Please take a look at our companion article on how the double strollers compared to each other and rated in our performance tests in the The Best Double Stroller Review.
Why Buy a Double Stroller?
Double seat strollers are a staple of many multi-child households. Parents find that the convenience of having a double helps with the day-to-day activities from running errands to trips to the park. Sometimes having the ability to strap two children into one space is just what you need to get through a moment of craziness or a must do challenge. However, most of the time it is just nice to have one stroller to transport two kids so they can both enjoy the same activity at the same time. We think the double stroller is a great addition to any house with more than one child. Be it twins or ordinary siblings, the strollers with great sun shades, large storage bins, adjustable leg rests and seat back recline can make a trip on the town a many splendored thing, as opposed to a lesson in patience.
There are so many things to consider from budget to quality, to features and functionality, that it can leave your head spinning. You might have some questions and concerns about buying a product of this type. How big? Which style? What features do you need? Which are just for show? This article will help it all make sense.
Types of Double Strollers
Double products come in two basic types, side-by-side (where the seats are positioned next to one another), and inline (where the seats are one in front of the other). Both types have benefits and drawbacks. The choice of which style is right for your children depends on what you are hoping for and what your children require.
The double products with the seats situated next to one another is one of the more common styles. These strollers usually offer identical experiences for both passengers with seats and canopies with similar properties and adjustability. Both passengers have equal sized seats, recline options, stow pockets (some models), and protection from the elements. Many have two canopies so each rider has custom coverage, but even the Joovy Scooter X2, with a single canopy for both, still offers ample protection for both passengers. These products are relatively wide and can be harder to navigate through narrow spaces and some doorways. They often create a wider folded package and can be a little tricky to lift and store with their awkward size, especially if they have a 3-wheel design. Even though these products can generally be trickier in a tight spot, they did score higher for maneuverability than the inline models.
The inline models have one seat located in front of the other. The problem with the inline models is the two seats rarely offer the same kind of features. Most of the products have one seat that can recline further than another. Some have only one seat with an adjustable leg rest. A few of the models even offer features like snack trays and a cup holder for one passenger, but not for the other. This kind of disparity could be a problem waiting to happen for parents with children of a similar age or with competitive natures. With a few of the products not offering dual sun shades, inline models seem like a better fit for siblings with an age gap. However, the plus of this style is it fits better in narrow spaces given the narrower width. However, they are often harder to push and turn thanks either to longer lengths or small plastic wheels.
While our full review explains how the products were tested and rated, you'll also want to consider the performance metrics of how the strollers function, and how easy they are to use. Sorting through the products by their performance and features is just as important as how the products scored in each test, especially if certain features are non-negotiable in your mind. This kind of information can help narrow the field for finding the final winner for your family.
How well each product functions, or how easy their features are to use, varies. However, there are similarities between types and commonalities within the group that could be useful to know and may not be directly discussed in how well the products performed during testing.
How Many Wheels?
Many of the products in this review had the dual front wheel design of 4 wheels in the front with two wheels on each front leg. Unfortunately, this common wheel design never equates to a high score in our tests for maneuverability. One of the dual wheels usually gets caught on bumps or stray items in the road and it can cause the stroller to veer off course. The products that performed the best in maneuverability were those that had fewer wheels. The highest scoring products in our review had just one wheel in the front, and the second highest had 2. This makes us wonder why so many of the products continue to sport dual front wheel designs, when they are the most difficult to push and turn.
While 2 products demonstrated that the design can work well enough, the Britax B-Agile Double and the Joovy Scooter X2 (with scores of 5 out of 10), they couldn't compete with the score of 9 for the BOB Revolution Flex Duallie, Thule Chariot Cougar 2, and Thule Urban Glide 2 and an 8 for the Baby Trend Expedition Double. All were easier to push and turn on all surfaces than the dual front wheel products.
Not all double strollers can manage two infant carriers, or are good for two children of the same age. If you are purchasing for twins you may be looking for a product that is able to attach two car seat carriers, so little ones can stay snoozing from car to stroller. Considering a car seat frame stroller for the first few months might solve the problem, or you might be looking for a stroller that works straight out of the gate.
Many of the products can accept one infant carrier, but not all of them can work with two. If you have siblings of various ages, where one is still in a carrier and one is toddling around, then just about any product in the review can work. But only half can work with multiple carriers and babies of the same age.
While we certainly understand the compulsion to get one product and forget it (who has the energy to think about two different strollers?), it may not be the best idea given that some of the products that work with two car seats did not perform well in most of the test metrics. While many award winners cannot be used with two carriers (5 out of 7), they are probably still the better choice, even if you are going to have twins.
Purchasing a double stroller and a car seat frame stroller or a personal baby carrier, might be a good option. This solves multiple problems, you can still move two babies from the car with ease onto the frame stroller, or you can use this as an opportunity to bond with one baby wearing them in a front baby carrier while the other snoozes away in the adapter on your award winning stroller. Then once babies can sit in the stroller on their own, you can ditch the frame stroller and still come out on top with an award winning product that works for twins that can sit upright.
Making the purchase of two different strollers may feel overwhelming and outside the scope of what you were planning on doing, but we really do feel that for the lifetime of your strolling years, you may be happier heading down this path. The breakdown is something like this: a frame stroller like the Joovy Twin Roo+ costs around $130 and will get you from birth to 6-12 months depending on the size of your little ones. Next, add to this the cost of our Best Value winner in double strollers the Joovy Scooter X2 for $280. The total cost of this combo option will be between $380 and $410 depending on sales. What you get is two strollers that scored well and are cheaper than the high ranking products that accept two infant carriers and work for older children.
Compare this to one of the double products that can accommodate two infant carriers and seats for older kids. The products that scored well start at around $650 and go up to almost $1500, depending on what options and accessories you purchase in order to use the stroller for infants and older children. When you look at it this way, getting what you want is easier than you think, and often cheaper when you select a specific product for each stage, instead of the one product that happens to work for multiple stages.
It can be hard for a product made for two to be versatile. Certainly just having two seats and nice wheels is a tall order, so the idea of one or even two of these products being able to do more than get little ones from Point A to B is a feat. The fact that a few of them do it with style and with a price and performance that out maneuvers the competition is pretty stinking cool.
The BOB Revolution Flex Duallie, the Thule Urban Glide 2 and the Thule Chariot Cougar 2 are products that stood out in the double category for offering more than the ability to stroll. While most of the products are just for the casual user who needs them for everyday activities, these options are good for getting off the beaten path and running over various terrains of the outdoor world. The BOB is great for exploring all trails of life (winning our Top Pick for All-Terrain) as is the Thule Urban Glide 2, while the Thule Chariot Cougar 2 can ski down a hill, tag along behind a bike, and still be ready to run. If you enjoy the great wide open, you won't be happy with any of the other products in our review, and you are likely to feel stifled by the non-adventurous features of the standard stroller. Lucky for the adventurers, the number one and three scoring products just happen to be 3 wheel jogging strollers with rubber tires, so there is no need to compromise on performance to have more fun.
Narrowing the Field
When you are ready to plunge into the pool of double strollers, take a look at the following considerations to narrow the choices to a few that will meet your needs.
Stages and Ages
First, consider the ages of the children who will be using the stroller. What is the age difference between the passengers? Are they twins? Does one of the passengers lack the ability to sit up? Will one prefer to stand and have some mobility? Are your children still young enough to nap on the go?
Taking children on a journey in a stroller can be a great experience or a lesson in patience. One of the most important considerations when choosing a product is the age range of the children that will be using it. As previously stated, twins of infant age might do better in a frame stroller, while siblings of different ages might have a nice experience in an inline model. Other siblings might be so close they will want to share giggles and jokes giving sideways glances at their cohort in the seat next door. The exact age of your children is not what is in question, the age difference between children is more important. Most of the side-by-side products will be good for children no matter what their age or separation in ages. These models offer passengers the same kind of ride and the same experience. This style can work for young passengers and older siblings alike. It can work for children that are the same age or vastly different ages. As long as children conform to the weight and age suggested by the manufacturer, then this kind of stroller works well for just about everyone.
Alternatively, the inline models usually offer very different riding features for each passenger. Some of the products have a low riding back seat that protects little ones from lots of exposure and allows many of them to recline and relax without a lot of distractions. Some have front seats that give passengers snack trays and adjustable leg rests, while the back seats have neither. These products might be better suited for children of different ages and needs. If you have a baby who still likes naps in a cozy environment with an older sibling who wants to see the world, than an inline model might be nice. The Joovy Caboose Ultralight Graphite has a front seat that is good for older babies and a sit and stand back seat good for older children who may need time on and off the ride. These options might not be as good for children of a similar age. Arguments over who gets the riding option, who gets to nap, or who gets a snack tray, might become more of an issue than you want to deal with.
The next consideration is the duration of your typical journey. If you just plan to go around the block or want to make it through the airport, then one of the more simple rides will probably work. You won't need large storage or stow pockets for childhood treasures. Just getting from one location to another for a quick trip requires a lot fewer features for passenger comfort or parent convenience than if you plan to use your stroller for longer events or whole day trips. The Joovy Caboose Ultralight Graphite might be a nice economical choice if your trip is short, siblings are vastly different in age, and the older one likes to walk some. With little storage and not many nods for comfort, little ones can enjoy this minimal ride and parents might enjoy the minimal price and lighter weight.
Alternatively, if you plan to use your stroller regularly, for every trip from groceries to museums, you may need little ones to have access to snacks or a cozy place to nap. Some of the products in our review have nice sized pockets for passenger cups and toys, as well as giant sunshades and reclining seat backs with adjustable leg rests for napping after a long day on the town. Our Best Value winner, the Joovy Scooter X2 has everything parents or passengers might require for a full day of sun and fun, or napping. There isn't anything the Joovy doesn't have for just about every trip you can imagine. Giant under seat storage can keep supplies nearby and is still large enough for any impulse buys from tourist shops. The cup holders accommodate bottles and cups to keep everyone hydrated, and the zippered convenience pockets keep wallet, phone, and keys at your fingertips. Passengers will love the comfy seats and personal stow pockets, as well as the privacy offered from the canopy and reclining seats. Each passenger can sit in any way they want without impacting their partner, and parents can keep an eye on both with a great peek-a-boo window.
If you plan to use the stroller on a regular basis, as opposed to the occasional trip, then you really might want to consider purchasing one with more features. Even if those trips will only be short jaunts, there is a good chance you will want to have more options or versatility with your stroller. As you become more comfortable taking trips and running errands with multiple children, you are likely to increase the frequency with which you do it. As soon as you realize how easy it can be to go strolling when you own the right product, it will become less daunting and you'll be looking for reasons to leave the house.
Buying a product for two that doesn't break the bank isn't as difficult as you'd think with many of the top performers coming in around $650 or less. Five of the top seven products are at or under this price. This is one of the few categories where we can say that one of the nicer products in the review is also budget friendly. The Joovy Scooter has one of the cheaper price tags, but it is a nice stroller with lots of features. While there were a few products cheaper than the Joovy, none of them offered as many features or similar performance. The quality of the Joovy put it much higher than the cheaper options, and almost made them feel outdated and under designed.
If you have considered how often you will use the stroller, decided whether or not you need side-by-side or inline, and determined if you want a frame stroller for infants, you will have narrowed your search down to a few options. If budget is also a factor, then you likely only have a couple of strollers in the running. However, unless you plan to only use them rarely, they may not have enough features and attributes to get through the possible trials of regular outings. It is important when considering the cheaper strollers not to be lulled in by a cheap price. Yes, you may save some money up front, but it may not function as well or offer as many features as a higher ranking and more expensive stroller. Plus, it may not be a product you can easily resell.
The products in our review may seem similar on the surface, but they tend to vary in their features and performance. With several that look the same, it can be hard to tell why one is better than another without actually giving them a test run, as well as being able to see them side-by-side with the competition. Interestingly enough, price isn't as big of a factor as you might think it is, and it was not necessarily an indicator of which products might score better than the others. While many of the cheaper products did score low, several of the more expensive models also scored poorly proving that price doesn't necessarily equal the best product.
With a few products standing out from the bulk of the group, and most of them being in a reasonable price range for a stroller for two, it means that you have some great products to choose from. The important thing is to stay focused on what you want and what you need, while many are great at what they do, it's important not to purchase more stroller than you need. Yes the BOB is great, but if you never leave the sidewalk, then it may be more stroller than you need. All of the top scoring products came with nice features for both user and rider, so it will be hard to choose a product you won't be happy with in the end. We feel all the award winners have attributes and options that will ensure the stroller you choose will keep you strolling and smiling for years to come no matter what your goals.