by Kerri Klugewicz, Pink Lady and Proud JJB enthusiast
We mommies know that the Boy Scouts aren't the only ones whose motto is "Be Prepared" - and now, thanks to the Ju-Ju-Be diaper bag of the same name, we can do just that! Moms of more than one in diapers, moms of twins, moms who travel a lot, or moms who are simply overpackers - rejoice! Your long-awaited perfect diaper bag is finally here - and it's both fabulous AND fabulously functional!
In their recent fall Premiere Collection, Ju-Ju-Be introduced what I think is one of the most innovative diaper bag designs on the market - the Be Prepared. Measuring a very spacious 18.5 x 14 x 6.5 inches, this is by far the largest and roomiest diaper bag I've ever tried (and trust me, I've tried MANY!) Yet despite its significant size and abundance of unique and practical features, this a beautiful bag that is not too enormous or unwieldy. It maintains a fairly structured shape no matter how much or how little you put into it, so it never looks sloppy or slouchy or too "duffel bag-esque." Thanks to the fabulous organizational features that are a Ju-Ju-Be trademark, this is the rare bag that will allow you to carry everything you might possibly need for yourself and your kids, and yet be able to find and access all of it with ease!
Some JJB fans I know use their Be Prepared for day trips and overnights only, but it's definitely not too big to be an everyday bag, particularly if you're a heavy packer, a cloth-diapering mama, or have multiple kids. I have three young children (ages 5, 3, and 1), two are in diapers, and I tend to be a heavy packer in general, so I often use my Be Prepared as an everyday bag and find it's perfect for my needs. Finally, I no longer need to carry a separate purse for myself, or a second bag when I'll be going on a day trip, or somewhere we'll need extra changes of clothes! I can carry everything I need for all three kids, plus my own items, plus whatever extra things I might need for the days' activities (for example, school books when we're going to our homeschool co-op classes, supplies when I'm leading La Leche League meetings, etc.) I LOVE no longer having to carry separate totes for these items, or sticking the random stuff that doesn't fit into a plastic grocery sack at the last minute(UGH!) Usually, I still have space to spare in my Be Prepared for things we might pick up during the day (you know how things accumulate when you have little ones!) and that has definitely NEVER happened to me before!
The one time my Be Prepared was stuffed close to capacity, I had fit all of the following in it, for an all-day trip: 8 size 5 diapers, 6 Pull-Ups and 2 size 6 diapers, a full-size Pampers wipes refill package, two JJB Wardrobe Stations containing complete changes of clothes and pajamas for the all three kids, a JJB Be Quick containing small miscellaneous items like medicines, etc., another Be Quick containing small toys (Matchbox cars, Princess figurines, etc.), a large box of crayons and several coloring books, TWO baby carriers rolled up (a ring sling and a Beco), assorted snacks for the kids and myself, digital camera, a book for myself, 3 sippy cups, a bottle of water for myself, a bottle of hairspray, my full checkbook-size wallet, a large cosmetics bag, sunglasses, cell phone, planner/calendar, and small misc. items in the mommy pocket. But even when I don't have nearly as much in it, the bag still looks nice and holds its shape!
The Be Prepared has all the usual great JJB features like the washable, Teflon-coated fabric, the antimicrobial inner lining, the multitude of well-placed pockets and compartments, the high-quality construction and durability, the cute photo slots, the insulated sippy/bottle pockets, the adorable little touches like the rhinestone zipper pulls, and the comfortable, memory-foam straps. But this bag has even more wonderful things to offer that you won't find anywhere else, starting with the large mommy pocket - it has a place for your cell phone, a place for your sunglasses, a scrunchy keychain, and several other little pockets for smaller items. Behind the mommy pocket is a gusseted open pocket, great for sticking things you need to reach quickly and easily. On the back of the bag, there's a pocket for the changing pad - and it's an oversized one! Inside the cavernous main compartment are several mesh pockets - with color-coded tabs, so you can easily see which side has which size diapers before pulling them all out! There's also a great additional pocket behind one of the mesh pockets that runs the full length of the bag but is not too deep; I find this perfect for my wallet and camera (I don't like my mommy pocket to be too full), so I can grab them quickly and they don't end up at the bottom of the bag. One of the most ingenious features of the Be Prepared is the L-shaped zipper on the main compartment; it allows the bag to be opened just at the top as would be typical, or unzipped all the way down the sides of the bag to its base, allowing full access to everything inside and a multitude of packing and organizational options.
There are two insulated sippy/bottle pockets on either end of the bag, which have great little magnetized flaps that close over them so nothing slides out no matter how much the bag gets jostled. Inside are two additional pockets for sippies, bottles, or anything else. And this amazing bag rests on four metal feet, so the bottom of it won't get dirty! The Be Prepared can be carried several ways - by its tote handles, a shoulder strap, or messenger style. The tote handles can be tucked in when not in use, and the adjustable shoulder/messenger strap detaches. The Be Prepared, like all the Premiere bags, comes with the Be Connected stroller straps inlcuded, which are just incredible! The grip like crazy so your bag doesn't budge when hung on your stroller, and they're just adorable with the signature JJB rhinestone decorating them.
The Be Prepared comes in three solid colors (black with silver accents, and brown with either robin blue or bubblegum pink accents), but I am exceedingly partial to the one patterned fabric it's available in so far - Purple Paisley. This vivid yet elegant print combines several gorgeous and au courant shades of purple and sets them against a background of neutral of black and grey. It is, at once, both eye-catching and subdued - it's colorful, and yet surprisingly seems to coordinate with almost anything. I'm sure the solid-colored Be Prepared is pretty as well, but the shape and dimensions of this bag provide a particularly great canvas to showcase this lovely fabric. We JJB fans have heard through the grapevine that the Be Prepared will be available in additional patterns in the spring collection, and I can't wait!
No diaper bag is perfect, although this one sure comes close! There are only three small suggestions I'd offer that would make an amazing bag even better. First, the tote handles on the Be Prepared are a a bit short, and the strap drop (as the straps are connected pretty far apart on an already wide bag) makes it difficult for me to wear it as a tote bag. I still like the tote handles, though, as they provide a quick way to grab the bag before you get it on your shoulder with the shoulder strap. Secondly, the bag tends to lean forward a bit - the consensus among the JJB fans I know is that this seems to happen because the pocket behind the mommy pocket is gusseted; this is great because it gives you more room for things in that space, but it can cause the bag to come close to tipping if you don't practice balancing the contents. Lastly, only the front and back of the Be Prepared are made of the usual JJB fabric; the top and sides of the bag are made of a canvas material. The JJB folks tell us that this served a dual purpose - it made the bag more expandable width-wise, and also made it a bit lighter. Some mamas are not bothered by this, but others of us think the Be Prepared would be nicer with the same fabric all around, a change I believe is under consideration by the JJB designers, who are always fantastic about listening to their fans!
Ju-Ju-Be has really outdone themselves on this one, and the Be Prepared is an incredible, must-have bag! It has really filled a gap in the market for an extra-large, yet stylish and well-organized bag. There's just nothing like it, and now that I've tried it, I know I couldn't live without it!
Monday, November 19, 2007
Posted by Teri at 8:55 PM