From Daypack to Diaper Bag: the Vagabond is a Dad’s Best Friend
By: Miguel "VirGo" Aguilar
I’m 99.9% sure that Gossamer Gear did not think the Vagabond Daypack would be used as a diaper bag. In three short chapters, I’ll give you a little background on how I became familiar with Gossamer Gear, my journey into fatherhood, and the unconventional way to use the Vagabond as a diaper bag.
Chapter 1: 2011 Meeting My Pillow
As with all relationships – father-son, father-daughter, backpacker-cottage industry backpacking company – there's that first time you meet. My first time "meeting" Gossamer Gear was in 2011 at the now defunct Annual Day Zero Pacific Crest Trail Kick Off, otherwise known as "Kick Off". Kick Off is also where I discovered that you can’t run through a campsite. You can only ran, because it’s past tents. #dadjoke1
Anyway, at KO, vendors set up booths, which gave the public an opportunity to interact not only with their gear, but also the innovators, designers, and producers behind their niche backpacking merchandise. I was in search of a backpack to use for my 2012 Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) thru-hike. I had packed all the gear I was planning to carry on my future PCT hike into the only pack I had. I brought it to every vendor that sold backpacks and asked if I could load my gear in their backpack. Fully loaded, I would then walk around a bit to see how comfortable it was.
Something like the sixth and last pack of the day, I tried on the 2011 Mariposa Plus. All I can say was that it felt like wearing a pillow! Speaking of pillows. What did the pillow say as it fell off the hostel bed? Oh sheet! #dadjoke2
Needless to say, my first impression of Gossamer Gear merchandise was elation. This first impression was valuable. It carried me into trusting their brand over the years as I observed their evolution as a company, watched the long-distance hiking community grow in scope and size, and ventured on a few thru-hikes of my own.
Chapter 2: 2017 Pre-Baby Planning
Since our introduction in 2011, both Gossamer Gear and I had grown in the long distance hiking community. While I had successfully thru-hiked the Pacific Crest, Continental Divide, and Oregon Desert Trails, they had developed new lines of gear. Sidenote: If you meet a man named Terry while hiking the Oregon Desert Trail, and you laugh and say, “Terry? That’s a girl’s name!” Terry may shoot you and you would have died on the Oregon Desert Trail from dissin’ Terry. #dadjoke3
Anyway, when I discovered I was going to be a father, the nesting phase began. We needed to purchase myriad merchandise to usher in our first child. Car seat, clothes, bassinet, bibs, stroller, stroller adapter for the car seat, blankets, sleepers, socks, hats, diapers, diaper bag – the 1,000 essentials for parenting in today’s first world. My only request through all the purchases was to have my own carrier and diaper bag. Yes, new fathers, you will need a diaper bag wherever you may roam with your baby.
This was an exciting moment because it was like the time I was a newbie long distance hiker looking for a backpack to carry all my gear. I was now a newbie dad, looking for a diaper bag to carry all my gear. One major difference was that I was now a #hikertrash dad. It was important to have a bag that was at least dual purpose, so it needed to be a packback versus a tote bag. I would use it primarily as a diaper bag, as well as a day backpack for trail and urban day hikes.
A friend of mine, Whitney LaRuffa, had one of the first Vagabond packs back in 2017. It was exactly what I was looking for. I would soon have the new Vagabond and be able to put it to use. Sidenote: You know what the best thing about hiking with dogs and babies is? Give up? Emergency food! (I’m talking about the dog and baby food! What did you think I meant?) #dadjoke4
The major benefit that drew me to the Vagabond was the ability to take all the baby paraphernalia out and put all my day hiking gear in. Being a freelance video editor, I can also add my professional accoutrements, such as laptop, computer drives, trackpad, firewire cables, etc. This adds a tertiary purpose, satisfying dad, hiker, and video editor! Stoked!
Chapter 3: 2020 Not Another Blowout
In late December 2017, I officially became a father with the birth of my first son Oscar.
Nineteen months later, my wife delivered our second son, Otto. The second time my wife was in labor, I tried to keep her happy by telling her jokes, but she didn’t laugh once. It must’ve been the delivery. #dadjoke5
Anyhoo, after 2.5 years of being a dad, I’ve used the Vagabond almost every day. Recently, I upgraded to the new Vagabond Jet, and there have been some improvements that make life as a dad much easier. First, the interior has a full-length padded laptop pouch where I store the diapers (and a laptop when necessary). There’s also a half-length padded pouch for my small items, such as teethers, spit-up cloth, and powdered formula. In addition, there’s an interior zippered pouch for my important items – car keys, wallet, cell phone, Vitamin I. Speaking of drugs, I bought some Altra shoes from a drug dealer the other day. I don't know what he laced them with, but I was tripping all day! #dadjoke6
Lastly, the interior main compartment stores all of my baby’s essentials – portable changing pad, disposable wipes, change of clothes, swaddle/muslim blankets, clean bottles, toys and/or chewy toys, and snacks for me and the baby.
The exterior of the pack has plenty of useful features, as well. With the COVID-19 pandemic in effect, I exclusively use the exterior zipper pocket for my hand sanitizer. My 4 and 8 ounce baby bottles fit snugly in the front shoulder strap pockets, as does my enormous iPhone 7s. This is a great storage place for these items while walking. The side mesh pockets are excellent for holding sippy cups, extra bottles, and my sippy cup, the Yeti Heavy Duty Coffee Rambler (the cornerstone of any sane parent). The large mesh exterior pocket is reserved for quick access items, such as wet wipes, melt-down snacks, hat, gloves, booties, and emergency contact info.
I’d be remiss if I did not mention some constructive criticism. Now that I’m using the Vagabond Jet, I do miss the three loops inside the pack for hanging my dog waste bag dispenser. Parent hack #8675: Dog waste bags are perfect for containing clothes that get wet and poopy diapers. When tied up, the dog bag seals in the odor. It’s not cool to throw a stinky diaper into a restaurant bathroom or stink up your super sweet Town & Country MiniVan for the hour long ride from the trailhead.
Also, the volume of the Vagabond Jet seems smaller. This could be great to promote further minimizing contents in a bag, but the last thing a dad needs is to minimize diaper bag products that could help mitigate a blowout. Google “diaper blowout,” then click “images.” For the extreme hikers, google “worst diaper blowout.”
Volume and interior hooks aside, the look of the Vagabond Jet is beautiful. I have been stopped numerous times, usually by other dads, and asked, “What is the name of that pack you’re wearing?” I give them a little show and tell of the pack, and they usually end up writing down the name of the company, website, and pack name.
Gratitude for the Vagabond Daypack Turned Diaper Bag this Father’s Day
I hope my story made you chuckle or enlightened you a bit about a piece of gear that is vital in the life of a father. With Father’s Day approaching, I am grateful for my two healthy and adorable little poop factories and the diaper bag that accompanies us along our journey. Which beckons the question: When does a joke become a dad joke? When it becomes apparent.
Baby bottle drop.
Miguel is a husband, father, senior video editor, Virgo, and long-distance hiker. Whether it's editing shows like Hoarders, hiking a National Scenic Trail, or care taking for his two sons, Miguel is up for the joys of the journey.