It’s not every day your handbag is out-classed by your baby changing bag. But that’s exactly what’s happened in my house since PacaPod’s Jasper bag arrived a few weeks ago. Suddenly – in the face of this shiny new luxury leather thing – my scuffed old handbag looks like it’s in dire need of a bit of TLC. Along with, well, the rest of my house.
PacaPod – designed for travel
PacaPod first came under my radar about 4 years ago as part of my job as a travel editor. The press release for their baby changing bags stood out from the hundreds of others thanks to the nifty organiser pods inside – a simple but unique feature that makes them perfect for travel – so it wasn’t long before they became a regular feature on our ‘must-buy’ lists.
That discovery happened to coincide with the arrival of The Boy, and PacaPod’s Mirano ended up being my hospital bag, packed weeks before my due date ready for his arrival. Fast-forward several years and I’ve since tested the Hastings rucksack and the Samui Trio – a larger bag that’s ideal for twins – and there’s a (pretty embarassing) video comparison of them here.
Practical and hard-wearing
All three bags share certain Pacapod hallmarks – they’re gender neutral (I don’t do butterflies and cupcakes), understated, and most importantly, practical. The pods inside can be used independently when you don’t need to pack much stuff, and the Samui comes with the addition of a see-through plastic travel pod that’s ideal for getting through airport customs.
The bags are also incredibly hard-wearing – I still use the Mirano as a weekend bag for me, and the Hastings has become a firm favourite for walks because it leaves both of my hands free.
When I got the chance to test drive the luxury Jasper bag, then, I didn’t need much convincing. This slouchy leather changing bag is new for Autumn 2015 and it’s got my name written all over it. Mainly because it’s available in chestnut brown as well as black, and one look at my coats, boots and handbag collection will tell you I’m a HUGE fan of tan leather.
Now, I’m not going to lie. The price – £250 – is waaaay out of my budget, so I’d probably never have come across this bag under ‘normal’ circumstances. But I’m so glad I did. If you don’t bat an eyelid at that kind of cost then you’re in for a treat, because PacaPod’s Jasper bag is drop. dead. gorgeous.
This is one case where you definitely get what you pay for. The leather on the outside of the bag manages to somehow be both thick and soft, and the weighty little gold tags provide a luxurious finishing touch. It’s something I’d pick out purely based on style, let alone anything else, and friends were surprised it was a baby changing bag at all (which is surely the point, right? After all, who wants their bag to shout I’M ABOUT TO CHANGE A DIRTY NAPPY’?)
The same goes for the pods inside. The Jasper sees a return to the rigid pods – an insulated one for feeding and one for nappies – that came with some of the older bags (my Mirano had these). These more durable, higher quality pods definitely fit the quality feel of the Jasper, but now that I’m used to the compact, fold-flat versions in the Samui, I can’t help but find these a bit cumbersome in comparison.
That said, they fare much better when used independently – my feeder pod has survived many a wet and windy walk to the park. Plus, they’ve been improved. The rucksack straps on the feeder pod turn it into a cute little backpack for my toddler, and the change mat tucks into the back of the changer pod so you can’t lose track of it.
There’s a carry handle plus an across-the-body strap, which I use to hang it off the buggy (there are pram attachment straps included but I’m lazy). The two pods fit inside a front compartment that’s separated from the main section to keep things from getting mixed up. Fortunately it’s wipe-clean inside (we’ve already had a rogue oaty bar incident to test that out).
With both pods in there’s not a massive amount of space left, but it’s rare that I need to take both pods out with me, and The Boy seems to have adopted the orange pod as his own. Crucially, my MacBook fits in with plenty of room to breathe, and there are parent pockets where I stash my keys and phone. This saves taking a separate handbag out, and I think that’s a key point where the Jasper wins over all the bags before it – it’s genuinely nice enough to be my ‘normal’ handbag (in fact, it’s quite a lot nicer than my rather neglected handbag), which makes life a whole lot easier.
With that in mind I’d highly recommend the Jasper bag if you’re looking for something that’s as subtly stylish as it is practical. Mine is already a huge favourite, and will be joining me on this parenting journey for several years to come. It just might be a while before I let the toddler and his Fruit Shoots anywhere near it…
The PacaPod Jasper bag is currently £250 on the PacaPod website and available in chestnut brown and black.
Disclosure: PacaPod kindly provided me with a Jasper bag to test out for this review, but the opinions expressed here are my own. Obvs.