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Hands-on Gear Review

Thule Chariot Cougar 2 with Jog Kit Review

Top Pick Award
Price:   $910.00 List | $674.95 at Amazon - 26% off
Pros:  Versatile uses, room for 2, unique design
Cons:  Heavy and bulky when folded, may not fit in standard trunks
Bottom line:  Top Pick for versatile adventures that allow us to forgive its size and limitations
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Thule

The Skinny

The Thule Chariot Cougar 2 with jogging kit earned a 9th place rank of 16 and a Top Pick award for Versatility. This stroller earned respectable scores for quality and ease of use, with a surprising third place score for run-ability. This double stroller struggled somewhat in the competition because it is heavy and large thanks to double seating and additional features required for its burgeoning versatility. While you do need to make some concessions for its size and maneuverability, the versatile adventures you can pursue using this stroller make it all worthwhile. This stroller comes with standard stroller wheels, but you you can purchase accessories that make it suitable for jogging, strolling, skiing, or being pulled by a bike. For parents who love outdoor adventures, it is hard to beat this Swiss Army knife of strollers.

Update — February 2017
Thule has revamped their Chariot line. The Chariot Cougar 2 has been replaced by the Thule Chariot Cross 2. We have yet to get our hands on the new product, but you can read a bit more about it below.


RELATED REVIEW: The Race for the Best Jogging Stroller of 2017

select up to 5 products
Score Product Price Our Take
84
$400
Editors' Choice Award
Our favorite jogging stroller that is great for running as well as everyday use
76
$500
Editors' Choice Award
Rugged jogger that is easy to run with and good for every day outings
75
$375
Great fixed wheel option that performed well overall, but is harder to turn
74
$400
Top Pick Award
Great jogger that is super easy to use and could work as your only stroller
67
$420
Nice fixed wheel stroller with limited maneuverability in tight spaces
64
$390
High quality, but the fixed wheel makes it harder to turn in tight spaces
63
$150
Best Value Award
Best bang for the buck, but not the best option for serious runners
62
$600
Do not recommend for avid runners
62
$910
Top Pick Award
Top Pick for versatile adventures that allow us to forgive its size and limitations
60
$299
Disappointing choice that doesn't run straight enough and lacks the ability to fix that
59
$430
Disappointing to run with and harder to use, make it an option we aren't fond of
51
$380
Requires excessive wrestling to run straight, making it a no go for us
49
$240
Poor run-ability and wobbly wheel make it a bad choice for serious runners
48
$190
Difficult to push and turn with the worst run-ability
47
$160
While better than similar Tourismo, the lack of run-ability makes it a bad jogger
47
$240
One of the hardest to run with and more difficult to push and turn with fixed wheel

Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Juliet Spurrier, MD
Mom-in-Chief
BabyGearLab

Last Updated:
Saturday
February 18, 2017

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New Thule Chariot Cross 2 vs. Old Cougar 2


The Chariot Cross 2 replaces the Cougar 2 and remains a fantastic multi-sport stroller, ready for jogging, skiing, biking, or strolling. The main difference between the two strollers the level of convenience and usability. The new Cross 2 has many new features that should make for a much more efficient and comfortable ride for both kids and parents. These include an adjustable handlebar, independently reclining seats, and a redesigned adjustable suspension. The basket on the new stroller has a clip that locks it into place when it is folded up. The adjustable tracking, which was previously one of our least favorite parts of the stroller, has been simplified and hopefully improved. You can check out more of the new features on Thule's website. Below you can see the Chariot Cross 2 on the left and the older Chariot Cougar 2 on the right. Check back in the coming months for a review of the Chariot Cross 2.
The jogging kit for the Chariot turns the stroller into a 3 wheel stroller ideal for jogging.
 

Hands-on Review of the Cougar 2


We are currently testing the new Chariot Cross 2. In the meantime, our review below of the Cougar 2 should give you a pretty good idea of the product's performance, since the two are so similar.

The Chariot Cougar 2 is a versatile stroller that can work for running  biking  strolling and even skiing (accessories for each activity cost more and are sold separately).
The Chariot Cougar 2 is a versatile stroller that can work for running, biking, strolling and even skiing (accessories for each activity cost more and are sold separately).

Erik Thulin founded his Swedish company Thule (Too-La) in 1942 with the creation of products for fishermen. As the years went by, Thule began to focus more on products for outdoor adventures and products that make the transportation of toys easier. For more than 70 years Thule has expanded their products from luggage boxes and roof racks to bike trailers and now 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.

Performance Comparison


This chart provides a comparison of the products and their overall scores. The Thule Chariot Cougar 2 (shown in blue) didn't earn a high score, but its good scores and versatility helped it earn a Top Pick award. There are a variety of attachments (sold separately) that allow the COugar to be used for jogging, biking, and skiing.


The sections below provide more details on how the Cougar performed in each metric's tests. The overall score is a combination of the scores earned in each metric with more emphasis on the run-ability and ease of use metrics.

The jog kit for the Cougar 2 consists of the side arms and front wheel
The jog kit for the Cougar 2 consists of the side arms and front wheel

Run-ability


The Cougar earned a 6 of 10 for run-ability making it a stroller you can run with, but not one for everyday or over long distances. This lower score makes sense given the versatility of the Cougar and the fact that it isn't strictly intended as a jogging stroller. The Thule Urban Glide and the BOB Revolution Flex both earned 9.


The Cougar has adjustable tracking to keep the front wheel moving in a straight line, but it is not easy to use and we had trouble getting it adjusted just right for rolling straight. Our runner remarked that it pulled to the left significantly and getting it to run straight was difficult. In addition, the overall size of the Cougar makes it something of a sail in the wind and it is noticeably more difficult to push than the smaller options. On the upside the Cougar is easy to tip back for turning and we found it could manage little hops to make turns easier.

This is the compact fold of the Thule Chariot Cougar 2 with the wheels  handlebar and storage bin removed
This is the compact fold of the Thule Chariot Cougar 2 with the wheels, handlebar and storage bin removed

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 the Burley Solstice, which earned the high of 9.


Fold and Unfold


The Cougar needs 2 hands to fold/disassemble. This stroller has a straight forward fold and a more compact fold if you take the wheels, handlebar and storage off, and it ranges between 3 and 13 steps to complete. If you have a small trunk, or are hoping to put it in a back seat, the extra parts will need to be removed and even then it may not fit.

The space between the rear wheel and the storage bin on the Thule Cougar 2 is barely wide enough for a foot to find the brake pedal without kicking one or the other
The space between the rear wheel and the storage bin on the Thule Cougar 2 is barely wide enough for a foot to find the brake pedal without kicking one or the other


Brakes


The Cougar brakes are single action and simple to set and release, but we regularly kicked the frame when searching for the brake and wider feet might have trouble fitting in the space between the storage bin and wheel. They are not sandal foot friendly, but we suspect you won't be wearing sandals much while using it.

The Thule Chariot has a large storage bin that hangs off the back of the stroller frame
The Thule Chariot has a large storage bin that hangs off the back of the stroller frame

Storage


The storage bin on the Cougar is large and hangs off the back of the frame. It is easy to access from the top and fit our large diaper bag. This stroller also has a large mesh pocket on the back of the seat and two inside mesh pockets for passengers. The passenger pockets can fit sippy cups and snacks, but smaller riders will have to leave their harness to reach the pockets.

The Thule Chariot Cougar has a 2 layer shade system made of vinyl and mesh that protects baby from the elements.
The Thule Chariot Cougar has a 2 layer shade system made of vinyl and mesh that protects baby from the elements.

Sun Shade


The Cougar doesn't have a traditional canopy and instead is an enclosed bubble with a zip on cover that acts as a sunshade offering protection from the elements. The cover consists of a mesh and vinyl layers that are both see through and act as a roof. Children are easy to see under the cover and are somewhat protected from road or trail debris. The layers can be used individually or together, but if your child doesn't like enclosed spaces the seating space could feel claustrophobic.

The 5 point harness on the Thule Cougar 2 can be operated with 1 hand to release the buckle
The 5 point harness on the Thule Cougar 2 can be operated with 1 hand to release the buckle

Harness


This stroller has 5-point harnesses that are relatively easy to put on, take off, and adjust, but the buckle is a little bit stiff. The main trouble with this stroller is the bending down or leaning over necessary to put the harnesses on thanks to the lower cabin height. The harnesses have adjustable shoulder heights and crotch straps.

Seat


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. Our little passengers preferred this stroller over much of the competition for rider comfort, and the arrangement seems cozy for napping even without lying flat.

Ease of Setup



The Cougar stroller took about 10 minutes to put together and 4 more minutes to put the jog kit on. The manual has simple instructions and actual photos of the parts being described. Multiple languages are divided by sections, which is easier to use than those with all the languages meshed together. The assembly is easy and doesn't require any tools. Each accessory kit has its own manual.

Despite its larger size and weight the Thule Chariot Cougar 2 is easy to tip and turn while running
Despite its larger size and weight the Thule Chariot Cougar 2 is easy to tip and turn while running

Maneuverability


The Cougar earned a 6 of 10 for maneuverability. This is next to the lowest score in this metric.


Pushing and turning this stroller isn't the best; it is wider and longer than most of the competition making it a bear to push. It isn't too bad to tip and turn, but its size is a problem in tight spaces and makes navigating difficult. Off-road pushing is easier and the front wheel is stable, helping it negotiate curbs.

The adjustable rear suspension on the Cougar 2 is easy to operate
The adjustable rear suspension on the Cougar 2 is easy to operate

The handlebar on the Cougar is the entire length of the stroller and our running expert did not like shape or size. It can flip over for height adjustment, but the two options aren't enough for all users. The bar is covered in a padded foam that gives it a larger diameter than the bar itself, but it has a strange part in the center with no foam and we aren't sure why. The Cougar has rear leaf springs that can be adjusted for passenger weight, terrain, or personal preference. We think passengers will be more comfortable than pushers, especially if the run is long or their height isn't average.

This is a different angle of the Chariot Cougar 2 that shows how the parts you remove can be stored inside the folded stroller if necessary to decrease the overall folded size.
This is a different angle of the Chariot Cougar 2 that shows how the parts you remove can be stored inside the folded stroller if necessary to decrease the overall folded size.

Weight and Folded Size


The Cougar earned a 1 of 10 for weight and folded size. This stroller weighs over 32 pounds with the jogging kit, which makes it the heaviest in the group.


The Cougar measures almost 43,000 cubic inches when folded, making it the largest as well. However, the Cougar has additional features designed for versatility and adventure that inherently increase the size and weight. Given the size and shape, we recommend measuring your car before purchasing this stroller.

The Cougar 2 is made with quality parts and materials.
The Cougar 2 is made with quality parts and materials.

Quality


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 Thule Glide with a 10.


The Cougar fabric is heavy and durable with rubberized reinforcement on the footrest and basket bottom. The window vinyl seems sturdy, and portions of the product are reflective. The fabric fits the frame tightly where it needs to and looks good where it is loose by necessity. This stroller has an aluminum frame that is minimalist in form and function. The frame doesn't flex, but it has a lot going on that can make it feel cluttered. The wheels are 12 inch metal rims with spokes and pneumatic rubber tires. The front strolling wheels that come with the stroller are plastic and significantly smaller.

Manufacturer Video




Video with details on the jogging kit and how it works on the Cougar.


Accessories


The Cougar 2 doesn't come with the accessory bar found on some of the other Thule trailers (see below), but it does offer some items for baby comfort that are worth a look see, especially if your little one is young or small.
  • Thule Baby Supporter
    Thule Baby Supporter
    This two piece padded insert has padded sides and head support, with a small triangle of padding in the bottom that helps support baby and ensures they remain sitting upright while strolling. This product works for children from 6 to 18 months. Prior to 6 months you may want to check out the next accessory.

Parents should keep in mind that they should not jog with babies under 8 months of age, and even then should check with their pediatrician to ensure baby has enough head and trunk muscle control to sustain the jarring that occurs during running.

  • Thule Infant Sling
    Thule Infant Sling
    The infant sling attaches above the seat inside the Cougar and provides lateral support and increased stability to younger passengers. The sling resembles a hammock and helps keep baby in a recline position that maintains proper head and neck alignment for easier breathing. The sling is easy to attach and works with the strollers shoulder straps and a built in chest strap.

Other Versions


Thule makes a variety of strollers that are good for jogging or can be modified for jogging like the Cougar 2. We reviewed the Thule Urban Glide and the Thule Glide in this review. Both strollers did well in testing, and the Thule Urban Glide earned the high score and an Editors' Choice award. There are a few interesting options similar to the Cougar 2 that have the same level of versatility with some differences in design and features, including:
  • The Thule Chariot Cougar
    Thule Chariot Cougar 1 — This is the single seat version of the Cougar 2 and shares the same features and functionality only with one seat. If you do not need a two seater, then the single seat will give you the same fun and versatility with a smaller size and lighter weight. The smaller and lighter Cougar might even offer better maneuverability.
  • The Thule Chariot CX
    Thule Chariot CX — This is a single seat bike trailer that comes with strolling wheels and can be combined with the jogging kit accessory to create a jogging stroller. This trailer has a narrow footprint, accessory bar, disk brakes, and adjustable leaf springs. This stroller also comes in a 2 seater option called the Thule Chariot CX2. The CX strollers are more aerodynamic and include more deluxe features than the Cougar versions.
Juliet Spurrier, MD & Carrie Vickers

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Most recent review: February 18, 2017
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