Best Bike Trailer for Kids
The Burley D'Lite won our hearts, impressing with its versatility. You can purchase attachments for jogging, biking, and cross-country skiing, in addition to basic strolling. When not carrying children, the seats fold flat, creating a surface for hauling cargo, which extends the trailer's usefulness beyond children. The interior is roomier than many competitors in this review, and the sides bow out, which creates additional space for the little ones. Larger wheels and an adjustable suspension make it a comfy ride for venturing off-road and extending adventures. The parent experience is also good, with the trailer and bike moving together as one, with minimal feedback from the hitch.
While this is our favorite trailer, there are a few things you should consider before buying. It can sometimes be challenging to switch attachments. However, because you won't be doing this regularly and it gets easier the more you do it, we don't think it's a serious drawback. The D'Lite has a mesh screen and a vinyl window to protect kids from the weather, but the trailer is not 100% weatherproof as some water can seep in around the window. So if you live with significant inclement weather that can change quickly, it may not be the best choice. Last, learning to fold and unfold this trailer can be tricky at first. It gets easier, but you'll need to practice. Despite these minor flaws, we appreciate the D'Lite for its extreme versatility and high quality, making it a trailer that we think you'll love using for years.
The Burley Bee is a highly functional and easy-to-use bike trailer with a price of less than half that of many competitors. This trailer has one of the easiest hitches, making it easy to hook up and go without much finagling. At 20 lbs, it is one of the lightest trailers, and with a solid hitch connection that gives little feedback, it is one of the easiest trailers to pull. The rain shield on this trailer works well and will keep kiddos dry on rainy journeys. One of the most loved features of this trailer is the generous cargo space. It is easily one of the largest in the review and is big enough to fit supplies for the whole day, and it can even handle a load of groceries.
The Bee is a simple, single-function trailer. It has no attachments for strolling or jogging, which puts a limit on its lifespan and versatility. There is also minimal padding in the seat and harness and no suspension system, so kids may not be as comfortable as they would in the competition. The footwell is plain, unreinforced fabric that tends to show signs of wear fairly quickly. It doesn't help that the trailer is designed to rest on the ground when not attached to the bike, causing even more potential damage. All faults aside, we believe that the Burley Bee is a well-designed product, and at this price, we can forgive the drawbacks. If you are looking for an around-town cruiser without the multi-sport versatility, then we think the Bee is the way to go.
The Allen Sports Steel is a straightforward classic trailer. It is one of the least expensive trailers on the market, and it is often on sale. This trailer offers good ventilation, so your kids don't overheat on sunny days. It is one of the lighter trailers in this review, and it has a small profile and very little motion transfer from the trailer to the bike, which makes it easy-to-pull. Little passengers will enjoy that the front panel unclips, giving them easy access to the seats and the chance to climb in on their own. The Allen Sports Steel also has a relatively compact fold, and without the wheels, it can easily stow away in places the competition won't fit.
When buying a trailer in this price range, you often get what you pay for. The Allen lacks some of the comfort and convenience features you'd find in pricier competitors. It has basic seats with minimal padding, and the harness is only 3-points and connected with clips rather than the usual buckle, which makes it challenging to use and not as safe as the 5-point options. The plastic rain cover and sun mesh screen utilize the same zipper; you use them together and cannot use one without the other. The smaller than average wheels and lack of suspension mean you don't want to take this trailer off-roading. Despite the scarcity of convenience features, the Allen Sports Steel can get the job done at a hard-to-beat price.
The Thule Chariot Cross 2 is a tried and true favorite, winning awards across multiple categories. Though not as versatile as the Burley D'Lite, it is a great multi-sport option, including strolling, jogging, biking, and skiing. We recommend this trailer for parents serious about their outdoor pursuits. It is top-quality and has features that keep parents' and passengers' comfort in mind. Adjustable suspension, large wheels, and padded seats provide a comfortable place for littles to ride both on and off the pavement. The rain shield on the Cross 2 is completely watertight; it has a mesh screen and a large, adjustable sunshade for sun protection. Individually reclining seats come in handy for snoozing passengers. All of the features on the Cross are designed for simplicity and frustration-free use. Folding, unfolding, and switching attachments is a straightforward breeze.
The hitch on the Cross 2 is very easy to use, but there is some feedback from the trailer as the ball, and socket design has extra room. The cargo space is a separate compartment that folds down from behind the seats and isn't as large as those on other trailers, so you'll need to keep supplies down to the basics. The Cross 2 has all the bells and whistles and is top-notch when it comes to quality, but this kind of attention to detail comes with a more substantial weight and price tag. It is the most expensive trailer included in the review, which is why we recommend it for parents who are serious about their jogging/strolling/biking routine and plan to use it frequently as it is hard to justify the price for just a casual, occasional ride. The Cross 2 is a high-quality trailer that will last for years and retain high resale value.
Read review: Thule Chariot Cross 2
Coming from a Norweigan company that makes outdoor gear, the Hamax Outback is a bike trailer we love. The roomy interior is perfect for older toddlers, and extra-wide seats give kids a bit more wiggle room than some other trailers. The 2020 version of the Hamax also has reclining seats to make it more comfortable for napping. This trailer has some of the cushiest paddings in the lineup. When combined with the larger than average wheels, adjustable suspension, and a large, reinforced footwell, the Outback is the Cadillac of cushy bike trailers. There is a solid bar supporting the seats, so they do not sag inward. We imagine kids will be happy riding in it for hours, and many parents will use it as an everyday stroller and jogger just as often as a trailer. The new addition of a ski harness makes the Outback useful year-round. The process necessary to swap between activities is one of the easiest and fastest we've seen, simply requiring a click-out and click-in with a color-coded lock that informs you when the attachment is secure.
Despite all the perks, this is the heaviest trailer in the review, weighing nearly double some other options! However, many users say it handles well and rides so smoothly that the extra weight is not a burden. Thanks to the roomy interior, it is also bulky on the outside. Its substantial size makes it challenging to pull the trailer through tight spaces and kind of a pain to manage on sidewalks. While sufficient, the hitch is not as good as the one on the D'Lite, and some feedback relays to the bicycle. Folding the trailer does not make it much more compact than when it is open. To achieve the smallest folded volume, you must remove the wheels. The semi-fixed seats mean that cargo-hauling won't be as easy as it is in the Burley D'Lite. Overall, we like the Outback. It provides a very similar setup with a high-quality level at a lower price than a Thule or Burley. We believe most parents will be delighted with the Hamax.
Read review: Hamax Outback
If you are looking for something with the Thule name and quality but not ready to spend the higher-priced options' ticket price, you might want to consider the Thule Chariot Lite. The Chariot Lite can transform from a bike trailer to a stroller, to a jogger, to a ski sled. It is weatherproof but still manages impressive ventilation thanks to the mesh backing located behind the passengers' heads. It has a straightforward unfold and attaches to a bike, requiring only two steps to unfold, and features the same ball and socket hitch as the Cross. It is easier to pull than many trailers, but there is some feedback when towing. This durable and easy-to-use trailer will last through many childhood expeditions.
This high-quality option can take you on many of the same adventures as its more expensive counterpart, but some advantages get lost along the way. There is no storage space aside from a mesh pocket located behind the seats, which is large enough to accommodate bags or jackets that are ok to be squished, but you can't use it for anything that must remain upright or retain its shape. There is a suspension system, but it isn't adjustable, and there is minimal padding on the seats so that kids won't be as comfortable on long rides. This trailer is the second most expensive option in the review, so while budget-friendly compared to the other Thule, it isn't for a tight budget. Overall, while this is a good trailer, we aren't convinced that the features justify the price.
The Thule Cadence is a basic bike trailer by Thule that is also the least expensive single sport option. The initial setup of this trailer is quick and simple. The rain shield and mesh screen can zip down independently of one another, and they do a great job of keeping children protected from the elements, outperforming most trailers in this price range. The large wheels make it easy to maneuver, and the lighter weight and compact design make it highly suitable for towing. This trailer's components are built with quality in mind and will remain sturdy and durable for years.
This trailer's lower-cost shows in its lack of features and poorer performance in areas like child comfort. There is no padding in the seat or harness straps, and it lacks a suspension system, so it isn't the best choice if you plan to go on longer rides or gravel roads. The cargo space is relatively small but still larger than either of its sister products. Folding and unfolding the Cadence is not easy or intuitive, as it requires a lot of strength and often risks pinching fingers. The Cadence is also a rattly ride, which could become annoying for some users. In the end, if you're looking for a product in this price range, we strongly recommend the Burley Bee over the Cadence. They are similar trailers, but the Bee has more features and is more user-friendly. However, if you need a weather-resistant trailer that protects little ones from getting wet, then the Cadance is one to consider.
With the lowest list price of all the trailers in the review, the InStep Take 2 can be an attractive choice for those who have the tightest budget but still want to get out with their kids. It has one of the roomiest seating areas and extra-large cargo space to pack everything you need for two children and yourself. The seats in this trailer unclip from the frame to lie flat. This feature makes it a good option for hauling cargo like groceries and can increase the use you can get from this product.
This is where the advantages end. The main complaint about this trailer is the lack of quality. There are complaints of the wheel's plastic rims breaking and being difficult to replace. With semi-regular use, we think you'll be lucky if it lasts a year. The canvas cover is not rainproof, and you'll need to find shelter if caught in a rainstorm. Although this has one of the most spacious interiors in the group, it is still not as comfortable. The bench-style seat is not supported well, so children tend to sag towards the middle, and the small wheels and lack of suspension ensure that passengers will feel every bump. If you're looking for an inexpensive backup, or don't plan on towing a trailer often, then this product is a potential solution. However, if you want to go out frequently, we believe you'll be happier with the Burley Bee or the Allen Sports Steel, both of which have more to offer for the biker and passenger.
Why You Should Trust Us
The bike trailer team is led by our founder Dr. Juliet Spurrier. Dr. Spurrier is a board-certified pediatrician with two children and an adventurous spirit that resulted in a love for versatile bike trailers early on. Her children regularly experienced the world and outdoor adventures in a Thule trailer skiing, biking, and jogging. These early experiences and her education helped influence product selection and feature focus. Bob Wofford, the Senior Research Analyst, also got in on the action during testing and research. Given his lifelong outdoor adventure experience, including mountain biking to work, Bob, father of 7, is uniquely qualified to determine which features matter the most and why one trailer is better than another. Given the large scope of this review, the team is rounded out with Senior Review Editors, Wendy Schmitz (mother of 2), and Abriah Wofford. With over 20 years of combined baby product experience and outdoor know-how, the bike trailer review team brings the goods to the table to help you make informed buying decisions for fun early adventurers with your little ones.
We researched many trailers for this review focusing on the top contenders with the highest overall user satisfaction. We purchased most trailers for in-house testing and on the road/trail use in and around our mountain Colorado town. In this review, the trailers are assessed for ease of use, passenger comfort, and more before finalizing our list and product ranks.
There are a few questions to consider that can help narrow down the choices when selecting the best possible trailer for you. Do you need a double-seater, or will a single suffice? Will you use it regularly, or only for the occasional weekend trip? What type of trailer fits your budget and storage space? This section reviews what we believe to be the most important factors to think about when determining which bike trailer is the right fit for your family.
How Many Littles Will You Be Towing?
The trailers we included are all of the two-seater variety, but most of them also come in a single version. This choice can be beneficial if you have one child and need to save some money. Also, if weight and maneuverability are important to you, a single-seater can be the better choice. However, choosing a trailer that seats only one means, you lose flexibility in how the trailer can be utilized in the future. Even if you only have one child (and don't plan on more), the double-seaters' versatility and space can come in handy. Doubles provide twice the space, providing room for more gear or an extra friend, and creates more cargo space for hauling things like groceries.
Where and When Will the Trailer Be Used?
How often do you plan to use the trailer? If you make your daily commute by bike or plan to have frequent after-school bike outings with your kids, then passenger comfort and space for backpacks, briefcases, and other supplies will make your daily trek much smoother.
If you are more of a weekend warrior and only need a trailer for the occasional jaunt, features like suspension and cargo space may be less important. A more basic (and less expensive) trailer could suit your needs. Alternatively, if you are an athlete and want to tote your children on daily training rides, you may want to consider a multi-sport trailer. These products are typically pricier than bike-only trailers, but for the dedicated biker/runner/skier, we think you will appreciate the versatility and the higher-quality construction.
Terrain and Climate
Your local weather and the terrain you plan to cover should play a large part in your ultimate decision. In a hilly urban setting, good suspension may not be critical, but a lightweight trailer is much more valuable on those steep uphill routes. If you plan on traversing unpaved and rocky trails, then you'll want a trailer with adequate padding and the maximum amount of suspension, even if it's only occasionally bumpy. These features make a difference in passenger comfort and the ease with which you can pull and maneuver the trailer over uneven terrain. The Hamax Outback suspension is good but could be stiffer; however, the cushy seats help make up.
If you commonly encounter unpredictable or variable weather, a weatherproof cover is a lifesaver. The last thing you want is to find yourself caught out in a rainstorm, sopping wet with cold, damp (crabby) kids in tow. Both of the Thule Chariots have some of the most weatherproof designs, thanks to the plastic rain shield surrounding the whole trailer. Alternatively, if you live where the norm is typically 70+ degrees and sunny, then a large and sturdy sunshade and adequate ventilation are top priorities. The Allen Sports Steel and Burley D'Lite are both excellent in warmer climates.
There is a huge price difference between the least and most expensive trailers. Deciding how much you want to spend is a good way to narrow down your choices. In our experience, the price vs. quality battle is very apparent when it comes to bike trailers. You get what you pay for, and a trailer that costs under two hundred dollars does not perform as well as a more expensive product. However, there is a middle ground, and it is possible to reach a compromise comfortable for most budgets.
Some of our favorite trailers have below-average prices. The Allen is a bike-only option and has minimal features, but it gets the job done if you only need the basics. For a slightly higher price, we recommend the Burley Bee, which is a top-notch product that will last longer and be more pleasant to use overall. If you don't plan to jog, ski, or stroll with your trailer, these are both excellent options that can save you money.
The Burley D'Lite and the Hamax Outback are also both excellent multi-sport options. While they lack some of the same features, they retail for half the Cross's price, making them smart choices for those looking for a quality product within their budget.
The last component of value is longevity. Some of the more inexpensive options may not last more than a year of consistent use. However, if a year is all you need or plan to use it infrequently, there is no benefit to investing in a product with more features than you'll know what to do with. Other products have a brand name that is widely recognized for its quality. You will pay more for products that come with a certain name, but so will other parents. This name-recognition ensures that your trailer keeps its resale value after your kids outgrow it, and you can get at least part of the cost back. Some trailers have seats that fold flat and allow it to convert into a cargo or pet trailer once your kids are old enough to ride their own bikes.
Last but not least, is the trailer compatible with your bike? While not a frequent problem, not every hitch will work with every bike, and it is best to double-check before you buy. If you are unsure about how to check hitch compatibility, you should visit your local bike shop and ask the experts. If the trailer doesn't fit your bike, oftentimes, there is an adapter available for purchase. Thule and Burley trailers tend to work with the most bike styles, while the InStep historically has the most compatibility issues.
Choosing the right bike trailer for your family can be the difference between a fun family outing and a frustrating debacle and an early return home. With multiple options, there is a competitor that will be perfect for nearly every budget and lifestyle. If you consider what features are most important to you, how often you'll use the trailer, and the sort of terrain you will be riding on, finding the best fit for you will be a piece of cake. If you plan to put lots of miles on your trailer, we recommend considering the higher quality products such as the Burley D'Lite. While more expensive than some of the competition, it is still reasonably priced for what you get. If that exceeds your budget, the Burley Bee is a great trailer that outperforms most other products in its price range and only makes a few minor sacrifices compared to the higher-end choices. In the end, the trailer that gets you out and on the move with the littles is the trailer for you. Happy adventures!
— Juliet Spurrier, MD, Abriah Wofford, and Wendy Schmitz