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Hands-on Gear Review
Graco Pack 'n Play On the Go ReviewPrice: $80.00 List | $59.99 at Amazon - 25% off
Pros: Price, average comfort and quality
Cons: Large, heavier, not eco-healthy
Bottom line: Budget friendly with average functionality but it isn't as portable
The Graco Pack 'n Play on the Go is an inexpensive, quality travel crib and play yard for infants to toddler. This Graco is a nice option that provides what you need for a very reasonable price. It is a little harder to use and heavier than some parents will want to carry, but it has what you need for everyday use and on the go sleeping. While this economical option isn't the right fit for every family and it doesn't deny the use of flame retardants, we think it is a good choice for parents on a budget and that most families will be pleased with the features, functionality and overall quality of the Pack 'n Play.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Travel Cribs of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
In Philadelphia in 1942, Russell Gray and Robert Cone launched the Graco company which fabricated car parts. Years later, after Gray left the company, Cone hired an engineer to design baby-centric gear. Their first product was an infant swing inspired by an outdoor glider used to soothe a coworker's crying infant. The cool swing sold millions and helped put Graco on the baby gear map where they soon became the world's leading manufacturers of baby products.
The chart below provides a comparison of the overall scores for the travel cribs in this review.
The sections below include information on how the Pack 'n Play performed compared to the other products tested.
Ease of Use
The Graco earned a 6 of 10 for ease of use, which is average for the group.
Our ease of use metric consists primarily of set up and take down as this is the main functionality of this product type.
The Graco took about 5 minutes to setup without the bassinet and closer to 7 minutes with it. If you add the accessories to the mix, it can take over 9 minutes. Over time the average setup time during testing was 1:47 minutes.
There are a lot of moving parts with the Graco, but the directions are listed on the bottom if you get confused. The steps include locking the sidebars (above left) and pressing down on the center of the bottom (above right). This is reversed for folding. Once folded, you need to ensure the handles on the product line up with the handle holes on the travel bag before putting it in.
You need to snap the bottom to the frame (above left) and secure the mattress to the bottom with Velcro (above right) to complete setup.
This yard is spot clean only. Some areas will be easy to keep clean, and others may require scrubbing or a vacuum. We recommend using the fitted sheet to help keep the mattress clean.
The Graco earned only 4 of 10 in an important metric for traveling.
This travel crib weighs 17lbs and 12 oz when folded in the travel bag. It measures 10.6"H x 27.7"L x 10.3"W making it one of the largest in the group. If you include the bassinet, the weight goes up over 20 lbs.
This weight means carrying the Graco will be difficult. The small handles make it hard to move and the size means it may not fit in some spaces. This product has wheels on one side for easier moving between rooms.
The Graco earned a 6 of 10 for comfort.
This travel crib has a one-inch mattress made of polyurethane foam. It is soft with enough firmness to stop it from depressing to the hard bottom. It is the third most comfortable mattress in the group. It is also fairly easy to get baby into and out of.
The Graco earned a 6 of 10 for quality which is good for a product with such a low price.
The Graco frame is sturdy and while it shakes somewhat the legs don't move when you press on the top bar like some of the competition. The fabric feels durable and we didn't observe any stray stitching or random threads. There are some Amazon reports indicating trouble with the fabric, but we didn't experience this in our setup process.
Graco earned a 1 of 10 for eco-health similar to the majority of popular brands and their use of harmful chemicals.
The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) retains a list of most major manufacturers and their responses to inquiries about their use of flame retardants. Graco did not respond to questions and doesn't provide information on their website about flame retardants leaving the CEH, and us, to assume they use flame retardants.
If you plan to use your Graco frequently, you should invest in fitted sheets designed for it. Graco offers both a flat, fitted sheet and a quilted sheet.
Graco makes more than a dozen play yards and travel crib products. While impossible to compare or purchase all for testing, we found a few interesting options that may be with a look.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD and Wendy Schmitz
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