If you are going to be traveling with your breast pump you will need to compromise on features to minimize the size and weight of the pumping unit that you have to carry with you.
Remember, milk is heavy and the volumes required are non-negotiable!
So, there is a whole range of breast pumps that are designed with a tiny motor that still cram in a stack of features and provide a premium pumping experience.
In this article, we will be looking at the best balance of features, size, and cost so that you can take the best breast pump possible when you travel.
In This Post:
Before we jump in, we wanted to point out two critical elements that make a breast pump portable and suitable for travel:
- Battery Powered Option – The type and quality of the battery will be referenced in each review.
- Small & Light – We have excluded anything more than 2 lbs in weight and generally only included parent units that would fit in the palm of your hand – truly portable breast pumps only!
These were not the only criteria to establish our rankings, but they were the first filters applied and this excluded some of the most popular breast pumps on the market.
We have focussed this article on electric breast pumps only. When you also apply the above filters we also exclude some of the most popular breast pumps on the market.
For more info on these alternative breast pump designs check out the following posts:
A manual breast pump can be handy to carry with you if you only need to express milk and relieve pressure. But if you are pumping to keep a milk supply for your baby then even the best manual breast pump will take forever!
All but one pump on our list is are double electric pumps. This will get the job done fast and ensure plenty of milk volume for your baby.
Only one single electric breast pump has been included for comparison.
If you don’t have time to read that the detailed review you can see a quick comparison for our top three recommendations here:
We have also reviewed the following breast pumps for travel, but they have ranked lower on our list. If you are looking for a cheaper option that still performs well then these can be a great alternative:
Best Travel Breast Pump of 2021
1. Spectra S9
The motor is about the same size as a smartphone and functionality that outperforms its size, the Spectra is our top pick for the best portable breast pump.
When you compare the S9 to the bulkier S1 and S2 models there are some minor sacrifices in the functionality, but considering how easily this will fit in your carry-on luggage they are more than worth it:
- Fixed night light brightness rather than adjustable.
- 90 min of battery life instead of three hours.
- Vacuum strength of 260 mm/Hg vs 270 mm/Hg.
- 10 suction levels vs 12.
- Fixed cycle speed vs the full control the S1/2 provides.
- LCD display doesn’t light up.
- It is not a hospital grade breast pump.
As you can see there are only small variations in the level of performance, but you save 80% in both total weight and size.
When you compare the performance levels to everything else on our list it is easy to see why we have judged it as best in class for a portable pump.
The S9 Spectra pump will cycle through multiple pumping modes to simulate the natural progression of a feeding session:
- Massage mode – to trigger your body’s let down reflex.
- Expression mode – to simulate the sucking motion of your baby feeding and promote milk flow.
The natural pumping rhythm of all Spectra breast pumps helps your body produce more milk, and is one of the main reasons why they have become such a widely used brand.
You can use it as a single or double pump. This ensures you have the most efficient pump possible and can minimize your pumping time on your vacation.
- Small and light
- Up to 90 min of battery life
- 10 level suction
- High max. suction
- Hands free breast pump
- No nightlight
Next on our list is another double electric breast pump that can fit in the palm of your hand.
The advantage of the Medela Freestyle over the S9 is that the battery can be charged through USB, which makes it compatible with a power bank you may already be planning to pack.
Once charged that battery will last up to two hours. 30 minutes longer than the S9.
You also have built-in Bluetooth that can connect to the MyMedela app. This provides an easy way to track your pumping sessions and track your breast milk inventory.
We have it in second place due to a couple of areas it underperformed the Spectra.
- The maximum suction is 245 mm/Hg compared to 260 mm/Hg for the S9.
- The S9 is lighter than the Medela.
- The purchase price is much higher than the S9
Another consideration is that the Medela comes with 21mm and 24mm breast flanges whereas the Spectra comes with 24mm and 28mm. The suitability will depend on the individual.
However, both brands sell other sizes separately if you have your heart set on one pump over another.
- USB charged
- 2 hours battery life
- Bluetooth connection to Medela app
- Small motor unit
- Carry bag included
- An expensive alternative
- Heavier to carry
This is the first of our battery-operated pumps. This can save you the extra weight of a built-in battery, but it also means extra cost for the life of the pump as you churn through the AA batteries required to operate while traveling.
This is a negative for a travel pump and when compared to the S9 and the Freestyle Flex we have dropped the Lansinoh down to the third position.
Another key detractor is that the pump only comes with one set of flanges (25mm) so you are more likely to have to buy an extra pair if this isn’t a perfect fit.
In terms of the pumping experience, the Lansinoh is comparable with the Medela but is around half of the price! It features a closed system, 3 pumping styles, 8 suction levels, 2-phase expression technology, and a backlit display.
The suction is below the S9 but slightly higher than the Medela.
There is a tote bag, breast milk cooler, and ice pack all included in the package. So you have all you need to hit the road straight away with your Lansinoh pump.
The main pumping unit is larger than the S9 and Freestyle. The shape is more like the bulkier pumps we have excluded from this list, but the size and weight are closer to the smaller motors we have seen so far.
Last of all, the Lansinoh also comes with Bluetooth connectivity for your cell phone and an app to track your pumping sessions.
- Tote bag and milk cooler included
- Bluetooth connection to cell phone
- Good value
- Battery operated
- Only 25mm flanges available
There are three features that make the Philips stand out as a suitable breast pump for traveling (aside from the small motor size).
The neck of the pump has been designed to give you the most freedom to lean back while in a pumping session. While traveling you may be pumping in places where freedom of movement is important and this allows you to lean right back if that is most comfortable.
You also have some of the most comfortable flanges available on the market and feature a soft massage cushion that gently massages your breast while pumping.
Again with the unpredictability of traveling, knowing that you can have a comfortable experience just removes another potential annoyance on the road.
The Philips Avent probably comes with the most complete set of breast pump accessories. This even includes a travel cover and breast pad sample packs! This is not a huge selling point, but a handy extra all the same.
The function of the pump itself is a few notches below the S9 and Freestyle Flex. The pumping modes cycle through low, medium, and high. It does the job but is not as customizable as the pumps higher on our list.
If away from a power outlet this is another that relies on disposable batteries. This requires 4x AA batteries to operate – so less than the Lansinoh – but this is an extra expense all the same.
The motor unit is similar to the Lansinoh and is about the size of 2-3 S9’s stacked on top of each other. So it loses a couple of points here due to the slightly larger motor.
Single electric breast pumps can have a smaller motor as the power required is lower. So on a performance per ounce comparison, the Philips is well behind.
- Comfortable to use
- Allows best posture
- Travel cover included
- Larger motor unit
- Single pump
- Required 4x AA batteries
- Less customizable
If you are looking for a cheaper option and do not want to use disposable batteries then the Bellababy is a handy budget breast pump that is suitable for travel.
If you line up the performance with the top pumps it stacks up well. But with anything that is made to be cheaper the difference is best observed over time. It is always a risk that a cheaper product will not last the (potential) years of your pumping journey.
Having said that, there is a lot of positives to talk about!
The battery will last you up to three hours but this is less reliable than some of the more expensive pumps over time. This is as much as the Medela and more than the S9 and it is chargeable through USB. This is a huge plus for traveling!
The LED display is intuitive and easy to use. This also allows you a decent level of control level over your pumping session. With four different pumping modes and nine suction levels so you can customize your session.
It claims to be a hospital-grade pump but you should treat these claims with caution as there is no universally accepted definition of what this means.
- Cheaper price
- USB chargeable
- High level control
- Intuitive LED display
- Less reliable battery
Other Portable Breast Pump Criteria
This is one of the primary reasons why the Spectra ranked higher than the Medela. Both are very similar in design but the natural pumping rhythm of the S9, combined with the advanced controls and higher suction power provides an exceptional experience.
All of the pumps that we did include in our list have their own version of a phased pumping cycle that mimics your baby’s suckle that will trigger your body’s let-down reflex.
We have given preference to those breast pumps that have a built-in rechargeable battery with the Spectra and Medela both great examples of this while still staying light and small.
The Lansinoh and Philips save this space through the use of AA batteries. But with 4-6 batteries required for operation, you can see that pumping on the road can get expensive fast!
If you are always waiting for the next hotel power outlet to be able to pump it really limits your options and defeats the purpose of buying a portable pump.
Double Electric Pump
Most of the breast pumps we have reviewed also have a single pump option. You can buy the single pump version and save some money but we always recommend you get the double pump.
Pumping one breast at a time takes twice as long. No one wants to spend that much time pumping while traveling.
Easy to Clean
We have also given preference for closed system pumps as these are quicker and easier to clean compared to other pumps.
The design limits the components that are exposed to your breast milk and it just makes the whole experience easier.
This is last on our list of criteria as we think the top priority is the pump itself. All other accessories can be bought separately if you do not get what you need already included with your pump.
The Spectra S9 is a notable example where you do not get a bag as part of your purchase. But this keeps the cost down and gives you the option of buying one that best suits your needs.
So we actually prefer it not to be included so you do not get stuck with something you cannot choose, and may not use.
However, the inclusion of a milk cooler and tote bag like with the Lansinoh pump gives you a complete package with no extra thought or cost required.
Spart Pump Parts
The availability of spare parts is the last consideration to ensure that you can get years of use out of your purchase.
Travel breast pumps are likely to have a tougher life than one that lives on your nursery table. So easy access to replacement parts at a good price is critical.
If you go ahead and buy any one of these pumps then make sure you bookmark the store pages where you can get these parts. If you plan on pumping for more than a few months then you will need them!
These battery-operated breast pumps have also given pumping moms the ultimate freedom when traveling for vacation, or just day to day work purposes.
No longer do you have to plan your day around having access to an electrical outlet every couple of hours.
They also don’t take up much more space than manual pumps so you may as well go for the premium experience!
Both were a level above the other breast pumps on our list. But everything that we have included on this list is among the best breast pumps available, and share those characteristics of portability, and efficiency, that make it suitable for travel.