- Buyer's Guide
Beau Industries Parenting Pack R1 Review
Designing a parent bag is a tough job. No two parents carry the same loadout, and each parent does it a little differently. This situation has created a market flooded with utilitarian packs that aim to be everything for everyone. The issue is compounded by the fleeting nature of the bag’s use case, resulting in cheap, unattractive products that don’t serve anyone particularly well.
George Estreich, a father himself, saw a need in the market. The result is Beau Industries and their first offering, the Parenting Pack R1. You may not have heard of George or Beau Industries, but chances are you or someone you know has worn one of his designs. His designs have sold thousands of units for companies like Samsonite and Timberland. So, although this is his first solo endeavor, he’s presenting with a serious pedigree.
The Beau Industries Parenting Pack R1 looks and feels like a pack from a brand that’s been making bags for over a decade; honestly, I don’t see the rookie mistakes I often see in newer brands. Is it worthy of your consideration, though? Let’s dive in.
Two notes: First, my wife and I approach packing the parent bag in a modular fashion – everything has a pouch: clothes, food/snacks, medicines, diaper change items, and miscellaneous. Second, all photos were taken after two months of hard use (this is important when discussing durability).
Dual External Bottle/Pouch Pocket
3 Compartments (Admin/Main/Laptop)
Removable Sternum Strap
The Cool Stuff
100% Recycled Body Fabric (900D Reboyarn Poly)
420D Ripstop Interior Lining
Ballistic Bottom Fabric
SBS Water-resistant Zips
Insulated Accessory Pouches (included)
9-Pocket Organizer Compartment
3 Drop Pockets in Main Compartment
Deep Fleece-lined Phone Pocket
Glove-Friendly Zipper Pulls
The Wow Stuff
Laptop Crash Pad
Generously Padded Back Panel & Straps
Changing Pad/Laptop Sleeve (PEVA Coated)
Who It Suits
Parents who want the critical functionality of a parenting pack but in a stylish, durable, and feature-rich package that they can use after the kids have grown up. The R1 is a stellar backpack first, and a parent pack second.
Who It Doesn’t
Parents who are expecting pockets for everything: multiple access points, loads of built-in insulation, and every single parent-focused feature under the sun. The R1’s design zeroed in on the most critical tasks of mobile parenting. Also, parents in more formal settings may need to look elsewhere – although sleek in its aesthetics, the R1 would look a little out of place.
The aesthetics are what are immediately fetching about the R1 – this does not look like a parent bag. Instead, the lines and clean silhouette give it the look of a sleek day pack or tech bag. During the testing period, I received comments like, “Is that a motorcycle backpack?” And, “That bag looks like it’s from the future.” Little did they know the bag was packed with diapers and pink onesies.
The R1 achieves this look by preventing the exterior from being busy; aside from red accents on the zipper pulls and the gray logo, this pack is blacked out. And it’s not heavily pocketed; it’s efficient. The bottle pockets, although stretchy, shrink along the side of the bag when not in use. Lastly, the soft sloping angles distance the R1 from typical parent bags, which are usually boxy. From the outside, you’d be hard-pressed to guess what this pack was actually for.
While we’re talking about the bag’s exterior, let’s go into a few things done right. The zipper pulls are custom-made metal and glove-friendly; there’s a level of quality here because it’s not your typical heat-shrunk-wrapped paracord or shiny plastic. The pulls feel good in the hand and include a miniature version of the company’s logo – it’s a neat touch.
The compartments that would most likely hold electronics, such as the laptop, quick-access, and dry-pocket, all come with water-resistant SBS zips that are reverse-coil, self-healing, and have TPU film. The admin and main compartment do not have the TPU film, and this is a smart move because the extra water resistance comes at the cost of more friction on the pull. This decision allows the admin panel and main compartment to be easily opened with one hand with little leverage. It’s a small thing but illustrates the obsessive attention to detail George Estreich put into the design.
Speaking of the bottle pockets, this is an exemplary implementation. There’s a pocket on each side, and they easily swallow up any bottle I put in there. Various types of baby bottles were used, from Comotomo, to Dr. Brown’s, to Philips Avent; none posed an issue. Even my larger 25oz and 32oz Hydro Flasks sunk in deep and felt secure. These pockets are also the perfect spot for the insulated pouches we’ll talk about in a second. As mentioned above, the mesh has a good bit of stretch to it and snaps back against the pack when not in use. Lastly, there is a small reflective strip on each side along the pockets – another thoughtful touch.
In terms of materials, the Beau Industries Parenting Pack R1 immediately feels like a high-quality bag. The main body is clad in 900D RPET recycled poly (Reboyarn) that feels durable with the right balance of stretch, softness, water resistance, and abrasion resistance. The bottom of the pack is protected with ballistic weave nylon that’s PU foam padded and lined internally with 420D ripstop, making a three-material stack that much of the pack sports. The bag’s contents are well-protected. It’s worth mentioning that the top handle comprises tubular webbing with EVA padding that’s box-stitched to the top of the pack. It has a nice hand-feel while also feeling secure.
All this results in a weatherable shell that protects what’s inside while fending off the scratches, bumps, spills, and stains of parenting. Before taking any photos for this review, I used the R1 with reckless abandon for two months. So all the images you see are of a bag that’s been taken on multiple trips to the airport, to the park, dozens of trips to the grandparents, trips to the beach, and days by the pool. That should provide an idea of how this bag is holding up. It’s a bag that can hold you over for several years.
The internal materials are also worth mentioning; mostly 420D Ripstop Nylon. What some bags use for exterior materials are what’s being used as the liner here. Again, showing attention to detail in creating a quality pack. That attention to detail and use of materials extends to the various drop pockets in the main compartment and the admin compartment; this too is 420D Ripstop Nylon. Sure, the two zipper pulls in the admin are dinky, and the key-leash is plastic, but those are two spots where I am okay with a bit of cost-cutting. Additionally, the fleece in the quick-access pocket feels soft and comfy.
As a quick note, the main compartment’s two top elastic drop pockets may at first seem like a weird design choice, but in use, they’re pretty helpful. Generally speaking, I put essentials here that I didn’t want dropping to the bottom of the pack: a wallet, battery pack, hand sanitizer spray, creams, bug spray, or a random toy. The compartment’s lower elastic drop pocket helped store diapers. I could comfortably keep six diapers in there, eight if I was pushing it – that’s a lot of diapers. Once my kid gets older, these pockets will be useful to keep items easily accessible without taking up space in the quick-access pocket or in the admin pocket.
The R1 comes with a few ancillary items: a changing pad that doubles as a laptop sleeve (what?) and two insulated pouches. Let’s dive into the changing pad first. The changing pad is safely stored in the laptop compartment, which is heavily padded and has a padded false bottom. It does an adequate job of providing an easy way to execute a diaper change. No one wants to take a full backpack into the bathroom if they can help it.
The changing pad includes a large mesh pocket that’s good for storing a couple of diapers, a pack of wipes, and some bum cream – that’s all I need for a quick change. The surface has enough padding to be comfortable for the baby but not too padded to become cumbersome. It’s made of non-toxic materials, which is an intelligent choice since it will directly touch your baby’s skin. Honestly, I never regretted using this over my Skip Hop. It bears mentioning again that the changing pad becomes a laptop sleeve. So, once your kid gets old enough, you have a pretty dope and padded laptop sleeve.
Some of the breakout stars of this whole package are the two insulated pouches. They’re super versatile, made from the same Reboyarn as the pack but lined with waterproof insulation. While using the pack, I put all sorts of stuff in these pouches: food packs, crackers, yogurt, toys, medicine, fruit, blankets, towels, and miscellaneous gear. I’d cool the pouch down with some basic freezer packs we had laying around, and it worked great. Generally, I used one pouch for foodstuffs and the other for gear. Both pouches are designed to fit into the bottle pockets, and I used this feature just about every time. Sure, there are other pouches on the market, but these are so well designed and implemented alongside the R1 that it’s seamless and a joy to use.
After saying all these good things, I have to mention my favorite – the back panel and straps. Admittedly, there’s a lot of debate about the merits of air channels and padding designs on bags. Still, for me, this is one of the best-designed back panels and straps I’ve experienced on a daypack. No matter how much I packed into the R1, it felt light on my back. It’s bonkers comfortable. How did they do it? First, the back panel includes an embedded polyethylene frame sheet, then polyurethane foam segments rise 0.75″ from the surface. Meaning, when the pack’s weight rests against the back, the air channels are not up against the body but allow for air to flow. I live in a humid place, and yes, I still sweated, but my back felt much better than when I wear other packs with less robust back panels.
The comfort is rounded out by some great straps; these things are beefy but not squishy. There’s a stack of EVA foam on top for stability, with PU foam for softness. It’s a mix that works. I’d dig this combination of back panel and strap design on a travel bag!
Lastly, we come to one of the major decisions regarding bag purchases, the price. After using this pack for two months, I experienced the pros and cons, felt the material firsthand, and saw how the bag does under stress – I assumed this bag would be selling for $175 or more, but I was wrong. The R1 will retail for $129, including shipping and the two insulated pouches. That’s a fantastic deal.
Not So Good
Despite many excellent points, the Beau Industries Parenting Pack R1 does have a few things that bothered me:
A parent’s key performance indicator for a bag is access. Namely, how efficiently can I get to what I need with one hand while holding a wiggling child? Here’s where the R1’s straddling between parent bag and mainstream EDC takes a hit. As an EDC bag, it’s great. Zippers are smooth, and organization is on-point. But if I need to get to my daughter’s toy cell phone that’s midway down the bag, or even in one of the suspended drop pockets, it’ll be tough to get it with one hand while holding the baby. Our booboo kit is all the way at the bottom of the pack; to retrieve it, I’d need to empty out the main compartment to get it.
The half-zip nature of the R1 inhibits its efficiency as a parent bag. Even getting the changing pad out of the back compartment would be a challenge with one hand while holding a kid. It’s definitely a balancing act because the exclusively parent-focused bags have tons of access, but they’re often ugly and structurally weak.
Branding is a challenging topic to discuss. Brands like The North Face, Adidas, Nike, Patagonia, Arc’teryx, etc., plaster their logo on everything. How do you know someone is wearing Supreme? Their clothing will tell you. I personally chafe at this, but I understand the power of branding and the tight-rope balancing act required to get the brand out there but not be over the top. That being said, although I like the Beau Industries logo and think its incorporation into the zipper pulls is brilliant, its implementation on the face of the pack is too big. Of course, this is subjective. I would have preferred smaller branding on the pack’s front and eliminated the logo from the right strap.
The Beau Industries Parenting Pack R1 is a bag that is best suited for casual and outdoorsy settings. It’s sleek in its design, but it definitely looks like a pack that belongs walking around the city, going to a park, catching a ball game, or hitting up Disney. I’d switch this out for another pack when going into a more formal space, which was rare (thanks, COVID).
Since the R1 is targeted at parents with an EDC twist, we must consider that it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that other dedicated parent bags tend to come with. It doesn’t come with a ton of pockets, built-in insulated compartments, or dedicated diaper storage. There are no side access or multiple access points to the main compartment. It also isn’t a very gender-neutral pack, leaning a bit masculine. If those things are super important, then the R1 may not be for you.
One feature that’s very parent-focused is the front-facing waterproof and insulated pocket. At first, I thought this was genius! But in reality, I probably used it twice for its intended use case. The pocket fits wipe pouches with ease, and even after weeks, the wipes are still moist – it’s great in that respect. Personally, I just found it easier to keep wipes in the changing pad. My wife wasn’t a fan either; her thoughts were that if she was changing a diaper, she’d always have the changing pad, so why not just keep everything together. As a dry-pocket for a phone or other valuables though, it’s pretty clutch.
The changing pad also presented a small issue. The mesh pocket is open with no way to secure it. Occasionally, some of the stuff inside would fall out when not held in the correct orientation. Even a simple Velcro closure would have worked here, or even better, a zipper! It’s not a big deal, but one worth noting when taking the changing pad out, walking around with it, or putting it back in.
Beau Industries has designed an excellent pack that accomplishes the arduous task of balancing a great parenting bag while also being a great mainstream EDC pack. The R1 doesn’t have all the features that dedicated parent bags usually come with, but that’s a good thing; many of those features are superfluous and become obsolete within a few months. On the other hand, it does come with the essential features for parents while also presenting with the majority of features mainstream wearers require.
It’s a first-time effort for Beau Industries. Still, the attention to detail, the use of materials, and comfort are clearly the designs of an industry veteran. There are a few minor issues, like not having more access to the main compartment and the wipe pocket being less functional than initially thought. Still, at $129, the Beau Industries Parenting Pack R1 isn’t just a great parent bag, it’s a great EDC bag that has me wondering what else I can do with it.
This article was written by Jovanni Bello. Renaissance man, adventurer and cell phone photographer.