Thule Chariot Cross 2 with Jogging Kit Review
Pros: Easy to use, good run-ability, nice to push and turn
Cons: Width makes narrow places hard to navigate, heavy
Our Analysis and Test Results
Thule was founded over 70 years ago by Erik Thulin. Started in Sweden in 1942, the company originally made gear for fisherman. Skip ahead twenty years, the first ski rack for cars is introduced followed by a rack with a basket. Many years later, Thule is now recognized internationally as a go-to supplier for active people looking for gear designed for transporting bicycles, winter and water toys, and other cargo. Thule now makes some products with kids in mind. Their strollers and bike trailers are a perfect fit for adventurous parents with children.
The Cross 2 is a better than the average option for jogging.
This stroller has a fixed front wheel is easy to use with adjustable tracking that works with the turn of a dial. The adjustable handlebar and suspension increase run-ability by improving the runner's biomechanics which should lead to less fatigue and overall effort related to pushing while running.
During testing, the Cross was a good mover despite the heavier weight and larger size, and we did not have difficulty tilting it back for turns, a must-do action for running due to a fixed front wheel. This stroller tracks straight and has the best rolling resistance in the group. While not as nice to run with as lighter, narrower options, it is still a good choice for the serious runner that also plans to partake in other outdoor adventures.
Ease of Use
The Cross 2 is easier to use than most of the jogging competition.
Ease of use impacts your daily experience with a stroller and captures how ordinary regular features function.
Fold and Unfold
The Cross has a relatively easy two-handed fold process with a lock that closes automatically (above left). The stroller self-stands when folded and can be more compact by removing wheels. The process can is anywhere between 3-12 steps. The Cross 2 has color-coded transition buttons (above right) that guide parents through the complete fold process, including the removal of the quick-release wheels. The self-stand feature is potentially only good for storage, but it is a benefit that helps manage a larger product. Unfolding the Cross is also easy enough, but it is convoluted with more steps than most of the competition.
The Cross 2 has single action brakes that are readily accessible (above left). They are easy to set and release with a sandal foot friendly pedal that is color-coded, so you know when they are properly set (above right).
The storage bin on Cross folds out from the back beneath the handlebar (above left). The bin is large and held our extra-large diaper bag with a nice interior pocket to help keep things organized and smaller items within reach. The narrower rectangle shape of the bin means we had to work to get it in, but it fits with room to spare. The bin has a max allowance of 8.8 lbs, which is low for a product for two because two children will likely have more supplies. We think it's likely that parents will fill the basket to greater than its capacity and worry this will create a potential tripping hazard. When not in use, parents can clip the bin up and out of the way (above right).
The Cross 2 also has passenger stow pockets inside the cabin. These pockets can hold most things, but smaller riders won't be able to reach them while buckled in. There is also an elastic pocket on the back of each seat for storing things like wallets, keys, phone, or water bottles.
The Cross sports a unique sunshade. The shade is a clip-on piece of fabric that blocks the sun and can slide up or down for direct coverage. When the seats recline, there is a tinted, vinyl peek-a-boo window. You can protect the front of the Cross with a zippered mesh cover and a vinyl cover depending on your needs. Both covers can be rolled up and stored out of the way.
The Cross 2 has two seats, and both have easily adjustable 5-point harnesses. They are also relatively easy to buckle and unbuckle. The straps use a non-rethread style adjustment with an 8-inch range of height options.
The Cross 2 seats can recline, and each one moves independently for individual comfort. The seat has three recline positions operated with one-hand. None of the options are truly flat, but the angle should be sufficient for most nappers. The seat doesn't offer leg or footrests, which means children sit with legs stretched in front of them.
Car Seat Compatibility
The Cross 2 does not work with any infant car seat and the Thule accessories for infants should NOT be used with the jogging kit and babies should not be taken jogging or off the beaten path until they are at least 8-12 months old or you get the thumbs up from their pediatrician.
Ease of Setup
The Cross took almost 16 minutes to assemble including the jogging kit. It is only average for ease of setup with an international style manual we find challenging. The manual is harder to follow and requires flipping back and forth to follow the steps. There are more parts to assemble on the Cross than similar trailers we've reviewed. Assembly requires a single tool that comes in the box.
The Cross isn't the easiest to maneuver with the jogging kit fixed front wheel attached. It is more challenging than the joggers that offer a locking swivel front wheel.
While easy enough to push and traverse various terrain thanks to large rubber air-filled tires, the Cross is difficult to turn as a result of its overall size and the fixed front wheel. The width of this stroller makes it a tough one to use indoors or on narrow trails, but the width is part of why it works so well as a bike trailer and adventure wagon. This design is a trade-off that makes it a poor choice for indoor outings and could limit hiking to wider trails.
The adjustable handlebar and suspension help make this a more comfortable product for pushers and passengers. The larger range of height options and covered foam make the handlebar comfortable (above left) with an included safety strap. The adjustable suspension (above right) is a rare find that helps increase overall comfort based on passenger weight and the terrain.
Weight and Folded Size
The Cross 2 is lighter and smaller in the strolling mode, but the jogging kit attached, the Cross weighs 31.9 lbs. It measures 33,851 cubic inches when folded.
The Cross 2 is the largest stroller in this review which means the Cross might be harder to lift and store and may not fit in some smaller cars.
The back wheels are quick release, and the front jogging kit can be removed to fit the stroller in a tight spot. But this means you will need to somewhat dismantle the stroller before leaving your adventure. This process is something to consider before purchasing depending on what you drive or how you plan to get the stroller from A to B.
The Thule Cross is a nicer quality product with better materials and construction than much of the competition.
The Cross 2 uses materials that work well and feel solid without flex or rattling. Everything on this stroller is relatively seamless and works in conjunction with the other components. The fabric material is a thick ripstop with thermo-molded seats that integrates into the frame with few exposed fasteners. The vinyl windows are tinted, and they are somewhat pliable for durable long-term use. Overall, the Cross has a high-end fit and finish.
Thule offers additional conversion kits (sold separately) depending on the activity (it comes standard with the strolling and bike trailer kits). We purchased the Jogging Kit for this review. Which leaves the:
- Thule Chariot Cross Country Ski Kit — The cross country ski kit is a cool addition for including baby in winter sports activities. This kit includes all the necessary components for your cross-country skiing adventures.
Comfort accessories include:
- Thule Chariot Padding 2 — The Chariot padding provides comfort and protection to the stroller seats to make clean up easier. This easy to use addition catches dirt, crumbs, and spills and can prolong the life of your cabin interior while providing little ones a nicer place for napping on longer trips.
Conveniences accessories include:
- Thule Console 2 — The Console 2 provides what many parents feel is a necessity to any stroller. This console has two cup holders and a covered pocket. This console clips on quickly and gives parents quick access storage for small items like keys and mobile phones.
- Thule Hydration Cage — Looking for a handy place to keep your water bottle? Staying hydrated is cool and easy with the Thule hydration cage. This holder is a good addition for parents who aren't interested in the full console but still want to sip some H2O while running.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz