Best Umbrella Stroller
$499.00 at Amazon
$179.95 at Amazon - 20% off
$399.99 at Amazon
$203.99 at Amazon - 18% off
$199.99 at Amazon
|Pros||Easy to push and turn, nice quality, lightweight||Lightweight, giant canopy, price||Compact fold great for travel, easy to use features, quality||Easy to use and push, useful features, quick fold||Nice maneuverability, compact fold, easy brakes|
|Cons||Expensive, not the best napper||Lower quality, poor off-road capabilities||Heavy for its size, not for off-road surfaces, expensive||Heavier and larger||Limited napping recline, shoulder strap safety concern|
|Bottom Line||Stylish, lightweight, easy mover, that folds small but has a higher price||Lightweight with good features and price but it could be smaller or easier to push off-road||Easy to use, compact, high quality option, but it is heavy and spendy||Weight and size could make it a poor traveler but features are convenient||Great maneuverability but only average in other areas|
|Rating Categories||BabyZen Yoyo+||ZOE XL1 BEST v2||UPPAbaby Minu||Britax B-Lively||Mountain Buggy Nano|
|Weight Folded Size (35%)|
|Ease Of Use (30%)|
|Specs||BabyZen Yoyo+||ZOE XL1 BEST v2||UPPAbaby Minu||Britax B-Lively||Mountain Buggy Nano|
|Weight||13.5 lbs||16.3 lbs||11.8 lbs||17.4 lbs||16.3 lbs|
|Folded Dimensions||17.5"W x 9"H x 20.8"L||21.3"W x 9.5"H x 27.4"L||20.4"W x 13.5"H x 24"L||24"W x 9.5"H x 29"L||21.2"W x 11"H x 20.3"L|
|Capacity Limits||Minimum: 6 months
Maximum: 40 lbs
|Minimum: 3 months
Maximum: 40 lbs
|Minimum: 3 months
Maximum: 55 lbs/44"
Maximum: 44 lbs
|Included Car Seat Compatibility||None||None||None||Britax All Britax Seats||Universal Adapter|
|Click-in Car Seat Adapters||Cybex
Mico AP, Mico Max 30, Mico Nxt, CabrioFix, Pebble, and Pebble Plus
Aton, Aton 2, and Aton Q
|Britax All Britax Seats||None|
|Strap-in Car Seat Adapters||None||None||None||None||Universal Adapter|
|Handlebar Height - Min/Max||39.8"||39.7"||41.2||40"||39.2"|
|Included Accessories||Rain Shield||None||Storage bag||None||Travel Bag|
Best Overall Umbrella Stroller
The BabyZen Yoyo+ is an impressive umbrella stroller with some of the best maneuverability performances in the group. The Yoyo+ is a pleasure to push and turn with better wheels than most of the competition and upgraded bearings. With an overall stylish look and critical attention to detail, the Yoyo+ is all that it promises to be. This stroller folds compactly into thirds, making it easy to carry, and enjoyable to use on the go. The Yoyo+ has most of the popular features parets are looking for and the functionality required for fun on the town, which makes it an excellent option for city dwellers.
The Yoyo+ is expensive for an umbrella stroller with a price that rivals some full-size options. However, this is definitely a case of "you get what you pay for." It also has a smaller canopy that may be unable to protect from all kinds of weather. The storage bin is also small which could result in taking fewer supplies or shorter trips. Overall, if your budget allows, we think the Yoyo+'s performance, size, ease of carrying, and looks are worth the price of admission if you need something travel-sized.
Read review: BabyZen Yoyo+
Best on a Tight Budget
The Inglesina Net is impressively lightweight and fairly small, wit a top score for the weight and folded. It features better quality (than the competition) for a stroller of this style and price range. The Net is a minimalist product with a breathable seat, comfort recline, and traditional fold that stands by itself. The included storage bin is large enough for a few supplies, and the canopy is adequate for pleasant weather.
This wallet-friendly umbrella product is one of the cheapest options in our review. While it doesn't come with loads of bells and whistles, it does include everything you need for a mid-day stroll or tourist attraction. The Net is an unlikely candidate for a main stroller, or longer trips, thanks to a lack of storage and comfort features, but it is a good choice for travelling and is easy to carry and stow. This straightforward umbrella stroller will get the job done without breaking the bank or causing frustration.
Read review: Inglesina Net
Best Bang for the Buck
ZOE XL1 BEST v2
The ZOE XL1 BEST v2 is a lightweight option loaded with desirable features, which is somewhat rare for this style of stroller. The BEST has an easy-to-access storage basket, a quick-access canopy pocket, parent cup holder, and dual snack holders for littler riders. This version has larger single style front wheels and is smaller when folded than older versions. We love the giant canopy with a peek-a-boo window that creates a private cocoon for sleeping children but still lets parents check-in without disturbing nap time.
Unfortunately, the ZOE isn't the most enjoyable to push and turn, even with the better wheels, and we feel there is room for improvment for overall quality compared to the competition. However, the BEST still impresses bringing a lot to the table with easy to use features at a reasonable price.
Read review: ZOE XL1 BEST v2
Best for Everyday Use
Baby Jogger City Mini 2
The Baby Jogger City Mini 2 is heavy for a lightweight stroller at 19lbs. However, it is a great everyday stroller that is easy to use, maneuverable, and nicer quality, which makes it a potential one and done option for parents on a budget. While this stroller is heavy and larger than the umbrella competition, it has everything you'll need for most trips, making it feel like a small well-equipped strolling machine. The City Mini 2 is easy to push, has a large canopy, and folds quickly, into a compact and slim final package. It has a near-flat recline for peaceful napping, a large storage bin, and materials that come together in a sturdy, practical product that is also compatible with a variety of infant car seat carriers.
This stroller is the heaviest in the umbrella lineup, making it a poor choice if you need to carry it often or for long periods. And it isn't the smallest so it might be challenging to find a place to stow it. But, we think the City Mini 2 can do it all and potentially fill two niches at once, saving you money and the time. These reasons are why we feel it is a good choice for any parent who doesn't need the smallest or lightest stroller but just wants a relatively light product that can do double duty to save some cash.
Read review: Baby Jogger City Mini2
Why You Should Trust Us
This umbrella stroller review is led by Dr. Juliet Spurrier, our founder and mother of two. Dr. Spurrier is a board-certified pediatrician who uses her experience and medical background to help choose products with safety and functionality in mind. The team also includes our Senior Review Analyst, Bob Wofford, father of seven. Bob has been on the BabyGearLab squad for eight years and has assembled and tested more strollers than potentially anyone on the planet with over 430 stroller reviews under his belt across multiple categories. Senior Review Editors, Wendy Schmitz (mom to 2), and Abriah Wofford round out the team with testing and results analysis. Wendy has been part of the stroller testing team since 2014 and Abbriah since 2016.
We purchase each selected contender for side-by-side testing in our in-house lab and the real world. Each stroller is assembled on-site and put through our tests for weight and folded size, maneuverability, quality, ease of use, and more. Then strollers are used by parents in the real world to gather additional information on how they perform on a day-to-day basis.
Jump to: How We Tested Umbrella Strollers
Analysis and Test Results
We put 18 popular lightweight and umbrella strollers through an exhaustive testing process to determine which options are better than the competition. Each contender is observed in use, and rated on performance metrics such as weight and folded size, ease of use, maneuverability, and quality to help you find the right choice for your lifestyle and budget.
Weight and folded size have the most influence for this category because finding a compact, travel-friendly stroller is the primary reason parents look for an umbrella product to add to their gear lineup.
Jump to: Buying Advice for Umbrella Strollers
Most of the high ranking products in this review are relatively budget-friendly. However, for a stroller category that is likely a backup or secondary stroller, the prices can feel high depending on your budget and plans for use. When choosing a product based on value and budget, our price value chart reveals that the Baby Jogger City Mini 2 features a below-average price and can act as your full-size and lightweight strollers, so you can save money by purchasing fewer products. Also, the ZOE XL1 BEST v2 has a reasonable price and enough features to potentially be used regularly in the place of a full-size stroller. The Inglesina Net is also an economical option, with a list price below two hundred dollars.
Weight and Folded Size
How much a product weighs, and how small it folds, is what makes or breaks a great lightweight stroller. The most critical aspects for this type of gear are being easy to fold and transport. You need a product that simplifies travel and can quickly be folded or stowed at your destination or riding on public transportation. A few of the options in this review are somewhat heavy, making them harder to carry. Others are lightweight but fold into packages that are too long for compact trunks. If you want a traditional umbrella stroller, this is the metric to watch when determining which option to purchase.
The highest-scoring product for Weight and Folded Size is the GB Pockit with the smallest folded volume, and the second lightest weight. If you need a small fold that fits almost anywhere and is easy to carry, then the GB Pockit is the king. However, the Pockit is challenging to push and hard to use, scoring below average for overall performance. The Maclaren Mark II is the lightest weighing only 8.6 lbs, but it scores poorly in most other ways resulting in a below-average rank. Unless you absolutely can't lift more than 9 lbs, we don't think having the lowest possible weight is worth the tradeoff of a frustrating experience during use.
The ZOE XL1 BEST v2 is only 11.6 lbs which makes it easy to pick up and carry, with a folded size of only 5,544 cubic inches it is also one of the smallest in the group. The largest folded option is the UPPAbaby G-Luxe, making it a poor choice if space is limited, and the Baby Jogger City Mini 2 is the heaviest (19.3 lbs), which could prove to be prohibitively heavy to carry for some parents or distances. It is undoubtedly a high weight for an umbrella stroller, though in fairness, it isn't marketed as one.
Ease of Use
Ease of use encompasses your daily experience and the features that make a product easier to use or potentially versatile. A stroller that performs well for ease of use usually has useful and thoughtfully designed features and conveniences.
Parents usually find that options with better results in this metric are good for a wider variety of activities or simply make life easier when using them. Having an ample sunshade or larger storage could translate to shopping or an unexpected trip to a farmer's market. Alternatively, a quick fold can make a stroller better for commuting when speed and space are typically prized over bells and whistles. Depending on your specific goals using your umrbella stroller, this metric could be important to your final decision.
Fold and Unfold
Lightweight strollers should be quick to fold and straightforward to operate. While a compact fold is essential, executing the fold quickly and without complications is often just as important. We favor products that fold with one hand and fewer steps. Strollers that lock automatically or stand on their own also earn extra points.
The Baby Jogger City Mini 2 and the Britax B-Lively are some of the easiest to fold, requiring only one hand and a quick pull. Better still, they unfold almost by themselves and pop open so quickly you're ready to go in no time. There is a reason the City Mini 2 is the stroller of choice to rent in Walt Disney Parks. The UPPAbaby Minu is also easy to fold and creates a compact package of thirds. The hardest strollers to fold are the UPPAbaby G-Luxe and G-Lite that require two hands with multiple steps and can be harder to do if you're rushed or flustered (think crying baby and impatient commuters).
Several of the umbrella options have double action brakes that require pressing two pedals for brake engagement. We worry that parents will forget or intentionally skip both pedals, which could lead to preventable accidents or injuries. We prefer single action brakes that only require one pedal to set. Good brakes should be easy to set and release and pain-free to sandal wearing feet. Color-coding is also a plus for quick glance confirmation. The brakes should engage without sticking or feeling locked when they aren't. The best brakes in this review are on the BabyZen Yoyo+ with one pedal that has plenty of foot room and is a press to set and release. The Britax B-Lively, UPPAbaby Minu, and Zoe XL1 Best v2 are also easy to use. The Kolcraft Cloud Plus, and Summer Infant 3D lite have the worst brakes with double action brakes that are very stiff compared to the competition.
Most of the products offer some type of storage, how much, and where are the main differences. Some have a traditional under-seat storage bin, but they vary widely in size, weight capacity, and ease of access.
The Baby Jogger City Mini 2 has the biggest basket in this group (though the crossbar somewhat inhibits access), while the UPPAbaby Minu has the highest weight allowance of 20 lbs. Some strollers have pockets located on the back of the canopy, like the BabyZen Yoyo+, and the pocket is good for convenience items like smartphones and keys.
While all of the products offer a sunshade, some have small shades, many without peek-a-boo windows. The GB Pockit has the tiniest shade providing only direct overhead protection with no front or side benefits. Alternatively, some of the strollers have giant shades with exceptional coverage, even for a reclining passenger. The largest canopy belongs to the ZOE XL1 BEST v2, which creates a virtual cave for the passenger. This canopy includes a zip-open panel and mesh peek-a-boo window with a Velcro cover.
The photos above show the varying sizes of canopies in this review. From left to right, they are the flat shade on the GB Pockit, the medium canopy on the BabyZen Yoyo+, and the giant shade of the ZOE XL1 BEST v2.
All of the products in the review have 5-point harnesses. Five points are the safest design because the two extra points coming from the shoulder restraint straps help keep children from slipping out, or falling out should the stroller tip over. We consider how difficult the straps are to adjust for height and correct fit and how hard the buckle is to use. We also include whether or not the product has an adjustable crotch strap, and if the lowest shoulder height will work for smaller babies.
We believe parents are more likely to use a harness every time if it is easy. The UPPAbaby G-Luxe (above left) and the UPPAbaby Minu have the easiest harness and buckle to use, while the Maclaren Techno XT (above right) buckle is so hard that even two hands didn't feel adequate. Some of the harnesses are easy to adjust for size, but the height level of the shoulder straps is more challenging. The BabyZen Yoyo+ has a very easy to use harness.
A reclining seatback and adjustable leg rest are useful features to keep passengers comfy. Napping and being comfortable can be the difference between a successful journey and a disaster of epic proportions. Unfortunately, finding a comfortable seat is harder than you'd think when it comes to lightweight strollers. Some of the contenders offer a reclining seatback but lack an adjustable leg rest, a few include both, and some don't have either. Many of the recline angles are shallow (almost non-existent) and not as nap-worthy as others. Depending on the sort of trip you are going to take, a straightforward option with no comfort features may suffice, but if you're going to the zoo for the whole day, the trip will be much easier if your little one can snooze as the day progresses.
The adjustable leg rest on the Mountain Buggy Nano (above left) provides additional legroom for nappers, but the zipper side reclines adjustment on the Inglesina Net (above right) doesn't increase the recline angle enough for comfy napping and is only marginally better than sitting upright.
The Baby Jogger City Mini 2 and the Britax B-Livey have the most comfortable seats in the review, though the UPPAbaby G-Luxe has the deepest recline and adjustable leg rest, a rare find in this type of stroller. If your trips could last for hours, then a comfortable seat is a must and may mean you need to sacrifice features like lighter weight to get one. The Inglesina Net has the lowest score for this metric with upright seating, disappointing (or non-existent) recline, and no real leg rest. However, if your outings are short and finding the absolute smallest stroller is the most critical factor, then these options could be winners for your needs.
This stroller type offers few features for infants and fails to provide the level of support and protection we think babies lacking head and neck control need. Unless the stroller accepts an infant car seat, we don't think you should use them for little ones under six months. Ever. For safety, always keep an eye on your baby and regularly check to ensure the position and adjustment of the harness are correct.
Car Seat Compatibility
Only a few of the lightweight options are compatible with infant car seats. For the most part, this stroller category isn't known for infant capability, so it isn't a strike against them, just a bonus if they do. The Britax B-Lively, the Baby Jogger City Mini 2, UPPAbaby Minu, and the Mountain Buggy Nano all accept infant car seats with additional adapters. The BabyZen Yoyo+ works with one infant car seat, and the Graco Breaze and the Graco Jetsetter work with the Graco brand seats.
Maneuverability can make or break whether or not you love your stroller. Depending on the journey and the terrain you plan to cover, the product you choose will make a big difference in whether or not you can get where you want to go without frustration. Some of the products were easy to push and turn, while others felt clunky and struggled over grass and gravel.
In general, all of the lightweight options lack superior maneuverability compared to other stroller types, but a few were better than the competition. The Baby Jogger City Mini 2, BabyZen Yoyo+, Britax B-Lively, and UPPAbaby Minu all performed well in our tests for maneuverability. Still, they are much smoother on the flat roads than the grass and gravel.
While we assumed most of the strollers would struggle in the grass and gravel, we were a little surprised that some of them struggle on flat surfaces too. The products that struggle in this metric were those with smaller wheels, wheels with fake tread, and the dual front wheel designs (2 wheels on one leg). Products with single front wheels and the larger wheels performed better overall than most of the others. The hardest stroller to push is the Summer Infant 3D lite. This stroller struggles on the smooth hardwood, and it is difficult to turn with a child in the seat.
These photos show the single front wheels on the BabyZen Yoyo+ (above left), and the dual front wheels of the Summer Infant 3D lite (above right).
For quality, we consider a product's construction, materials, and durability during testing and how they may hold up over time.
The overall look and feel of the materials, design, and performance are an indicator of the quality level of the construction and components. Other considerations include frame flexing, wobbly wheels, exposed fasteners, errant stitching, and loose connections.
The UPPAbaby Minu earned the high score for quality, tying with the Britax Lively, Babyzen Yoyo+ (above left), and the Baby Jogger City Mini 2. These products look good and feel sturdy with little frame flex and limited, if any, manufacturing flaws. The Kolcraft Cloud Plus (above right) has the lowest quality with inferior materials and loose connection points that create more frame flex with a child in the seat. This stroller also has a low price, so this may be a "you get what you pay for" situation.
Ease of Setup
Most of the strollers in our lineup come virtually assembled. Most of the strollers only requiring attaching the wheels, canopies, or sometimes the seat. None of the options require full assembly, but the BabyZen Yoyo+ has more parts and pieces than the competition, so it took more time to unpack and put together than the competitors. Alternatively, the GB Pockit is easy to set up, with an assembly time under two minutes.
After months of use, and extensive testing, we have all the information you need to determine which umbrella or lightweight stroller is the right one for you. In this article, we will share with you what we learned, and give you a better idea of what you might consider, before making a purchase of your own.
Why Buy a Lightweight/Umbrella Stroller?
This type of stroller is normally a secondary product in addition to a standard or jogging stroller. Most parents look to an umbrella stroller when they need a simple, compact, stroller for travel or commuting when the size and weight of a standard stroller just won't work. These products are smaller than other strollers, easier to fold and carry, and relatively lightweight. Most of these products collapse in on themselves like an umbrella, hence the moniker, but a few fold in half or thirds, which often made a more compact package for easier storage in smaller spaces.
In general, this kind of stroller lacks the features of a standard model, which results in a lighter more compact stroller that is not off-road friendly. Alternatively, they are intended primarily for flat surfaces without many obstacles. Most parents purchase this kind of stroller for travel, grandparents, or quick day trip commuting.
The new generation of lightweight strollers has come a long way from the umbrellas of old. Some offer enough features that you might be able to get by using one as a primary stroller. This is especially true if you use an infant carrier and practice babywearing when children are too small to ride in most lightweight strollers. With their storage bins, reclining seats, sun shades, and leg rest, many of the strollers we reviewed can potentially do double duty for parents looking to pare down their purchases, retain space in their homes, or simply save money.
Types of Lightweight Strollers
There are two types of strollers in this category. There is the basic umbrella, which is what most parents have in mind when they look for a compact stroller for travel. Then there are also lightweight models that are smaller than a traditional stroller, but bigger than an umbrella.
An umbrella stroller is small, easy to fold, compact, and easy to transport. These strollers usually have no special features or convenience items, and their main nod to comfort is a canopy. The upside to this type is that they are easy to use, and transport virtually anywhere with ease. The BabyZen Yoyo+ is a great example of this type. It has a smaller sunshade, limited storage, and it folds simply into a compact package that can be easily carried. However, many umbrella style options lack features which makes them less versatile than those with more conveniences. It could be difficult to take longer trips without the storage and comfort that a larger version usually comes with.
The lightweight version is usually lighter than a full-size stroller but offers more than the umbrella style for convenience and comfort. Many of these products include under-seat storage bins, larger canopies with peek-a-boo windows, reclining back pads, adjustable leg rests, and cup holders. These strollers offer more features for comfort and convenience, and some might even be good candidates for an only stroller in a household. These products continue to retain the simplicity of a basic umbrella because they still offer a compact fold, lightweight design, and are easier to transport than their larger standard cousins. Some also offer self-standing and auto-locking features that allow a one-hand fold and easy commuting. These products can provide the best of both worlds riding the fine line between a simple umbrella and a standard sized product. The downside is they are heavier than the basic umbrella and they do take up more space, which makes them harder to transport and store.
The ZOE XL1 BEST v2 is a good example of a lightweight stroller that can double as a standard stroller. It has a storage bin, is adjustable for comfort, fits nicely in a trunk, and can be easily lifted and carried.
In this review, we also include two standard strollers, the Britax B-Lively and the Baby Jogger City Mini 2, as both are relatively lightweight and fold small. While not technically a lightweight stroller, they could do double duty depending on your needs.
We tested and ranked the products in our full review, but it makes sense to say a little about the performance considerations of how these strollers work and what you should look for when making a selection. Our review and tests are designed to illuminate the differences between options, and this information can be used as a tool for sorting and narrowing the field.
The performance of each product and its features vary, but we found consistencies and commonalities that you'll want to think about when purchasing a product of this type, even if it is one not specifically covered in our review.
Size doesn't always matter, but when it comes to umbrella strollers, it is an essential factor for performance and a primary goal for this type of gear. This kind of stroller was originally created because of a size issue. Parents were looking for a small, lightweight, compact stroller that is easy to fold, carry, store, and lift. Size can influence the overall experience of the user and passenger. If a lightweight stroller is too big, it fails to meet the needs of the user and you won't want to use it for travel. If a model is too small, the passenger might find it uncomfortable.
The products we considered range in size from 8.6 to just over 19 lbs. This is a large range. Ten plus extra pounds can be a lot of weight, and if you are carrying a child or other items in addition to the stroller, it could be a deal-breaker. If the stroller is not small enough it doesn't fill the need, if it is too small, it may not be convenient. Much like Goldilocks and the three bears, the real issue is finding the model that is just the right size for you.
How Many Wheels?
One thing most of the strollers in this category have in common is the dual front wheels design. This design has two front wheels on each front leg. Most of the models that share this design performed poorly in our maneuverability tests. The dual front wheel design has trouble with changes in terrain, veering off-course for random bumps, and getting stuck in deeper gravel or grass. The products that performed the best in maneuverability did not have this design, so we are at a loss as to why it seems to be so common.
Interestingly enough, several strollers in our review did not have the dual front design, instead, they have single wheels on each leg. A clear indication that the dual wheel design is one you should think twice about.
The BabyZen Yoyo+, Editors' Choice winner, has only two wheels and rolled better than most of the competition. In the top products only the Britax B-Lively and the Baby Jogger City Mini 2 sport the dual wheel design on the front, but they have a trike design instead of two legs in front they only have one. This helps them manage smaller spaces easier and improves their overall maneuverability. In general, it appears as though performance increases when the number of wheels decreases. While it may not be true of each model, it is true for this kind of gear as a whole, so it is worth some consideration when looking at options.
Each stroller has some kind of braking mechanism, and many of them are similar in design. Weeding out which is which, or what to look for can be difficult. We discussed factors like ease of use and foot friendliness, but given the importance of this topic, it still merits a mention in the performance consideration section when sorting through strollers and deciding what to buy.
The single-action brakes of the BabyZen Yoyo+ are the easiest brakes to use, and the double-action brakes of Kolcraft Cloud Plus (above) are one of the most difficult to use in our tests.
In general, the strollers that have a single action are the easiest to use. Models that require setting two different pedals, or double action, might suffer from user error over time, as parents become complacent and fail to engage both brakes. The products that have one pedal to engage and one to disengage, sometimes with a color code or illustration to differentiate one from the other, are simpler and easier to use.
While we would all like to believe that everyone will religiously set brakes on any stroller their child is a passenger in, we also can't argue with the notion that if something is difficult to use, people may refrain from using it. The bottom line is, if it is easier to use, you will be more likely to use it and use it correctly. All the brakes in our tests worked, however, the method for using them is different, and thus the resulting compliance is also likely to be different. Pressing one pedal is easier than two, pressing a different pedal to disengage is easier than lifting up a pedal with the top of your foot, and so on. The brakes that get used, are the ones that are simple and straightforward, that can be operated quickly. It doesn't matter how fantastic a brake system is, if it doesn't get used, it can't do its job.
Whether or not the stroller you purchase is easy to use and meets your needs is a big performance consideration. Just because a stroller has the features you are looking for, doesn't mean it does them well. Every model in our review came with a sunshade, but not all the shades are SPF rated, or even big enough to protect smaller riders. Some attach to the backrest and give side protection, like the Maclaren Techno XT (below left) while others are more or less an overhead feature letting the sun in the sides like the GB Pockit (below right). It is important that features work the way the maker and user intend, otherwise there is little point in having them except to check the box in a comparison chart.
There are many features that can impact the versatility of the item. Having multiple features can be a plus, if the features work well and are thoughtfully designed. It isn't enough to count the number of features or the types of features, instead, you should consider if the feature works as it should, adds versatility, and is done well. If these things don't hold true, then the feature is something that may look good on paper but will frustrate you in real life.
Narrowing the Field
When you decide it is time to add a lightweight stroller to your baby gear, we suggest you narrow the options by first taking a look at the following considerations.
Location, Location, Location
First, consider where you plan to use your lightweight stroller. Will it be a city dweller used primarily in the concrete jungle? Or will you be pushing it across a greenbelt taking it to the park? Are you looking for a stroller to get through the airport, or will you be trying to survive the Sunday rush at the zoo? How you intend to use the stroller, what locations you will frequent, and the kind of ground you will cover should influence which stroller you decide to buy.
If you live in the city and need an agile stroller for getting places quickly, and convenient folding for utilizing public transport, then a more compact stroller with fewer features is the right fit. The Inglesina Net or BabyZen Yoyo+ can be carried hands-free, are light enough to lug for miles and folds easily. However, if you envision using your new stroller for a day at the park, followed by a quick trip to the farmers market on the way home, then the Net is unlikely to offer enough features or comfort to shine and the Yoyo+ might be a better fit.
Knowing how you will use the stroller can be the difference between finding a really cool product that fails to meet your needs, and buying a "just the right size" fit. There is no one perfect answer to this question, just a personal answer. Don't be taken in or wooed by a flashy design or awesome engineering, if the stroller doesn't meet your needs, you'll be unhappy. Instead, be honest about how you will use the product, this will drive which stroller you look for and thus narrow the field significantly early in the shopping process. You may find you fall somewhere in the middle of the extremes of a minimalist user looking for a quick trip through the airport, and the all-day user who needs every feature under the sun to make it through a long day; do not despair, there is a stroller out there for you as well. Luckily there are so many to choose from that no matter what you want, or your budget, there is something that will work for you.
The next thing to think about is how long will you be using this product each time you leave your house. Will you be taking quick trips or all-day treks to run errands? Many of the products we reviewed have features and nods to comfort that become increasingly important depending on the length of your average trip.
If you expect little passengers to sit calmly in a stroller for hours, it is a good idea to consider a stroller with an adjustable back and leg rest so they can nap or at least get cozy. The Mountain Buggy Nano has both features and a large enough canopy to offer coverage to sleeping passengers. Looking for even more? The Baby Jogger City Mini has large under-seat storage and pockets on the back of the canopy. Essentially, the further you plan to go, or the longer you plan to be out, the more features you want to look for, and the more conveniences you are going to need in order to make the trip easy for both parent and child. However, if you plan to be back in a jiffy, then the City Mini might feel like a cumbersome stroller with too much going on and overkill for that kind of journey.
Luckily, there are great options no matter what your intended journey looks like. If you are making a quick trip, and are on a budget, the Inglesina Net might be right for you. With no recline or other nods to comfort, and limited storage, it gets the job of strolling done at minimum weight for a friendly price. If you need more features to last the duration then the Baby Jogger City Mini 2 or Britax B-Lively have the comfort adjustments and storage that can get the job done in a way the Inglesina never could.
Once you determine what kind of travel you'll do, and the duration of the trips you'll take, it is important to look at how often you will use the product before you outgrow it. You might be looking for a stroller to use multiple times a week, or you might be making a purchase just for one trip or use at Grandma's house. How often you plan to use your new stroller should influence your decision and further narrow the field.
For some parents, it can be hard to justify all the bells and whistles, or even an inflated price tag, if the product is only going to be used a few times. The inconvenience of not having storage or a reclining seat might be justifiable if you only plan to use the product once at Disney World. But if you plan to use it regularly, it may be worth investing in something with more features, or a product that is better quality, in order to get the longest possible use without frustration. Either way, it is hard to ignore the truth behind how often a stroller will be used when you think about which product to buy.
If you are only going to use the stroller once, then getting a cheaper model, that scored well, might be all you need. Purchasing the cheapest stroller, no matter how poorly it scored, is probably not the best approach because poor performance and frustration will still be a problem even in a one time use. On the other hand, getting the top of the line rig, with every convenience known to man would certainly be overkill, and an unnecessary strain on your wallet.
Your budget might be your first consideration, or it may not be a consideration at all. But it should be something you consider when narrowing the field of options to find your right fit in lightweight strollers. Once you know where you will use it, how long your passenger will be in it, and how often it will come out of the closet, you will likely be looking at 2 or 3 possibilities for purchase. The remaining products in your list might have similar prices, or the prices might swing from one extreme to another.
Luckily this category of products has a budget for just about every parent, and it even offers some potential strollers that can save you even more money by doing double duty between buying a standard stroller and a true umbrella. If budget is a real concern, you might look at some of these products in order to save even more. Choosing to make do with one product instead of two might also change the allotted budget you set aside for this kind of stroller, which might allow you to make a more expensive purchase knowing you are still saving overall by reducing the number of items you buy.
We took these strollers through the city and parks to see how they compared to one another in day-to-day ordinary use. The hands-on testing gave us lots of information about each product and how well they perform in real-world scenarios. Some of the products looked good on paper but failed to impress on the road. Others were beautiful or innovative but seemed clunky or difficult to use. In addition, to be thorough, we also performed a series of controlled tests in our lab to test and compare specific elements of performance in a side-by-side manner.
In the end, we defined specific tests to look at key performance metrics. These ranged from the ease of using the safety harness, to pushing products across the grass, gravel, dirt, and even curbs. This gave us the information we needed to rate the products based on a combination of actual use and detailed analysis, as opposed to speculation and manufacturer specifications.
Testing Weight and Folded Size
Weight and folded size were determined by taking our own measurements of the products, as opposed to relying on manufacturer specs. This way we could ensure that all the products were rated equally against each other by using the same scale for weight and the same measuring methods. Products were weighed using a fully assembled stroller with all the parts, and measured with the same measuring device by the same person. The weights and measurements were then compared against each other to determine scores. The smaller and lighter strollers earned higher scores in this metric.
Testing Ease of Use
For ease of use we reviewed and compared some of the features and convenience items included with each product. Points were earned for nice size sun shades, peek-a-boo windows, cup holders, storage bins, harnesses, adjustable leg rests and reclining back pads.
Some products didn't offer much in this category, while others had all the bells and whistles. Products were compared to each other and we looked at who had the largest storage options and the biggest canopies. Who had convenient easy to use storage, and which bins were blocked with awkwardly placed stabilizing crossbars. Strollers were rated against one another so users can get a good idea of how they compare as opposed to what they offer. Things like how far back the recline feature went and if there was a leg rest adjustment helped to differentiate between models and widen the gap in their scores.
Each product was put through a series of strolling tests on different surfaces and environments to assess their agility and maneuverability under normal circumstances as well as under duress. We pushed them two-handed and one-handed over flat concrete and hardwood, grass and gravel, and up curbs, to determine which products had the mettle where it mattered with wheels on the ground. The important part of being a product in this category is the ability to move well in tight spaces and crowded locations. Hard surface ease is a must, but moving on various terrains is a bonus worth considering. We rated the products against each other for which did the best on each surface. The products that were easiest to push or turn earned higher marks, those that did well on different surfaces also scored higher. Those that struggled with turns or had trouble with transitions scored lower.
Quality was determined by our general overall experience with each product and how they compared to each other. We looked at items like fabric weave, stain or water repellent properties, our ability to cause snags, and how well the stitching was performed and it was fitted to the frame nicely. We considered frame materials, connection points and whether or not the frame had flex under pressure or handlebars that seemed burdened by their job. The wheels were also reviewed, and we looked for wheels that were made with quality materials, that had worn well through our tests and review period. Quality scores were given by comparing strollers to each other and how well the products held up.
We can't say that there is a single best lightweight stroller for every family. Your needs will be different from those of others depending on how often you'll use the stroller, the duration of your trips, and the kind of places where you'll use your lightweight option. Some of the products are best for quick trips nearby, while others may be more useful for long adventures to the park. Some options have enough features that they can do double duty as your primary stroller, while others are so minimal they're only good for traveling when a lightweight stroller is a must.
There are great options, no matter what your goals or budget. With the details from this review, you can find the right one for your needs. Between the award winners and the high-ranking products, there is an option or two that can meet your needs. Once you identify your wants and needs, you can confidently choose the right stroller for your little travel companion.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz