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Hands-on Gear Review

Sarah Wells Maddy Review


Breast Pump Bag

The Sarah Wells Maddy.
Best Value Award
Price:   $145 List
Pros:  Professional style, spacious, separate compartments for pump and accessories
Cons:  Small, Spectra S1 only fits in central compartment, materials feel cheap
Bottom line:  Great bag for pumping mom on a budget
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Sarah Wells

The Skinny

The Sarah Wells Maddy breast pump bag is stylish without being overpriced. It has all the basic features a pumping mom could want which is why we awarded it our Best Value award. The Maddy can carry most pumps in the side zipper pockets, which makes keeping pumping supplies separate from the rest of the contents of your purse easy, and its lower price makes it an affordable and attractive option for moms on a budget. It is clear the bag is fairly well made, but we question the lifespan of the materials it is made with, as they feel very thin for a bag that is going to have to run a marathon race of terms of use.

Update — June 2016
The Maddy bag has been discontinued, but Sarah Wells still make a breast pump bags in a variety of styles and colors. If you're looking for something similar to the Maddy, it would probably be the Sarah Wells Annie. This bag comes in both black and brown leather for $165.

RELATED: Our complete review of breast pump bag

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Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings

Review by:
Natalie Hale
Review Editor, BabyGearLab

Last Updated:
Tuesday
November 11, 2014
The Sarah Wells Maddy offers functionality without sacrificing style for price which is why we selected it to receive Best Value. The faux leather exterior makes for a nice looking handbag at far less than the price (and weight) of real leather. A bonus to this feature is how easy it can be kept clean and free of stains as the materials are largely water resistant. We think moms will be drawn to its featured side breast pump compartments, which keep a pump and supplies separate from the rest of the contents of the purse.
Here we have the Maddy hard at work with a Medela pump. We loved the separate compartments for the pump and accessories.
Here we have the Maddy hard at work with a Medela pump. We loved the separate compartments for the pump and accessories.

Performance Comparison



Ease of Use


This bag is very easy to use which is why we awarded it a score of 8 of 10 in this category. The Maddy was built with pumps similar in size to the electric Medela Pump In Style Advanced in mind. Naturally, when used in conjunction with the electric Medela pump or a smaller pump like the Medela Harmony Manual, these pumps fit with room to spare. This organized, easy-access style makes set up and clean up while pumping a quicker process.
The empty interior of the Maddy. It was fairly easy to wipe clean but crumbs had a tendency to get trapped in the bottom of the bag.
The empty interior of the Maddy. It was fairly easy to wipe clean but crumbs had a tendency to get trapped in the bottom of the bag.

While the Maddy does not offer different options in terms of carrying modes, the handles are long enough to be carried with either one hand or on the shoulder. This is a nice option because it keeps your hands free. We found that some moms online who had used the bag ran into some frustration with the lack of an exterior pocket to hold keys or a bus pass. We definitely think this would be a great feature to add to future designs.

Quality


Unfortunately, this bag fell short in terms of quality, receiving a 5 of 10. The bag itself is made with synthetic materials, and while the interior feels hardy and able to withstand a lot of abuse, the exterior fabric feels flimsy and cheap, like a bargain knock-off bag you score in Central Park. The handles are thin and we noticed the plastic coating on the edges had already begun to start pulling away, which is not a great sign when the handles are not replaceable. One online commenter mentioned the piping on her bag was beginning to wear off. While we did not encounter this problem ourselves, we did notice that the lack of a sturdy bottom on the base of the bag allows for heavier parts of the bag to rest on the ground (despite the metal feet). This could easily lead to unintended wear and tear, not to mention a very dirty purse bottom. We did, however, like the metal zippers and they withstood a lot of abuse. Many of the online reviews of this bag said the same thing regarding how well the zippers held up over time.
The detailing of the handle of the Maddy. The plastic had already begun to wear away during our initial testing period.
Nothing bums us out more than useless window dressing.
We performed a liquid test where we dumped some water onto the bag and then wiped it off with a soft cloth. As you can see from the photo above  it did not have any lasting effects on the Sarah Wells Maddy.
 

Weight/Bulk


Weighing in a 1 lb. 15.2 oz. the Maddy was in the middle of the pack in terms of weight. While not very tall, it compensates in terms of depth at a stunning ten inches. This bag offered more room in this manner than the rest of the competition, allowing it to accommodate wider pumps like the Spectra S1, which is why we awarded a score of 7 of 10.

Made with thin materials, it never felt bulky, although we did worry if the depth of the bag did get us into trouble when attempting to squeeze through tight spaces, like between two cars parked closely together.

Features


This bag is packed with thoughtful features we think moms will love, which is why we awarded it a score of 7 of 10 in this category. The two exterior size pockets are large enough to fit most breast pumps on one side and a cooler pack on the other. Like we mentioned earlier, the side pocket does not fit the Spectra S1, but this pump can easily be held in the main compartment. The interior features a zipper pocket to hold valuables and a padded pocket with a snap enclosure that can accommodate an iPad or very small laptop. The man made materials are easy to clean with a soft damp cloth and the lining is water resistant.
Here you can see the Sarah Wells Maddy outfitted with the electric Medela pump and selected personal supplies. We were able to cram both the laptop and iPad into the bag but were very cautious with how we carried it  even though there is a large  padded interior pocket specifically designed to carry electronics.
Here you can see the bottom of the Sarah Wells Maddy bag. The lack of a sturdy base allows the middle of the bag to sag  which will cause it to wear out more quickly.
 

Style


All in all, we think the Maddy is right on track in terms of style, it could just use a few further enhancements, which is why we awarded it a score of 6 of 10. The faux leather looks nice, and the tan piping really made the bag pop. A lot of working moms commended online how much they liked the appearance of the Maddy and that it appropriately disguised the contents of the bag. The one major downside we could foresee on bags such as this that are made with man-made materials, is that they have a tendency to look cheap. You can spot the difference between a real leather bag and a faux one by the sheen. Real leather has a tendency to be slightly dull, where as faux leather is shiny. This might bother some users.
Here you can see a comparison of the synthetic outer materials of the bags we tested in contrast to natural leather of a cream-colored purse we had on hand (top left). In clockwise order of appearance they are: the Juno Blu Esalen  the Ness Mamie  the Nurse Purse  the Ju-Ju-Be Legacy  the OiOI Hobo  the Medela On the Go Tote  and the Sarah Wells Maddy.
The Sarah Wells bag looks good at work and play. We loved its neutral colors- it goes with everything!
 

Stylistically, it's right on trend with the hottest bags on the market that professional women are using. However, we think that its high price could have afforded for more stylistic elements that are actually useful, rather than window dressing, specifically the lack of hardware attaching the handles to the bag and the odd non-adjustable "adjustable" straps on the handles.

Best Applications


We think this is a great mid-market bag that moms will enjoy using. Its simplistic style, great accessories, ease of use, and light-weight make it an attractive option for working moms. While we do question just how long it can withstand the demands and heavy use as a breast pump bag, with proper care it could still be usable as a diaper bag/purse for quite some time.
Here we have the Maddy hard at work with a Medela pump. We loved the separate compartments for the pump and accessories.
Here we have the Maddy hard at work with a Medela pump. We loved the separate compartments for the pump and accessories.

Value


The Maddy is a fairly priced bag and represents a great option for moms that want a bag to carry their breast pump, accessories and purse contents in but do not want to commit to a bag with a heavier price tag, such our Editors' Choice winner, the Juno Blu Esalen or the Ness Mamie. And, much like the Juno, it can easily transition from a breast pump bag to a diaper bag and later be used for a day to day purse when pumping and diapering days are behind.

Conclusion


We think this bag is a great value for pumping moms on a budget. It ticks all of the boxes with functionality and style, though not fabricated from natural materials. If bells, whistles, and higher-end faux leather are your bag, you will need to search for something with a higher price tag like the Juno. If you desire natural materials, you will need to search among regular purse or diaper bag manufacturers, because in search fell short; they just don't exist yet.

Other Versions and Accessories


The Sarah Wells Company currently only produces the Maddy. We look forward to seeing more from this innovative mompreneur.

Video


Natalie Hale

User Reviews


Most recent user review: November 7, 2014
Summary of All Ratings

BabyGearLab Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
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  • 3
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  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:     (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 100%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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