Hands-on Gear Review

Orbit Baby G3 with Helix Plus Double Upgrade Kit Review

Price:   $1,529.00 List
Pros:  Seat rotation, tablet holder, tires
Cons:  Large, heavy, and disassembles to fold
Bottom line:  Very expensive and didn't perform well
Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Capacity Limits:  Front seat: 50 lbs, Back seat: 40 lbs
Weight (Lbs):  53 lbs 9 oz
Folded Dimensions (Inches):  36 x 19 x 33.5
Manufacturer:   orbit baby

The Skinny

Discontinued — the Orbit Baby Helix G3 was discontinued in 2016.

The expensive, heavy, gadget filled Orbit Double Helix G3 looks like a pretty fancy ride that will turn heads on just about any city street, and it probably does. It has some fun and innovative features like turn to sit seat inserts, removable storage accessible from front and back, and a cool tablet holder for easy entertainment or navigation on the go. However, this giant is a force to be reckoned with weighing in over 53 pounds, and requiring so many steps to fold, you won't want to do it in an empty dark parking lot at night alone. It looks and feels like something that should be cool, but sort of isn't. Like that popular girl from high school who seemed amazing from afar, but just didn't have much to offer in a one on one conversation. The Orbit was hard to maneuver, time consuming to fold (or rather disassemble), and it involved so many parts and pieces that it all felt a little overwhelming. It came in last place in our tests, scoring lower than some very cheap options with few features, which is really saying a lot. All this, combined with an elevated price, make this a stroller we do not recommend.



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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team

Last Updated:
Sunday
November 2, 2014

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The Orbit Baby G3 with Helix Plus Double Upgrade Kit allows for transportation of two children in a variety of seating options and styles. This combination can accommodate children from newborn to toddler age depending on the kind of seats you purchase and how they are placed. It offers 6 wheel movement, turn in seat seating, recline depending on attachments, and under seat storage. It has cup holder and a tablet holder that doubles as a UV sunshade for toddler seating. It folds/disassembles to make a compact package for easy trunk stowing, and the second seat can be removed easily if only one is desired. This product comes in various colors and seating options depending on preference and needs. It works only with Orbit infant car seats due to unique round base connection system.

Note: To have an Orbit Baby for two, our buy link takes you to Amazon where you must buy the G3 Stroller System with an Infant Car Seat ($1259, left) as well as purchase the Orbit Helix Plus Double Stroller Upgrade Kit for an extra $300 (center). This will allow you to stroller with an older child and an infant. If you'd like to have the capability to stroll with two infant car seats but also want a child seat for an older toddler, you will need to purchase a separate Orbit Baby G3 Infant Car Seat Plus Base (right) for $440.
Orbit Baby G3 Drive and Stroll Combo: Single stroller with stroller seat  infant car seat and base.
Helix Plus Double Stroller Upgrade Kit ($300)
G3 Infant Car Seat and Base ($440)

Performance Comparison



Ease of Use


The Orbit scored below average for ease of use, despite offering some fairly unique features like a tablet holder and removable storage bin. It earned a 5 of 10 for this metric with only a couple of products scoring lower, namely the Jeep Wrangler Twin Sport All-Weather which earned 2 for showing up, and Phil and Teds Verve with 2014 Double Kit which earned a 4 for pretty much lacking most convenience items.

Storage
The Orbit has a removable storage bin that has front and rear access
The Orbit has a removable storage bin that has front and rear access
This product has an under seat storage bin that offers a pull out access from the front and back of the ride. The bin is also removable and has handles that can allow it to be carried if necessary, but it doesn't close and is sort of awkward so we aren't sure why you would detach it unless you need to clean it, and it is impossible to get off with the second seat unless you first remove the seat. This storage bin would not hold our larger diaper bag with supplies enough for two, so be forewarned you will need either two smaller bags, one for each child, or you will have to carry the supplies yourself. Which honestly feels like a shame given the overall size of this product, it felt like storage should be the least of our worries.

Sun Shade
The photos above shows the Orbit with sun canopy closed and open.

The Orbit canopy will depend on what kind of seats you are using in the frame. We used the regular seat in the front and it has a large canopy that covers most if not all of the passenger and is definitely on par with some of our favorite canopies like the one found on the BOB Revolution SE Duallie. The front canopy offers no ventilation and no peek-a-boo window, but this is still a better canopy than the one for the back seat which is just the shade provided by the UV block of the Tablet holder and secret pocket storage sleeve on the handle bar. While not ideal protection, it does offer some, and if an infant seat is there instead, it will come with a better canopy attached to the seat anyway. But, it does make us feel like the child in the rear seat is sort of getting the short stick in the seating draw and we can already hear the faint cry of "shotgun" when passengers are old enough to recognize the many reasons why the front seat is better.

Convenience
The Orbit is the only product in the group with a tablet holder
The Orbit is the only product in the group with a tablet holder
This product has a totally unique approach to modern conveniences with a handy tablet holder which allows parents entertainment or navigation on the go. We aren't sure how much parents will really use it, given the potential for theft, but it is kind of a neat idea and definitely set this product apart from any other. It is probably something we will see more of as technology continues to be so integral to our lives. The cover works well and our tablet was useable inside the vinyl with no problems.

There is a hidden pocket located under the tablet holder and handle bar for convenience items like wallet  phone  and keys
There is a hidden pocket located under the tablet holder and handle bar for convenience items like wallet, phone, and keys
Under the tablet storage is a "secret" pocket for other convenience items like mobile phones and keys. This pocket isn't going to hold much as it is tightly connected to the tablet cover and can't hang low or it would cause a problem for the passenger, but it is a nice thought, and we could see it getting some use.

For the front seat this product offers a two compartment snack tray that attaches to the belly bar of the seat. This compartment is made of plastic and has a closeable lid to prevent snacks from falling out or being exposed to bad weather.
Child snack tray has a lid and is removable for cleaning
Child snack tray has a lid and is removable for cleaning
The compartment is removable for easy clean and is top-rack dishwasher safe, though hand washing is probably preferable. The rear seat really doesn't offer this feature. Presumably because it would be in the way should the front passenger decide to recline for extra coziness. If this seems unfair to the back seat rider, then you've been paying attention because it is. Most of the inline style design strollers we reviewed gave far fewer features and conveniences to the rear passenger than the front. From snack trays to adjustable leg rests, the rear rider is not having as much fun as the front.

Much like the Phil and Teds Verve and Britax's B-Ready we can't help but wonder if the differences in passenger experiences will be a problem for riders of a similar or equal age.

Maneuverability


The 6 wheels of the Orbit actually make this a hard to maneuver stroller that veers off course and follows its own path
The 6 wheels of the Orbit actually make this a hard to maneuver stroller that veers off course and follows its own path
This product scored about average for maneuverability without really impressing us with its much touted 6 wheels system. This is the only product in our review to have more than 4 wheels. It has an extra set of wheels in the middle. It did pretty well on hard surfaces, but once it gets going it really is best if you know where you are going and are looking ahead for possible obstacles and corners because it takes some anticipation to make these turns as well as some time to slow down the pace.

This beast is a heavy and long which means moving it in and out of foot traffic is going to be a challenge and possibly a workout. This product has a tendency to pick a direction and keep on trucking regardless of your intended destination. We struggled somewhat with the center wheels moving independently and wanting to steer the stroller in a direction we weren't moving the handle bar.

On grass this product struggled under its own weight and getting bogged down in the soft earth. It had a worse time in the gravel and became insurmountable. Again the extra set of wheels seemed more of a determent than a benefit, getting both stuck sideways on the rough terrain, and acting somewhat as an anchor when they weren't point in the same direction as the other sets of wheels. You add to that the weight of the stroller empty plus one with kids and possibly bags and you get a rig that might just get stuck and need assistance to rescue. Going off the concrete onto the grass was also a problem and it felt like the back seat was going to break off when the wheels were on different planes.

You can forget taking this monster up stairs just don't do it. It's too heavy, it's too long, and physics is against you. You will probably be dropping this product and everything in it.

Safety


BabyGearLab knows that safety is a concern for parents and it is for us as well. With this in mind, we considered multiple safety issues when reviewing these products. We tested brakes, harnesses, and tipping angles with an eye for safety. The Orbit earned a 7 of 10 in this metric, which was average for the products we looked at and none of them earned higher than an 8.

Brakes

The photos above show the color coded pedals of the brake system on the Orbit.

The brakes on this product are single action brakes that are relatively easy to set and release but it was a bit of a struggle getting our foot in the frame to depress the pedal. The brakes are sandal foot friendly, and have very little play once set properly.

For required pounds of pressure before sliding it took about 25 pounds of pressure pushing to get the stroller to move forward, and over 40 pounds pulling on it to get movement back. These numbers were better than the average, not as good as others, but certainly nothing to prevent the purchase of this product.

Harness
The harness release is two buttons that need to be depressed separately
The harness release is two buttons that need to be depressed separately
The harness on the new seats is better than their previous design which was harder to adjust. With the new version the shoulder height is easier to adjust, which we think will equate to more parents fitting the harness properly. The harness straps are easy to adjust as well with none of the troublesome rethreading we saw in some of the competition. It also has an adjustable crotch strap which proves to be the key in fitting a stroller harness small enough for younger passengers. The buckle is a little cumbersome and requires two hands to release. It isn't as easy as the previous generation because there are two place to press in order to unlatch completely. It still is fairly easy by comparison and much easier than the Bugaboo Donkey Twin 2014.

Tipping

This ride did well in the tipping test for back tipping requiring in excess of 96 pounds hanging off the back of the stroller before toppling backwards. This stroller required far more weight than most of the products we reviewed and was in fact the best in this test, with the second best stroller needed 86 pounds before falling back; this was the Graco Room for 2 Classic Connect.

The angle of the stroller for side tipping wasn't as great with the stroller tipping sideways at just 25 degrees. Given the length and relative high seating compared to many of the other products, it really isn't a surprise that this one would tip sooner than much of the competition. Only one stroller tipping at a shallower angle, the Graco Duo Glider Classic Connect which tipped at 24 degrees. Both of these products are inline style strollers with double seats that sit higher than any of the competition, which makes them relatively top heavy and prone to tipping.

Quality


Quality is one of the metric the Helix did well in
Quality is one of the metric the Helix did well in
Safety and quality were the only two metric the Helix did better than average in, by one point each. The Helix earned a 7 of 10 in this metric with the top scoring product, the Chariot Cougar 2 earning a 9.

The big draw of the Orbit line of products, and the reason some parents felt the higher price tag was worth the expense, was that the fabric and padding on the Orbit used to be made entirely free of flame retardants and other toxic chemicals. It was one of the company's biggest claims and possibly the main reason they did so well out of the shoot. However, it would seem that with the new generation of products, the G3 series, that the foam and materials are being sourced from another manufacturer and the Orbit Company is quietly removing any mention of the details of what their products do and do not contain from their website. It would appear that the new products are not free of flame retardants, and after email discussions with the company the details still remain somewhat of a mystery. What was once a top priority, seems to no longer have the same weight, which makes us go hmmm… when we think about it too hard.

Most of what we know about this issue is limited given the companies reluctance to explain the details of what the products do and do not contain. In addition, their desire to refute independent lab results from Duke University as suspect, (but their own lab results as gospel) gives us pause. Given that Duke tested the material not knowing what it was or where it came from, and that they hold no stake in how the results will be used or how it will impact their future income, it is unlikely that Duke has an agenda beyond honest science. Orbit, on the other hand, does have an invested interest in what the results are as it will likely impact their future bottom line. We encourage parents who are looking for chemical free products to do their due diligence when it comes to Orbit products by reading their website carefully and making phones calls to enquire on the specific attributes and makeup of their current lineup. Something that once was referenced and touted proudly, is now not mentioned at all or oddly shoved under the website rug on a FAQ page in a fun with words description designed to say everything and nothing all at the same time. As a matter of fact, when we click on the link on their website for what they call "Orbit Baby's orbitgreen™ eco-friendly initiatives" it leads to an ooopps page where the information has been removed.

In our contact with the company they not only failed to supply their lab results or further information on what the products contained (calling it a proprietary blend), but they also failed to deny the accusations being made in some online blogs and lab result statements. While we love that any company is giving this thought and consideration (mind you most are not at all) it is worrisome that Orbit has changed their position on what is important, failed to provide transparency on the issue, and is sort of quietly removing any reference to it from their website.

All of this considered means the higher price tag on the Orbit no longer means you are getting a flame retardant product or even one that meets their own prior standards. Which means quality aside, there is little about this product that merits the larger price tag, and their possible dishonesty through omission is frustrating at best. We hope they offer transparency in the future and in the mean time we have sent our own sample of Orbit foam and fabric for lab testing to get a complete analysis to add to this review. Once the results are in, we will update this review.

The frame on the Orbit is custom aerospace-grade aluminum. It is a nice looking, sturdy frame, with a satin black finish that matches the plastic used elsewhere on the product. This gives the frame and stroller a much cleaner look than some of the competition. The helix upgrade kit connection to the main frame is loose, but this might be intentional to allow you to pop the front wheels up. Though honestly I am not sure this heavy rig can bump up high enough to get up and over a curb whether the frame flexes or not.
The center wheels on this product are larger than the front and rear wheels
The center wheels on this product are larger than the front and rear wheels
The center wheels on the Orbit are plastic covered in foam filled rubber. Rubber wheels are usually a smoother ride and are puncture resistant. They are also usually more durable than the plastic wheels and tires of most of the competition. The front and back wheels are foam filled plastic tires on plastic wheels. The center wheels might be of better construction because they bear the burden of most of the weight and pivot of this ride, but it's unfortunate that the front and rear wheels aren't the same. Maneuverability is always better when the tires are made of rubber. The center wheels are also a little loose in the hub.
There is a hidden pocket located under the tablet holder and handle bar for convenience items like wallet  phone  and keys
There is a hidden pocket located under the tablet holder and handle bar for convenience items like wallet, phone, and keys
The handle bar on this stroller is adjustable, but it feels like most of the adjustability is available for the folding of this product or converting it to a single ride than for real options while pushing the double ride. Only one of the positions seems to be comfortable. The handle bar itself is a good size and shape, but it would be better if it was ergonomically curved, and some testers felt they couldn't find a comfortable hand adjustment for pushing. The foam padding has a nice feel in hand and makes pushing a weighted stroller more comfortable, but the lack of ergonomic design prevents this from being a stand out feature for us.

The overall fit and finish of this product is nicer than most of the competition. It really looks sharp and has many features and gadgets not available on other products. Everything is nicely aligned and looks good together. However, the seats do seem to rattle more than most when snapped into place, the center hub is a little bit wobbly, and there is no suspension which seems like a design flaw given the weight and length of this product. It really could use some suspension for the passenger comfort.

Weight and Folded Size


The fold of the Orbit is more of a disassembly than a true fold
The fold of the Orbit is more of a disassembly than a true fold

Weight and Folded Size

The Orbit Helix G3 came in over 54 pounds, making it the heaviest product in our review. This extra girth and unwieldy size means you probably won't be using this ride for commuting or for transporting from place to place. This double stroller really is better as a primary stroller you plan to set and forget.

When folded/disassembled the Orbit measures out at 36 x 19 x 33.5 and around 22,900 cubic inches. This is a fairly small overall size for such a big product, but the unique fold is what makes this product so small when it is ready to stow.

Because this stroller in our opinion is on the larger size it takes up a lot of real estate when put together and ready to roll. One user felt the only way to keep this monster inside was to disassemble it after use. However, she went on to say that if she had to take it apart and put it back together every time she used it then she probably would not use it at all.

Ease of Folding
Even folded  or more accurately dismantled  this stroller takes up a lot of space
The photos above show the Orbit in various degrees of disassemble which is the "fold" of the Orbit.

There is no other product that folds quite like the Orbit. In general, it is less of a fold and more of a disassemble process with 12 steps to complete the process. Yes, some of the frame does fold up compactly, but first you will have to remove seats, then the back part of the frame has to be removed. Next is some monkeying around with the handle bar tablet attachment, and then a big game of stroller Jenga stacking piece and parts on top of each other for a final product that resembles a box of parts as opposed to a complete stroller. This process will take a longer amount of time than much of the competition to take apart and reassemble. This might make it easier to fit in a trunk or smaller space, especially if you have to stow some parts separately to make it work, but the amount of effort and time might make this difficult to juggle with two little ones in tow. The video on the company website makes it look like a breeze, but you'll notice the woman is not trying to do this in a parking lot at night in the dark with two kids running around playing a game of tag. The only real upside to this folding system is that taking it apart makes the individual pieces light enough to pick up when the full stroller might not be.

Commuting

I think it's safe to say you will not be commuting with this product. It had the lowest score out of any product in our review. It is heavy and difficult to take apart to transport, the fold is definitely not something you could do to take on public transport as it creates over 4 pieces that you'd need to carry in order to do it. It is difficult to maneuver in tight spaces and the overall length makes it prohibitive to use in a café because it will likely be in the way no matter how you try to position it. While the seats can rotate to face the table, and they are placed a little higher than the competition, the stroller is so long you will be taking up two tables and the whole thing will be awkward to manage. There really is nothing about this product that lends itself to commuting.

Ease of Setup


This product took over 36 minutes to assemble which was the second longest time in our review with only the Bugaboo Donkey taking longer. The process was more difficult than most and the documentation was only good compared to the competition. The main instructions are illustrations only and fairly user friendly, but if you have to use the written instructions for any reason it becomes more difficult. The written instructions are relatively clear, but they are located in a separate booklet and you have to compare the two books back and forth. The assembly of the stroller base is easy, but the addition of the Helix Plus upgrade kit is at least 3 times more difficult as the stroller base alone. You have to remove the handles and parent tray just to replace them, as well as adding additional parts for the connection of the second base; this all requires the use of tools. Most of the products did not require tools for assembly.

Best Applications


The only application for the heavy  expensive Orbit is a as a primary stroller intended for long trips made frequently
The only application for the heavy, expensive Orbit is a as a primary stroller intended for long trips made frequently
The only way to use this product is as a primary stroller. Given the overall weight and size, combined with the convoluted disassembly and 4 piece ensemble you have in the end, this product is not something you can use for commuting or travel. Once this product is together, you will probably want to keep it together unless it must be folded for the occasional trip or storage. Even just taking it apart for a trip to the zoo is going to feel labor intensive, and the larger price tag that comes with it might have you wondering why you invested so much money into a product you can't use in any way but right out your front door. We think this product's best application is for those looking for a primary stroller that can be used from the front door to run errands or enjoy the day, before returning home with no disassembly required.

Value


Even though this product can be used with infant seats through toddler and up, it is still hard to find the value in purchasing a product of this size with such obvious limitations. The price is higher than much of the competition, the features aren't as use friendly as other options, and the overall configuration and setup is not as well thought out as the award winners. All of the award winners scored higher, cost less, and offered more than the Orbit, so there is no value in this product.

Conclusion


The Orbit feels like a high priced gadgety foreign car that thinks it can woo you with the shiny pieces, unique styling, and fun extras you won't find anywhere else (tablet holder). Unfortunately, when you get a chance to get behind the wheel of this car you will find it has an unimpressive ride and doesn't hold up to close up scrutiny. This product had the lowest score I our test and came in 14th place out of 14 products. There is little on the Orbit that really impresses and it fell short in just about every metric when compared to the competition side-by-side. This makes the Orbit a product we cannot recommend.

Video



Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team

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