February 3, 2006

Check Out The Skiphop Pronto, Pronto

skiphop_pronto.jpgSure, I get review copies of books and DVD's and stuff, but as a rule, I don't accept freebies of gear, clothes, or gifts from companies who may be mentioned on Daddy Types--unless maybe it's a US-legal Mercedes B200 Turbo with 17" alloys and Comet Grey metallic paint [makes NAFTA-approved thumb-to-ear-talk-into-pinkie gesture and mouths the words "call me"]. So when my email buddy and fellow tech industry survivor Michael, with whom I've talked shop since way back, asked for my mailing address to send out a little something around Christmas, I thought, "Sweeet! Gingersnaps!" and happily complied.

Surprise, it was his company's latest bag, the Pronto. He may have tricked me into taking it, but the Pronto won me over all on its own.

See, it's a surprise to no one that diaper bags are bags. They're based on a bag paradigm, and while that can mean a messenger bag or a backpack, more often than not, they're basically giant purses. Which suits many women just fine. Our diaper bag--a Mum, in black--is a messenger bag, but my wife uses it like a purse, stashing her wallet, keys, phone, etc. in it when we go out [not that there's anything wrong with that, honey...] Bags also accumulate all sorts of stuff--snacks, books, toys, pacifiers, medicine--and become these platforms for your entire life.

By contrast, the Pronto is designed around a single core task: changing diapers while you're out.

Function-driven designs have been around for a while, of course: the Baby Bandolier and the Diaper Dude are two dad-friendly options. But both of those are for full-blown baby servicing, including food and bottles. Plus, they're both designed to be worn. You could carry a Pronto if you want, but it's really designed to be hung or stuffed somewhere.

It's about the size of a shaving kit or--let's face it--a manpurse [but of the smaller Tokyo/Hong Kong dandy variety, not the larger Cargo magazine kind], and you can carry it, throw it in a stroller, or stuff it in any bag you want.

It has pockets for a couple of diapers and wipes--the see-through wipe case is very handy--and not much else. You could pack some flat food, though, but not a bottle. The Pronto unfolds into a changing pad, too, which even comes with a headpad built in. The mod print on the inside might be a little girly, but no one'll see it, really, except you--and your kid's butt.

I've been using the Pronto both on its own--I clip it through the Bugaboo frame--and as the diaperbag module in the canvas LL Bean totebag that I use for overnight shuttles back and forth with the kid. It's great. And it's only $30; if I allowed myself to be bought off with something so affordable, they'd revoke my "dyed-in-the-cashmere-metrosexual" card.

The Pronto is popping up all over, including at Modernseed and Babygeared. Nordstrom thinks it's so great, they're charging $32 for it.

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