**Spoiler alert: it’s the Turbo Transit Pack by L.L. Bean. I am in no way affiliated with the company; I bought this backpack with my own money and am a very satisfied customer.
I have seven children, two of whom are still in diapers, and a third who needs me to carry around a backup outfit. I have tried many, many diaper bags, and I have finally concluded that this bag is the best fit for our large family.
In this case, form wins over function – it’s not ugly, per se, but it’s not going to win any fashion awards. It’s a sturdy black backpack. You’re probably not going to pin this post. But you know what? It works. It carries everything I need it to carry, and because it’s organized so well with so many compartments, I can always find what I’m looking for. It’s easy to carry, gender neutral, and can be re-purposed when I no longer need such a large bag.
But why this particular backpack? There are certainly cheaper options out there. I know; I’ve tried them. But THIS one – it’s special. It’s the Turbo Transit Backpack by L.L. Bean, and at 2,592 cubic inches, it’s the largest backpack they make. Your college student could live out of this thing. What makes it unique is that is has a bottom shoe compartment (which I don’t actually use for shoes; see below for more info) that removes some of the depth from the main upper pockets. They are still deep enough for textbooks, but you no longer loose everything in a giant, cavernous compartment. Deep bags are great for carrying stuff, but not great for finding that stuff again. The shoe compartment has really eliminated that problem and makes better use of the existing space. It also has three main large compartments up top, plus three more smaller pockets, so I’m able to separate the content by person/function.
Giant diaper bags with tiny pockets along the sides don’t help me at all – I have two in diapers, and what if we need to change two at once? Keeping wipes and/or diapers in a nice little elastic pocket along the inside is fine for smaller diaper bags intended for only one child. But I’ve never found those elastic pockets to function well for me. I have separate bags inside that house a set of wipes, changing pad, diapers, and spare clothes for each child. My husband can grab one kid and I grab the other, and we don’t have to take turns with the diaper bag. I can’t tell you how many times this has come in handy. I know that when I grab that child’s changing bag, everything I need is in there. Also, did you catch the “seven children” part? Seven kids, no matter their ages, tend to need a lot of stuff. I’m able to organize things for all of them in my backpack, with room to spare for a couple of water bottles and other temporary oddities. I can even stash coats and sweatshirts by hanging them from the bungee outside.
Why L.L. Bean, then? There are other bags with shoe compartments. I do realize this. But I’ve not found one this big, nor this organized. And to top it all off, L.L. Bean has a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee – and it doesn’t have a time limit. When my original Turbo Transit Pack (2012) developed a couple of small issues (top handle strap started detaching, and the reflective piping was worn off quite badly), they paid for me to ship it back to them. Four years later. But the really awesome part? My backpack never showed up at their returns facility. And they sent me a new one anyway! How’s that for customer service?
I lived for over a month without my Turbo Transit Pack. I used another large tote that I really like and normally use for overnights and weekend trips. And while it held everything, I found myself really missing my old backpack. I couldn’t find things easily. I’d yank on one changing bag and the entire contests of the tote would come flying out at me – because it was all packed too tightly in one large compartment. Up until this unintentional month-long experiment, I was rather ambivalent about our Turbo Transit Pack. It was so functional that I never had to think about it, but I was always on the lookout for something…cuter. And then discovered that using my cute tote bag, even with interior & exterior pockets, wasn’t as good.