There’s an episode of ABC’s Blackish where Lawrence Fishburne mocks his son Dre for wearing a baby carrier. Fishburne’s character is an old-school dad and the idea of a young father effeminately strapping an infant to his chest was not only ridiculous to him but one worthy of repeated derision. Debit that dude’s “man card” was, essentially, the insinuation. And it was a stark reminder that, even in an era of crazy engaged fathers, not all dads are comfortable doing dad things. If more than one-third of British dudes admitted to being embarrassed just pushing a stroller (lordy), as they did in a 2013 survey, how many can handle toting a diaper bag or rocking a Baby Bjorn?
We get it to a degree ⏤ obviously, no one wants to carry a floral-print diaper satchel to the park every day ⏤ but at some point, you have to be confident enough to not give a shit. You have a job to do, and your 6-month-old doesn’t care whether you’re wildly self-conscious about carrying a tote bag.
But if you are, we’re clearly not above poking a little fun at you (come on, it’s a joke!). Also, we’re here to help. There’s been a boom in dad-designed parenting gear over the past few years, as companies unveil more products specifically with guys in mind. Muted colors, military-styling, rugged construction: all is now prevalent and available to make dads feel more comfortable. As is baby gear camouflaged as everyday gear and/or in actual camouflage prints. After sorting through it all, we rounded up the best tactical baby gear, military-style baby carriers, diaper bags, and parenting products on the market today.
Mission Critical Tactical Baby Carrier
At first glance, the 1000D nylon outer shell of Mission Critical’s military grade baby carrier might be mistaken for Kevlar. And that’s exactly the point. While some baby carriers are definitely dad-friendly, this one is designed specifically for guys. Kids can ride either facing in or out, and the baby carrier features a removable interior liner, zippered front pocket, and a hideaway sun shield. Also, there’s mesh webbing for better airflow/comfort, which means no more infant-sized sweat stains. What else would you expect from something that looks like something a SWAT team would wear on “Take Your Daughter To Work” day?
Paperclip Diaper Bag
Paperclip is a handsome dude-friendly backpack diaper bag with an attached, fold-out changing station. Designed by a couple of dads and unveiled at last year’s ABC Expo, it comes in two styles with names that resemble a morning zoo crew, the Bear and the Willow. It also has an outside-accessible laptop compartment and can easily convert into a messenger bag.
Tough Love Teethers are non-toxic teething toys shaped like brass knuckles and designed to soothe aching gums while “helping children avoid chemicals hidden in plastics.” Also, to make babies look tough. They’re hand-carved of 100 percent maple wood (to order) and are billed as antimicrobial and self-healing ⏤ which means no bacteria, and no splinters.
Dad On Diaper Duty (D.O.D.D.) XH Backpack
Honestly, Tactical Dad’s D.O.D.D is a bad-ass military-styled rucksack that looks like it could survive multiple tours in Afghanistan; having it accidentally mistaken for a diaper bag is highly unlikely. It’s made of a tough 600-denier polyester, rocks adjustable padded shoulder straps, and both a waist belt and quick-release sternum straps, so you can definitely take it hiking. There are plenty of pockets for wipes and diapers, and dual mesh insulated bottle pouches on the side. Also, it comes with a changing pad and sweet camo ‘DADDY’ badge.
If James Bond needed to push his three-month-old around in between saving the world from evil villains, this is his stroller Q would build him. Omnio is a full-sized baby stroller that doesn’t just fold down into the size of a backpack but actually becomes one. The same padded 6-point shoulder harness used to strap the child in doubles as backpack shoulder straps that allow dad to sherpa the 16.5-pound Omnio around town. The all-terrain, omnidirectional tires roll sideways without having to swivel (making it easier to steer) and pop off ⏤ making it easier to store. The stroller features a detachable all-weather hood with UV (UPF50+) protection, reclining seat that can be removed for cleaning, telescoping handle, zipped main seat pocket, and a central foot brake pedal. Also, a handy waterproof travel bag.
Abiie’s innovative new HUGGS debuted at this year’s JPMA show and is designed with an ergonomic built-in kid seat. It allows for four different carrying positions ⏤ front inward and outward, back, and hip ⏤ and rocks a decisively dad-friendly aesthetic, both in terms of color (gray and beige) and material (breathable mesh). Best of all, it only weighs 3.7-lbs. and is easy to stuff underneath the seatback in front of you.
The Matrix Tactical Systems Baby CIRAS Vest
For the record, the Baby CIRAS Vest isn’t a flak jacket for dads to tote bottles around in lieu of a diaper bag. It’s actually a flak jacket… for babies! Seriously. Designed for kids six months to 2-years-old, it’s got molle webbing, two bottle holders, and a mini dump pouch for tissues, snacks, and presumably, dirty diapers? There’s also a built-in hydration pouch and the whole vest can withstand shots from an airsoft gun should your infant find themselves in the thick of paintball battle.
Diaper Dude Bottle Holders
Sure, there’s probably a sippy cup full of baby’s milk in this handsome insulated Diaper Dude bottle holder, but then again, there could also be a bottle of Sam Adams. Who’s to say? It zips open and closed, has a loop to lash to your diaper backpack, and comes in one of five masculine colors including camouflage.
Tactical Baby Gear (TBG) is actually one of the early purveyors of baby gear that looks like it’s issued by the U.S. Army. And the Deuce 2.0 is a redesign of their wildly successful original diaper tote. It’s made of a rugged 600D water-repellent nylon, measures 10.25-inches by 15-inches, and rocks a wipe-down main pouch with removable divider for organizing. The exterior is equally as user-friendly, with three easy-access pockets (for wipes/diapers, butt cream, phones) and a full-length padded compartment for the iPad ⏤ because you never know when Blaze and the Monster Machines may need to be called in as reinforcements.