Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Stroller Wars

I have found myself inadvertently on the quest for the perfect stroller for two kids under 2. I never imagined myself to be "that person" with a different stroller all the time, but I can honestly say that I have had (gasp) SIX strollers in the last TWO years. Okay, so let's break this down and see how it started and how it's ended (with a little review of each stroller).

Stroller 1: Evenflo Single Stroller $60
When I found out I was pregnant with Little Man I knew that I was going to be buying my own stroller (my parents
and my in-laws already had other gifts picked out) so I chose an Evenflo stroller that would accept the Evenflo hand-me-down car seat that I received from my father-in-law. It was inexpensive and it looked terrific. I can't remember the model name, but it was a beautiful beige with a checkered print on the hood. I actually got compliments on it! It cost about $60.00 on Amazon. It worked really well and stains came out of it easily. My car seat clicked in well and it strolled around isles with ease. It also had a nice parent console with a cup holder.

On the negative side, it didn't fold super compactly, the wheels squeaked no matter how much WD-40 was on it, and it seemed like the wheel was bent easily. It really served us well for his first year of life.

Where is it now? I gave it to my sister-in-law who is expecting her first baby. It still looks great and has a lot of life left.

Stroller 2: Jeep Overland Jogging Stroller $80 (after coupon and sale)
My husband is a public servant and his physical fitness is very important to ensure he stays safe on the job. So before Little Man was born my husband was absolutely, positively sure that he would want to go jogging with Little Man to stay in shape. Thus, we got this stroller. It was so comfortable for my boy (once his head was steady enough to be in it), it had a neat "Music on the Move" console that you could plug your mp3 player into for you and baby to listen to some nice tunes, and it glided beautifully over bumps and grass. Also, the fabric was very breathable and released stains easily with minimal effort. And how often did my husband take it jogging? Zero. He was "too tired" or it was "too late" so he never went jogging at all, let alone with the stroller.

So I took it upon myself to take it when we went to the Denver Zoo or on walks to the store for groceries. I ended up not using it as often as I would have liked because of the fixed wheel. While a necessity for jogging, just walking around with a fixed wheel is very cumbersome as I rarely just needed to go straight. I had to pick up the entire front end to turn the stroller. And this thing is not light. Also, it folded up largely because of the large wheels and was very heavy to get in and out of the car. It ended up taking up all of the trunk of my Jeep Liberty because we don't have a garage to store these things in.

Where is it now? When I found out I was pregnant with Little Miss I knew we'd need a double and put it up on CraigsList for $100. It sold immediately, praise God.

Target Umbrella Stroller $19
When visiting my Mom in Texas she had one of these little umbrella strollers and it was handy, especially compared to the hulk of a jogging stroller that we had at the time. So when we got home we decided to pick one up for quick trips (or any trip where I wanted to turn, really).

This stroller was a very cheap price and is just that; cheap. It is uncomfortable to push because the handles are so low down, the straps are incredible difficult to loose or tighten, one of the wheel breaks broke almost immediately.

However, it is small and takes up nearly zero space in our trunk, is easy to open and fold, and is comfortable for my son. So it ended up being a wash.

Where is it now? In our storage unit. My husband wants to hold onto it for travel or if our other stroller ever breaks. Plus, I couldn't, in good conscience, give this to anyone.

Graco Quattro Tour Duo $100
After selling the Jeep Jogger I immediately bought this stroller off of CraigsList for a great price (the exact amount I sold the jogger for!!). It was all I thought I wanted. It had comfortable seats, two cup/snack holders for each kid (and two for the adults, too), a one hand fold, automatic lock, large basket, and was relatively easy to turn. It actually folded quite small in comparison to other tandem strollers I tested in the stores. Quite a bit smaller, but it was still large and took up most of the trunk in my Jeep Liberty. However, when we traded in the Jeep for our Honda Odyssey minivan, it fit perfectly into the storage well behind the third row of seats with plenty of room for other things. I was only 2 months pregnant when I bought this - I was a bit excited for my second baby :) So we had about eight months of strolling my son around in this solo and I loved it. It held so much and it was so comfortable for my son. Plus, the handlebars were at a comfortable height to allow my husband to push it around. It was heavy, but I didn't have a problem getting it in and out of the car while 9+ months pregnant. What a relief that was! So, what could possibly be the problem? Why would I want to get rid of this wonderful stroller?

There are some negatives. The canopies aren't very large, they do shade adequately, but there are no pickaboo windows to see how the kids are doing. There are clear panels on the sides of the canopies, but you have to be next to them to see thru it. Also, there is a mesh "window" in the back canopy, but you still can't really see thru it clearly; you just see a figure. When Little Miss finally came and we put her in the stroller in her car seat (a Graco SafeSeat) it fit well, but Little Man couldn't recline when he was tired. Not a huge problem, but an inconvenience. Also right around this time my son decided that he did not want to ride in a stroller. He was a big 1 1/2 year old and he wanted to walk! That combined with Little Miss wanting to be held meant I was constantly pushing around an empty stroller with just a diaper bag in it. The breaks were also a bit difficult. You had to get them in the grooves just right in order of them to truly lock. The wheels squeaked a lot and was both frustrating and embarrassing. It was seriously louder than it needed to be. Even with all of that I loved this stroller and I believe it to be the best tandem out there.

Where is it now? Well, this is sad for me. I actually listened to my husband's complaints about Little Man always walking and the stroller taking up space so I sold it. I really thought that was what he wanted. I sold it on CL for $90. He then told me it was "just talk" and he didn't care what kind of stroller we have. I was very sad.

Joovy Caboose Sit and Stand $100
When my hubby was talking about my son always walking and daughter always wanting to be held I came to the natural conclusion of a sit-n-stand. I thought it would take up less room in the trunk while also providing two "seats" if either child decided to sit, and a fun standing platform for a wiggly toddler. This was a huge mistake. I exchanged a bunch of kids items at a consignment store for this new, last year's model stroller. So it didn't really cost me anything (thank The Lord) due to the exchange but I have found myself wishing I hadn't listened to my husbands complaints.

Let's start with the positives. It was a bright orange color that my Little Man loved (I let him pick it, there were 3 other colors there), and the one time he stood on the back he said "weeeeeee". It is relatively easy to steer and is much thinner than our tandem, so although it took up more space in our trunk lengthwise, it took up much less width wise. The canopy is also great. It is large and can easily be maneuvered to block any sun. It doesn't have a window, but it isn't really needed because it sits up to high off the seat that I can see the top of his head. Also the stroller itself is much smaller than most sit and stand types.

Now for the negatives. It has an infant car seat adapter that is easy to use, but if you do there is zero room for your older child to seat in the back "seat"; same thing if the front seat is reclined at all. It only has 2 seat positions for the front seat, straight up and slightly reclined, not enough to be comfortable for a sleepy child. The seat is hard and uncomfortable. The straps on both seats seem flimsy. It is very difficulty to get up on a curb due to the odd center of gravity on this thing. The tray table is useless, it's cup holder is very small and it is difficult to get a child in and out of it with it attached. My son finds the standing platform scary and only rode it once happily. The basket is practically non-existent and difficult to access. There are no cup holder for the adults. I cried a little after using it the first time and thought "What have I done!!!!". This was my only true regret of a stroller. Also, my son and daughter both decided they wanted to ride in a stroller shortly after selling the tandem and purchasing this. Of course, right?

Where is it now? In storage with the umbrella stroller. We decided to keep it to try again in a year and see if Little Man will be more inclined to ride like that and less scared. We'll see.

Bumbleride Indie Twin $225 (we ended up paying $0)
After doing a lot of research, looking at every review for every double stroller, and testing doubles in store, this stroller became my dream stroller. Barring a miracle lottery win there was no way I was going to be able to get this $700+ stroller. It just wasn't worth spending money we didn't have on my crazy stroller obsession. But I did find myself praying that one would just fall into my lap. I decided that a side-by-side stroller was right for us and this one would just be perfection. Lo and behold I was perusing CraigsList (as I do daily) looking for a double when I saw the most beautiful words I have ever seen on this site "Bumbleride Indie Twin--$225". Any high quality double stroller has been selling on there for $500+ even at a few years old. And those have been snatched up in a days time! The only problem? It was a town an hour away and my kids were napping. It could be taken before we even got them into the car.

So we called my mother-in-law who lives just north of this town. Luckily for us she was driving back from a gambling anniversary trip to the mountains and would be passing by that town at any moment. She was very kind in picking it up for us. We went to her work the next day and looked in awe at the stroller that is in nearly perfect condition. It was hardly used. I tried to pay her, but she wouldn't take it. I guess they won some money and gave it as a gift to us. Divine intervention for a stroller? I think all things are possible with God and you better believe I was saying my thank-you's to Him all day and night. Okay, on to the positives/negatives. Just for reference, this is the 2008 model that you can still find for sale online for $600, but is not currently made and Bumbleride has made many improvements to this stroller since then.

It maneuvers like a dream! I can push it one-handed and it turns on a dime. It can get up curves ,over grass, through rubble and I barely notice. It is beautiful with very high quality fabrics which are also comfortable and easy to remove stains on (there was a chocolate stain that I removed). It has HUGE shades with attached storage bags to hold all the mommy-daddy essentials. Plus, it has great pickaboo windows. Both kids seem very comfortable and like to be able to see each other, too. Also, the basket is very large and can fit a lot. It doesn't take up much more space than the Joovy in the trunk, but is still large. Also, it came with the foot muffs that now have to be purchased separately and will be wonderful for Colorado falls and winters. It also feels lighter than the Graco tandem stroller when pushing and storing.

Negatives, there had to be some! The HUGE canopies can't be maneuvered too far down so sometimes you cannot block the sun well. There are no cup holders for anyone. I put the Bumbleride snack pack on my Christmas wish list for the kids. Then they'll have a place for drinks and snacks. I still need to figure out the parent part. The fold is seriously a 3 step process which although easy, is a bit time consuming. Plus, it doesn't have a lock to keep the stroller together when folded (Bumbleride fixed this on the newer models). Other than that, it is everything I thought it would be!

Hopefully that ENDS my battle for the best stroller. My husband says it is over and we have won. Lord, I hope so!

What about you? Any stroller battles to share?

3 comments:

  1. Well, I bought the Graco Duo Quattro and it's just sitting in my apartment waiting to be used after my baby boy arrives. I've heard lots of good things about it but like you mentioned (and I already knew this) I'm a little concerned about not being able to recline my daughter's seat when the baby's carseat is in the stroller. I hope it won't be a big deal for us though.

    That Bumbleride stroller looks and sounds really cool! I don't expect anything like that to just fall into my lap though. I'm just curious if it fits through normal size doorways when you're out shopping. I know some of the tandem side by side strollers can usually fit through a reg. doorway.
    That's really cool that you found one so cheap and that you ended up not even paying for it. I love Craigslist! And that was really nice of your MIL to buy it for y'all. :)

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  2. I found my Duo Quattro on Craigslist too, by the way. I spent weeks looking for the best price on Craigslist and I think I got ours for just $150 along with the matching Graco car seat. Other people were asking well over $200 for the same thing.

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  3. K ~ The Bumbleride is really cool! We've taken it everywhere, including the mall and grocery stores, without a problem. It fits thru every door and down every aisle that I've tried. It's actually more narrow than most side-by-sides and it's barely wider than the graco.

    And I think I could have sold it for more, but I didn't want to sell it for more than I bought it for and I thought someone out there could use a good deal. I hope they appreciated it :)

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