The Best Breast Pump Bag
Most nursing mothers are very familiar with the art of pumping. So, here's a question. What do you do when your breast pump needs to leave the house with you? Let's not kid ourselves; packing a pump and pumping supplies in addition to everything else you need can be a major hassle. In hopes of lightening your load, we've selected seven bags, some specifically designed breast pump bags and some diaper bags, to see just how well they could handle the task of carrying it all. And, for the more discretionary mom, we paid close attention to function and style to see if any of them could easily disguise their purpose.
Read the full review below >
Analysis and Award Winners
Best Overall Breast Pump Bag
Juno Blu Esalen
So what is the downside? Price. At the time of review, the Esalen was offered to consumers at $185. But considering the beautiful simplicity of the style of the purse, the options it has to offer in terms of storage and compartments, and the durable materials it is made of, we think the extra price is worth it. This bag could easily transition to a diaper bag and/or purse, thus eliminating the need to purchase either of these items (perhaps even both!). In short, this bag represents a prudent long-term investment that should last far beyond your need to carry around a breast pump.
Read review: Juno Blu Esalen
Best for the Budget Minded
Sarah Wells Maddy
Spectra S1 could not fit in the side pockets (it is too tall and wide). However, it can fit in the interior compartment. Due to the slightly lower level of quality offered, we think the Maddy represents a good option for moms who do not necessarily want to commit to a really expensive bag and would be fine with retiring it after a year or two of heavy use.
Read review: Sarah Wells Maddy
Analysis and Test Results
In a perfect world, a woman's purse would be like Mary Poppins' bag in the classic Disney film. It would hold anything one might require and remain organized, despite a day's worth of jostling. It would be light enough to carry with one hand, yet tough enough to preserve even the delicate glass of a light bulb. It would always look nice and disguise any possible stains. Heck, it might even have a mini vacuum attachment to make the disposal of leftover Cheerio dust or other messes a breeze!
But let's not kid ourselves; such a bag does not exist (yet). For now, new moms, particularly working ones, need a bag that will work as hard as they do. We think you should be able to fit a pump, its necessary accessories, and the contents of your purse into one bag, all while looking great. Not such a monumental task, right?
Protecting the Goods
Types of Bags We Tested
Surprisingly, there are few bags on the market made specifically to carry a breast pump. (Hint, Hint: Big niche to fill.) Because of this, we tested a few different types of products available to see what might work best. This included one bag made by Medela specifically for their popular Pump in Style Advanced, independent manufacturers who make adaptable bags designed to fit a variety of breast pumps, as well as a few top of the line diaper bags. We spent a significant amount of time using each bag, in an effort to suss-out the potential and the pitfalls of each bag.
Criteria for Evaluation
Ease of Use
The most important thing we were looking for was just how easy it would be to access the pump and use it. Pumping can take a lot of precious time on its own and the last thing a busy mom needs is to spend extra time looking for something like a power cord. So, the ability to have parts well-organized makes the process of pumping much easier. Because there are so many different options in terms of breast pumps on the market, we tested each bag with BabyGearLab's top three award winners for Best Breast Pump, the Spectra USA S1 Hospital Grade, the Medela Pump In Style Advanced, and the Medela Harmony Manual.
We also spent a lot of time considering what other items a working mom might need to pack for the day in addition to her pump and its accessories. In our testing, we included:
- Pump & accessories including cooler bag
- A large zipper-wallet
- Water bottle
- Eyeglass case
- 13" Macbook Air.
We know most moms are not going to pack this much technology, but we think it is important to see what you can and cannot fit into each bag in terms of popular tech.
While most of the bags could hold everything we outlined above, there were three that stood out in terms of ease of use. Our Editors' Choice, the Juno Blu Esalen, was the easiest to use, offering many compartments, hidden cooler packs, and a comfortable carry strap. Close behind was the Sarah Wells Maddy, our Best Value winner, and the Ness Mamie. Of the seven bags we tested, these three could carry the most and do it in an organized and efficient manner.
Quality cannot be underestimated when it comes to purchasing such an important item, which is why it represents 25% of the total score of each bag we tested. No one wants to spend a significant amount of money on a luxury item only to have it rendered useless shortly thereafter due to poor construction. When it comes to evaluating a purse and how long it can stand the test of time, you want to look at a number of things:
- Feet: At the base, feet both keep a bag clean and extend its life dramatically. We prefer metal over plastic feet for durability and longevity.
- Quality of Fabric and Fit: We scrutinized the interior and exterior of these bags.
- Handles: Quality, Materials, and Attachment to bag were all considered
- Protective Padding: To keep inner contents intact which could include anything mechanical or electronic such as breast pump, cell phone, ipad, laptop, camera to a glass water bottle.
A mother's multi-purpose bag needs to be tough if it is going to withstand daily use from work to kids. Cheap exterior fabrics could leave a bag that sees heavy use looking ragged and unkempt quickly. Interior fabrics also need to be resilient to tearing and offer easy cleaning; no one wants to discover a hole in the lining of their purse, which could allow the escape of loose items into no mans land laying between the bag's lining and the exterior fabric.
Nurse Purse looked. On the other hand, while we really loved the exterior look of the OiOi Hobo, the exterior's silky fabric made us anxious about spills and snags. Our top scoring bags in this category were our Editors' Choice the Juno Blu Esalen as well as the JuJuBe B.F.F. Legacy and the Ness Mamie.
Medela On the Go Tote which is included with the very popular Medela Pump in Style Advanced. While useful for carrying a pump, it is small, drab, easily recognizable, and nearly useless beyond the pumping phase of life. We knew there had to be more and perhaps better options out there for moms, and we were determined to find them. We know from experience, that for moms especially, feeling good about how you look can make a big difference in your day, and the way you accessorize is no exception. That's why, in the case of breast pump bags, we don't think moms should have to sacrifice style for functionality.
Just about every woman we encountered during our testing and writing phase of this product review was carrying a purse, and, each purse was as unique as the woman that carried it. Personal style is primarily determined by preference but there are no doubt trends in the handbag market that drive these preferences. When selecting bags to review, we took into account bags that represent the hottest items on the market today- some of these, such as the Juno Blu Esalen and the Sarah Wells Maddy are more appropriate for a mom that works in a professional office; others, such as the Nurse Purse, are more casual. We judged these bags on their overall design structure and stylistic details, which represent 5% of the overall score.
Buying Advice article.
— Lindsay Ellis & Natalie Hale
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