Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Tactical Diaper Bag

I hate diaper bags. I hate them so much I never really had a true "diaper bag." I was gifted one before my son was born, used it for about a week and ditched it in favor for something lighter and smaller.

Most of the time, barring extenuating circumstances (such as medical conditions, etc), your child does not need a built-in 1/2" thick, folding changing pad just to change a diaper. He doesn't need six changes of clothes for every clime and place. He doesn't need two blankets and six bottles. If you need all those things you are going on a trip, not just out and about and you might as well be taking a suitcase, not a diaper bag.

And who needs to be carrying BOTH a diaper bag and a purse? I know some women who work need to have the diaper bag to drop off at the baby-sitter or daycare and the purse to go to work with them but for the rest of us it's perfectly acceptable to combine the two AND make sure we have all of our self defense tools at hand as well.

I have put together what I have considered to be my "tactical" diaper bag (no matter how much I despise using the term "tactical").

A tactical diaper bag is more than what is carried in the bag but here are some things you might find if you were to search such a bag:
  • gun

  • knife

  • multi-tool

  • spare magazine/speedloader 

  • pepper spray

  • tactical pen

  • medical supplies (beyond just a few bandaids and neosporin)

  • flashlight

  • Taser

  • Stun gun

  • Personal Alarm

Some people (men and women alike) think that just because they are carrying a certain tool (whether that is a knife, gun, pepper spray, Taser, etc) they are ready if they should need to use it.

Often, when I get to talking to other women about self defense they will chirp proudly, "I carry pepper spray."

To which I respond, "Great! Where is it?"

At which point I watch and silently count off the seconds as they retrieve their purse off the floor and dig through it while mumbling, "Well, it's around here somewhere."

We're lucky if they can gain access to it in less than twenty seconds.

That, my friends, is far too long.

A tool is only as good as its accessibility and even if you can't carry on body or choose to carry off body in a purse or bag it doesn't mean that you have to sacrifice that accessibility and security.

Maxpedition Versipack Jumbo
A tactical bag takes the carrying of the defensive tools to a whole new level of security and accessibility. There are bags out there that are specifically designed to be "tactical" and they make it very easy to put together in a configuration that works for you both as a kick-ass mother and as a warrior woman.

I have one of these such bags which I have often used as a diaper bag/purse. It is a Maxpedition Versipack Jumbo bag. When I got mine they only came in a very limited number of manly colors as they were originally marketed to military and police but when mothers like myself started to catch on to their potential in the civilian sector they added many more color options.

 The greatest thing about these types of bags is that they assume you will be carrying defensive tools and/or weaponry of some sorts and they make provisions for such tools.

All the goodies I frequently fit into my Versipack.
The back pocket of the bag is designed to hold a gun if you wish. There is a holster accessory you can purchase separately that you attach to the inside of the pocket to secure your firearm. The shoulder strap (which is designed to be carried cross-body) has a quick-release snap but also small loops and hooks for anything you might want to attach to the strap like a pen or pepper spray or even your car keys. In addition to that there are many more pockets and pouches that allow for reasonable placement of items by level of importance.

There are other "tactical" bag companies out there that make bags specifically geared towards the carrying of weaponry, but, let's face it, most of them look like.. well, tactical bags.

Some people don't care. In fact, as long as they can get a tactical bag in baby blue or pink with their child's name embroidered on the front it's good enough for them. But, some women do care what their diaper bag looks like and want something that is both aesthetically pleasing as well as functional as a tactical bag.

Before we talk about how to make or change your average diaper bag into a tactical diaper bag I want to talk about some rules to having and/or using a bag as a duel tactical/diaper bag.

Be Safe
Remember, a diaper bag is to aid you in caring for your child and is going to be around your child. If you plan on carrying a defensive tool of any kind in your diaper bag (whether it's a gun, knife, pepper spray, etc) you have a responsibility to make sure yours or any other child cannot gain access to that tool. It is your responsibility to have control of the bag at all times; be vigilant of your bag at all times for both access and security; be responsible for the items contained in the bag so that you never hand over the bag to someone else who is either unauthorized or uneducated in the tools within that bag; always have a way to secure your bag or your tools in the event you need to leave the bag, etc. Be safe and responsible.

Check Legalities
You and your baby (and therefore your diaper bag) go a lot of places. Some of these places do not allow specific defensive tools like guns and knives. Check the legalities of your tools in the places you are about to go before you go and have a back up plan for storage of your tools in the event that they are not allowed.

With that in mind, let's talk about how to choose a bag and set it up in a way that is both optimal for you as a mom, and as a defensive tool bag--a tactical diaper bag.

Have a shoulder strap that allows for cross-body carry.
There really is no negotiating this point. If you are going to carry a defensive tool in a bag it should be able to be attached to your body in such a way as it cannot easily slip off or be taken. The most secure way to carry a bag is to sling it across the body. This protects you from losing your bag and from someone doing a quick run and snatch.

A gun gets its own pocket.
This is another non-negotiable point. Every couple of months I read a story about a gun that goes off in a store because it was carried in some woman's purse and something got inside of the trigger guard causing a discharge. This should never happen. If there is going to be a gun in a bag or purse it should ALWAYS have it's own pocket (preferably with a zipper, snap or velcro for concealability and to keep little fingers out). That pocket should be equipt with some sort of a holster devise holding the firearm in such a way that the trigger cannot be accessed and so that the firearm can be gripped and drawn quickly and safely by the legal carrier. If you have to modify a pocket in your bag to do this then do it, but just accept the fact that if there is going to be a gun in the bag it's going to have its own designated pocket.

Prioritize placement of products in pockets. 
Ask yourself this question when considering what you are putting in your bag and where in your bag you are going to put it: "When am I going to need this?"
Even if you are going to need something several times a day (diapers or a change of socks, let's say) you don't necessarily need them IMMEDIATELY. Typically, you wait to change a diaper until you are in a place where you can lie your child down in a relatively controlled environment. You may be better served reserving the most accessible pockets and locations of your bag for items that you are may immediately need--such as a defensive tool. As stated before, the bottom of a purse or bag is no place for a defensive tool. If you can't access it it is no good to you.
Put priority on the things that can save your life and the life of your child and put those in a dominant, easy to access place while also considering safety and legalities.

Modify your bag. 
If you want a place to hook your pepper spray, keys or tactical pen on a strap or external pocket, get yourself a D-ring, S-biner, key ring, some heavy-duty thread, a needle, a nylon strip or other other attachment method and modify! Or, have that friend of yours who sews rig something up for you. If you feel your bag would better suit your needs if it had this or that modification, then do it. Make it quality work and make sure it's safe and responsible, but modify!

To show you just how easy it is to make even the most non-tactical diaper bag into a tactical diaper bag I'll give you an example to consider.

Coach Diaper Bag
This Diaper Bag made by Coach has "tactical diaper bag" potential written ALL over it (in addition to all of the "C"s). It has a shoulder strap capable of cross-body slinging. The pockets on the ends are perfect for things like tactical pens, pepper spray, knives, spare magazines/speedloaders and tactical flashlights in addition to a bottle or water bottle on the one side. The large pocket on the front is a zipper pocket that is perfect for something like a gun which could be retrofitted with a holster like a Remora that will keep the firearm both protected and in place. The heavy D-ring hooks on either side of the bag could be modified for keys with the addition of a simple S-biner.

Not all bags have "tactical diaper bag" potential but with these guidlines you should be able to shop smart and find a bag that works both for your needs as a mother and for your needs as something to tote around your tactical gear.


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