The Hunt for the Best Umbrella Stroller
What is the best lightweight umbrella stroller? We took 19 of the top rated, and most innovative products on the market, and we put them through a variety of tests and a head to head competition to weed out the hard to use, ordinary, or the less than awesome. We rated the products on their weight and folded size, ease of use, maneuverability, and quality to determine which were the best, the most economical, or simply the coolest strollers out there. Read on to see which products impressed us and which disappointed.
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Test Results and Ratings
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Analysis and Award Winners
Analysis and Test Results
The best way to avoid confusion, or becoming overwhelmed, is to sort out how you plan to use the product, what features you will need to obtain your goals, and how much you want to pay in order to get them. Once you know these things you can focus on which products offered the best of what you want. While some may offer the same features, not all of them do it well. The selection is varied, not just in what they offer, but in what they cost. We feel there is an option that is right for everyone, and our review process is here to help you find yours.
Types of Lightweight Umbrella Strollers
There are two kinds of lightweight strollers, the basic umbrella product with very few additional features that is easy to fold and carry, and products that are so well-equipped they can potentially do double duty as a primary stroller. There are several of each type in this review, and as you will see, some of the products were better than others.
Both types have characteristics in common; these are the primary features that make a product a member of this group:
All the Bells
Why Get an Umbrella Stroller?
Whether your product of choice is basic or full of frills, an umbrella can be a handy stroller to have at your disposal. Choosing to purchase one can give you more freedom while traveling or visiting relatives, and they can be nice to have for day trips to town or fun activities. They can help you manage little ones and get where you're going without the weight and size of a standard stroller. They are more compact and agile than both a standard style or jogger, which can be nice in the city, crowded space, or where walking spaces are at a minimum. We feel a second option, or even a lightweight primary stroller, might be just the ticket for parents looking to minimize their load or travel in style.
Criteria for Evaluation
While testing the products in this review we focused on 4 key areas, with weight and folded size having the most influence over the final score, because finding a compact, easy to carry stroller is the primary reason parents decide to purchase an umbrella option. Our ratings are a combination of in-house lab testing and real world experience using the products in everyday life, rated against the competition for comparison.
Weight and Folded Size
How much a product weighs, or how compact it can fold, is what makes a great lightweight stroller standout from the pack. The most important aspect is finding one that you can fold and transport with ease. You want one that folds up small, fits in tight places, and can be easily picked up, carried, or moved on public transportation. Some of the products we reviewed were pretty heavy making them harder to carry or lift. Some of them were light, but folded into packages that are longer than average and hard to fit in a compact trunk. For parents looking for a traditional product of this type, this could be the make or break metric for which one to purchase.
GB Pockit with the smallest folded volume, and the second lightest weight. The Quinny Yezz (above left) is the second smallest fold with a reasonable weight of only 12.6 lbs, making it the best of both worlds for most parents. The Inglesina Net has a low weight of 11.9 lbs and has the 4th smallest fold. The largest folded option is the Baby Jogger City Mini (above right) and the Graco Breaze is the heaviest at over 18 lbs.
Ease of Use
Ease of use encompasses all the features that you use daily, and make using the product easier, or add versatility. The higher a product ranks in this category, the more versatile it is, so parents might be able to use it for a variety of trip adventures Having a larger sunshade or storage bin means a stroller might be able to go shopping for longer, or be better for outdoor trips to a farmers market. Having an easy, quick fold, makes it better for urban commuting where speed and space are valued.
Fold and Unfold
Lightweight strollers should be easy to fold and quick for using public transportation. While folding small is important, being able to fold easily and fast, is often just as important. We preferred strollers that fold with one hand and few steps. If they lock automatically or stand on their own they earned even more points. The Recaro EasyLife is the easiest option to fold, operating with one hand and folding into thirds making a small package that fits almost anywhere. Better still, it unfold almost by itself and pops open so quick you're ready to go in no time. The hardest to fold are the UPPAbaby products that require two hands and several steps and can be hard to do if you're flustered. The Britax B-Agile 3 and the Baby Jogger City Mini also scored well here to with a quick one-handed pull.
Many of the umbrella products have double action brakes that require two pedals to be set for full brake engagement. We worry that parents will forget or choose not to set both pedals and this could lead to unnecessary accidents or injuries. For this reason we prefer single action brakes that are fully engaged with one pedal. The best brakes are easy to set and release and are sandal foot friendly. The brakes should engage easily without sticking or feeling locked when they aren't. The best brakes in this review were on the BabyZen Yoyo+ that has one pedal with plenty of foot room and is press to set and release. The Baby Jogger Vue Lite has the worst brakes, which are super stiff and hard to set. We even thought they were set when sometimes they weren't, and releasing the brakes will definitely hurt your uncovered feet. All of the award winners earned high marks for brakes.
All of the products offered some kind of storage, how much and where were the primarily differences between them. Most have a under seat storage bin, but they vary in size, maximum weight capacity, and how easy they are to access. The Britax B-Agile 3 has the largest bin in our review and the Quinny Yezz doesn't have a bin at all, just a seat back pocket. In addition to under seat bins, some had parent pockets located on the back of the sun shades, like the BabyZen Yoyo+ and the Britax B-Agile 3. The pocket makes the models more user-friendly than the products without them, and increases their convenience. The Recaro EasyLife and the Britax B-Agile 3 both offer nice storage, while the Quinny Yezz doesn't have enough for more than a few supplies.
While all the products had a canopy, the more basic products had smaller varieties. The canopy on the Quinny Yezz is simple, easy to use, and attached to the fabric of the main stroller. But it is small, doesn't offer much coverage, and it isn't SPF rated. Things are worse with the GB Pockit, which has the smallest shade, covers very little, and only directly overhead with no side protection. Both of these strollers earned lower scores for ease of use. The standard strollers on the other hand, have giant canopies, are rated SPF 50, and super effective, even for a sleeping fully reclined passenger. The largest canopy belonged to the Zoe XL1 Deluxe, but that was one of the only things it did well.
All of the products we looked have 5-point harnesses. Five points is considered safest because the two extra points coming from the shoulder restraint straps help keep children from slipping out, or falling out should the stroller accidentally tip over. We considered how difficult the straps were to adjust for height and for a correct fit, and how hard the buckle is to use. We considered whether or not the product has an adjustable crotch straps, and if the lowest height will work for smaller babies.
UPPAbaby G-Luxe (above left) has the easiest harness and buckle to use, while the Maclaren Techno XT (above right) buckle is so hard even two hands doesn't feel like enough. Products with harnesses that are more user-friendly, or adjusted tighter for a proper fit, scored higher. Some of the harnesses are fairly easy to adjust, but the height adjustment on the shoulder straps is more difficult. The BabyZen Yoyo+ and the Recaro EasyLife have an easy to use harness.
A reclining seat back and adjustable leg rest are nice convenience features that earned products higher scores for ease of use. For little passengers on the go, napping and being comfortable can be the difference between a successful outing and a disaster of epic tantrum proportions. Some of the products offered a reclining back, but no adjustable leg rest, others had both a recline and leg option, and some had neither. Many of the recline angles are not that deep and therefore not as nap-worthy as others. Depending on the kind of trip you plan to take, a simple stroller with no comfort options might suffice, but if you are headed to the zoo and park for the entire day, life will be easier with a product that lets passengers nap, or adjusts for comfort.
Mountain Buggy Nano (above left) offers additional legroom for nappers, and the zipper side adjustment on the Inglesina Net (above right) slightly increase the recline angle.
Although some of the umbrella products claim to be suitable for newborns and infants, we do NOT recommend the use of umbrella or lightweight products for children under 6 months of age. Why? These kinds of strollers only offer the minimal effort for infants and not the level of support and protection we would like to see for babies without head and neck control. Unless the stroller accepts the attachment of an infant car seat, we do not think they should be used for children under 6 months old. Ever. The Baby Jogger City Mini and the Britax B-Agile 3 would be the exceptions as they are not technically lightweight strollers, but are instead standard strollers. Always keep an eye on baby and regularly check to ensure the harness is properly positioned and adjusted.
Car Seat Compatibility
A sparse few of the lightweight options work with infant car seats. For the most part this category of stroller isn't known for this capability, so it really isn't a strike against them if they didn't offer it, more of a bonus if they did. The Britax B-Agile 3, the Baby Jogger City Mini and the Mountain Buggy Nano all accept a variety of infant car seats with additional adapters. The BabyZen Yoyo+ works with one infant car seat, the Graco Breaze works with Graco brand seats, and the Recaro EasyLife works with the Recaro Performance Coupe.
Ease of Setup
Most of the products we reviewed came assembled or mostly assembled. The main items requiring assemble were the wheels, canopies, or possibly attaching the seat to the frame. None of the products required complete assembly, but the BabyZen Yoyo+ had a lot of parts and pieces, taking more time than any other stroller to get unpacked and ready to stroll, and in some cases 6 times longer. The GB Pockit and the Quinny Yezz were both very easy to set up, with the GB Pockit taking under 2 minutes including unpacking time.
Maneuverability can make or break whether or not a stroller rolls smoothly, or struggles and wobbles. Depending on the journey and the terrain you plan to traverse, which product you choose will make a big difference in whether or not you can get where you want to go without frustration. Some of the products were easy to push and turn, while others felt clunky and averse to turning on grass. The Quinny Yezz has unique skate wheels that make it so agile it feels like you can dance with it, which means you can definitely negotiate even the most crowded city streets with ease and style. The BabyZen Yoyo+ also performed well in our tests for maneuverability, but it was much smoother on the flat roads than the grass gravel.
For quality we look at how well a product was put together, the materials that were used, and how the materials withstood daily use. Some of the materials are not as nice or durable as others. The overall look and feel of the materials, and how they come together and perform under normal use, is a good indicator of the level of quality of the construction and components. The comfort factor of each option was also noted. Other considerations were frame flex, wheel wobble, exposed fasteners, and loose connection points.
Kolcraft Cloud Plus earned the lowest score for quality, but also has the lowest price.
In the end, it is difficult to say that there is one best product for everyone. The needs of parents and their passengers vary depending on how often the stroller will be used, and for what kind of activities. Some of the products are better for quick trips around the city, while others are better for longer trips to the park or shopping. Some have so many features, they could mange double duty as a primary stroller, while others are so minimal they make great commuting products, but not much else.
How to Pick the Best Umbrella Stroller for help on narrowing the field and figuring out what is important.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD, Wendy Schmitz, and BabyGearLab Review Team
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