The Pump-in-Style Advanced Backpack is an absolutely wonderful breast pump combined with a sub-par milk storage system.
The pump gives you the option to pump either one breast at a time or both breasts at once. The pump starts off with a special two-minute "let down" cycle, which is supposed to mimic a baby's natural sucking action when she first latches on (faster, shorter sucks). After two minutes, this automatically changes over to the "expression" cycle (longer, slower sucks), but if your milk lets down sooner, you can manually change the cycles with the push of a button. You can also control the strength of the pump using a knob - a very nice feature because you can really customize the sucking strength to your exact needs and you can adjust it with the turn of a knob at any time during your session. The design of the pump is very simple - it takes almost no time to set up and break down. The Pump in Style comes with an A/C adaptor and a battery pack (batteries not included) that takes *TEN* AA batteries. If you're planning on using the pump in a car, you can purchase a car adaptor separately. One of the nicest features of the Advanced is that the pump is housed in its own little black case that comes completely out of the backpack (unlike the original Pump in Style, with a battery that couldn't come out of the bag); this allows you to leave the pump wherever you'll be using it (ex. at work) and only take the bottles or bags of expressed milk back and forth in the cooler. Since the majority of the weight of the Pump in Style is in the pump itself, this is a wonderful feature. Personally, I've found that I can empty both breasts (about 6-8oz combined) with the Pump in Style in about 20 minutes or less (double pumping) - setup and cleanup add about another 5 minutes each, so I'm done with pumping within a half hour. I use the micro-steam bags to sterilize all the parts, so that takes only 5 minutes in my very low-wattage microwave (it can take as little as 2 minutes in a high-powered microwave). All in all, I am completely satisfied with the pump portion of the Pump in Style.
What I'm not satisfied with is the Pump in Style's milk storage system. There's a small cooler bag with a form-fitted ice-pack insert. You freeze the ice pack and the storage bottles fit around it in the bag. This part is fine. However, the bottles themselves are awful. Two of the bottles have solid caps (for storage only) and the other two have two-piece caps that can be used with nipples as nursing bottles. However, no nipples are included with the set, and none of the literature included with the Pump in Style even mentions that nipples are available. I had to call the company and ask about it, and I was told that nipples need to be bought separately for $1 each. For the money I paid for this system, the least they could have done was include 2 nipples for the 2 bottles! The bottles themselves are absolutely nothing special - there are no features to try to reduce the amount of air a baby gets when nursing, etc. With the advances in bottle design, I would think Medela would have a great bottle to go along with their great pump, but no such luck - this is about as basic a bottle design as it gets. So, as far as I'm concerned, the 4 bottles are only good for milk storage, which means the milk needs to be transferred into another bottle for feeding purposes. Medela does make disposable storage bags and even includes some with the Pump in Style. However, the bags don't fit into a bottle as a drop-in; again, you have to transfer the milk from the bags into another bottle to feed. You're supposed to be able to tear off a small tab at the bottom of the bag to open a hole for pouring out the milk, but I've never been able to do this. I always have to snip the edge of the bag with a scissors to get it open (which, I'm sure, compromises the sterility of the inside of the bag). Also, the bags close with twist-ties at the top, which causes the bags to freeze with all sorts of ruffles and folds at the top. This makes it nearly impossible to re-open a frozen bag at the top to add more milk. What Medela should come up with is a storage system that uses disposable drop-in bottle liners. Right now, I'm using the Playtex Drop-Ins with a pump converter that allows me to pump directly into the Playtex liners; I then just drop them into a bottle when I want to use them. This is the kind of convenience that I was looking for in the Medela storage system, which unfortunately, they don't have.
The backpack itself is stylish - you really can't tell that it's anything but a fairly sophisticated-looking backpack. It's a bit crowded when carrying the pump, storage bag and all the parts - there's no room for anything else inside. If you remove the pump, you can fit a few things inside, but it's still not what I would call roomy. I guess this is the trade-off between function and style - a larger backpack would have been more practical for holding stuff other than the pump, but it would have looked clunky. So, if you need to carry more than a set of keys and a small wallet, plan on carrying a bag in addition to the backpack.
Despite the small drawbacks of the backpack and the large inconvenience of their storage system, the Medela pump itself is absolutely fabulous and definitely deserves five stars.