‘The Perfect Dad Pack’: Beau Industries R1 Parenting Backpack Review
Designed and built by active and thoughtful dad George Estreich, the Beau Industries Parenting Pack R1 aims to shake the common flaws of parenting gear and embrace a more usable, sustainable, and stylish approach.
Parents these days are mired in choices for carrying around all they need to travel with small children. In my experience as the father of a near-2-year-old, a lot of multiuse packs for parents fall apart the first time they are overloaded (which will happen) or are functionally useless after 1-3 years.
The alternative, of course, is the traditional diaper bag, which has more limited functionality and suffers the unhip “boxy diaper bag” look.
My partner and I struggled to find a useful bag to grab and go with our child. We received some hand-me-downs, but they were pretty torn up.
We also tried tote bags for simplicity but ended up overloading them or losing something we needed in transit. And I even went the duffel bag route but couldn’t find anything after my first time rifling through it.
Enter the Beau Industries Parenting Pack R1. As a recovering bag addict, the first thought through my mind when I saw this baby bag was, “That is a good-looking backpack!”
Clearly, Beau took the time to make this product easy on the eyes. But how well does it serve its purpose as “the perfect dad pack?” I put it through the paces with my son — and all his stuff — to find out.
Review: Beau Industries Parenting Pack R1
For starters, this bag looks and feels well thought out. It has all the features someone needs in any bag: a tough yet pliable exterior (made with recycled materials), bottle pockets, a plush upper handle, several interior pockets, and sturdy zippers that are a dream to pull.
I’m going to stay there for a moment; few things frustrate me more than double-fisting tough, jam-prone zippers. Beau Industries imbued the R1 with super silky, water-resistant zippers. Plus, the brand claims they are both glove-friendly and self-repairing. So far, they’ve performed as advertised.
(I seriously play with them in awe that a zipper can be this good. Why aren’t all zippers like this?!) This feeds into the pack’s overall construction, which is more akin to a standard outdoor pack than your typical baby backpack.
The primary material Beau uses in the R1 is 900-denier recycled polyester made with ReboYarn, a custom fabric Beau says is durable and resistant to both weather and UV fading.
Both the zippers and body are built and treated to be water-resistant, not waterproof. And this, combined with the fabric-foam-lining layered construction, provides a great defense against daily weather patterns and spills (read: tantrums).
The bag’s top handle, though innocuous, wasn’t overlooked either. The nylon webbing has EVA padding, which is a godsend when carrying a heavy pack with one hand. The strap is strong enough to handle it, and the padding keeps the webbing from digging into your palm.
The Beau Pack four-piece set ($125) also comes with a laptop sleeve that doubles as a changing station. This may seem odd at first, but the device is made from waterproof, nontoxic PEVA. Best of all, it’s spray cleanable.
NIFCO nylon buckles provide adjustability and security around the chest, two stretchy mesh pockets accommodate bottles or small extras, and soft mesh makes up the back panel.
Overall, based on the utility and feel of the construction, Beau looks to have done something I truly appreciate: They created a lifetime product.
I expect the materials and design of the R1 to continue to serve me with and without my son in tow, whether I’m day hiking, commuting to the office, or strolling in the park.
The fit was solid and felt like a normal backpack (which is a huge plus). It doesn’t have a hip belt, which I typically prefer, and I found myself wishing for a slightly bigger internal capacity. Despite the array of internal organization, I still wound up digging through diapers, clothes, wipes, snacks, and more to find the one thing I needed at the bottom of it all.
But that’s also a personal failing — give me more room, and I’ll just fill it with even more stuff. The internal organization pockets functioned well. Three main compartments worked well to separate clothes and gear from food and various everyday items like my wallet, keys, and (these days) an extra mask or two.
I used the insulated “accessory pouches” for some snacks and as a dirty diaper/wet swim trunk stash-away. These fit well within the bag.
While the bag doesn’t purport to be waterproof, nothing ever splashed into — or out of — the bag. Spills were never an issue, and I’d be comfortable wearing it in light-to-medium rain with my work laptop and phone.
The changing station worked as advertised, though I maintain a separate laptop sleeve for my computer. If you need a new laptop carrier, this will work. But it’s handier, in my opinion, to have dedicated laptop protection and leave the changing station a changing station.
Because the construction is all nontoxic, I didn’t fret every time I caught my son chewing on the pack or its accessories.
As a daypack, it will work great so long as you don’t overpack; no hip belt means you could feel the extra strain on your shoulders. Otherwise, the conscious ergonomics of the R1 make this is much easier on my body and left more energy for carrying a tired kid.
At $125, it’s a bit of an investment. But if you make it do double-duty as your daily carryall and parenting pack, its value increases considerably. And the overall construction should relieve both buyer’s remorse and sustainability concerns. The way I see it, once my boy has grown up, he (or I) will have a solid daily pack.