28.4 lbs | Sport Options:
Simple and compact fold
Lots of room for kids & cargo
Difficult attachment changes
Not completely weatherproof
The Burley D'Lite won our hearts, impressing us with its versatility and quality. You can purchase attachments for jogging, biking, cross-country skiing, and basic strolling. The seats fold flat when not carrying children, creating a surface for hauling cargo, extending 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, you should consider a few things 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 D'Lite has been upgraded and is now the Burley D'Lite X. We are now linking to the D'Lite X in this review.
20 lbs | Sport Options:
Easy to use hitch
Large cargo space
Unreinforced foot area
Single function only
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 to hook up, getting you on the road without much finagling. At 20 lbs, it is also one of the lightest trailers. 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 shows signs of wear relatively 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. We think the Bee is the way to go if you are looking for an around-town cruiser without multi-sport versatility.
26 lbs | Sport Options:
Small cargo space
3-point harness only
Tight fit for two
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, making 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 independently. 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 of pricier competitors. It has basic seats with minimal padding, and the harness is only 3-points and connected with clips rather than the standard buckle, making 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. The Allen Sports Steel can get the job done at a hard-to-beat price despite the scarcity of convenience features.
32 lbs | Sport Options:
Individual reclining seats
Easy to connect to a bike
Initial setup is time-consuming
The Thule Chariot Cross 2 is a tried and true favorite, winning multiple categories. Though not as versatile as the Burley D'Lite, it is an excellent 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 sleeping 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, so we recommend it for parents 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
51.1 lbs | Sport Options:
Cushy padded seats
Good for older kids
The Hamax Outback is a bike trailer we love from a Norweigan company that makes outdoor gear. The roomy interior is perfect for older toddlers, and extra-wide seats give kids a bit more wiggle room than some other trailers. The Hamax also has reclining seats to make it more comfortable for napping. This trailer has some of the cushiest paddings in the lineup. The Outback is the Cadillac of comfy bike trailers combined with the larger than average wheels, adjustable suspension, and a large, reinforced footwell. A solid bar supports 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 is kind of a pain to manage on sidewalks. While sufficient, the hitch is not as good as 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 with the Burley D'Lite. Overall, we like the Outback. It provides a 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
27.5 lbs | Sport Options:
Easy to attach to a bike
Not as nice as Thule Chariot Cross
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 consider the Thule Chariot Lite. The Chariot Lite can transform from a bike trailer to a stroller, a jogger, and a ski sled. It is weatherproof but still manages impressive ventilation thanks to the mesh backing 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. While this is a good trailer, we aren't convinced that the features justify the price.
22 lbs | Sport Options:
Easy to assemble
Difficult to fold/unfold
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 straightforward. 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 we think they 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 on 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 on gravel roads. The cargo space is relatively small but still larger than 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. 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, the Cadance is one to consider.
24.5 lbs | Sport Options:
Wide passenger seat
Large cargo space
Plastic tire rims break
Quickly shows signs of wear
With the lowest list price of all the trailers in the review, the InStep Take 2 can be an attractive choice for those with 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. We think you'll be lucky if it lasts a year with semi-regular use. 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 to tow a trailer often, 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 have more to offer for the biker and passenger.
The Hamax Outback works well with most bikes a gives very little feedback to the rider.
Credit: Abriah Wofford
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, a father of 7, is uniquely qualified to determine which features matter the most and why one trailer is better than another. He also performs testing for the kids bike seats and backpack carriers for babies. 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 road/trail use in and around our mountain Colorado town. In this review, the trailers are assessed for size, ease of use, passenger comfort, and more before finalizing our list and product ranks. A handful of top trailer performers were also assessed as strollers for two and potential jogging strollers.
Analysis and Test Results
A few considerations can help you select the best possible trailer for your needs. We compare these trailers for size, ease of use, versatility, and more to give you the details required to make the best buying decision for your family.
The Burley Bee is an economical solution that will fit the bill for many families.
Some of our favorite trailers have below-average prices. The Allen is a bike-only option with minimal features, but it does the job if you only need the basics. We recommend the Burley Bee, which is a top-notch product that will last longer and is more pleasant to use for a slightly higher price. If you don't plan to jog, ski, or stroll with your trailer, these are excellent options that can save you money.
The Thule Chariot Cross 2 is good for a variety of activities from strolling and jogging to bike trailer and skiing. This little wagon does it all.
The Burley D'Lite and the Hamax Outback are excellent multi-sport options. While they lack some of the same features, they retail for half the Thule Chariot Cross's price, making them smart choices for those looking for a quality product within their budget.
Size and Portability
We chose two-seater trailers for our testing and comparisons, but most of these options also come in a single version if you know your space and size are limited, you'd like to save some money, or you only plan to tow one child. Also, if weight and maneuverability are important to you, a single-seater can be the better choice as these trailers are easier to push and turn thanks to their smaller width. 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 a friend and creating more cargo space for hauling things like groceries. If you think you want a trailer for two but want the smallest possible, the Allen Sports Steel is one of the smaller options in the group. The Burley Bee is a lightweight option at only 20 lbs, making it a good choice for those who don't want to lift more.
How often do you plan to use the trailer? Where will you use it? If you make your daily commute by bike or plan to have frequent after-school bike outings with your kids, passenger comfort and space for backpacks, briefcases, and other supplies will make your daily trek much smoother.
The storage bin on the Thule Chariot Cross 2 hangs off the back of the frame and fit our extra-large diaper bag. However, given the lower maximum weight allowance of 8.8 lbs, we worry it isn't enough for supplies for two.
Credit: Abriah Wofford
If you are more of a weekend warrior and only need a trailer for the occasional outing, features like suspension and cargo space may be less critical. A more basic (and less expensive) trailer could suit your needs. Alternatively, if you are an all-around active family 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. Still, for the dedicated biker/runner/skier, we think you will appreciate the versatility and the higher-quality construction to help you maintain your exercise routine. The Thule Chariot checks all the boxes for storage space and passenger comfort and offers conversions for multiple sports from biking to cross-country skiing, jogging, and strolling. The Burley D'Lite is also a versatile choice with ample storage and a sleek look. The Allen Sports Steel is a single-sport bike trailer that lacks the versatility of the competition but can save you money if you only need a simple commuter pod.
Depending on your climate or terrain, you'll need to consider design in your purchase like whether or not the cover is weather proof or it has suspension.
Credit: Abriah Wofford
Terrain and Climate
Your local weather and the terrain you plan to cover will play a large part in your ultimate decision. Good suspension may not be critical in a hilly urban setting, but a nimble, lightweight trailer is valuable on those steep uphill routes. If you plan to traverse unpaved, rocky trails, you'll want a trailer with adequate padding, good wheels, and maximum suspension. These features make a difference in passenger comfort and ease over uneven terrain. The Hamax Outback suspension is good but could be stiffer; however, the comfy seats help make the ride less bumpy.
The yellow suspension coils on the Hamax work well and provide additional comfort for passengers.
Credit: Abriah Wofford
A weatherproof cover is a lifesaver if you commonly encounter unpredictable or variable weather. The last thing you want is to find yourself caught out in a rainstorm, sopping wet with cold, damp (crabby) kids in tow. The Thule Chariots are almost entirely waterproof, thanks to the plastic rain shield surrounding the whole trailer. Alternatively, a large and sturdy sunshade and adequate ventilation are top priorities if you live where the norm is typically 70+ degrees and sunny. The Allen Sports Steel and Burley D'Lite are excellent options for warmer climates.
The InStep has a lower price, but the quality is reflected in how long it will last with regular use.
There is a considerable price difference between the least and most expensive trailers. Deciding how much you want to spend is a good way to narrow down your options quickly. In our experience, the price vs. quality battle is instantly apparent regarding 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 that is comfortable for most budgets.
How long you plan to use your bike trailer should play a role in your decision making process.
Credit: Abriah Wofford
Another component of quality is longevity. Some more inexpensive options may not last more than a year after heavy use. However, if a year is all you need or you plan to use the trailer infrequently, there is no benefit to investing in a product with more features you won't use. Other products have a brand name that is widely recognized for its quality. You will pay more for products with a particular brand 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. If you want to use your trailer after your kids grow out of it, some models have seats that fold flat and allow them to convert into cargo or pet trailers.
Is your trailer of choice 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 buying. If you are unsure how to check hitch compatibility, take a trip to your local bike shop and ask the experts. If the trailer doesn't fit your bike, you can often buy an adapter to make it work. Thule and Burley trailers tend to work with the widest range of bike styles, while the InStep historically has the most compatibility issues.
Finding the right bike trailer is key to having successful outings with your little ones in search of adventure.
Credit: Abriah Wofford
The perfect bike trailer can make the difference between a fun family outing and a frustrating debacle, and an early return home. With so many options with varying features and capabilities, there is an optimal choice 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, it will be a piece of cake to narrow down the options. While you can get by with just about any kind of trailer, we recommend considering higher-quality products to support you through the long haul if you plan to put lots of miles on your trailer. In the end, the trailer that gets you out and on the move with the littles is the trailer for you. Happy adventures!