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Hands-on Gear Review

Thule Chariot Cougar 2 With Jog Kit Review


Jogging Stroller

Top Pick Award
Price:   $910 List | $789.95 from Amazon - 13% Off
Pros:  Versatile uses, room for 2, unique design
Cons:  Heavy and bulky when folded, may not fit in standard trunks
Bottom line:  Great for versatile adventures that allow us to forgive its size and limitations
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Thule

The Skinny

The Thule Cougar is a double stroller with loads of versatility. It comes with standard stroller wheels, but you can purchase a Jogging Kit to go with it for running or moving at higher speeds. The wheel is a fixed wheel option that performed well in our review. While this stroller didn't score at the top of the heap, it did perform well enough to get our Top Pick award for versatility. The stroller can be used for jogging, strolling, skiing, and even being pulled by a bike. For parents who love outdoor adventures it is hard to beat this Swiss Army knife of strollers.

Our sister site, OutdoorGearLab, reviewed the Cougar 2 in their bike trailer review, where it won their Editors' Choice Award for Best All-around Bike Trailer. It was also a finalist in our double stroller review, where it earned a Top Pick Award for Outdoor Adventure. More evidence that the Cougar 2 is a stand-out product that earns accolades not just as a jogging stroller, but as a bike trailer and as a double-stroller. Get the skis and your Cougar 2 can be your year-round adventure product for the outdoor-oriented family.

RELATED: Our complete review of jogging strollers

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Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings

Review by:
Juliet Spurrier, MD
Mom-in-Chief, BabyGearLab

Last Updated:
Sunday
June 14, 2015
The Thule Chariot Cougar 2 with Jogging Kit is a double stroller that has a low center of gravity and is wider for 2 kids and stability for outdoor activities. It offers an versatile design that enhances the varied capabilities of this stroller. It offers adjustable suspension for comfort and a more stable ride based on passenger weight, terrain changes, or personal preference. It has an adjustable handlebar, window ventilation for temperature control, a cross bar to mount various accessories, and a click and store system that allows conversion kits to be stored on the stroller itself for quick changes on the go away from home. It also sports a large storage bin mounted on the back of the frame and inside stow pockets for little ones treasures. To convert the Cougar to a jogging stroller it is a simple and easy installation with a locked wheel for a steady ride. The kit includes two ezClick™ aluminum arms and a 1 inch quick release wheel.

You can read even more details on this stroller in our double stroller review Thule Chariot Cougar 2.

Performance Comparison


Sixteen top ranked strollers were put to the test to find the best jogging style stroller on the market (Grand Safari  Burley Solstice  Joovy Zoom 360 Ultralight  and Mountain Buggy Terrain not shown).
Sixteen top ranked strollers were put to the test to find the best jogging style stroller on the market (Grand Safari, Burley Solstice, Joovy Zoom 360 Ultralight, and Mountain Buggy Terrain not shown).

Run-ability


The Cougar earned a 6 of 10 for run-ability making it a stroller you can run with, but not one you are likely to want to everyday for long distances. The best in the bunch for this metric is the Thule Urban Glide that earned a 9 and tied with the BOB Revolution Flex. The lowest scoring product in the group is the Graco Fast Action Fold Jogger that is so hard to wrestle with and keep on course we think most parents would rather burn it than run with it.

This stroller does have an adjustable handlebar, but unlike the others it only has 2 height options. This is probably better than nothing, but it isn't as nice as those with more than 2 position options. These positions will work for some, but definitely not all.

This stroller has adjustable rear leaf spring suspension, but not suspension in the front. The suspension is easy to adjust and can even be managed on the trail without too much of a break. It also has adjustable tracking to keep the front wheel moving in a straight line, but this is not as easy to use and we didn't like it as much as the competition. Its nice it has it though, some of the competition did not.
Despite its larger size and weight the Thule Chariot Cougar 2 is easy to tip and turn while running
Despite its larger size and weight the Thule Chariot Cougar 2 is easy to tip and turn while running
The Cougar is easy to tip and turn and has almost no rolling resistance earning a good score for this test. While its overall heavier design probably had something to do with it, the nicer aluminum wheels definitely contributed to its performance.

The overall size of this rig makes it something of a sail in the wind when jogging and it is noticeable more difficult to push. However, it is best to keep in mind that it is a double stroller so it is inherently going to be bigger and harder to push than the single options. The tracking on our model was off and we had trouble getting adjusted just right for rolling straight. Our runner remarked that it pulled to the left significantly and getting it to run straight was difficult. We had to compensate for a pull right that made our runs sort of annoying. However, it is relatively stable and easy to turn even while at speed; we found you can almost do little hops with the front wheel to turn instead of tipping the whole ride. Our taller testers had to flip the stow bin up to avoid kicking it while running. Smaller testers did not have this problem, but it is something to keep in mind if you are over 6 feet.

Maneuverability


The jog kit for the Cougar 2 consists of the side arms and front wheel
The jog kit for the Cougar 2 consists of the side arms and front wheel
For maneuverability this stroller earned a 6 of 10. This is next to the lowest score in the metric, but it tied with a few others so it isn't alone down there near the bottom. The lowest scoring stroller is the Graco with a 5. The top scorer is the Thule Urban Glide that earned a 9.

For pushing and turning on pavement and hard surfaces this stroller isn't the best. It is wider and longer than most of the competition and this made it a bear to push. It isn't too bad to tip and turn, but its size in a problem in tight spaces and makes navigating the narrow space difficult.
The Cougar 2 didn't do too bad for maneuverability given its extra wide stance and heavy weight it still managed to preform better than some of the lighter and smaller competition
The Cougar 2 didn't do too bad for maneuverability given its extra wide stance and heavy weight it still managed to preform better than some of the lighter and smaller competition
For pushing and turning off road it is significantly nicer and easier to manage, earning a score higher than many of the other strollers in this test. The fixed front wheel is stable and easy to handle. It is easy to tip over curbs and it managed gravel well. You will have to tip it frequently, but it is easy and definitely not a deal breaker.

Ease of Use


The Cougar earned a score of 7 of 10 for ease of use. This score is above average, but 2 points lower than the top scorer in this metric the Burley Solstice. The lowest score for ease of use were earned by the Schwinn brothers with scores of 4 each.
The Thule Chariot has a large storage bin that hangs off the back of the stroller frame
The Thule Chariot has a large storage bin that hangs off the back of the stroller frame
The storage bin on this product is relatively large and hangs off the back of the frame. It is only accessible from the top and access is easy, though you might have to bend down to reach the bottom. . Our large diaper bag fit easily inside. This stroller also has a large mesh pocket on the back of the seat for items like smartphones, wallets, and keys.

The Cougar doesn't really have a traditional canopy for protection from the sun. This stroller is an enclosed bubble that has a zip on cover that acts as a sunshade offering protection from the elements. The cover consists of a mesh and vinyl layer combo that are both see through and act as a roof. Children are easy to see under the cover and are somewhat protected from any road or trail debris. The layers can be used individually or together. If your child doesn't like enclosed spaces this might be something to consider before buying this stroller.
The Cougar 2 is made with quality parts and materials.
The Cougar 2 is made with quality parts and materials.
This stroller has two inside mesh pockets for passengers. The pockets are large and will fit sippy cups and snacks, but younger and smaller riders will have to leave their harness to reach the pockets, so we encourage parents to keep a close eye or give little ones items to hold.

Little passengers sit in this stroller with legs extended and the seat back does not recline. We suspect this design is just as much for comfort as it is for safety. It is likely risky or potentially dangerous to have children laying down when running, skiing, or biking. Our little passengers preferred this stroller over much of the competition for rider comfort.

Quality


The Cougar earned a 9 of 10 for quality. This is one of the highest scores in the group tying with the Thule Urban Glide and coming in 1 point below the top scorer Thule Glide with a 10. The lowest quality score is a 4 received by the Schwinn Arrow.

The Cougar fabric is heavy and durable being outdoors. It offers has rubberized feeling reinforcement on the footrest and basket bottom. The window vinyl seems pretty sturdy, and portions of the product have reflective elements for better safety at night. The fabric fits the frame tightly where it needs to and looks good where it is loose by necessity. We were unable to cause snagging in any of the materials during testing.

This stroller has an aluminum tube frame that is minimalist in form and function. The frame feels sturdy and doesn't have flex or connection points that could cause problems. The frame has a lot going on that can make the stroller feel cluttered, but it is a necessity for all the things the stroller can do. The stroller comes with a visor, rain cover, bug screen, side vents, and removable seat padding.

All the wheels are 12 inches, they have metal rims with spokes and pneumatic rubber tires. The front jogging wheel is fixed and does not swivel at all. The traditional front strolling wheels that come with the stroller are plastic and significantly smaller.
The handlebar on the Thule Cougar 2 can be flipped over to adjust its height. The front jogging wheel can be fixed to the back when using the stroller wheels
The handlebar on the Thule Cougar 2 can be flipped over to adjust its height. The front jogging wheel can be fixed to the back when using the stroller wheels
The handlebar on the Cougar is the entire length of the back of the stroller and our running expert did not like the way it is shaped or how big it is. It can flip over for height adjustment, but the two options aren't really enough to meet the needs of most users. Adjustment is easy, but more involved than the other height adjustable handlebars. The bar is covered in a padded foam that gives it a larger diameter than the bar itself. It does have a strange part in the center that is not covered in foam and we aren't sure why.
The adjustable rear suspension on the Cougar 2 is easy to operate
The adjustable rear suspension on the Cougar 2 is easy to operate
The Cougar does offer adjustable suspension. The rear leaf springs on this product can be altered depending on passenger weight, terrain, or personal preference. There is no front suspension on this stroller.

Safety


The Cougar 2 earned a 7 of 10 for safety tying with the Thule Glide; 7 is the top score for safety in this review. The lowest scoring product is the Schwinn Turismo that scored a 4.
The space between the rear wheel and the storage bin on the Thule Cougar 2 is barely wide enough for a foot to find the brake pedal without kicking one or the other
The space between the rear wheel and the storage bin on the Thule Cougar 2 is barely wide enough for a foot to find the brake pedal without kicking one or the other

The brakes are single action and relatively simple to set and release; we had some trouble with the frame and storage bin getting in the way of setting them and it might be difficult with wider feet or a ski boot on. We regularly kicked the frame when searching for the brake while testing. Once the brakes are set they have more play in them than much of the competition and more than we would have expected from an outdoor adventure product. It took over 28 pounds of pressure on the handlebar before the product made a move back. It took 32 pounds of pressure for it to slide forward.

The Cougar does not have a cup holder so there is no cup holder safety concern. However, if you decide to purchase a cup holder accessory we recommend not using it while moving at speed. While it is less likely to land on baby than some of the competition, it is still a possibility.
The 5 point harness on the Thule Cougar 2 can be operated with 1 hand to release the buckle
The 5 point harness on the Thule Cougar 2 can be operated with 1 hand to release the buckle
This stroller has a 5 point harness that is relatively easy to put on, take off, and adjust, but the buckle is a little bit stiff and might require two hands to release. The main trouble with this stroller is the bending down or leaning over necessary to put the harness on properly given the lower stature of the product. The harness does have adjustable shoulder height positions and an adjustable crotch strap.

The Cougar did pretty well in the tipping tests. The side tip angle was 32 degrees with the jog kit attached, this is better than most of the competition, but not really a surprise given it wider design. The amount of weight required on the handlebar before it tips back is a disappointing 13 pounds with 1 passenger and slightly more with 2. This is the lowest weight for any product in our review.

Weight and Folded Size


This is the compact fold of the Thule Chariot Cougar 2 with the wheels  handlebar and storage bin removed
This is the compact fold of the Thule Chariot Cougar 2 with the wheels, handlebar and storage bin removed
The Cougar is not like any other stroller we looked at. With additional features designed for versatility and adventure it is heavier than the others. This stroller weighs over 32 pounds with the fixed wheel jogging kit and this makes it the heaviest in the group. It is also the largest with its double seating and boxy build it can't compete with the three wheel narrow structure of most of the competition. It is almost 43,000 cubic inches when folded which makes it the largest product by far. Given its weight and folded size you probably don't want to commute with this beast.
This is a different angle of the Chariot Cougar 2 that shows how the parts you remove can be stored inside the folded stroller if necessary to decrease the overall folded size.
This is a different angle of the Chariot Cougar 2 that shows how the parts you remove can be stored inside the folded stroller if necessary to decrease the overall folded size.
This stroller is unlikely to fit in most trunks and you will more than likely need to take the front wheel off after folding it to fit it anywhere. It is probably a good idea to measure your trunk space before buying or finding one in person to tests out. This product is probably better used right out of the garage or in the back of a truck. You probably aren't likely to want to fold or store this product regularly given its girth.
The rear wheels are easy to remove on the Thule Chariots Cougar 2 by pressing in the button on the hub and pulling out at the same time
The rear wheels are easy to remove on the Thule Chariots Cougar 2 by pressing in the button on the hub and pulling out at the same time
The Cougar needs 2 hands to fold or disassemble. It can range between 3 and 13 steps to complete. This stroller has a straight forward fold and a more compact fold with wheels, handlebar and storage bin taken off. If you have a small trunk or are hoping to put it in a back seat the extra parts will need to be removed. To avoid hassle and loss of time, we suggest you stick to a traditional fold that is relatively easy and quick. The unfold is about the same as the fold. It does require a lot of squatting and bending to get it ready to roll, you should look at this as your warm up to running

This stroller is not a great commuting option. Its overall size and shape make it a bad choice for riding public transport or getting it in and out of your car. In addition, the seats are too low to leave little ones inside while grabbing lunch or coffee. While it can maneuver relatively well with the standard stroller wheels it is harder to navigate tight spaces with the jog kit and thanks to the size. Even though it was given our Top Pick for Versatility Outdoors, it isn't a great pick for city life.

Ease of Setup


The jog kit for the Cougar 2 consists of the side arms and front wheel
The jog kit for the Cougar 2 consists of the side arms and front wheel
The Cougar earned a 7 of 10 for ease of setup. The easiest option to put together is the Thule Urban Glide that received a 10. The lowest scores in this metric were 6s and earned by 4 different strollers. It took us about 10 minutes to put the basic stroller together and an additional 4 minutes to get the jog kit out of the box and on the stroller proper. The instructions that come with the stroller are very good. They are simple and clear with actual photos of the parts and steps being described. Multiple languages are divided by sections instead of sprinkled throughout and we think this is the easier to use method. The assembly is easy and doesn't require any tools to be used. Each accessory kit (including the jog kit) has its own instruction book.


Best Applications


The best application for this Thule is for parents who enjoy the great outdoors and plan to take little ones on their adventures. No matter what your plan for the day entails, the Cougar 2 likely has an attachment for that. If you want to jog to the ski slopes and then bike home you can do it all with this one stroller and a few select attachments

Value


The Cougar 2 is not the best value for parents looking for a true jogging stroller. With its hefty $1500 price tag for stroller and jogging kit it can send some parents reeling and looking for the exit. However, if you were an avid outdoor person prior to baby, it might be hard to give up the hobbies and physical activity you once enjoyed. The Cougar 2 can help you stay active and out of the house without having to find a sitter for baby. In fact, it might increase your bond with baby and start him on the path to enjoying the outdoors and adventure. It's hard to consider a stroller with this list price to be a value, but we think that active parents will easily find a way to justify the cost when they see how much it does and how long they will be able to use it.

Conclusion


The Chariot Cougar 2 is a versatile stroller that can work for running  biking  strolling and even skiing (accessories for each activity cost more and are sold separately).
The Chariot Cougar 2 is a versatile stroller that can work for running, biking, strolling and even skiing (accessories for each activity cost more and are sold separately).
With its versatile attachments and roomy interior it is easy to see how the Cougar 2 won our award for Top Pick for versatility. This double wide stroller has just about everything parents need for outdoor adventures and then some. While it comes standard with ordinary strolling wheels, parents can purchase alternate attachments for jogging, skiing, and biking. This stroller only came in 6th place out of 13, but it offered something no other stroller did with its versatile attachments. For parents who don't want to miss out on opportunities to be outside having fun, or those who want to live on the edge with baby in tow the Cougar 2 is a great option.

Other Versions and Accessories


Thule makes several different options for strollers to jog with. We also reviewed the Thule Glide (a fixed wheel option), and the Thule Urban Glide. Both of these Thule strollers earned high marks in most metrics and came out in first and third place overall in our tests. No matter what feature or kind of jogging style stroller you are looking for, it can be found in the Thule lineup.

Video




Video with details on the jogging kit and how it works on the Cougar.
Juliet Spurrier MD, Carrie Vickers, and BabyGearLab Review Team

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User Reviews


Most recent user review: June 14, 2015
Summary of All Ratings

BabyGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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by Juliet Spurrier MD, Carrie Vickers, and BabyGearLab Review Team

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