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Hands-on Gear Review
Mountain Buggy Swift Combo Review
Price: $450.00 List | $449.99 at Amazon
Pros: Bottle holder, maneuverability, tires
Cons: Large fold, ease of car seat attachment
Bottom line: Easy to push & turn, but attaching car seats is not ideal
The Mountain Buggy Swift had respectable scores in every metric but the one that really counted for a car seat stroller combination review. This product took a hit in overall rank because it just doesn't work that well with car seats. Mountain Buggy earned one of the lower scores in this metric because the car seat required excessive pressure to connect and sometimes we thought it was attached when it wasn't. Unfortunately for the Buggy, which performed well in most other metrics, the car seat attachment metric made up a significant percentage of the final score. So despite the Buggy offering good maneuverability, a great bottle holder, and nicer quality it wasn't enough to overcome the car seat attachment challenges.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Mountain Buggy Swift is a smaller off-road stroller with 10-inch rubber air filled tires, adjustable handlebar, aluminum frame, locking swivel front wheel, and super cool bottle holder. This stroller boasts a shorter footprint, curb popping capabilities, and good maneuverability. It offers a decent storage bin, but only a small canopy and no parent console. It is an interesting stroller option that didn't do that well for car seat attachment despite offering car seat adapters for several brands of infant car seats.
This chart provides a quick comparison of the overall scores for each product we tested in this review. The Swift is shown in blue for easy reference.
The performance of the Swift compared to the competition is detailed in the sections below.
Ease of Attaching Car Seat
The Mountain Buggy is almost average for car seat attachment earning a 5 of 10 for a metric with an average of 6. The high for the metric is a perfect 10 for both Bugaboo options that have loop adapters that accept a car seat easily with little pressure and no jostling about to make a connection. The lowest score in our tests goes to the BOB Revolution Flex Combo, which has a 2 step attachment process that includes restraint straps. We aren't big fans of straps because we worry parents will forget the strap or intentional skip it assuming it is safe enough without it despite manufacturer warnings.
Chicco Keyfit 30 and the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35.
Which seat is better with the Mountain Buggy is a toss-up. The Graco is considerably easier to install, but the Chicco feels more secure once you get it connected. However, given that the Chicco had some false installations and the Graco did not we'd probably go with the Graco to avoid any accidents related to an incorrectly attached seat.
Weight and Folded Size
The Buggy is neither large nor small, but it does weigh more than we'd like for a category where weight and size are important for new mothers that might be limited in how much they are allowed to carry after childbirth. The Buggy earned a 6 of 10 for weight and folded size which is average for the group. The highest score belongs to the dedicated frame strollers with 9s, and the low is a 1 for the BOB Revolution.
Frame strollers are designed to be lightweight and minimalistic, so it is hard to compete with these products when you are a standard stroller or off-road product, but some came close in our tests offering relatively lighter weights and smaller folded sizes. Unfortunately, the Buggy isn't one of them with a weight over 18 pounds. The frame strollers are closer to 11, and the UPPAbaby Cruz Combo (a very nice standard stroller) is 14.3 lbs. Eighteen pounds will be difficult for some new moms to manage and forbidden for those who've had a C-section.
The folded size of the Buggy is also disappointing at over 12,600 cubic inches. The frame strollers are closer to 6,000 cubic inches, and the smallest folded package is the Britax B-Agile 3 Combo at 6,414 cubic inches. This is almost half the size of the Buggy, putting its larger size in perspective. Even the full size, lighter Cruz is only 8,000 cubic inches.
Folding the Buggy is very easy. This process is accomplished with one hand and 2 steps. The fold does require some bending and a twist of the wrist, but it auto-locks, self-stands and has a handy carry strap for easier transport. This product also rolls when folded like rolling luggage, so if you don't need to lift it up and into a car, it isn't too bad to move from place to place. Unfolding is a little trickier and requires 2 hands, takes 3 steps, and you'll need to bend most of the way to the ground almost. It isn't a terrible process, but you will need some practice to get good at it.
The Buggy earned some favor and gained a little ground in the competition with a second place score of 8 of 10 for maneuverability. Only the jogging stroller BOB Revolution managed a higher score with a 9, while the low is a 3 for the Chicco Bravo LE Combo a standard stroller with small plastic wheels.
The Buggy is easy to push and turn on the pavement and flat surfaces. It rolls well, and its smaller size helps in negotiate tight spaces with relative ease. The swivel front wheel makes it good for stores and errands, while the locked front wheel is better for rougher terrain and off road trips, something the Buggy is designed to do. This product is easy to push and turn with one hand, and it rolled over carpet transitions and cords without a hiccup. The Buggy continued to impress off-road being one of the easiest in the group to push and turn on grass and gravel. We feel it lives up to the hype for off-road maneuverability as well as easy curb transitions and stair work.
In short, there isn't anything negative to say about the buggy's ability to do what every good stroller should do, push, roll, and turn with ease.
Ease of Use
The Mountain Buggy tied with 3 other products in the ease of use metric with a 5 of 10. The high for the group is a 7 for the Bravo with the low being the umbrella Chicco Liteway Plus with a 3. The Buggy should have been able to earn more points here than it did as a full-size stroller with several features, but the low score indicates the features didn't do well when compared to the rest of the group.
Bugaboo Bee3 combo has an 8.8 lbs limit, so this isn't the worst, but the UPPAbaby options have a 25 and 30 lbs limits that are rather impressive and means you can go shopping with a baby on board.
The "cup holder" on this product isn't a cup holder at all and more of a bottle holder for water bottles and similar items. The holder is a neoprene sleeve that hangs off the side of the frame and measures over 8 inches long. There is no associated safety risk with this holder given its lower location where falling items will land on the floor and not the baby, and we didn't experience any dropping items in our tests unlike much of the competition.
This stroller has single action brakes that are very easy to set and release. The Buggy has a handbrake that is different than the majority of handbrakes we've seen, and we liked that it wasn't stiff to use and offered color coding to help sleep deprived parents check brake action with a glance.
The canopy on the buggy is smaller than any of the others that offer one. None of the frame strollers have a canopy, and several of the strollers require the removal of the canopy to attach a car seat including the Buggy. So while it does have a vinyl peek-a-boo window, you won't be using it at all until your baby is ready to sit up on their own and you no longer need an infant car seat. No canopy saves you the added weight, and the infant car seat comes with a canopy to help protect baby from the elements, but we do kind of like the strollers that let you combine the car seat canopy with the stroller canopy for a protective bubble feeling.
The buggy does not come standard with a parent tray, but it does have a useful bottle holder that hangs off the left side and holds taller water bottles. All of our test sippy cups, baby bottles, and travel mugs fit inside, and none fell out during testing. The sleeve is removable for washing and has an outer mesh pocket that might hold car keys or something of similar size.
There is a child's tray for the Buggy that has some depression for snack shown standard with newer models, but our product only had a belly bar. It also has a padded leg rest on the toddler seat, a plastic footrest, and a hard to use recline with separate adjustment straps and infinite recline angle options.
The Mountain Buggy earned a 7 of 10 for quality, tying with three other strollers and coming in 1 point below the high of 8 shared by the Revolution and the UPPAbaby Vista Combo. The low for the metric is 3 earned by the Chicco Keyfit Caddy, an inexpensive frame stroller with few features.
The aluminum frame on the Buggy looks sturdy and has a nice finish. It feels very solid when you push the stroller with weight in it, and there is very little flex. The joints seem well put together and join nicely without gaps or rough edges. The seat material is similar to soft t-shirt material, and while it looks a tad frumpy on the frame it does fit the frame well, and we didn't see any loose threads or fraying edges. The basket is made of a heavy duty fabric that looks like it will wear well over time and be easy to clean. The overall fit and finish of this product is simple and understated, but pleasing to the eye and uncluttered.
The tires are air filled rubber, out favorite kind. The pneumatic tires offer additional comfort over bumpy terrain, and while you will need to watch what you roll over to avoid a flat, we think the air filling as opposed to foam increases ease of pushing and maneuverability. The wheels are a little on the small size for wheels of this type, but they roll well, and their smaller diameter means less to get in the way when tucking it in your trunk.
The handlebar on this product is adjustable by rotating on a pivot point. This style of an adjustment means taller people with longer strides are actually standing closer to the stroller which can result in kicking the stroller while strolling, which did happen for us during testing with the Buggy. The height is adjustable from 27.6-38.2 inches from the ground, which gives the Buggy the lowest handlebar height in the group. We did like the shape of the handle and the foam covering it, but we worry the foam might tear easily, especially when folded because the stroller stands on the handlebar in the self-stand mode.
Ease of Setup
The Buggy earned a setup score of 7 with a setup time of just under 7 minutes. The high for the metric is 10 for the UPPAbaby Cruz that has a quick start guide with 7 steps, the low is 2 for the Bugaboo Bee with so many parts to put together we repeatedly did it wrong and it took almost 24 minutes from start to finish. The Buggy has a very good manual compared to the competition. It offers only illustrations, but they are clear, simple, and have color coding to tell you when to start or finish an action.
The best application for the Mountain Buggy Swift probably isn't car seat attachment. While it didn't earn the lowest score in the group and doesn't require the use of additional restraint straps, it still was harder than it should be and we weren't thrilled with either adapter we tried. We did however like the Swift in several other metrics that didn't have as much influence on the final score, but they do indicate that the Buggy is a better standard stroller with off-road capabilities than it is a car seat stroller combination product. In fact, it earned 4 out of 5 stars in our standard stroller review.
The Buggy has a list price of $450, which is about average for the group. Most of the frame products come in at $100 or lower, but their lifespan is rather limited and you'll need to buy a second stroller once your baby is out of their infant car seat. Unfortunately for the Buggy, the Britax B-Agile score higher here and in our standard stroller review, including a higher score for ease of car seat attachment and it has a list price a full $200 cheaper than the Swift. This makes the Swift not the best value in the group, but not necessarily overpriced for what you get. Alternatively, we think the UPPAbaby Cruz is an excellent value that tied for 3rd place here and won an Editors' Choice award in this review and our full-size stroller review, and while it does cost $50 more on average we think it is worth it for the giant storage bin, and better all-around features, performance, and quality. Unless your goal truly is off-road experiences you'd be better off with the Cruz as a combination stroller with future potential.
The Mountain Buggy Swift is a cool little stroller that is likely to turn heads and impress with its tight turns and easy maneuvering. Unfortunately, it just doesn't have the performance where it counts for this review. The Buggy is fairly heavy at over 18 pounds, is larger when folded than some higher ranking options, and has a relatively small storage bin and canopy. It is a nice mover, but this isn't enough to make up for its shortcomings, including car seat attachment that was a little difficult and had some false starts.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team
BabyGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: June 19, 2016
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