Searching for a fun way to get around town with kids in tow? A good bike trailer can be a great way to get the family out and about on a beautiful day. But with so many options to choose from, it can be challenging to decide which trailer will suit your needs. Specific components such as adjustable suspension, multi-sport capabilities, and storage capacity can make all the difference during a long day of hauling your little ones around. We took a look at some of the top bike trailers on the market, researched the best and worst features of each, and ranked them accordingly. We based our favorites on which options we think will make you and your kids happy when on the road.
The Best Bike Trailers for Kids
The Burley D'Lite won the top spot and our Editors' Choice award impressing us most with its versatility. It has attachments that allow it to be used for multiple sports, including jogging, biking, and cross-country skiing, in addition to being a stroller. When not being used for children, the seats can be folded down to create a flat surface to haul cargo, extending the life of the trailer far beyond child use. The interior is roomier than many other trailers in this review, and the sides are bowed outward, creating extra wiggle room for the kiddos. Large wheels and adjustable suspension make it a cushy ride when venturing off the paved path. The parent experience is as good, with the trailer moving together with the bike as one, with minimal feedback coming through the hitch.
While this was our favorite trailer, there were a few things that could be improved. It can sometimes be challenging to switch between attachments for different sport uses. However, since you likely won't be doing this on a daily basis, we don't think it's a drawback you need to worry about too much. The D'Lite has both a mesh screen and a vinyl window that zip down to protect kids from the weather, but the trailer is still not 100% weatherproof as the fabric around the window can become saturated and let in small amounts of water. Lastly, it can be tricky to learn how to fold and unfold this trailer in the beginning. It is something that will likely get easier with time, but it requires some practice. Despite these flaws, we appreciated the D'Lite most for its extreme versatility and high quality, making it a trailer that you would be happy with for years to come.
The Thule Chariot Cross 2 is a tried and true favorite of ours, winning awards across multiple categories. Though not quite as versatile as the Burley D'Lite, it is still a great multisport option, having the ability to change between strolling, jogging, biking, and skiing. We recommend this trailer for parents who are serious about their outdoor pursuits. It is top quality and was designed with features to keep both parent and passenger in mind. Adjustable suspension, large wheels, and padded seats keep kids comfy on long rides on and off the pavement. The rain shield on the Cross 2 is completely watertight, and it has a mesh screen and large, adjustable sunshade to protect your little one from the elements. Individually reclining seats come in handy if one or both passengers doze off. All the features of the Cross are designed to be simple and frustration free. Folding, unfolding, and switching between various attachments is a breeze.
The hitch on the Cross 2 is very easy to use, but there is some feedback from the trailer due to extra space in the ball and socket design. The cargo space is a separate compartment that folds down from behind the seats and is on the smaller side compared to other trailers. The Cross 2 has all the bells and whistles and is top notch when it comes to quality, but all that comes along with a more substantial weight and a higher 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. It is hard to justify the price for just a casual ride through the park. Although, as is typical of most Thule products, the Cross 2 is a high-quality trailer that will last for years and retain a high resale value.
Read review: Thule Chariot Cross 2
Coming from a company based in Norway, the Hamax Outback is a recent addition to the bike trailer market. We like this trailer for its roomy interior, with the seats measuring nearly 2 inches wider than those of our other top picks. The wider seats along with a taller than average height, make it a good choice if you want to use it with older kids. This trailer has some of the cushiest padding in the review, and when combined with the larger than average wheels, adjustable suspension, and a large, reinforced footwell the Outback is the Cadillac of bike trailers. It is something we imagine the kids will be happy to ride in for hours, and many parents will likely use as a jogger just as much as a trailer. 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 lets you know when the attachment is secure.
Despite all these perks, this is the heaviest trailer in the review by nearly 8 lbs. And because it is so much roomier on the inside, it is also bigger and bulkier on the outside. Its overall size makes it difficult to pull the trailer through tight spaces and more of a pain to deal with all around. The hitch, while good, is not as good as the one on the D'Lite, and some feedback comes through to the bicycle. When folded, the trailer is not more compact than when it is open unless you also remove the wheels. This trailer also lacks the versatility found in many other top trailers. The seats are fixed in place meaning cargo hauling may not be as easy as it is in the Burley D'Lite, and it is missing the ski attachments that are common in other trailers. Overall though, we like the Outback. Unless you are dead set on skiing with little ones in tow, the Outback offers a very similar setup and keeps the high level of quality at a much lower price than a Thule or Burley trailer. We believe most parents would be highly satisfied 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 $1,000 plus it takes to buy the Thule Chariot Cross, then you might want 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 to impressive ventilation thanks to the mesh backing located directly behind the passenger's head. It is straightforward to unfold and attach to a bike, requiring only two steps to unfold and features the same ball and socket hitch as on 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 product can take you on many of the same adventures as its more expensive counterpart, but some perks get lost along the way. There is no storage space aside from a mesh pocket located behind the seats. It is large enough to accommodate bags or jackets that are ok to be squished, but you'd never use it for anything that must remain upright or keep its shape. There is a suspension system, but it is not adjustable, and there is minimal padding on the seats so that the kids won't be quite as comfortable on long rides. This trailer is also the second most expensive option in the review but lacks some of the features of higher rated ones. Overall, while this may be a good trailer, we don't think that the features justify the high price. You maybe be better off spending the extra money on the Chariot Cross to get all the bells and whistles or going with a less expensive but more highly regarded trailers, such as the Burley D'Lite or the Hamax Outback.
The Burley Bee earned our Best Value award for being a highly functional and easy to use bike trailer with a list price of less than half that of some competitors. This trailer has one of the easiest hitches to use, making it easy to hook up and go without much finagling or frustration. At 20 lbs, it is one of the lightest trailers out there, and that in combination with a solid hitch connection that gives little feedback, makes it one of the easiest trailers to pull. The rain shield on this trailer works very well and will keep kiddos dry through rainy rides. One of the most loved features of this trailer is the generous cargo space found in the back. It is easily one of the largest trunks of all the trailers in the review and is big enough to fit all the goods you'd need for a day out at the park or beach, and could 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 the lifespan and versatility of this trailer. There is also minimal padding in the seat and harness, and no suspension system, so kids may not be as comfortable for long rides as they would in the competition. The footwell is plain, unreinforced fabric that tends to show signs of wear quickly. It doesn't help that the trailer is designed to rest on the ground when not attached to the bike, causing even more damage to the fabric. All faults aside, we believe that the Burley Bee is a well-designed trailer, and at a price like this, we can forgive the few drawbacks. For a parent looking for around town cruising, we think the Bee is the way to go.
Weight: 22 lbs | Multisport Options: Bike
The Thule Cadence is the most basic bike trailer made by Thule and also the least expensive as a single sport option. The initial, out of the box, set up of this trailer is quick and simple compared to many others. The rain shield and mesh screen can zip down independently of one another, and they do a great job of keeping the kiddos protected from the elements, outperforming most other trailers in this price range. The large wheels found on this trailer make it easy to maneuver, and the lightweight and compact design make it suitable for towing around town. All components of this trailer were built with quality in mind and will remain sturdy and durable for years of use.
The lower cost of this trailer shows in its lack of features and poorer performance in areas such as child comfort. There is no padding in the seat or the harness straps, and it lacks any suspension system, so it may not be the best choice if you're looking to go on longer rides. The cargo space is relatively small compared to other trailers, but still larger than either of its sister products. Folding and unfolding the Cadence is not very easy or intuitive, it requires a lot of strength and often risks pinched fingers. The Cadence also happens to be a very rattly ride, which may become annoying after a while. In the end, if you're looking for a product in this price range, we'd strongly recommend the Burley Bee over the Cadence. They are both very similar trailers, but the Bee has more features and is more user-friendly in many aspects.
The Allen Sports Steel is a basic but classic trailer. It is one of the least expensive trailers on the market, and it is often on sale for less than its normal retail price. This trailer has good ventilation so that you can worry less about kids overheating on sunny days. It is one of the lighter trailers included in this review, and it has a small profile, very little motion transfer from trailer to bike making it an all-around easy-to-pull. Little passengers will enjoy that the front panel of the trailer 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 as far as bike trailers go, and when you remove the wheels, it can easily stow away when not in use.
One thing to remember when buying a trailer in this price range is that you often get what you pay for. The Allen lacks many comfort and convenience features found in pricier products. It has elementary seats with minimal padding, and the harness is only 3-points and connected with clips rather than the usual buckle which can make it more difficult to use. The plastic rain cover and mesh sun screen utilize the same zipper, and you use them together without the ability for individual use. 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 Steal still gets the job done at a hard-to-beat price.
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 a tight 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'll need for two children and yourself for a day out. The seats in this trailer can also unclip from the frame to lie flat. This feature makes it a good option for hauling cargo such as groceries and can extend the amount of use you can get out of this product.
This is where the advantages end. The main complaint about this trailer is the serious lack of quality. There are many complaints of the plastic rims on the wheels breaking early on and being very difficult to replace. With semi-regular use, we think you'd be lucky if this trailer lasted a year. The canvas cover is not rainproof, and you would need to find shelter if caught in a rainstorm. Although this has one of the most spacious interiors of the group, it is still not the most comfortable for passengers. The bench style seat is not supported very well, so children tend to sag towards the middle, and the small wheels and lack of suspension ensure that kids will feel every bump in the road. If you're looking for an inexpensive backup, or don't plan on towing a bike trailer very often, then this may be a good option. But if you want to go out on a regular basis, we believe you'd be much happier with either of our two Best Value award winners, the Burley Bee or the Allen Sports Steel, both of which have more to offer for the biker and passenger alike.
Not Worth Your Time
The Weehoo weeGo is a priced as a mid-range bicycle trailer. It has certain features such as the ability to convert into a stroller, as well as a large interior that may be better for older kids. It is very well ventilated and has a mesh sunscreen and plastic rain cover that can be zipped down individually from one another. The footwell is reinforced with rubber, making it a bit more stable for climbing in and out of the trailer.
Unfortunately, the Weehoo lacked many features that we have come to expect from a trailer in this price range. It is challenging to break down and set up in between rides and hooking up the hitch requires a lot of patience and perfect alignment. Although it can be nice to have extra room on the inside of the trailer, it also makes the outside much bulkier and more annoying to deal with. The extra long hitch arm makes it more difficult to maneuver, and a lot of lurching comes through the connection point. Overall it is not very fun to tow. There is no suspension system, and the fabric is not fitted very well to the seat, but the biggest complaint on the passenger side is the harness. It is a big hassle to adjust, and instead of being a traditional 5-point harness that wraps over the arms and legs, it is a yolk style harness that pulls over the child's head. If the harness is not loose enough to start with, it can be a tight squeeze, and helmets must go on after the passenger is already in the trailer and buckled in. Keeping all this in mind, we can't recommend buying this trailer, especially when there are much better options in this price range, such as our Best Value award winner, the Burley Bee.
When purchasing a bike trailer, there are a few things you'll want to consider before making your final decision. Do you want a double or single? Will you be putting it through the wringer using it on a daily basis, or will bike outings be more of a weekend activity? What sort of trailer will fit your budget and your space? In this section, we will go over some of the most important factors that come into play when deciding which bike trailer is right for you.
How Many Littles Will You Be Towing?
All of the trailers listed above are doubles, but most of them also come in a single version. If weight and maneuverability are first and foremost in your mind, a single seater may be an excellent option to consider. But keep in mind that choosing a single means you lose a lot of flexibility in how you can utilize the trailer in the long run. Even if you only have one child, the versatility and space found in the double versions can be a useful perk. They allow you to fit extra gear for a day out, bring along a friend, or provide a more substantial cargo space when using the trailer for hauling things such as groceries.
Where and When Will the Trailer Be Used?
How often do you plan on towing your kids? If you are a bike commuter and plan to use your trailer on a daily basis to deliver kids to and from school, then you may want to opt for something that is comfortable for the passengers and puts more emphasis on extra space for backpacks, briefcases, and such.
If you only pull out the bike trailer for the occasional weekend ride to the park, then you don't need to worry as much about features like suspension and cargo space, and something more fundamental will suit your needs. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you are a hardcore athlete and want to bring the kids along for daily training, you may want to consider a multisport option. These are usually pricier than a bike only trailer, but for the seriously dedicated biker/runner/skier, the trade-off for the higher quality, increased versatility, and better features may be worth it.
Terrain and Climate
The weather where you live and the type of terrain you plan on riding over should play a big part in your decision process. In a hilly urban setting, having suspension is not as important, but a lightweight trailer becomes much more valuable as it will make steeper routes less exhausting. If you plan on taking the trailer on any unpaved or rocky trails, then you'll definitely want something with lots of padding and a good suspension system, even if it's only used for this occasionally. These features will make a difference not only in kid comfort but also in how easy it is to pull and maneuver over a bumpy surface. The Hamax Outback suspension (below left) is good but could be stiffer, while the Thule Chariot Cross 2 (below right) is adjustable for customization based on how much weight you are hauling.
If the weather where you live is unpredictable, then having an excellent weatherproof cover is a priority. You don't want to get stuck out in a storm and find yourself sopping wet with cold, damp kids in tow. The Thule Chariots are some of the most weatherproof trailers out there, thanks to the plastic rain shield that covers the entire trailer. However, if you live in a climate where the norm is 70+ degrees and sunny, then you'll want to focus more on a good sunshade and something with proper ventilation, like the Allen Sports Steel or the Burley D'Lite.
There is a vast difference in cost between some of the trailers, and it can be difficult to know how to determine your budget. In general, you will get what you pay for, and you can't expect a $150 trailer to perform as well as the $600 one. But have hope! There is a middle ground and a compromise for almost every budget.
Our two Best Value winners are both below average regarding cost, with the Allen Sports Steel often being the least expensive, thanks to sales. The Allen and the Burley Bee are both only equipped for biking and have minimal features, but they get the job done. For the slightly higher price of $300, you will get a top-quality product in the Bee that will last longer and be more pleasant to use in general.
If money is not an object and you're looking for the best of the best, the Thule Chariot Cross costs a whopping $1,000. It has all the bells and whistles and can cross over four sports all-in-one. It is a top-rated and longtime favorite of many outdoor enthusiasts. If you find it too difficult to get past the high price tag, both the Burley D'Lite and the Hamax Outback are excellent multisport options. While they lack some features, they both retail for $400-$500 less than the Cross, making them both smart choices for those who want a quality product without breaking the bank.
The last consideration concerning value is longevity. Some of the less expensive products may not last through more than a year of regular use. However, if that is all you need it for, or if you plan on using it only on rare occasions, there is no point in busting out the big bucks for something that has more features than you'll know what to do with. Other products have brand name recognition for quality. You will pay more for products that come with the name but so will other parents, ensuring that your trailer will keep its resale value when your kids outgrow it. Others have seats that fold flat and allow the trailer to convert into a cargo or pet trailer once the children move on.
Last, but certainly not least, will it attach to your bike? Although most of the time you won't have a problem with this, not every hitch is compatible with every bike. Hitch compatibility is not a common issue, but if you are unsure about compatibility, you can take a trip to your local bike shop and ask the experts. If it turns out that a certain trailer may not fit your bike, you can purchase an additional adapter for most trailers. Thule and Burley trailers tend to fit more bikes, while the InStep has the most issues with compatibility.
The right bike trailer can make the difference between a fun family outing and a frustrating mess of a day. There is a wide variety of choices out there, and there is something for every type of budget and needs. Taking a close look at what features you'll want, how often you'll be using the trailer, and what type of terrain you will be traveling through will help you make the right decision. As in most cases, you will get what you pay for, and we recommend considering some of the higher quality products such as the Burley D'Lite or the Thule Chariot Cross if you want a product that will be easy to use, comfortable to pull, and fun to ride in. If those are absolutely out of your price range, the Burley Bee is another trailer that will outperform most others in this price range. In the end, whatever gets you out and on the move with the littles is the ideal choice.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD, Abriah Wofford, and Wendy Schmitz