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Hands-on Gear Review
Thule Chariot Cougar 2 With Jog Kit Review
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
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
Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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 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 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 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 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
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.
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 with details on the jogging kit and how it works on the Cougar.
— Juliet Spurrier MD, Carrie Vickers, and BabyGearLab Review Team
Most recent user review: June 14, 2015
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