Best Umbrella Stroller 2021
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|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 lightweight stroller with one of the best maneuverability performances in the review. The Yoyo+ is a dream to push and turn with better wheels than most of the competition; plus, it has upgraded bearings! With a stylish look and attention to detail, the Yoyo+ is everything it promises to be and arguably more. This stroller folds into thirds, making it compact and easy to carry for enjoyable on-the-go use. The Yoyo+ has many popular features parents want and enough functionality for fun on-the-town, making it an excellent selection for city folks.
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 impressively lightweight and relatively smallInglesina Net earned a top score for weight and folded. It is nicer quality than much of the similar contenders of this style stroller in its price range. The Net excels at minimalism with a mesh breathable seat, slight recline, and traditional umbrella fold that stands by itself. This smaller option even includes a storage bin that is large enough for a few supplies (not always included in a true umbrella option), and the canopy is adequate for pleasant weather.
This budget lightweight option is one of the least expensive in this review. While it lacks many bells and whistles, it still has everything you'll want for a mid-day stroll or most tourist attractions. The Net is not a candidate for a primary stroller, or longer trips, as it lacks significant storage and many features for comfort, but it is a great option for travel and is easy to carry and tuck away. This straightforward umbrella stroller gets the job done without emptying your wallet or causing excessive frustration.
Read review: Inglesina Net
Best for Everyday Use
Baby Jogger City Mini 2
The Baby Jogger City Mini 2 is a heftier lightweight stroller with a weight of 19 lbs. However, it is a great everyday stroller that is easy to use and nicer quality than some of the competition. Its features and overall performance make it a potential one-and-done selection for some parents on a budget who don't plan to go off-road or job. This City Mini 2 is heavy and larger than the traditional umbrella contender, but it has everything you'll need for most trips, including a quick, compact fold, making it feel like a small well-equipped strolling machine. The City Mini 2 is easy to push, has a large canopy, and folds into a slim package. It has a near-flat recline for restful napping, a large storage bin, and a design that comes together in a sturdy, practical choice that is also compatible with a variety of infant car seat carriers.
This stroller is one of the heaviest in the umbrella/lightweight lineup, making it a poor choice if you need to carry it regularly or for longer durations. Plus, it isn't the smallest, so it won't fit in tight spaces like the overhead bin. However, we think the City Mini 2 can do most things and potentially fill two needs in a single stroller, saving money, hassle, and time. We think it is a good choice for parents who don't need the smallest or lightest stroller but still want a relatively light option that can do double the work to save some money.
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 team for 9 years and has single-handedly assembled and tested more strollers than potentially anyone on the planet, with over 435 stroller reviews under his belt across multiple categories. Senior Review Editors, Wendy Schmitz (mother of 2), and Abriah Wofford complete the team. Wendy has been part of the stroller testing team since 2014 and Abriah since 2016.
We purchase each competitor for hands-on, side-by-side testing in our in-house lab and the real world. Each stroller is assembled on-site and put through tests for weight and folded size, maneuverability, quality, ease of use, and more. Families then use strollers in the real world to gather additional information on how well they perform during regular life.
Jump to: How We Tested Umbrella Strollers
Analysis and Test Results
We put top-ranked lightweight and umbrella strollers through exhaustive testing to determine which competitors are better than the rest. Each option is observed, used, 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.
The weight and folded size metric have the most influence on this stroller style because finding a compact, travel-friendly product is the primary reason parents look for an umbrella product.
Jump to: Buying Advice for Umbrella Strollers
Many of the high-ranking options in our review are fairly budget-friendly. However, for a stroller group that is most likely a backup or secondary stroller for most families, the prices can feel high if your budget is tight or you have listed plans to use it. When selecting a stroller based on value and budget, our price value chart reveals that the Baby Jogger City Mini 2 features a below-average price. It can act as a full-size and lightweight stroller, potentially saving you money by making fewer purchases. The Inglesina Net is also an economical choice if you only need it as an occasional secondary stroller for travel.
Weight and Folded Size
How much a stroller weighs and how small it can fold is what makes or breaks a lightweight stroller. The most critical aspects of this gear type are easy to fold and transport. This kind of product should simplify travel and can quickly fold or store at your destination or on public transportation. A few of the products in our lineup are kind of heavy, which makes them more of a burden to carry. Others are lightweight but are too long for compact trunks when folded. If you're looking for a traditional umbrella option, this metric is the one to watch when deciding which stroller to buy.
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 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 umbrella 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 which 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, and UPPAbaby Minu 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 that provides 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 photos above show the varying sizes of canopies in this review. From left to right, they are the flat shade on the GB Pockit and the medium canopy on the BabyZen Yoyo+.
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 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 shoulder straps' height level 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 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 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).
We consider a product's construction, materials, and durability during testing and how they may hold up over time for quality.
The overall look and feel of the materials, design, and performance indicate 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 what we learned and give you a better idea of what you might consider before purchasing 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 a standard stroller's size and weight 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.
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. Still, 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 can easily 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 user's needs, 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 terrain changes, 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. However, 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, 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 with 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. If it is easier to use, the bottom line is 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 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). Features must 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.
Many features 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 looking 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 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 you will 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 will need 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 better quality product 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. 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 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. Also, to be thorough, we performed a series of controlled tests in our lab to test and compare specific performance elements 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 instead of speculation and manufacturer specifications.
Testing Weight and Folded Size
Weight and folded size were determined by taking our own measurements of the products instead of relying on manufacturer specs. This way, we could ensure that all the products were rated equally against each other 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
We reviewed and compared some of the features and convenience items included with each product for ease of use. The strollers earned points for ample 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. The products were compared to each other, and we looked at which had the largest storage options and the biggest canopies, which 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 instead of what they offer. Things like how far back the recline feature went and a leg rest adjustment helped differentiate between models and widen the gap in their scores.
We put each product 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 maneuvering 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 strollers that were easiest to push or turn earned higher scores. 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 flexed 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