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Nova + Koa Charli review

Best Changing Bag for Style 2018

The Nova + Koa Charli backpack is practical and uber-stylish. It has lots of handy pockets and patented anti-smell technology (yep, you heard us right. And no, it's not yet available to clad nurseries in).

By Mumsnet HQ | Last updated Mar 1, 2023

Charli Changing bag main Mumsnet Best


  • Beautiful design
  • Easy to clean
  • Lots of zip pockets to keep goodies secure
  • Zip access to spacious pocket at base of bag
  • Comfortable to wear – padded straps distribute weight


  • No changing mat
  • No insulated bottle holder
  • Pricey

What are the key features of the Nova + Koa Charli?

  • Bottom compartment for shoes/nappies/lunchboxes
  • Compartment to fit laptop (up to 38cm) or baby changing mat
  • Patented Flexzorb technology, which 'actively removes smells'
  • Mesh eyelets to let the bag breathe and reduce bacteria
  • Large external zipped pocket for handbag essentials
  • External side zipped phone pocket with headphone cord access
  • Large interior waterproof compartment
  • Soft, padded straps

How big is the Nova + Koa Charli backpack?

  • 37 (H) x 36 (D) x 19 (W) cm
  • Maximum weight: 16kg
Charli black baby bag

From the outside, this stylish backpack looks absolutely nothing like a baby product, meaning you'll get years of use from it. The sleek faux leather exterior, polished gold zips and adjustable buckle straps all scream “style”. That might have something to do with the fact the Charli is sold as a multi-functional designer rucksack, “perfect for leisure, work or parenting”.

The Nova + Koa Charli has pockets in all the right places. Our tester was particularly impressed with the zip compartment at the base of the bag which stores nappies, a lunchbox or even gym trainers.

We were sceptical about claims of patented anti-smell technology. But, after a trip to the local pool, a couple of messy picnics and several stinky nappies later, the bag smelled as sweet as new. Why on earth aren't manufacturers making EVERYTHING out of this, we'd like to know?

At £145, the Nova + Koa Charli is by no means cheap but it is unquestionably stylish and incredibly versatile.

How easy is Nova + Koa Charli to use?

The Charli is a simple and organised backpack. There aren't a million pockets and pouches to lose things in, which is welcome news when you're battling baby brain.

The zip pocket at the base of the main compartment really maximises the space inside the backpack. You can tuck nappies or more bulky items in the pocket and have the rest of the bag for all the other kit required on a day out with kids in tow.

A large, zipped pocket to the front of the backpack has plenty of space for your purse, keys and phone as well as a side waterproof pocket keeps bottles upright. Should you need it, there's a separate compartment to fit a laptop, too. This is a generous size, at 38cm, so you can always use it for something else. Mesh eyelets allow the bag to breathe, reducing the chance of bacteria growing. Let's be honest, in a bag that you might later use for work, this is pretty much a must when you've been carrying dirty nappies round in it for a couple of years, but it's impressive nonetheless.

We love that the Nova + Koa Charli stands upright when full. It's a simple design idea but is is such a help when you're carrying a child in one arm and don't want to crouch all the way to the floor to scoop up your bag and its spilled contents.

Our tester's main concern about the Charli was the lack of extras you might expect with other bags at a similar price point. There is no changing mat (you can buy one separately from the Nova + Koa store though), no insulated bottle pouch (there is a spill-proof pocket to fit bottle) and no buggy clips. When you're spending £135 on a changing bag, you might expect these additional features as standard.

Charli bag

How comfortable it the backpack to carry?

The Nova + Koa Charli holds a maximum weight of 16kg, which is considerably more than others on the market, but you won't feel the burden because the padded straps distribute the weight evenly. The backpack fits both the vertically challenged and gifted with its 10-hole adjustable strap.

If you're in a hurry, the small carry handle on top of the bag means you can just grab the Charli and go.

Is the Nova + Koa Charli easy to clean?

In a word, yes. Everything is wipe-clean, including the interior, which dries out quickly after carrying soggy swim clothes for a couple of hours.

Charli bag back view

How does the Nova + Koa Charli look?

This is one good-looking backpack. The matte faux leather exterior means you can dress it up or down. Nobody would bat an eye if you wore it with a nice outfit or used it as a gym bag.

Gold zips add a splash of bright colour to an otherwise dark bag. Our tester tried it out in black, which was perfect for muddy days out as any marks weren't visible, but the Charli also comes in smoke and a quilted black, which both look equally stylish.

Is it the Nova + Koa Charli backpack good value for money?

At £145 this certainly isn't a budget bag. However, we think this backpack will see you through the early years with your baby and your return to the office. It's the perfect blend of multipurpose functionality, practicality, and style.