The Best Jogging Strollers of 2020
Best Overall Jogging Stroller
Thule Urban Glide 2
The Thule Urban Glide 2 has unmatched scores for run-ability and maneuverability with the highest overall score in this group of jogging products. This combination makes the Urban Glide 2 our favorite jogging stroller, and the one we'd most likely recommend to a friend. This stroller also has a strong ease of use score, with covered storage, comfortable seating for passengers, and a giant canopy that all work well. This impressive jogger could work as your everyday stroller saving you time and effort over buying two products.
This stroller, like many joggers, is more substantial when folded, and it may not fit in smaller vehicles or be easy to lift. However, with compelling features like the locking swivel front wheel, passenger stow pockets, simple fold, and competitive price, it is easy to see why this stroller won an Editors' Choice award and edged out the Bob options for the top spot.
Read review: Thule Urban Glide 2
Runner Up for Best Jogger
BOB Revolution Flex 3.0
The BOB Revolution Flex 3.0 is a highly runnable option with impressive maneuverability. This high-quality workhorse of the jogging world is an excellent stroller for those who love to get outside and get moving, especially off the beaten path. The Revolution 3.0 has adjustable tracking, suspension, and handlebar, a locking swivel front wheel, and better storage than previous versions. The 3.0 has everything a serious runner wants and everything the average parent needs.
This jogger may not be the right choice for parents with limited space or find lifting more substantial items challenging, as it is heavy and awkward when folded. However, we think this is an excellent choice for parents who want to head off-road or run off the beaten path.
Read review: BOB Revolution Flex 3.0
Best Small Everyday-Use Jogger
The BOB Rambler is a pared-down BOB with fewer features and a smaller footprint. With these reductions comes a reduction in price as well, and we suspect most parents won't miss what they don't know while appreciating the lower list price. We like the canopy, cozy seat, and adequate storage for everyday trips, and we love the adjustable tracking and suspension for a quality running experience.
This jogger has a stationary handlebar, so it is not for taller parents. It also lacks passenger pockets and a drink holder, which could be a deal-breaker for some. However, we love the lighter weight and smaller fold of this BOB. We think it is an excellent solution for families on a budget where space is at a premium, but who still have adventures on the brain.
Read review: BOB Rambler
Best for a Tight Budget
Baby Trend Expedition
The Baby Trend Expedition is a good everyday full-size stroller for parents who may want to jog occasionally. This stroller is easy to maneuver with pneumatic tires and a locking swivel front wheel. It is relatively lightweight and compact when folded, and it is easy to fold, making it a good choice for every day strolling and moving off the beaten path.
Unfortunately, it isn't the best for running, and it lacks the tracking and suspension required to make a genuinely good running stroller. However, it is designed with jogging in mind and will manage the occasional jog, even if serious runners will find it lacking. The Expedition is an excellent budget-friendly stroller with the look-and-feel of a jogger. It has features that make it suitable for everyday use, without spending more money if running isn't really your thing.
Read review: Baby Trend Expedition
Best Multi-Sport Versatility
Thule Chariot Cross 2 with Jogging Kit
The Thule Chariot Cross 2 with Jog Kit is the Swiss Army Knife of strollers and won a Top Pick award for Outdoor Versatility. This trailer style stroller earned higher scores than the option it replaced, and we love the improved features and functionality. This two-seater bike trailer is suitable for strolling, jogging, cross-country skiing, and biking with the right accessories (sold separately). If you love the outdoors and staying active, then this is the stroller for your family.
This stroller is probably not the best solution for every family; with a hefty price tag, you should be confident that outdoor adventures are in your future. It is also heavier and more substantial than a traditional jogging stroller, so you should check your car to ensure it will fit. But, if your budget allows and you love being outdoors, we think you will enjoy sharing it with your baby in this all-purpose strolling dynamo.
Read review: Thule Chariot Cross 2 with Jog Kit
More Affordable Multi-Sport Jogger
Hamax Outback with Jogger Kit
The Hamax Outback with Jogger Kit is a versatile bike trailer with much in common with the Thule Chariot Cross 2. However, the Hamax comes with a much lower price and only a few fewer features. The Hamax offers impressive run-ability for such a heavy stroller and is easy to tilt to turn despite the wider footprint. We like the ample storage and passenger stow pockets that little ones can reach even when buckled.
The Hamax lacks the ski/sledding accessory you can find on the Thule, and it is a lot of stroller to manage when pushing and trying to stash in your car. The Hamax is expensive, even if it is less expensive than the similar Thule. So, if you don't plan to use it while biking, then it may not be the right choice for your family. However, if you enjoy outdoor activities, and want to ensure your baby can join in the fun, then the Hamax is one to consider to save money over the Thule Chariot Cross 2.
Read review: Hamax Outback with Jogger Kit
The Bumbleride Speed is our favorite from this brand so far. While it didn't manage to win an award, it did perform well compared to the competition with better than average scores in each metric, including run-ability and ease of use. We like the convenience features of this stroller and how easy it is to push and turn. It is a nice looking option that is relatively lightweight and compact when folded. This model comes with a cool two-mode locking front wheel for versatile running options with one setting that allows for a 30-degree rotation our professional running liked.
The Speed is expensive, even for a jogger, and the quality wasn't as good as the top performers. If Bumbleride improves on the tracking of the locked wheel and increases run-ability, the Speed could be a real contender bringing something to the party that no other jogger currently offers.
Read review: Bumbleride Speed
Why You Should Trust Us
Our group of experienced jogger testers is led by BabyGearLab founder, Dr. Juliet Spurrier, Board Certified Pediatrician, mother of two, and Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Dr. Spurrier uses her education, background, and experience as a mom, to develop BabyGearLab safety standards, and has the final word on product selection for testing. Our jogging stroller lead is our Senior Research Analyst, Bob Wofford. Bob is a father of 7 and has been leading our jogging stroller testing since our first jogger review. The team also includes Senior Review Editor, Wendy Schmitz, who is a mother of two and has reviewed over 200 strollers since 2014. The review team is rounded out with Senior Review Editor, Abriah Wofford, who joined BabyGearLab stroller testers in 2015. The team has 20+ combined years of jogger experience. Adding to our jogger ratings and insights, including analysis of run-ability, is our running expert, Carrie Vickers. Carrie is a mother of three and a professional running biomechanics consultant, as well as a national-class runner with accolades you can read more about in her bio.
We've purchased and extensively tested more than 30 jogging strollers in the last 10 years. Our testing protocol puts each jogger through a multi-point performance test, to examine running performance, and every day use strolling capabilities. We've logged hundreds of miles on running paths and hiking trails in the mountains of beautiful Colorado near Aspen, and dozens of miles through city streets, parks, and maneuvering joggers through supermarkets. Our reviews utilize extensive product research and performance observations from multiple testers of different sizes, and running abilities, to compare each stroller to the competition. Our exhaustive testing in the real world helps us determine which products are the best for running, easy to use, highly maneuverable, with impressive quality.
Jump to: How We Tested Jogging Strollers
Analysis and Test Results
We purchased over 17 top jogging strollers over time and tested them over several months to determine which options are better than the competition. We put these strollers through their paces, including the activities and obstacles you are likely to experience while running and everyday use. Each stroller was assessed by multiple testers side-by-side to see how well they stacked up against the competitors. Our tests are designed to provide the details you need to know, so you can make an informed decision about which product is best for your needs.
User experience and in-house lab test results determine scores in individual metrics, which are then used to calculate overall scores. Scores are weighted to favor what we believe are essential factors to jogging strollers. We emphasize factors like run-ability and ease of use because superior run-ability is the main reason parents consider a jogger.
Jump to: Buying Advice for Jogging Strollers
Running with young babies is not advised. Babies should not be in a quick-moving stroller until at least eight months of age for smooth, flat surfaces like concrete or paved paths, and 12-18 months old for uneven or bumpy/hiking terrain. We recommend parents discuss their jogging and outdoor activity plans with their child's pediatrician before embarking on any adventure.Also, you should NEVER run with a swivel wheel; you must lock the front wheel in place before you run to prevent the stroller from flipping, twisting, or tipping while at speed.
While some parents might consider jogging strollers as a second stroller, recent jogging strollers prove they can work as a main stroller and jogger which can save you money over purchasing two strollers. Compared to the average price of a full-size stroller, the joggers are a good value with impressive performance for maneuverability, good storage, giant canopies, and other features parents want, which makes almost any award winner a great value. However, if your budget is tight, the Baby Trend Expedition offers adequate performance with lots of features for a wallet-friendly list price. However, it might not be the best for serious runners, given the lack of running features.
We test with multiple users running with each jogger to determine run-ability. This group includes a professional runner who can remark on each stroller's ergonomics/biomechanics and features specifically for running. For serious runners, it is crucial to have a jogger with features designed for running, such as adjustable tracking, suspension (preferably adjustable), handlebar shape, and tire type. Without these features, running can be frustrating or near impossible.
Run-ability is impacted by the manufacturing process that brings all the components together with little flex and a low tolerance for manufacturing variations or flaws. We searched for products that run straight without effort, provide excellent biomechanics, and are not a struggle to push or tilt to turn — design, materials, and manufacturing all impact run-ability.
The BOB Revolution Flex 3.0 and the Thule Urban Glide 2 both earned the high score for run-ability with 9s. The BOB Revolution Flex 3.0 is easy to push with adjustable tracking, suspension, and handlebar. The Thule Urban Glide 2 has an adjustable handlebar, stationary rear shocks for a smooth ride, and adjustable tracking with the best rolling resistance. If running is your thing, you can't do better than these top performers. However, running off-road may necessitate the adjustable suspension found on the BOB Revolution Flex 3.0 to increase passenger comfort. The BOB Rambler is a second-place runner with adjustable suspension and tracking, but a stationary handlebar. If the users are of similar and average heights, this will work well. The Graco FastAction Fold Jogger is the most challenging product to run with, according to our testers. This Graco doesn't have adjustable tracking, is heavy, and difficult to push in a straight line or turn. Our professional runner feels the Graco is a non-starter because it doesn't offer any suspension, and it doesn't run straight. The Thule Chariot Cross 2 is also suitable for running, which is impressive as it isn't a traditional jogger but more of a trailer.
The ease of use metric covers everything that makes a product easier to use or provides more than just good run-ability. We test these features for ease of everyday use, including the parent console, storage options, and the child tray. However, higher-scoring joggers don't offer very many convenience features because they are designed for running, and the two goals don't always mesh well. Extra features add weight or become un-functional while running, both of which are undesirable.
Higher ranked products in this metric are more enjoyable for the most part. Despite lacking all of the bells and whistles typically found on full-size strollers, the joggers do have adequate storage and useful canopies to protect passengers from various elements.
A useful sunshade should protect your baby from the sun and other elements. The better products have a canopy large enough to cover past the child's knees with potential additional protection such as a pop-out visor or full-canopy rotation. The shades on the BOB strollers are some of the biggest in the bunch, with an excellent peek-a-boo window, and complete seat coverage.
The Thule Glide 2 and the Thule Urban Glide 2 also have significant sunshades that cover similar territory to the leg rest. The Thule shades also sport a pop-out visor for more protection from the sun and the ability to rotate them for low light and direct wind protection (something passengers enjoy).
Fold and Unfold
We fold an unfold each stroller to see how easy it is to complete this operation. Folding and unfolding are more critical if you need to do them frequently, and many parents express frustration over how complicated this process can be for some products. Using one hand, folding quickly, or the ability to self-stand is essential if you need to fold it quickly or often. The Thule options can fold with one hand and a quick twist and pull to finalize. This process is possible even when holding a baby.
Every jogging style stroller in this review offers some storage. The basket on the Thule Urban Glide 2 fits our large diaper bag, and it has a waterproof cover that stops contents from toppling out or getting wet/dirty (a unique feature). The Mountain Buggy Terrain has the highest storage allowance at 22 lbs. The basket has divided pockets for internal organization with a zippered mesh cover that keeps items contained (though not protected). In addition to a basket, some of the products have rear seatback pockets and inside passenger stow pockets. All of the Thule and BOB strollers sport this, as does the Mountain Buggy Terrain. We think the stow pockets are more useful than a child tray, as most children won't be able to reach the tray when buckled in and won't hold items while running.
The photos above show a couple of the storage bins side-by-side, including the mesh-covered Mountain Buggy Terrain (above left), and the blocked access of the Joovy Zoom 360 Ultralight (above right).
Some of the strollers have parent consoles and child trays, likely as a nod to parent desires as opposed to real usefulness. After testing, we feel the consoles and cup holders are more of a hassle than an asset when the stroller is moving. Runners are likely to find falling items annoying. Alternatively, parents running errands might be frustrated without a cup holder and similar small-item storage features. Where each parent falls on this spectrum, and how much they use these features will vary. The Mountain Buggy Terrain has the best hydration holders with long water bottle sleeves that are easy to use and keep bottles in place, even while running. This design is far better for joggers than the shallow and narrow standard cup holders we see on most strollers.
For safety, we recommend not using cup holders or parent consoles when jogging or running with your stroller. During our testing, almost every cup holder failed to hold a standard size water bottle, and most of them landed on our test "baby" when the bottle fell out.
All of the strollers have reclining seats, and most operate with one hand. For safety, your baby should only be at a slight angle for running, but it's nice to know that seats can recline deep enough for a comfy nap. None of the joggers have adjustable leg rests, but most are at a comfortable angle and padded with a durable footrest. We prefer products with a sling-style seat and suspension to ensure a comfortable ride for little ones.
Ease of Setup
Ease of setup is not the most critical metric because, with any luck, you'll only be doing it once. However, the Thule Glide 2 and Thule Urban Glide 2 set up with no tools; assembly includes putting wheels on and not much else. If you're worried that you'll get confused by parts, tools, and hard to understand manuals, then either one will work well for you.
Easy maneuverability is something parents want in a stroller, and jogging products are no exception. While we can forgive a fixed wheel running stroller for its inability to make tight turns (an intentional safety feature), it isn't easy to forgive the swivel wheel options that are too big for smaller spaces. Depending on your journey and the subsequent terrain, you may need to make concessions on what you are willing to accept to get the running performance you desire.
Each option was used on the same course and the same trails. We test the products on the pavement, concrete, dirt trails, grass, and around an obstacle course to see which offers the best all-around maneuverability. In short, a locking swivel wheel stroller is the best for parents dedicated to running regularly and who also plan to use their stroller for everyday occasions. This feature has the required fixed wheel for running but provides the versatility of a swivel wheel for easily navigating the grocery store and other outings. This wheel versatility increases the stroller's usability in all kinds of adventures. The BOB Rambler is an excellent example of a smallish jogger (great for crowds) with enough features to use for errands and trips to the park.
Every stroller in this review has larger, rubber, pneumatic tires. Some have a fixed front wheel, and others have a locking swivel front wheel for running. Historically, a fixed front wheel has been the gold standard for serious running strollers. However, the newer locking swivel wheels prove they have what it takes for serious running while offering better maneuverability for everyday use. The Thule Urban Glide 2 has a high score in this metric with a 9 of 10. It navigates obstacles and tight spaces easily, but with a locked front wheel, it is still relatively easy to turn while jogging compared to the fixed wheel products. The hardest to move and turn is the Graco FastAction Fold Jogger. This stroller is so challenging that we struggled with the wheel locked and swiveling.
For quality, we want products that are well-made, user-friendly, durable, and feel as if they will survive multiple children and a variety of adventures. Some of the materials on the jogging strollers are nice quality, including ripstop fabric and lightweight aluminum, while other materials are less so such as heavier steel or plastic connectors. We reviewed and compared all of the materials, including stitching, frames, flexing, wheel design, connection points, and any exposed rivets or unique designs.
The highest quality options are the Thule and BOB strollers. These two brands are well-designed, thoughtfully constructed, and use materials that are durable and stylish. The Thules have a sleek and sharp finish, while the BOB tends to look more utilitarian.
The fabric on the Thules has a tight weave and is snag-resistant. The fit to the frame is close, and in some places, has no visible ends. These strollers have stiff frames with little to no flex, and suspension and connections that increase performance. The Hamax Outback with Jogger Kit and the Mountain Buggy Terrain are close in quality with scores of 8, just below the 9s for the BOB strollers and the Thule Urban Glide 2, and 10 for the Thule Glide 2.
Weight and Folded Size
The joggers weigh around 23 and 41 lbs. While this heft may not be a problem for some, other parents may wish they'd chosen a lighter stroller once they lift it. It may not sound like a big issue, but lifting and holding a stroller to put it in a trunk can be challenging if its weight exceeds your capabilities. If you'll need to fold your jogger to transport it, you'll likely want to consider a lighter option. The Thule Glide 2 and the Thule Urban Glide 2 both weigh 24.4 lbs, which is an increase from their former weights. However, this is still less than the BOB Revolution Flex 3.0 at 27.3 lbs and the BOB Rambler at 25.1 lbs. The Baby Trend Expedition is only 23.6 lbs, but given its lack of running features, we think the added pound of the Thules is worth it to get a much better running stroller.
A stroller's weight is only part of the story; the overall folded size is also crucial. If you can't fit it in your car, it means you probably can't use it as often as you planned.
The Thule Urban Glide 2 is around 15,388 cubic inches when folded, but the Thule Glide 2 is closer to 20,352 cubic inches, which is a significant difference. The BOB Revolution Flex 3.0 is only 14,748, which is smaller than both Thules. The BOB Rambler is even smaller at 13,150 cubic inches, which is positively petite comparatively speaking. The Baby Trend Expedition is also small when folded at 13,200 cubic inches. Because of the wide variety of sizes and shapes and the limited space of some homes or vehicles, it is crucial that you consider weight and folded size before choosing a jogger. If you can't pick it up or squeeze it in your car, then it isn't going to work in your life. Not sure what might fit? Purchase using a vendor with an excellent return policy (like Amazon), so you can return it if it isn't the best fit.
After putting the top jogging strollers through months and months of testing over the last decade, we learned a lot about what makes one stroller better than another, and which features make the best jogging machine. Our goal is to share the lessons we've learned so that you can make the best buying decision for your family.
Why Buy a Jogging Stroller?
After 9+ months of pregnancy, a lot of Moms find themselves ready for exercise or time outside. A stroller you can jog with is an investment in your health and mental well-being that happily, is a form of exercise you can share with baby once they have developed strong enough neck muscles to handle the stress of jogging (8-12 months with your pediatrician okay). Most babies love to go jogging, and most parents find that it is an easy, cost-effective way to get active and into an exercise routine. Even if exercise isn't your goal, getting out of the house and into the sunshine can do wonders for your emotional and mental well-being which could be out of whack with fluctuating hormones.
The following details will guide you through the important features of jogging strollers and will help you decide which stroller and features are right for you.
Running with your baby in a jogging stroller and biking with your little one in a child bike trailer, can expose your baby to stressful forces that can be harmful. Consult with your pediatrician to ensure your child has sufficient neck and core muscle strength before you begin using a jogging stroller or child bike carrier.
Dr. Spurrier, a pediatrician and founder of BabyGearLab notes, "It's important to avoid running and biking with young babies due to the jarring and jostling stresses that can occur. All babies need to have adequate neck and core muscle strength before they can safely participate in any jogging or biking activities. This strength generally does not occur until at least 8 months of age."One of the top manufacturers of joggers, BOB Gear, recommends waiting until your baby is at least eight months old before jogging. We would go one step further and say that running and biking with your baby should be strictly limited to smooth surfaces between 8 to 12 months. At a minimum of 12 months, children can begin to ride on rougher terrain, provided they are adequately restrained in a 5-point harness with proper padding and support. Also, children riding in a child bike trailer should wear an appropriate bike helmet. All of this is still true even if your younger baby is in an attached infant car seat carrier.
How are Joggers Different?
Traditional strollers are not safe for jogging with a baby. They lack the design features necessary to reduce the jarring shocks a baby could experience as parents jog over uneven surfaces. It's hard to avoid hazards like bumps in the road, curbs, uneven sidewalks, and sections of non-paved surfaces when you are running, and non-jogging strollers lack the ability to navigate these hazards at speed safely.
Jogging strollers have several features designed to reduce the impact of the road:
- Larger pneumatic (air-filled) rubber tires —
- Effective suspension systems —
- Locking/Fixed front wheel — If you try to jog with a traditional stroller, or even a jogger with the front wheel unlocked, you will find that the front wheel(s) start wobbling. This wobble creates strong vibrations in the stroller and makes jogging uncomfortable for you and your baby. This movement can also result in the front wheel(s) turning so sharply that the jogger tips over. All strollers designed for jogging provide the ability to lock the front wheel fully, and the better products offer adjustable tracking for straight movement.
- Long distance between wheels —
Your Multi-Purpose Stroller
Many jogging strollers could be considered as a multi-purpose solution, doing the work of a jogger and traditional stroller in one product. We rate each product on its run-ability, and our test scores favor running performance, but many parents rely on their jogger as a stroller for everyday activities as well. Because of this, we rate each jogger on a variety of additional metrics that impact serious running and daily activities. This information can help you decide which stroller will work best for you. So while the award winners may be great for jogging, many are often good for "running" errands as well.
Overview of Basic Features
The common features you might see in a jogging style stroller are:
- Three wheels with pneumatic (air-filled) tires: This means a smoother ride, but also that you'll need to check the pressure regularly like bicycle tires, and you'll need a pump to inflate them should they go flat.
The recommended pressure for inflating stroller tires is often different than the pressure shown on the side of the tire. ALWAYS double-check the stroller manual or company website for inflation guidelines. Do NOT rely on the pressure shown on the tire.
- Five-point harness: Goes over the shoulders, across the hips, and between the legs to secure baby in the seat and minimize injuries in case of a crash, similar to the harness in infant car seats. The 5-points are crucial in the event of a stroller flip due to user error or a faulty front wheel assembly.
- Safety tether:
- Parking brake: It is critical to engage the parking brake every time you park the stroller. Double-check that the brake engages fully by attempting to move the stroller back and forth before letting go.
- Canopy: This will protect your baby from the sun and potential headwinds. The larger the canopy, and the more ways you can position it, the better.
- Peek-a-boo window: Usually a covered window on the canopy to keep an eye on your child while jogging.
- Reclining seat: For baby's comfort.
- Under-seat storage basket: Storage for the things you and baby might need when out and about. This storage area is key since the low center-of-gravity helps keep the stroller stable and avoid tip-overs. You should never put heavy objects, such as your purse or diaper bag, on the handlebar. These items can cause the stroller to tip and create a safety risk.
- Folding mechanism: All of the strollers we tested are relatively easy to fold, but keep in mind that folded joggers are not small. And, even though the wheels can be taken off, joggers still may take up more space in your trunk than other kinds of strollers.
Avoid carrying children while holding hot beverages; never place a hot beverage in the cup holder of a stroller.
How do I decide which stroller is best for me?
There are many jogging options on the market. However, no stroller has it all, so you should choose the features that best fit your lifestyle and goals. For most parents, this means being honest about your real running prowess. There is no judgment in this realm. However, there is also no need to buy more running stroller than you need, and being honest with yourself can translate into saving money and time. If you are a regular runner, who ran avidly before pregnancy, then you will likely want to invest more in your jogger. If you jog once a week and are more likely to find yourself running to catch a bus than running for fitness, then you probably don't need the highest-end model and will be happy with a cheaper option.
First: Fixed or Locking Swivel Front Wheel
The photos above show the fixed wheel on the Thule Glide 2 (above left) and the swivel wheel of the Thule Urban Glide 2 (above right).
Jogging style strollers come with either a permanently fixed front wheel or a locking swivel front wheel. When jogging, having the front wheel fixed (or in locked mode) is a must! The locked wheel ensures that the stroller tracks straight and doesn't shoot off in an unexpected direction as it goes over a bump or loose debris. This feature also makes turning difficult, so you aren't able to accidentally make a sharp turn at high speed and risk rolling the stroller with your baby-on-board. Some serious runners believe that a fixed wheel is the only way to go for running, and as a result, they shy away from the options with a locking swivel wheel. However, in our tests, we discovered that this isn't as big of a concern as it used to be. Some of the new swivel wheel designs have locking mechanisms that not only lock the wheel with little to no play at all, but the rotating wheel adds functionality to the stroller that makes it easier to use for everyday activities outside of running.
A swivel front wheel offers better maneuverability and provides easier navigation in tight or crowded spaces like a store or festival. All of the swivel wheel products we reviewed can lock the front wheel in place, a necessity for jogging. However, some of the locked swivel wheels aren't as stable as a fixed-front wheel. We gave an Editors' Choice award to the Thule Urban Glide 2 and the BOB Revolution Flex 3.0 because we feel both are an exception to this dated belief that fixed wheel is best. When the front wheel is locked, both products perform better than their fixed wheeled counterparts made by the same companies.
You might ask, "If the Thule Urban Glide 2 performs as well as a stroller with a fixed front wheel, and it offers the maneuverability of a swivel wheel, why would I consider a fixed wheel stroller?." Well, you may not want too. We understand this statement flies in the face of a long-held belief in the world of runners, but the newer swivel wheeled strollers performed as well, or better than, the fixed options in our tests.
On the other hand, there are some perks to the fixed wheel you should know. Many of the fixed wheel models sport a handbrake that makes slowing the stroller easier as you go downhill or up to a traffic light. This slowing mechanism can be an important safety feature, and it also helps tired runners ease to a complete stop with less exertion than body power alone. While it does not stop the stroller by itself, and it is not a parking brake, it is something to consider when looking at fixed wheel options. Only a few of the swivel wheel options have a hand brake, and none of the top scoring swivels had them. Also, most of the fixed front wheels we reviewed have a larger front wheel than the swivel products (16-inch vs. 12-inch). Some long-distance runners, looking for speed and reduced rolling resistance, may prefer the larger wheels for an easier push. Last, some of the fixed wheel options are lighter than the swivel wheel products making them easier to push for long distances.
If you are serious about running, run more than a few miles every day, and you don't plan to use this stroller for other kinds of trips, then you might go for a fixed front wheel stroller with a handbrake; it's tough to beat the performance and safety features. You may also want to consider a handbrake if you run in a hilly community where the downhill slide might be easier with the use of a handbrake to slow your roll. However, for those that mainly walk, take frequent shorter runs, or the occasional jog, a locking swivel wheel stroller is a better all-around solution that gives you the best of both worlds but can still graduate up to serious running if it turns out to be a hobby that sticks.
We believe the Thule Urban Glide 2 has the best features for both worlds, and that serious runners and occasional hobbyists alike will enjoy the quality and performance no matter what the day has in store. Alternatively, our professional runner/tester indicated she preferred the BOB Revolution Flex over all of the competition. The BOB Rambler is similar enough to the Revolution that if budget is a concern, you might consider this swivel wheel winner.
Arguably, a more important feature than a fixed vs. swivel wheel is the ability to adjust the tracking of the front wheel. The better jogging products have adjustable tracking to keep the front wheel running straight. If the stroller pulls or veers in one direction while running on a flat surface, you can use the adjustment mechanism to keep the front wheel tracking straight and the stroller moving on course. Think of it as a quick front end alignment on your stroller like you regularly get on your car. Alternatively, those products without adjustable tracking can result in chronic veering and constant manual correction while running. The manual correction will increase overall fatigue, and the experience of running will be far less enjoyable. All of our award winners, with the exception of the Baby Trend Expedition, have adjustable tracking. While it lacked tracking adjustment, we found that the Baby Trend we purchased tracked straight enough for the occasional jog.
Second: Adjustable Handlebar
An adjustable handlebar can come in handy if you (and anyone else who will regularly use the stroller) are taller or shorter than the average person. The average height of American women is 5'5 inches tall; the average male is closer to 5'10 inches tall; this alone is a big disparity if mom and dad plan to use the same stroller and are within the average range. To further complicate the issue, if one of you is over 6 feet tall, the non-adjustable handle might change your running style and could result in inefficient running, possible injury, or increased fatigue. Luckily, stroller companies seem to be "grasping" the handlebar height significance, and several offer an adjustable handlebar. The top-scoring Thule strollers, the Thule Urban Glide 2 and Thule Glide 2; both have adjustable height handlebars, as does the BOB Revolution Flex 3.0, and Thule Chariot Cross 2 with jog kit.
In the past, we felt that most of the adjustable handlebars made the stroller feel sort of "squishy" due to the up/down play found at the adjustment point. However, the handlebars in this review are very easy to adjust and generally do not have noticeable play. On the contrary, they seem to have similar precision responsiveness as the fixed handlebars. In the end, we feel that being able to adjust the height of the bar is a crucial component of running if you aren't in the average height range. Given that it can impact your running biomechanics, and thus your ability to run for longer durations and avoid injury, we can't find a reason not to choose an adjustable handle.
Having good suspension provides smooth strolling over uneven terrain, just like in your car. Most joggers offer shocks on the rear wheels to help prevent baby from jarring bumps in the road and to make the whole experience more enjoyable. Most true jogging products will have excellent suspension. Historically, BOB strollers set the standard for great jogging products, in part because they have an impressive adjustable suspension that can be altered depending on the type of terrain you are going over and the weight of your child. Not to be outdone, the Thule Urban Glide 2 and Glide 2 options also have nice rear wheel suspension (though they aren't adjustable). The Thule Chariot Cross 2 also has adjustable suspension similar to the BOB strollers.
What kind of suspension to consider will depend on how often you plan to run and the kind of surfaces you plan to run on. In short, the rougher the ground, the better the suspension should be. Many of the cheaper models in our review did not have individual shocks, which leads us to believe that the manufacturers don't really expect you to run with them. Our Best Value winner, the Baby Trend Expedition, is a good example of this. Its lack of shocks and adjustable tracking make it a poor choice for serious runners, but its other features make it good for moving over uneven surfaces.
Other features that can help cushion the blows associated with jogging are the style and padding of the seat. All the products we tested claim to have a padded or comfortable seat for baby, but not all seats are created equal. To complicate things further, the style of the seat seems more important than the padding. The sling style seats, which suspend from the surrounding frame, offers a more comfortable experience for the baby because they lack a hard surface for baby to bounce. It is similar to the difference between sleeping in a hammock or on a hardboard. The hammock will give with the bumps, and you won't be banging against a hard surface as you bounce up and down, while the board creates a hard surface to hit.
Given that happy cooperation from your baby will directly affect your running experience, you'll want the baby to be as cozy and safe as possible. Most of the true running strollers in this review had sling style seats with enough padding to help adequately cushion the baby from any jolts remaining after the shocks work their magic. Alternatively, the Graco FastAction Fold Jogger and Chicco Tre both have hard plastic seats that don't absorb any impact from running, despite the added padding.
Fourth: Additional Features
Extra features like cup holders, pockets, snack trays, built-in speakers, and odometers came with some of the models we reviewed. Some features are essential, such as infant car seat adapter for strolling with babies under 8 months old. Others are handy, like a parent tray with space to store your keys, wallet, and cellphone. Still, some are useful, but have trade-offs, like snack trays for the baby that add to the stroller's weight, make it less aerodynamic, protrude in awkward ways when folded, and are virtually useless for a baby when you are moving quickly. However, some features are rather useless in practice, like built-in speakers. In the end, a boatload of features can be useful in a standard stroller, but keeping joggers simple is usually best.
Final Consideration: Tell the Truth
The most important factor you need to consider, above all other things, is how much running you will REALLY do. This consideration is important because for everyday errands you will value good maneuverability and ease of use over run-ability. You may be able to save a few dollars by skimping on the running features if you aren't a daily runner. However, if you are a serious runner, you will need a stroller with high marks for run-ability with the performance and features necessary for dedicated running. The more extensively you plan to use your stroller for running, the more you should be willing to pay for the sake of improved performance and safety for your baby.
We believe that joggers have improved so much in quality and design that you can have it all. You can have a swivel wheel for better maneuverability around town, and you can lock that wheel in a fixed position for running and fun outdoor adventures. The Editors' Choice winners, the Thule Urban Glide 2, BOB Rambler and the BOB Revolution Flex 3.0 offer versatility, high-quality, and functional features that will last for many years and babies to come. These strollers came in top overall, and in key metrics like run-ability and maneuverability. The upside is all of these options are less expensive than some of the higher ranking traditional strollers.
Alternatively, if you aren't really a jogger, and the majority of your time will be spent walking with only the occasional run, then our Best Value choice, the Baby Trend Expedition, is a nice stroller with useful features that has a locking swivel wheel and is easy to push and turn. This stroller is a budget-friendly choice for parents who want the jogging style but aren't committed to the jogging lifestyle.
Can a jogging option be my only stroller?
Depending on your specific situation, you could use a locking swivel front wheel jogger as your only stroller. But remember that joggers do not fold small, are sometimes heavier, and are cumbersome to carry around, so they are not the ideal stroller for commuting or city life. Also, if you plan to stroll with a baby younger than 6-8 months, you'll need to make sure that the stroller is compatible with an infant car seat. Joggers also offer a smoother ride for baby, especially on rough roads, so if you are moving over a variety of surfaces the versatility of a swivel wheel jogger could be a good fit as your main/only stroller, as a standard stroller may not have the best performance over uneven terrain. The BOB Rambler is smaller and lighter than some full-size options and most joggers which means it could be a viable everyday choice for city life depending on where you live and your needs.
Over several months, we ran, jogged, speed-walked, and walked with these jogging strollers in all types of terrain; smooth, rough, hilly, bumpy, muddy, sandy, rocky, snowy, dry, and wet. We used them indoors and outdoors in crowded stores and open parks. We pushed and pulled them up. We folded and unfolded them and got them in and out of the car trunk. And we did all of this with baby and baby's gear in tow. Precisely the way most parents use this kind of stroller in the real world.
Run-ability tests included rating the strollers for their handlebar shape and adjustability, their rolling resistance, and how well they tracked and whether or not they offered adjustable tracking. We took all of the strollers running with multiple testers on different surfaces, including sidewalks and dirt hiking trails. We assessed how difficult it is to push them and whether or not they are easy to run with or a wrestling nightmare.
One key source of ratings and critique of run-ability performance was input from our running expert, Carrie Vickers, who put each of the strollers through the wringer during her ultra-distance race training, with her twin girls, and an older daughter. Also, we had testers of different heights, both male and female, to run each product, and assess field performance.
Ease of Use
Testing ease of use required that we compare the features of each product and how easy they were to use under normal circumstances. Some of the conveniences looked good on paper but weren't good in real life, and other features seem almost useless for a stroller you plan to run with. Points are earned for nice large canopies that are easy to adjust and cover most of the passenger, peek-a-boo windows that are large enough to see the baby, cup holders that don't drop items, storage bins that can hold diaper bags, and reclining seats.
Some of the strollers didn't have much in the way of conveniences, and unlike other types of strollers, we didn't consider this to be a big downfall. Products designed for running don't necessarily need a lot of bells and whistles, and having too many means it might be challenging to use them when you are jogging. However, we felt if they are going to have the features, they should be well done, of good quality, and easy to utilize. Strollers were compared against one another so parents can get a feel for which options are better than others.
For harnesses, we assessed how easy they were to get on and adjust and how difficult it is to get a proper fit for smaller babies. We think if a harness is hard to use, then parents might neglect using it if it is too easy children might be able to "get out of it" when parents aren't looking. Products earned more points if they were easy to adjust and use.
We gave more points to single-action brakes over double action brakes believing that they are easier to use and more likely to be appropriately set.
We used a stopwatch for timing how long it took to get the products out of the box and ready to run using the instructions provided in the box. Products earned more points for taking less time, having easy to read manuals, no tool assembly, and useful photos or illustrations. They lost points for clumped together multi-language instructions that take longer to read, pictures or steps that are not necessary for assembly, and hard to follow or unclear instructions. The easiest products have clear text, nice images, and the majority of the product already assembled.
All of the strollers were put through a series of tests on different surfaces and multiple environments to determine their maneuverability and stability when used for their intended purposes. We jogged with them two-handed and one-handed, over flat hard surfaces, across the grass, dirt, and gravel, and up and down stairs and curbs, to determine which products were up to the challenge. The important part of being a jogging product is the ability to move well in tight spaces and various terrains at speed. Navigating on hard surfaces is a must; moving at speed is just as important. While these products are designed to be stable when running, it is also useful if they can move in tighter places without bumping into obstacles. We scored each stroller against each other based on which did the best moving through our obstacle course and real-life scenarios. The strollers that were easy to turn earned higher marks, the fixed wheel options that required less tipping, or were shorter in length scored better than those that were hard to tip or knocked into things when turning.
Quality factors are based on our overall experience and how the materials and fit and finish of each stroller compared to each other. For fabric, we gave points for the weave, stain, or water repellent properties, snag-ability, straight stitching, and how it attached to the frame. We reviewed the frame materials, hinge points, connectors, and if the frame flexed or the handlebars wobbled. We also compared the wheels of each product and how well they connected to the stroller. Quality scores are awarded by comparing each stroller and how well they held up after their brief period during testing.
Weight and Folded Size
For weight and folded size, we measured each product instead of relying on manufacturer specs. We wanted to ensure that all the products were rated by using the same scale for weight and the same measuring methods. The strollers are weighed fully assembled with all their parts, and measured with the same device by the same person. The values were then compared to each other and ranked. The smaller, lighter joggers earned more points in this metric, though the overall scores were weighted less in the overall scoring than in different stroller categories like umbrella products.
Jogging strollers are almost a must-have item for many families, runners, or not. The three-wheel design, rubber tires, and the ability to move smoothly over uneven terrains make them a favorite suitable for almost every busy family. We also believe that jogging style stroller can be your only stroller because they are versatile and provide a lot of the features parents want for everyday use. No matter what your goals may be, there is something for everyone in this review, and the award winners are a great place to start your stroller search.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & Carrie Vickers