Hey momma, I see you looking for the best wearable pump for your feeding journey. Whether you’re exclusive pumping or looking for something to complement breastfeeding, I’m here to help. I’ve tried six different pumps including the wearables – the Elvie and the Willow Go. Here’s everything to know about how they stack up against each other and which you should buy.
By the way, I paid full price for both of these pumps, so this is a truly unbiased review. Let’s compare each of the important features below to help you decide what’s most important.
I’m a fan of both pumps for the comfort and the fit. Each can fit into a nursing bra, or even a regular soft bra, without forcing me to change into a pumping bra like a standard pump would.
The Willow Go is larger at 5.3″ x 3.1″ x 4.7″, weighing 13.6oz. The Elvie is 5″ x 4.3″ x 2.7″ and weighs 7.4oz. The weight difference is only noticeable for me if I use the Elvie for a week or more and switch back to the Willow Go. I find them both simple enough to fit to the nipple, though there’s a big difference when it comes to flange size.
The Elvie comes with 24 and 28mm flanges. For me and many women like me, both of those are too large. You can purchase a 21mm flange, or off-brand flange inserts to make it even smaller. Unfortunately the Elvie doesn’t offer anything smaller than 21mm. Although it’s still workable with off-brand inserts, it would work even better with inserts or flanges made by Elvie for the pump, so this is a ding for me.
The Willow Go comes with 21mm and 24mm flanges as well as a helpful sizing sheet and guide. I still had to purchase the 19mm inserts separately, but since they’re Willow brand they fit securely and I don’t have to sacrifice any suction.
If you do go with the Elvie and need smaller inserts, I recommend the Willow ones as they’re softer and nicer than the Maymom brand.
Winner: Willow Go.
A persistent rumor with wearable pumps is that they don’t empty the breast. I haven’t found this to be true for me. In the beginning, I used a hospital grade pump and once it was time to return it, transitioned to wearable pumps exclusively because I hate time-out and I get better output with them than my Spectra, believe it or not. However some people do see a dip in output.
This could be due to the lower suction offered by wearable pumps vs. a plug-in, though the Willow Go boasts hospital-grade suction at 280mmHG, and the Elvie is 220mmHG. To me this is irrelevant because I can’t go that high comfortably.
Winner: Willow Go has higher suction capabilities.
Can we agree that there’s no way for a wearable pump to be truly discreet, since it has to make at least some noise and must have room for the motor and milk catchment?
Both pumps will make you appear to gain seven cup sizes. Your outfit choices will make all the difference here!
Some complain that the Elvie has lights that will shine through a shirt. While true, if you’re wearing something that thin and form-fitting, the jig will be up either way. I find a scarf or loose jacket solves the visibility issue of both.
However the Elvie is much quieter. The Elvie can also be controlled by an app while the Willow Go cannot, forcing me to reach into my shirt to adjust the suction.
There’s no contest here. The Elvie app will track your pumps, measure your output in real time, and allow you to control the pump from your phone. This is so helpful for those of us with mom brain — which is everyone, yes? — who can’t remember when we last pumped or what we got.
I can’t fathom what the point is of the Willow Go app, which has a sea of 1-star reviews. It’s essentially a timer with no other functions. My theory is Willow would rather not give it all the bells and whistles so that there’s still a reason to pay for the more expensive Willow 3.0, which has a more robust app.
Winner: Elvie by FAR.
Both pumps last me five to six pumping sessions, and both are chargeable with a USB charger. Both take about two hours to reach a full charge, though in a pinch you can still charge partially and pump with either one.
If you’re finding the battery life sucks, reach out to customer service for a replacement. It shouldn’t be necessary to charge after every pump.
As any pumping mama knows – we cry over spilled milk! I wish I could say neither pump has a problem with this, but both of them do. Unless you’re pumping with the Willow 3.0 and using the single-use bags, which are no friend to the planet and require constant re-purchasing, you’ll have to be careful about bending over, and you certainly can’t lie down to pump.
The Elvie sometimes leaks while I’m pumping, especially if I’ve filled a container and bend over too far. The gauge usually catches it before this happens, but if it doesn’t, I have a wet bra which is annoying as hell.
The Willow Go’s issue is with pouring the milk out of the pump and into a bottle or storage bag. I almost always lost some in the beginning though I’ve gotten the hang of it now.
Still, there’s got to be a better way to design both to avoid spillage.
Winner: Nobody wins here!
Parts and Cleaning
Both pumps have an equal amount of parts that you will have to clean. Both pump parts can go in the dishwasher and I don’t find either one to be difficult to clean. However the Elvie comes with two extra milk containers for easy storage and less frequent cleaning.
Due to the design of the Willow Go, you have to empty the milk every time into another container in order to use it again. I find this annoying and greatly prefer the Elvie’s milk catchment system.
The Elvie pulls ahead with a two year warranty versus the Willow Go’s one year. There’s nothing more frustrating than running into an issue a few weeks after your one-year warranty runs out.
This is obviously a huge one. The Willow Go is currently $329 while Elvie is $549.99. If you need a 21mm flange, you can also add that to the cost of the Elvie.
The big question is whether it is worth the extra $220.99 for the Elvie.
As an exclusive pumper (read my breastfeeding story for the ‘why’ behind that decision) who only uses the wearable pumps, I have been very happy to have both. There have been times when I forgot an essential part when on a flight and was glad to have back up, didn’t want to wash the parts while out and about and still had a clean option when I got home, or had one run out of battery.
I realize most people will want to just buy one or the other. The answer depends on how important the app tracking and control, quieter nature of the Elvie, extra containers/less frequent cleaning, and longer warranty are for you.
Knowing what I know now, if I were to buy one, I would probably choose the Willow Go (read my full Willow Go review) since it’s cheaper. The app is annoying, but I have learned to live with it.
I hope this comparison helped you figure out which one would be best for YOU.
Got questions? Feel free to drop them in the comments below.
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