Thule has released a new line of Chariot strollers to replace the Chariot Cougar 2. Read more about the new Chariot Cross 2 below.
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Hands-on Gear Review
Thule Chariot Cougar 2 Review
Price: $790.00 List | $629.99 at Amazon - 20% off
Pros: Versatile activity attachments, enclosed seating
Cons: Hard to stow, difficult to reach brakes, no car seat compatiblity
Bottom line: Really cool for outdoor adventures, that is surprisingly easy to navigate
The Thule Chariot Cougar 2 does not look like the other double options in our review, and that is because it is not like any other option in our review. This winner for Top Pick for Outdoor Activities is a great option for those parents who like to "do"; it is not a product for the faint of heart or those looking for a casual stroll about town. This product offers just about everything the active parent or weekend warrior might be looking for in order to incorporate their little ones in all their outdoor passions. Whether your hobby is running, biking, or even skiing, the Cougar is the right stroller for the job. It is a highly versatile product that has loads of convenience and comfort features that will leave your little riders happy and safe in their cozy Chariot ready for adventure.
Update — February 2017
Thule has released a new line of Chariot strollers to replace the Chariot Cougar 2. Read more about the new Chariot Cross 2 below.
RELATED REVIEW: The top double strollers of 2017: Tandem and side-by-side
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
New Chariot Cross 2 vs. Old Cougar 2
The new Chariot Cross 2 replaces and matches the abilities of the Cougar 2 as a fantastic multi-sport stroller, ready for jogging, skiing, biking, or strolling. Most of the changes have to do with the level of convenience and usability. The new Cross 2 has many upgraded features that should make it a more comfortable ride for kids and more user friendly for parents. These changes include a handlebar that adjusts to more than just two positions, reclining seats, and a redesigned adjustable suspension. The basket on the Cross 2 has a new clip that locks it into place when it is folded up. The adjustable tracking method, which was one of our least favorite parts of the Cougar 2, has been changed and hopefully improved. There are other changes that you can check out at Thule's website. Below you can see the Chariot Cross 2 on the left and the older Chariot Cougar 2 on the right.
Hands-on Review of Cougar 2
We are currently testing the new Chariot Cross 2. In the meantime, our review below of the Cougar 2 should give you a pretty good idea of the product's performance, since the two are so similar.
The chart below is a comparison of the overall score for the Chariot Cougar 2 compared to the overall scores for the other strollers tested in this review.
The information provided below includes details on the Chariot Cougar and how it performed during testing in each metric. Individual metric scores were used to compute the overall score for the Cougar.
The Cougar 2 didn't just impress us, our sister site OutdoorGearLab, tested the Cougar 2 in their bike trailer review and it earned their Editors' Choice Award. It was also a finalist in our own jogging stroller review, where it won the Top Pick Award for Versatility. The range of accolades for the Cougar speaks to it not just a capable double-stroller for your babies, but it can serve as the year-round adventure vehicle for the outdoor family for many years.
Ease of Use
The Chariot earned a 5 of 10 for ease of use with some features and functionality that vary from the norm given its overall different design and intended uses. Four other strollers in the review also earned 4s in this metric, so it has plenty of company in this spot.
The UPPAbaby Vista Double earned a high score in this metric with an 8. Phil and Teds Dot, a hard stroller to use, earned the low score of 3.
Fold and Unfold
The Chariot requires two hands to fold, or disassemble. The fold itself can range between 3 and 13 steps to complete depending on if you go with a straight forward fold, or the smaller more compact version where you remove the wheels, handle bar, and storage bin. If your trunk space is small, or you are looking to put it in a back seat, the extra parts will need to be removed. This can be a chore and time consuming, not to mention you now have multiple parts to keep track of. If you stick with the traditional fold it is pretty easy and quick to fold. It is the same for the unfold. It is easy if you do the standard fold, or it is difficult if you go for the more compact fold. It is once again between 3-13 steps and it requires a lot of squatting and bending to put it all back together, almost as if you are reassembling it.
The brakes are more difficult than most to set and release, we found that the frame and storage bin sort of get in the way of pushing the pedal. We often ended up kicking the frame when searching for the brake. The brakes are single action, but they are not sandal foot friendly. Once set the brakes have more play in them than we would have expected from an adventure product, wiggling about 1.5 inches. The sliding resistance for these brakes on a hill is very good compared to the competition.
The storage on this product is a medium to large sized bin that sits off the back of the product. This bin is a bag like pouch that hangs off the back and is easily accessible from the top. Our big diaper fit easily inside with room to spare. The only downside to such a large bin, and its easy access location, would be putting too much in the bin and potentially tipping the ride over backwards. It also has a large mesh pocket on the back of the seat for quick access items like phones, wallets, and keys. Some testers felt the ample storage almost made up for the lack of reclining seats.
The Chariot doesn't have a traditional sunshade like the other products in our review. There is no pop open adjustable canopy with some kind of SPF rating or optional kick out visor. Instead the Chariot is a completely enclosed travelling bubble that has more of a zip on cover that doubles as a sunshade and weather block offering protection from the elements as well as additional privacy. The canopy is made of a mesh layer and top vinyl layer that are both see thru and act as a roof and giant peek-a-boo window. Children are easy to see and are protected from debris. The shade can be used as mesh or vinyl only, or a combination of the two. Some of our little testers didn't like being zipped in and had difficulty accepting this configuration leading to difficulty using any of the shade or wind screen options at all. Something to consider if your little one doesn't like enclosed spaces or small enclosures.
The Chariot has an easy to adjust 5-point harness. The harness has an adjustable crotch strap and variable shoulder height straps. Putting the harness on and off is relatively easy, but the buckle can feel sort of stiff. Previous incarnations of the Chariot used to modify for a one seat option where the harness could be used in the middle of the ride. The new version of this stroller does not seem to have this option, and both harnesses stay put in their side-by-side locations.
The Cougar does not offer adjustable leg rests, but instead has open leg room that extends to the front of the product. Passengers sit in this stroller with their legs extended in front of them, which is probably a cozy way to travel, but jiggling over rough terrain could cause little legs to migrate to the middle. This leg rest arrangement might be a bigger asset if the seat backs reclined. However, these seats do not recline at all, something testers felt was a major drawback and little ones seem dissatisfied with as well. This is probably a safety issue given the high level of activity this product is likely to be used for. It is probably risky to have little one lying down when using the ride for skiing or biking, but it does mean there are less options for comfort than other products. The other gripe our testers had was that the two seats have no "divider" like many of the other options in this review. This means little ones ended up vying for the most space and several disagreements about who was touching whom.
Ease of Setup
This product was so easy to setup. It comes with great instructions that are simple and clear with actual photos instead of illustrations. It offers various language options, but all are in their separate sections in the book so it isn't confusing during setup. It took us right around 11 minutes to get this product out of the box and on the road. This easy to assemble ride required no tools.
The Chariot earned a 9 of 10 for maneuverability. This is the highest score in the group tying with the Thule Urban Glide 2 and the BOB Revolution Flex Duallie.
The lows for the group were 3s earned by the Chicco Cortina Together and both Graco models we looked at. We don't think it is a coincidence that all three of these low scoring strollers have dual front wheels made of plastic.
For maneuvering on hard surfaces this product pushes and turns easily, even one handed. The wide back wheels did catch on some of the tighter spots in the course, but overall it was easy to move and turn in open spaces. While it might have trouble with narrow doorways or tight turns, that isn't what this product is designed for. This is not the product for small cafes and shopping, it is good for the great outdoors where space is unlimited and tight spaces are rare.
The large rubber air filled tires were good on grass and relatively good in gravel. This product offers a wider ability to move on different terrains than most of the competition, and while it might have had difficulty with the deeper gravel, it still managed to move across everything with relative ease compared to the more traditional strollers.
With larger rear wheels and a low center of gravity this product did better on curbs and stairs than most of the competition. Going up backwards was fairly easy and the large handlebar makes it easier to shift where you need it to make it up.
Weight and Folded Size
The Chariot is a different kind of stroller than any other in this review and the additional features included to make it worthy of going off the beaten path are also some of what makes it a heavier product than most of the competition. It certainly is not going to be the best product for city living with bus transportation, but it wasn't designed for that use and it makes no apologies about this. Given all of this you might expect the Chariot to be a big beast that is heavy and cumbersome, but on the contrary this product weighs in at just 31 pounds, which is a pretty mean feat given its design.
This weight puts it on par with the competition, and lower than the average of 32.2. The heaviest stroller in the group is the Baby Jogger City Select Double with a weight of 37.8 pounds. The lightest is the Joovy Caboose Ultralight Graphite at 23.4 pounds.
For quality the Chariot earned a 8 of 10 tying with the BOB and the UPPAbaby.
The highest score in the group is 9 earned by the Chariot's little brother the Thule Urban Glide 2. The low for the group is 3, a score shared by the Baby Trend Sit N' Stand Double and the Graco Ready2Grow LX.
The frame is a simple aluminum tube frame that is pretty minimalistic in looks and function. It is sturdy and doesn't have any connections or joints that flex or cause problems. While the frame may feel very utilitarian, also has a lot to offer that might end up feeling cluttered instead of versatile. The stroller has a visor, rain cover, bug screen, snack pouches, side vents, and removable padded seat bottoms.
Ease of Car Seat Attachment
This stroller does not accept any infant car seats. It does however have both an infant sling and baby support system available for purchase. Infant sling: Somewhat difficult to install and it seems like really young/small children would almost be too small. Both items are fairly simple to install, but the baby supporter seems like it would work better than the sling.
This product can be used with twins and has inserts for baby positioning and infant slings. It does not accept any infant car seats and there are adventures you shouldn't take with infants like jogging, skiing or anything that moves over uneven terrain. That being said, it could be a good product for twins if your goals do not include transporting in car seats. If car seat transportation is a must have you could pair this stroller with the Joovy Twin Roo+, a double frame stroller that accepts a variety of infant car seat brands, is lightweight, ahs 4 cup holders, and is very budget friendly at $130 list price.
The photos above show the versatility of the Chariot with the strolling wheels, jogging kit, bicycle kit, and skis.
The best application for the Chariot is for outdoor activities where a safe and contained ride is necessary to ensure a fun experience for little passengers. It has features and attributes that help keep passengers cozy and happy during any adventure. The leaf spring suspension and large rear wheels mean little ones will ride in comfort while parents get to have a little fun. The reflective fabric and various mesh and vinyl door options mean they will arrive in style and dry. With the ability to jog behind, attach to a bike, or even attach skis, this product has everything you need for getting out and about in the great wide world with your kids in tow.
This product is a little on the pricey side, but even though it is more expensive than some of the competition, it really does bring something different to the table to justify the cost. If you are an adventurous outdoor person, it might be difficult to make it through childhood without this little helper by your side. Given that it will mean a pretty big personal sacrifice to change hobbies after children, it might just be a cost you can figure out how to afford to maintain a lifestyle that will keep you healthy and sane juggling life and parenthood. If the two options are avoiding the trails, or saving for a stroller you can use to stay active, most parents will find a way to figure out the cost. With a list price of $790 it is on par with the lower scoring Select Double and it costs significantly less than the UPPAbaby with a list price of $1060 and no off road adventure capabilities.
The Chariot is a sporty looking stroller that offers so much versatility you won't know which activity to do first. Should you run? Ski? Bike? It doesn't matter which, because the Chariot can do them all. Little passengers will ride in comfort and style with a padded removable seat and padded harness, adjustable leaf spring suspension, and ample leg room. This product has a nice large bin for storage, and it is easy for little ones to get in and out of. While it might not be the best product for city life or occasional trips to the store, it is the best for trips in the wild where kids can see nature whizzing by in style. We liked the Chariot for all it had to offer, and even for what it didn't. If your life demands adventure, then our Top Pick is likely your only pick.
Other Versions and Accessories
Thule offers various Chariot options, including the Cougar, CX2, Chinook, and Cheetah. We did not review the other models.
Jogging Kit and the Thule Bicycle Trailer Kit. There are accessories for comfort, convenience that include an Thule infant sling and Thule Baby Supporter. Conveniences include holders for cups and bottles. Storage accessories include a cargo rack and parent's tray.
The following video from Thule features their single Chariot, however, this gives you a good idea of the product great quality, fit, and function.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team
BabyGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: February 18, 2017
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