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Hands-on Gear Review
Mountain Buggy Swift Combo Review
Price: $450 List | $449.00 from 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 isn't 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 large percentage of the final score. So despite the Buggy offering good maneuverability, a great bottle holder, and a good safety score it wasn't enough to overcome the car seat attachment challenges.
RELATED: Our complete review of stroller and car seat combos
Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings
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 fairly large storage bin, but only a small canopy and no parent console. It is a pretty 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.
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
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 pounds. 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 can be 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 difficult process but you will need some practice to get good at it.
The Buggy did fairly well in our tests for commuting, in large part thanks to its shorter length and smaller footprint. The fact that it self-stands when folded and conforms to the 2X4 rule on some public transportation only bumped it up in favor, but that pesky weight and folded size bit still hurt it somewhat and prevented it from scoring the best of the group. The Buggy is anywhere between 36 and 39 inches long depending on how the handlebar is adjusted. This is fine for strolling and even for curb hopping, but it isn't the best for small cafes or narrow spaces where having a longer footprint hurts the buggy for ease of use in a café environment.
Chicco Bravo LE Combo a standard stroller with small plastic wheels.
In short there really 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.
Bugaboo Cameleon3 Combo and the Britax B-Agile. The low for the group is the Chicco Liteway Plus Combo with a 5.
This stroller has single action brakes that are very easy to set and release. The Buggy has a handbrake that is sort of 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 brakes have good sliding resistance on an incline with very little movement, and the play in the brakes is about 0.75 inches when set, which is neither great nor terrible in a group that ranged from 0 to 1.25 inches.
The "cup holder" on this product isn't really 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 baby, and we didn't experience any dropping items in our tests unlike much of the competition.
What really hurt the Buggy in the safety metric is the side tip angle of only 15.9 degrees with a car seat attached. It is far better without the car seat, tipping at 21.7 degrees, but given the best stroller in the group didn't tip until 25.4 degrees with car seat attached you can see how it pales in comparison. For back tipping weight the Buggy fell with 18.7 pounds hanging from the handlebar. The best in the group, the Britax B-Agile, requires 56 pounds before falling back, but the least amount of weight is only 18.2 for the Graco SnugRider Elite, which brings the Buggy down to next to last.
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 Bee has a 4 pound limit, so this isn't the worst, but the UPPAbaby options have a 25 and 30 pound limits that are rather impressive and mean you can go shopping with baby on board.
The canopy on the buggy is smaller than any of the others that offer one. None of the frame stroller have a canopy and several of the strollers require the removal of the canopy in order 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 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 really 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 a mesh outer 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.
UPPAbaby Vista Combo. The low for the metric is 3 earned by the Chicco Keyfit Caddy a fairly inexpensive frame stroller with few features to speak of.
The aluminum frame on the buggy is 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 together 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 easily 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 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 ern 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 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 in standard strollers, 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.
— BabyGearLab Review Team
Most recent user review: June 19, 2016
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