$100 List Pros: Designed specifically for the Medela Pump in Style, easy to use, fast set up Cons: Doesn't fit other pumps well and not much beyong Medela PIS and its accessories Bottom line: Iconic breast pump bag, but there are better out there now!
The Medela on the Go Tote is the standard representative of a breast pump bag. Easily the most iconic bag of the bunch, any mom who has pumped would recognize it at first glance. As would friends, co-workers, strangers and the like. Despite its unassuming appearance, there is nothing discrete about this bag because of its notoriety. That being said, the On the Go Tote does get the job done. Its simplistic design makes pumping fast and easy, but don't expect to fit more than the absolute necessities in the bag itself. This bag is great if you want to keep your pumping efforts entirely separate from the contents of your purse, which is something we recognize some moms desire. As one of the most affordable options (and often an included accessory in the purchase of the Medela Pump In Style Advanced), we think this bag is a good option for moms who just do not want to or cannot invest in something more.
Update — December 2017
Medela has redesigned their breast pump bag. Read more below to see what changes have been made to the tote.
Medela On the Go Tote vs. New Medela Breast Pump Bag
The new Medela Breast Pump Bag has a new design that is more low profile than the old version, making it much less obvious. The bag is made from the same easy to clean microfiber material, but that is where the similarities stop. Whereas the On the Go Tote was made specifically for the Medela Pump In Style Advanced, the new bag is more of a one size fits all style. It claims to work with the Medela Sonata, Freestyle, Pump In Style Advanced, Swing, and Harmony. The new bag also has a much smaller profile than the tote. One common user complaint was that it won't fit much more than the breast pump itself. Below you can see the two bags side by side, with the Medela Breast Pump Bag on the left and the older On the Go Tote on the right.
Hands On Review
The Medela On the Go Tote does a good job as a breast pump bag. It protects the pump and its accessories. It provides easy access to the pump, which allows for quick set up. We know time is precious, and this bag is slick when it comes to not allowing for a wasted moment. That being said, this bag is basically useless beyond being a bag for the Medela Pump In Style Advanced. We think moms deserve more than just another bag to add to the list of things they have to carry out the door each day. This is a good product, but we found that moms can get more for their money by investing in a better, more stylish bag.
Ease of Use
The not-so-discreet Medela On the Go in use with the electric Medela pump. While this duo was literally made for each other, there is little room for anything else, plus people can spot it from a mile away.
The Medela on the Go Tote is so easy to use when it comes to only using it to carry a breast pump, but we are testing its ease of use beyond that. Namely, can it carry anything else that a mom might need? Sadly the answer is no. This bag was clearly built with only the pump in mind, which is OK if that was all we needed it to do. Yes, it does feature a few pockets, but they cannot fit much beyond a small water bottle and an iPad Mini. You could cram some snacks in the main pocket, but don't plan on getting much else in there without needing to spend some time digging it back out. The pump is protected from the rest of the contents of the bag by a nylon cloth covered cardboard insert that is held in place with sturdy velcro on three sides. Unfortunately, one side is left open, which creates a twilight zone for losing smaller items like hair bands, pens, and small snacks. We awarded it a 6 of 10 in this category.
Here is the base of the Medela. Notice how hair began to gather. Also notice the lack of feet on the bag. This allows for a lot of wear and tear on the base of the bag and a spot for germs to hitch a ride.
This bag is made with decent Microfiber materials, but they are nothing to brag about. They are easy to clean with a wet wipe and avoid stains which is helpful. We noticed the fabric had a tendency to build up static electricity, which caused an interestingly gross phenomenon as random hairs would stick to it. It is no secret that a lot of your hair falls out post-pregnancy. We found a distressingly large amount of hair seemed to attract itself to the bag, which made it look unprofessional and downright disgusting. We also found after a period of heavy use the stitching began to come apart. We awarded the Medela 3 of 10 in this category because for how much they want moms to pay for this bag, we think a little more thought could go into improving the overall quality of the bag.
We were impressed with lightness and lack of bulk in the On the Go Tote. The only major downside was that because it could not fit everything we needed, we also had to carry a purse to accommodate those extra necessities. We awarded it a high score of 8 of 10 in this category because it was one of the lightest bags we tested and was easy to carry on its own.
On the Go Tote outfitted with the pump and the personal supplies we selected.
Medela was one of the first mainstream pump-making companies to make a bag designed to carry a breast pump. It is logical that every breast pump bag that has emerged onto the market it inspired by its construction. Because it is designed to carry one specific pump, an electric Medela, it is no secret that it hits the nail on the head of necessary features for that pump such as a compartment to secure the pump itself in, a cooler and freezer pack to store pumped milk, a spot for a small water bottle and room enough in the bag for all of the necessary equipment needed to pump. Like we have mentioned above, what it lacks is room for more items beyond those meant for pumping, which is why we awarded it a score of 7 of 10 points.
The Medela Tote is about as plain as it gets when it comes to breast pump bags, however, we like that this panel zips down to reveal the Medela Pump In Style in correct position for pumping without having to take it out of the bag.
The Medela On the Go tries to emulate the look of a classic, nondescript black handbag, but the cheap microfiber fabric and lack of any hardware have become a dead giveaway for disguising a breast pump. This is great for their company but difficult for mothers who seek to be discrete about their efforts to pump. While we think moms ought to be proud to tout their efforts to continue to breastfeed while being separated from their baby, we understand that not all of them want to shout it from the rooftops which is why we gave it a 2 of 10 for style.
We think this bag is perfect for the mom that is not particular about the look of the bag her breast pump is carried in or if it comes along with the purchase of a breast pump.
For the price, we think many moms can afford to be more selective and find a bag that matches their style plus affords them more space such as the Juno Blu Esalen. At $100, we just cannot recommend buying this bag unless it is what you really want.
After testing this bag for several months, we found it to be a decent bag that carries a pump well but has little use beyond that. Now that more companies are emerging with new styles of bags specifically meant to carry pumps, we think moms ought to explore what else is out there and find something more along the lines of their personal style.
Other Versions and Accessories
The Medela company offers many different iterations of bags for carrying breast pumps including a messenger bag, back pack, and shoulder bag.