The one with the Think Tank CityWalker 20 diaper bag review

I use Think Tank bags for my camera gear.  I like all of their products — durable, easy to maintain, functional, high quality, and designed with keen attention to detail.

When I was expecting, I looked high and low for a suitable diaper bag.  As with my camera bags, I wanted a diaper bag that was durable, easy to maintain, functional, high quality and designed with keen attention to detail.  I also wanted something that could hold a camera somewhat securely and didn’t actually look like a diaper bag.

It was a futile exercise, browsing through all those mommy sites and baby gear stores.  Such a bag did not exist.

But then, I had an epiphany:  Think Tank Photo makes bags…maybe they make a bag I could use as a camera+diaper bag?

So all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I messaged Think Tank over Facebook:

Hello!

Does Think Tank Photo have any unisex camera/diaper bag combos in the works? I’m expecting my first baby in June, and it would be fantastic to be able to carry one bag that can pull double duty as a camera bag* + diaper bag in one.

[*one that can accommodate at least a 5D2+35L]

Love all my Think Tank Photo products. :)

Dawn

I received a response from Simon later that afternoon:

Hey Dawn,

Congrats on your pending bundle of joy! (I have a 12 week old myself)

We don’t have anything specifically multipurpose in the works to my knowledge, but I’ve been using the CityWalker 30 to do exactly what you’ve described (Just with the Sigma 35 and a MK3)

Thanks!

Sime

Simon went on to send me a CityWalker 20 to try out.  Excitement!  Now that I’ve used it for almost a year, I can offer some thoughts on how it stands up as a diaper bag.  (I will leave the photography-focused reviews and detailed product shots to others.)

Note:  Think Tank sent the bag to me at no cost, but the following opinions are my own.

Although the CityWalker 20 will not win any yummy mummy awards, it has unisex coloring, which means the spousal unit can carry it without feeling self conscious.  The material is water resistant and the many salt stains it accumulated over the past winter from brushing up against my car were all easily wiped away.  There are extension tabs on the zipper pulls, which is something I always appreciate on bags and jackets so I don’t have to fumble for the zipper.  My baby also really likes zippers in general, so it’s a bonus that she can fiddle with the zippers, giving me the few precious seconds I need to pull her socks on before we go out.

The bag by itself is not bulky considering how many pockets and layers there are.  It does get a bit unwieldy and large once you have it totally loaded up, but that’s to be expected with any diaper bag.  I wasn’t able to get a good photo of how it looks on me, but this video shows a female wearing the bag at the 2:52 mark.

This is what I currently have in the bag:

  • Outer side mesh pockets:  baby water bottle (with the green top), keys, various pieces of baby clothing that come off while we’re out
  • Main compartment:
    • Small point and shoot camera + charger in the left side pocket (not visible in photo)
    • The blue sub-bag is my “purse” (wallet, external hard drive, phone, misc purse items).  I like being modular so I can pull out my purse items easily if I’m going somewhere sans baby, or if the spousal unit needs the diaper bag.
    • GoStak snack tower
    • Huggies wipes carrying case
    • The white pouch holds diapers, diaper cream, lotion, small ziploc bags for dirty diapers, bib, washcloth, and an extra set of clothes
    • Nursing cover and teething necklace in the right side pocket
    • Along the back of the main compartment is a thin pink blanket, change pad (the free one from Nestle) and a large ziploc bag for soiled clothes
    • Sometimes I throw a couple of toys / jacket / hat / umbrella / water bottle for me on top of everything – the bag still buckles up with no problems although the velcro may not completely fasten
    • I have on occasion put an iPad into the iPad compartment, but I don’t usually bring it out with me
    • Note:  I didn’t bottle feed my baby, but I imagine you could squeeze in a bottle or two + formula

  • Front pocket:
    • Pens, package of tissue, gum
    • Nail clipper
    • Granola bars
    • Vaseline
    • Sunscreen (tube and spray – why do I have two?  I’m not sure)
    • Sunglasses in case (not shown)

  • The back pocket holds a board book and some just-in-case plastic bags
  • The front pocket on the flap holds an emergency package containing back-up diaper and feminine hygiene products

I’m not sure why the top grab handle spans the width of the bag (many bags I see have a short handle just in the middle), but it makes for a handy place to hook/loop/tie things.

The cross-shoulder strap is thick and sturdy but still flexible enough to bend/fold/tuck out of the way (and stay there) when I put the bag down. The shoulder pad on the strap provides cushioning and good grip.  The grippiness is actually a little harsh on bare skin, but I would rather the bag stays on my shoulder, especially if I’m busy trying to prevent my baby from leaping out of my arms.  A couple of the rubbery strips on the underside of the pad have fallen off over the course of the past year, but considering how many times it has been put on and taken off my shoulder, that’s not bad at all.

One interesting feature about this bag is that it has velcro silencers.  Theoretically, if my daughter is sleeping and I need to get something out of the bag, I can open the main flap without loud velcro noises.  Having said that, I don’t usually remember to deploy the silencers, and I’m not sure if I love the velcro in the first place — I might prefer a zipper so it’s harder for all those small baby items to fall out.  I also find that some of her clothes and receiving blankets catch on the velcro (not an issue with photography gear, of course).

Admittedly, I haven’t been using the CityWalker 20 for its intended function as a combination camera + diaper bag very often; it’s been serving mostly as a diaper bag since I don’t take my dSLR out on day-to-day errands.  But on those occasions when I do bring my big camera, I swap out the purse sub-bag and swap in a couple of the padded dividers that came with the bag and voila — instant camera + diaper bag with enough room for camera body + lens + camera accessories.  Unfortunately, I then need to carry my purse separately, but I don’t find myself traveling light these days anyway!

One thing I especially like about this bag is that it’s well-balanced and doesn’t fall over when you put it down no matter how you have it loaded.  It’s also pretty easy to access all the various compartments when it’s hanging from your body, which is nice when you’re trying to change a squirmy baby on a couple of rickety chairs in a ghetto Chinese restaurant bathroom and the last thing you want to do is put your bag down on the suspiciously wet floor.

In summary, the CityWalker 20 functions well as a messenger-style diaper bag with the option of serving double duty as a camera + diaper bag.  It’s a great size for all the basics plus last minute items, and all the little pockets and storage areas are well-suited for baby things.  The stitching and workmanship are impeccable, so if you’re looking for a quality, unisex and understated diaper bag, take a look at the CityWalker!

Thursday, Jun 4, 2015 - 1:11 PM

John Wmson Splendid alternative review of one of my favorite bags from Think Tank Photo… and kudos to Sime for his assistance!

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

*

*

There was an error submitting your comment. Please try again.