I admit it. For the longest time, I really didn’t give much thought to the bag I used to carry my diabetes supplies. At first, I just used whatever black zippered case came with my glucometer. When I started needing to carry more diabetes stuff, I graduated to a pink zippered cosmetics bag. Not so much as a fashion statement, but because I could find it easily when digging in my backpack or laptop bag.
But for many people their diabetes bag means oh-so-much more.
For some, their diabetes bag was a source of embarrassment. It was ugly. It was inconvenient. It made them feel isolated and different.
Some made the move to look for something special — a diabetes bag that would be both beautiful AND functional, maybe even something nostalgic.
One of those people is Mariana Gomez (@yannago), a Mexican diabetes blogger living with type 1 diabetes (T1D) since 1984. She fondly remembers the bag her mother used for her diabetes supplies when she was just 10 years old.
“My mom had all my diabetes stuff in a red Coca-Cola bag that I really, really liked,” Mariana remembers. “Later I wished I had a nicer bag, but it was that or nothing. My mother was a teacher back then. We lived in a tiny apartment in Mexico City, and my father was still studying, so there was no probability I’d get a new bag for those purposes. She had received that bag as a gift (swag, probably). It was bright red, and it was fun for me to see the Coca logo, since of course I wasn’t allowed to have any Coca-Cola. But it was a gift from my mother.”
Choosing the right diabetes carry bag for you can be a big decision. It has to both keep everything you need safe and handy, and it has to speak to your soul.
Whatever form your diabetes carry bag takes, It needs to be both functional and stylish. How do you choose?
First, think about what you want to carry with you and where you are going. You might need different bags for different outings. Heading out for an afternoon meetup is different from heading to school or work for the full day, for instance. Then there’s what’s needed when traveling — keeping insulin at a safe temperature for days, getting through airport security, etc. Traveling is a whole different matter from daily routine outings.
In terms of functionality, consider the following:
Size. How much diabetes stuff are you going to carry? What are the dimensions of those things? Insulin pens are longer than glucometers, for example.
Expected use. Where are you going and how long do you expect to be out? Do you need to take backups for everything with you everywhere you go? Or are there times when having basic testing supplies and glucose tablets is enough?
Special features. Do you like or need to have separate compartments to, say, store used supplies away from everything else? Are you carrying insulin or injectables that need to be kept at a constant temperature? Do you want or like having elastic ties and compartments tailor-made for your specific gear? Does your bag need to be waterproof or water-resistant?
In terms of style, what to look at is much more subjective and personal.
You want to find something attractive, appealing, maybe even fun. You want a diabetes supply bag that celebrates who you are. A bag that adds a little joy to your day.
In terms of the styling of your diabetes carry bag, consider the following:
Color and pattern. Which do you prefer? Primary colors, pastels, or neon? Do you want something that has a decorative pattern on it? Or maybe a bit of snark, like a bag that says “I’m diabetic. What’s your superpower?” or “This bag contains my pancreas.”
The materials. Diabetes carry bags are made of everything from vegan leather to nonrip canvas. Keep materials in mind if you prefer a particular texture or need a particular level of durability.
Detailing and hardware. Nothing is sadder than having a carry bag with a broken zipper or stress tears. Detailing, like having high quality closures and reinforced stitching, can be both functional and stylish.
Format. There’s a world of possibilities here: purses, messenger bags, zippered cases, backpacks, cross-body bags (also referred to as fanny packs) and more.
Of course, you can simply search online at Amazon or eBags for a diabetes supply bag. But there are a handful of outstanding retailers who specialize in offering purpose-built diabetes supply bags that are likely to fill your needs in style:
Under the banner of “Style, not shame” Myabetic has become one of the best known diabetes bag makers in the United States.
The bags. Myabetic produces stylish bags in a number of formats, everything from wallets for insulin pens to backpacks and travel duffel bags to a full-featured professional tote bag. At the center of their catalog is a series of handbags styled in a way that’s reminiscent of the brand Coach. Overall their designs tend to be more feminine, but they also offer black backpacks and cross-body bags.
On their website, they have a five-question product finder to help you find the exact bag that fits the diabetes devices and supplies you need to carry. Myabetic is the only diabetes carry bag maker (we’ve found) that offers this handy tool.
The tool asks which glucose meter and other testing items you use, whether you carry insulin and related items, and specifics of other supplies you might carry like a glucagon kit. From your answers, their website generates a list of products that meet your specific needs.
Materials and features. Myabetic’s bags are made from vegan leather and metal hardware. The quality matches any leather bag you would find in a high end department store.
Each bag has more multiple separate compartments, each sized to match specific medical devices or supplies. They also include a waste pouch to collect used test strips.
Standout design. Each bag is named for a notable person in the diabetes community, and the company shares a short bio for each. Included among them is our own Amy Tenderich, founder and editor of DiabetesMine, who’s namesakes include for a large shoulder bag and handbag supply insert.
Backstory. The company was founded by UCLA grad Kyrra Richards, who says she created Myabetic “to create an image I could be proud of as a person living with diabetes.” In her designs she aims to represent the beauty of our community and recognize our strength.
User feedback. Customer reviews are overwhelmingly positive. They mention durability and good quality. Any complaints seem to center around a given bag being not big enough for everything being carried, which is probably what led to developing the five-question product finder.
Price range. $38 up to $225.
Where to buy. Myabetic website and on Amazon.
Designs by Dresser
The handmade diabetes carry bags you’ll find in this Etsy shop definitely have a fun, boho vibe with bright fabric choices. They’re created by Tabitha Dresser out of Ohio.
The bags.Their collection of handmade diabetes carry bags come in two standard sizes: a smaller, clutch-sized zippered pouch and a larger, fleece-insulated square bag with handles. What makes these bags stand out is the bright and cheerful fabrics with patterns that have a youthful, boho vibe.
Materials and features. The bags are made from machine washable fabric, and each bag has two zippered compartments made of nylon webbing.
Standout design. There are a dozen or more fabric choices — everything from bold jewel tones and tie-dye to superheroes and llamas. Customized designs are also available. Dresser can add a trash compartment, change the size of the bag by a few inches here or there, or add more or larger elastic pieces to accommodate different devices. She tells us that about a quarter of the bags sold in this shop are customized.
Backstory. Founder and designer Tabitha Dresser added diabetes carry bags to her Etsy store after being asked to make them for family members. The first recipient was so happy to have a bag that matched her personality that she started showing it around at church. Later, a nephew was excited to have a superhero bag for his diabetes supplies instead of the plain gray bag he was using before.
Dresser says she taps into the joy that can come from having a bag that reflects who they are and not the medical condition they live with. “Many people come to me looking for a way to give their newly diagnosed family members something that they will enjoy carrying, and maybe a way to make this new normal not so hard,” she shared.
User feedback. The Etsy store has made more than 1,400 sales and gets an 5-star average rating. Praise is given for the size of the bags, quality construction, and friendly, responsive customer service.
Price range. $22 to $35; more for a customized, made-to-order bag.
Where to buy. Dresser’s Etsy store, Designs by Dresser.
Recognizing that life with diabetes is not easy, the folks at Virginia-based Sugar Medical set out to design functional diabetes bags to make diabetes easier.
The bags. Sugar Medical produces six different sized carry bags and a backpack. The smallest is a zippered supply case (7.25” W x 4.5″ H x 1” D). The largest is a backpack (9” W x 15″ H x 3” D). In between there are cases sized for insulin pens and square organizers.
The bags come in a variety of colors and patterns, everything from primary colors to camouflage. There’s an offering for a variety of ages and taste levels.
Materials and features. Sugar Medical’s bags are made from a durable nylon fabric with mesh compartments and elastic straps. The bags can be kept clean with a damp cloth. Half of the designs are insulated or have a sleeve to accommodate an ice pack.
Standout design. A highly popular item is their Diabetes Insulated Sling Backpack, a small backpack with two compartments plus zippered pockets for keys and a cellphone, and an exterior mesh pocket for a water bottle. It’s perfect to keep your D-supplies organized and safe for the whole day, whether you’re headed to school, work, or on an adventure.
Backstory. In 2009, founder Carolyn Jäger started designing stylish yet practical diabetes bags from her basement with two sons underfoot. She has successfully grown the company to one of the largest diabetes accessory companies in the country.
User feedback. Sugar Medical’s Universal Deluxe Diabetes Supply Bag gets an average of 4.7 out 5 stars on Amazon. Many users really appreciate the “trash can pocket” built into this bag and several other designs to house used test strips. What makes this feature a game changer is that it’s accessed through a grommet opening inside the case, just below where the glucometer sits, which makes for super-easy disposal. All those pesky strips are contained until you open the trash pocket to empty it.
Price range. $30 to $50.
Where to buy. Sugar Medical website and on Amazon.
Based in the UK, Desang produces professionally elegant diabetes kit bags, and also publishes a digital diabetes tech magazine.
The bags. Don’t let the use of the phrase “kit bag” mislead you. The design is classically elegant and for the professional, reminiscent of a classic attaché that would fit in at any boardroom. The smallest bag holds two insulin pens and spare needles. The largest is a roll-up that extends nearly 24” when fully open.
Materials and features. The bags are made of leather or microfiber, and come in black or tan. Inside are zippered mesh and fabric compartments and a slot for an emergency card.
Standout design. The Desang Kitbag Roll-up Leather stands out for its sheer size. It’s nearly 2 feet long when fully open. This bag will hold a lot of diabetes supplies and still look classy and elegant.
Backstory. Founder Sue Marshall was diagnosed with T1D at 5 years old. When she launched her career in print publishing, she realized she needed a bag to keep her diabetes “kit” safe and in one place. So, a little more than 10 years ago, she designed a range of diabetes kit bags. Given her background in publishing, Marshall was inspired to produce a digital magazine after building an audience through selling her kit bags. Desang Diabetes Magazine is available online for free.
User feedback. Online reviewers commented on the excellent quality of their kit bag, which in some cases stayed in good shape for 8 to 10 years with near-daily use.
Price range. Roughly $30 to $55.
Based in Belgium and shipping worldwide, Diacé is an online retailer specializing in fun and useful diabetes carry bags and accessories from all over the world.
The bags. Diacé’s catalog includes zippered bags, clutches, cross-body bags, pump pouches, hip bags, tote bags, various sized shoulder bags, and more. They have separate collections for men, women, and children. Many of the adult bags are made by a manufacturer called Sweet Collections, that uses high quality cow leather and extra storage options in each design.
Materials and features. They’re made of leather with quality zippers, magnets, and fasteners. Each bag has several compartments, making it easy to keep your keys and cellphone handy along with your diabetes supplies.
Standout design. The Sweet Collections Icon Black Hip Bag is a two-compartment, unisex, leather bag that can be worn in a variety of ways: at the hip, across the body, on its slender strap, or carried like a clutch.
Backstory. Owners Nick and Stefanie Van der Halen are parents to a son diagnosed with T1D. As they got used to carrying around the diabetes supplies and tech needed, they noticed that none of it looked very attractive. So, they started their own search for fun and functional diabetes accessories. The result is Diacé.
User feedback. Online reviewers appreciate how responsive customer service is and quick turnaround for shipping. For their part, Diacé makes a point of saying that they ship from their own stock so they are better able to ship your order quickly.
Price range. $35 up to $225 for a leather bag set.
Where to buy. The Diacé website.
There is an attractive and practical diabetes carry case for every use case and taste. No need to tough it out with the bland black nylon covers that come free with most diabetes devices. Instead, whether you’re fashion-conscious, a rugged outdoors type, or a kid looking to keep your diabetes supplies under wraps, there’s a great bag out there that will fit your needs just right.
To be sure of that, you’re best off shopping with one of these retailers that designs their bags with a deep knowledge of the daily needs of people with diabetes and the medical devices they use.