By now you’re familiar with the Holy Trinity of baby strollers: jogging strollers, umbrella strollers, and, of course, your everyday full-size stroller (in single, or double). And as with most things you use every day, you’re going to want to apply a certain amount of research and thought to expensive strollers. Or, like most everyone in the world, you just want someone to tell you what’s good, swipe the card, and be done with all this bullshit.
First, a few baby stroller criteria to keep in mind before you go shopping (or just hand the keyboard over to your wife):
- Tires: Are you just strolling around the cul-de-sac, or do you need bigger wheel suspension and heartier travel system because you’re often traversing rough terrain?
- Number of Kids: If you think that your family is going to grow, you’ll need a stroller that is capable of expanding. Full-size strollers like the Uppababy Vista will go from an infant bassinet carrier to a double stroller.
- Carrier Adaptable: Can you turn your car seat into a stroller seat? Does it have a reversible seat? Some strollers simply click in. Some need a bunch of extra stroller adapters and will have you crying like you’re the one who needs a nap.
- Storage: Some stroller models are intuitive and have cup holders, plus storage for diaper bags and other baby gear. Some you’re going to need a couple of velcro hooks.
- Folding: With a few exceptions (see below), baby strollers that don’t have one-handed stroller folds aren’t worth your time.
- Safety: It should also have a good record of not collapsing out of the blue or flipping over like a Jeep making a hard U-turn.
Here are the absolute essential strollers. Whether you need the Cadillac of strollers or just a pre-owned Camry, these will cover every type of family configuration.
If you need a stroller for the long haul (two+ kids for five+ years), this stroller is for you. It has front and rear shocks and an easy-to-use parking break. The stroller also comes with a bassinet (huge plus) and you have the option of squeezing a second kid in with an improved Rumble Seat (sold separately). It has a six-position reclining seat and the entire seat can be reversed so your child can face you or the whole wide world. The Vista is heavy, however, weighing in at 25 pounds, so if you have to lug it up steps it may not be the correct choice for you. Otherwise, it’s a luxury stroller that will stand the test of time.
Relatively light (it weighs 16.9 lbs) and easy to maneuver (it folds down simply and also has a handy “infinite recline” that allows you to push the seat all the way down for nap time), this smooth-rolling stroller is another great full-sized option. All-wheel suspension helps it handle a variety of terrain, while the ability to receive a variety of car seats makes it very adaptable.
The 9.5-pound Pockit uses a two-step technique to fold down to about the size of a personal pan pizza. When folded, it self-stands and easily fits into a backpack, which then easily fits into your tiny closet or an airplane’s overhead bin. It can carry 55 pounds of kid and 11 pounds of their gear in the bottom basket. Even better, the new larger Pocket+ model added car seat compatibility (with a GB or CYBEX infant car seat) and a reclining seat back.
Omnio Backpack Stroller
Omnio is a full-sized stroller that doesn’t just fold down into the size of a backpack, but actually becomes one. The same padded six-point shoulder harness used to strap the child in doubles as backpack shoulder straps that allow dad to sherpa the 16.5-pound Omnio around town. The all-terrain, omnidirectional tires roll sideways without having to swivel (making it easier to steer) and pop off ⏤ making it easier to store. It features a detachable all-weather hood with UPF50+ protection, a reclining seat that can be removed for cleaning, a telescoping handle, a zipped main seat pocket, and a central foot brake pedal. It also comes with a handy waterproof travel bag.
Baby Jogger City Tour
Baby Jogger’s City Tour weighs in at a paltry 14 pounds and uses a cool one-handed trifold to shrink itself down to the size of a carry-on bag. The stroller actually comes with a backpack-style travel case for easy transport and/or storage. The City Tour rocks a large UV 50+ canopy with peek-a-boo window, rear parking brake, and an ample underneath basket, not to mention front-wheel suspension and locking wheels. Also, a nice reclining seat.
Take two UppaBaby G-Luxes, put them next to each other, viola! G-Link. The popular umbrella gets a twin, and the 24.5-pound double stroller is an excellent option for anyone pushing a pair. Easy to fold, easy to navigate (even better without kids in it), and according to one Amazon reviewer “Love, love, love that I can recline one seat and put up the netting to create a little bassinet for my infant, while my toddler rides in the other seat.”
Colugo Compact Stroller
Made by Colugo, which uses the Warby Parker model and cuts out the middleman and sell more affordable parenting gear, the Compact is well-priced and weighs a manageable 16 pounds. It can be opened and closed with a swift one-handed motion and breaks down into a compact package that’s simple to slide under a couch. There’s a shoulder strap for easy carrying, a UPF 50+ sunshade, and a removable, machine washable outer layer. It also comes with a rain cover. Designed for kids six months and older who weigh less than 55 pounds, the stroller is sturdy, smooth rolling, and genuinely easy to maneuver. There’s also a genuinely large storage basket that, among other things, fits your, or the sold-separately Colugo, diaper bag.
Half shopping cart, half stroller, the Austlen is perfect for the family that goes to the beach carrying half of Dick’s Sporting Goods’ stock. The extra large space behind the kid can work in a bunch of different configurations, like one that allows you to lug the family luggage (it’s called that for a reason) around the airport without a SmartCart. You might look at this thing and think, “But I already have an SUV,” and it’s a good thing you do. Because you’re going to need a pretty large garage to store this thing.