ZOE XL1 BEST v2 Review
Pros: Lightweight, giant canopy, price
Cons: Lower quality, poor off-road capabilities
Our Analysis and Test Results
In 2015, a family with over 60 years combined experience in the juvenile products field started the ZOE company. They had a goal to design quality strollers, with multiple features for an affordable price with nothing left to purchase. The company is experiencing success and sells out each product run with additional orders waiting.
Weight and Folded Size
The BEST is 11.8 lbs with only three other strollers weighing less making it one of the lightest options in the review.
It measures 5,544 cubic inches which is about average for the group.
Ease of Use
The BEST earned the high for the ease of use metric with features that function well compared to the competition.
With a giant canopy, bumper bar, cup holder, and child snack accessories, the BEST has some features other umbrella strollers skip.
Fold and Unfold
The ZOE fold is initiated with a strap under a fabric flap on the seat bottom (above right). This stroller folds with one hand and has an automatic lock and self-stand. You need two hands to unfold it and the self-stand can be tricky if the wheels are not in the right direction.
The BEST has larger pedals located close to the rear wheels. The pedals move smoothly and give you a confident feeling that they are set. The brakes are easy to set and release without difficulty even for sandaled feet.
The BEST has a relatively large feeling storage bin (above left) for an umbrella product despite its medium size. It holds up to 10 lbs and the top is elastic so you can stretch it to fit larger items. The BEST also has a pocket on the canopy and a parent cup holder. Children have either a bumper bar or snack holders (above right).
The ZOE canopy is the largest one in the group hands down. It even has a mesh peek-a-boo window which is a rarity with the lightweight products.
A zip-open panel that makes the canopy even larger almost turning the ZOE into a cocoon.
The BEST harness is the easiest to adjust and rethread. The buckle works smoothly and doesn't require excessive pressure to operate. The shoulder straps are lightly padded and someone rough feeling, but they don't get in the way of adjusting.
The BEST seat has a fairly deep recline cozy enough for napping. The adjustment toggle is plastic and operates with one hand, though it isn't the smoothest in the group to operate. While it doesn't have an adjustable leg rest, the canopy extends far enough to create some privacy that limits outside stimulation.
Car Seat Compatibility
The BEST does not work with any infant car seat. However, most of the true umbrella style products do not and we wouldn't consider this a drawback.
Ease of Setup
The ZOE is super easy to assemble taking less than 3 minutes from start to finish with no tools necessary. The manual is simple and clear, a great improvement over previous ZOE strollers that did not include instructions and instead relied on videos posted online.
ZOE recently improved its standard wheels, which helped the BEST improve its maneuverability results over previous models.
The stroller has the single front wheels on each individual leg (below left) that usually translates to a stroller that is easier to push and turn.
The wheels can be locked in place (above right) if the road gets bumpy, but it doesn't improve performance as much as you may want it to. In general, the BEST does well enough on paved flat surfaces but like most of the umbrella options, it struggles when you move onto grass or gravel. In fairness, it isn't designed for this kind of use.
The ZOE is a nice stroller but compared to the materials found on some of the competition it struggled to keep up with the quality.
The stroller looks nice and is sturdier than some of the competition with less flex. However, the fabric, mesh, and plastic components do not feel as durable as similarly priced options.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD and Wendy Schmitz