tacoma Children’s Museum two weeks ago for me to realize how important the quality of the material is. You see, it was pouring rain (I live in the PNW after all) and once my girls and I got inside the museum I looked down to see how soaked the diaper bag would be only to discover that the water had beaded up on the outside of the bag. I gently shook the bag and the water fell off like when a duck ruffles its feathers. I was so relieved that the cloth diapers and clothes inside the bag were still nice and dry.

 

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Inside of the bag

Another nice aspect of this bag is the design. As I used it more and more I noticed that it wasn’t too big and bulky yet it still comfortably held 3-4 cloth diapers, wipes, wet bag, spare clothes, snacks and such. There are small pouches on the inside as well as ones on the outside that fit my iPhone. Jesse mentioned that during the course of his bag design (he went through five prototypes) he made sure to include spaces for smart phones. Yet, because the bag is made from canvas it’s flexible, which I appreciated greatly on that trip to the museum because, unlike my backpack, this bag fit easily in the locked cubby storage unit. There are small details that I noted about the bag that set it apart from others I’ve used. The buckles and snaps are brass, not cheap plastic.

 

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Changing mat (banana for scale)

There’s even a changing mat that’s attached on the back on the outside. I didn’t realize how convenient this would be until last week, when I had to make an impromptu diaper changing station at the Washington State History Museum. The bathroom had no changing table yet my two year old fit on it with room to spare, which is no small feat given that I’m 6’8″ and my kids are all tall.

 

The final thing I want to highlight about this bag is that it comes from the passion and experience of a real, live person. Jesse and his family recently relocated to northwest Wisconsin, just about an hour from the Twin Cities of Minnesota. He’s been a SAHD since his oldest daughter was born four years ago and he and his wife now have three kids. He started Chabee Outfitters on his own and has worked hard to get to this point.

Chabee is a mash up of the words “change” and “be”. The name was formed to encompass the beautiful Gandhi quote “Be the change you want to see in the world.” While many attach this quote to grand changes in the world, we at Chabee are obsessed with how it applies to the intimate details of life. Our greatest goal is to create a company we would want to do business with. We carry this concept in our name because we want to carry it with us in all our business relationships and decisions. -from ChabeeOutfitters website

I appreciated talking to him on the phone for about 30 minutes because it was good to hear him describe all the joys and frustrations that he has experienced in designing and making this bag. Interestingly enough, it’s made in Tacoma, Washington (such a small world because I live nearby) with all American-made materials.  As is the case with many things in life, you often get what you pay for. The same is true with this diaper bag. Because of Jesse’s attention to detail and desire to deliver a high-quality diaper bag this bag is currently listed at $225. But, if you’re looking for a bag with a 100% lifetime guarantee that will be durable enough to be used for multiple kids and then as a pretty nice messenger-type bag after that, this might be the bag you’re looking for. If I could go back 20 years to when my eldest child was born (and if we had the money then!), I would’ve gotten this bag in a heartbeat. As a special promotion for readers of my blog, Jesse has graciously agreed to a 15% discount if you enter the coupon code “BCD” at checkout. The website is www.chabeeoutfitters.com. Find them on Facebook here.

Disclosure: I was given the diaper bag (pictured) to review. I received no other compensation. The words and opinions above are mine.

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Sometimes You Need A Jellyfish

I’ve been a parent for almost twenty years and have read hundreds, if not thousands, of books to my six children over those years. My wife and I have placed a high value on reading to our children so that they can not only learn how to read but also to love to read. Our personal “library” of children’s books is large and includes classics like Goodnight Moon, Goodnight Gorilla, 10 Little Rubber Ducks, Dr. Seuss, and many others. As a Stay At Home Dad I make it a priority to bring my kids to the library so that they can choose books for themselves. It helps to give them ownership and builds excitement and anticipation for when we return home and snuggle up on the sofa to read together. We can travel to many wonderful and exciting places through the pictures and words in those books. There’s nothing quite as sweet as the feeling of your children nestled into your lap, heads resting against your chest as they contentedly connect with the book.

Despite all of these lovely sentiments and feelings surrounding reading to my children I have one major issue. Some of the books that we own or check out from the library are really poorly written and/or illustrated. I’ll admit that my formal education is not in Art or Literature or Writing. The extent of my education in those areas came from a few School of Education courses while I was in college. I guess my “qualification” to write a book review comes from a limited formal background combined with pretty extensive field (or couch) experience as a parent. Like most parents, if the book I’m reading to my kids is hard to follow or uninteresting for the kids it’s going to be even harder to read with much feeling or interest on my part. (Yeah, I’m talking to you, Barbie and Clifford books.)

What if I told you that there’s an opportunity for you to get your hands on a fantastic new book that’s not even yet published? Would you consider supporting such a venture? It just so happens that my friend and fellow SAHD, Christopher Routly, is back at it again with another book. Last year I met him at the National At Home Dad Network annual convention in Denver, Colorado and I was thrilled to win a paperback copy of one of his children’s books, The Animalphabet, which he authored and illustrated for his own two boys back in 2012. I liked his colorful and vibrant illustrations and, upon bringing the book home, my kids agreed. Well, this time around, in his yet-unpublished book, Sometimes You Need A Jellyfish, Chris has taken a simple and slightly silly sounding statement from one of his kids and created a picture book that tells the story of two brothers who are packing for a trip. One of them packs a jellyfish and the story goes from there. Chris was kind enough to send me a link to a digital copy of his book and a few things about it caught my eye. First, his illustrations are engaging, colorful and simple. The text flows nicely between the brothers while sneakily introducing new vocabulary to the unsuspecting reader. Do you know the proper term for a group of jellyfish? I didn’t. But it’s in the book. (Bloom, in case you’re wondering.) Sometimes You Need A Jellyfish is also uses humor to draw in the reader. I showed the book to both my four year old daughter and ten year old son and they both loved it. When asked why he liked it so much, my son said “I think it’s pretty cool that he wrote a story about what his son said. And I liked the part about having a jellyfish clean up your messy room. That would be fun.” My four year old mostly laughed and giggled and said that it was silly…before requesting to read it again. It’s one of those books that I would enjoy reading right along with my kids. Even multiple times in a row!

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What’s especially cool about Chris’s book is that it’s not even published yet. It’s pretty much ready to go to the publisher but there’s one catch. Money. (It’s always that, isn’t it?) This time around Chris wants to raise $10,000 to properly launch his book. He actually made a short video about his book and related fundraising campaign. Please take a moment to watch it. He explains it far better than me. Plus, there’s some nice music in the background of the video clip to cheer you up. Interestingly enough, after reading the book and watching the short video my son asked if he could donate to Chris’s book campaign from the money that he’s saved from allowances and doing extra chores. I’m also making a contribution. But, here’s the deal. It’s not like you’re just giving Chris your money and you get nothing for it. There are rewards for making a contribution. In essence, you’re pre-ordering the book since most of the rewards include getting a signed hard-cover copy of the book. It’s not often that one gets a chance to help “kickstart” a project like this. Please, check out Chris’s video about his book or his blog, which is Daddy Doctrines, for more information.

Finally, don’t just take my word about this book. Check out a review from another friend named Chris, who is also a SAHD and blogger at DadNCharge, living in Philadelphia, PA. Neither one of us was compensated in any way (now or in the future) for our reviews. We’re simply passing along an opportunity to help launch a wonderful children’s book while simultaneously encouraging Christopher Routly to keep on pursing his passion for writing and illustrating children’s books.