Strollin’ in The Peg: Choosing a 4 Season Stroller
Google ‘baby strollers’ and you’ll find the options are never-ending. Safety, convenience, weight, durability, maneuverability, collapsibility, the list goes on. Features and jargon can be overwhelming and some of the price points are downright scary. As reasonably experienced outdoorsy mamas, we dug a little deeper into the stroller world to help you break down important features to look for, especially when taking our Winnipeg weather into account.
Before you overwhelm yourself with every option, think about these two important factors:
- What is your budget?
- What will you mostly use the stroller for?
With strollers on the market that can cost upwards of $1000 or MORE, you should be honest with yourself about how much you are able and willing to spend. If you find your dreams are bigger than your budget, there is always the option of going second-hand, so long as you’re willing to put in some extra time and effort. And please remember: when it comes to all things baby, it can be easy to think that more expensive = better but, that is not always the case.
Once you’ve determined a budget, think about where and what you will use the stroller for. Are you hitting the trails in all kinds of weather or are you more of a fair-weather, sidewalk stroller? Does the stroller need to be easily packed in a trunk for your adventures or will you walk in your area? Do you or your partner go jogging, biking or skiing and will you be doing this with baby? (For more info on running after baby, click here.)
Types of Strollers
Full size stroller: Most strollers we will reference are this type. This includes most single and double strollers, jogging strollers, travel systems and various combinations the different styles.
Umbrella Strollers: With a cost of around $100 or less, these are lightweight strollers used for quick and easy travel and it’s worth noting that this can be a great secondary option if you decide on a stroller that isn’t as pack up-friendly.
Bike-Trailers: Designed to be primarily used behind your bicycle, this style often coverts to a stroller (3 or 4 wheeled) or even a sled by purchasing ski attachments.
What to look for in an outdoorsy stroller.... Good wheels are the key
Wheels are the determining factor on whether or not parents are happy with their stroller in an outdoor setting. There are three key things to look for when it comes to your wheel: size, fill and how many.
If you plan on heading out on rough terrain – ice, snow, gravel, etc. – you should go with a larger, air-filled tire; and even if you don’t plan on jogging, the 3-wheeled jogger style tends to offer the greatest maneuverability. A lower-maintenance but also common fill for larger wheels is foam. These can be lighter than air but may not always ride as smoothly. On the other hand, you’ll never worry about low or flat tires.
Most full-size, 4-wheel strollers come with wheels made of rubber-like plastic, Ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA). This ultra-low maintenance wheel will never puncture and if they’re sturdy, they will last the life-time of the stroller. They tend to offer a bumpier ride and are better designed for smooth and easy terrains. However, not all EVA wheels are created equal, so look for things like size, swivel and sturdiness.
Other features to consider
Beyond stroller and wheel type, there are a few other features you may want to pay attention to. The list is truly endless, so once again, thinking about your budget and lifestyle is the key.
Near the top of the list is whether it accommodates a newborn. Travel systems will come with an infant car seat (bucket seat) that will easily pop out of the stroller and into the car. Some styles come with bassinet beds so very young babies can sleep on the go and others come with car seat adapters (usually purchased after-market). You’ll also find some with seats that recline, but may not be suitable until baby can more or less support their own head, usually around 6-ish months.
On that same token, will it work well for an older baby or toddler? Can it be converted to a double to accommodate additional children? It is common to find strollers that are sold with very few accessories, so it’s good to know much needed add-ons such as car seat adaptors, second seats, etc. will cost.
Lastly, some practical features you may want to look for are:
- Sunshades and/or rain coverage.
- Height of handles, is it comfortable to push if you’re on the taller side?
- Brakes – are they easy to use and sturdy?
- Ease at which it collapses. (Note: If trunk space and collapsibility are really important, most parents find the 4-wheel is usually better.)
- Size, shape and ease of access of storage basket.
- Snack trays, cup holders and other small storage compartments.
Still don’t know where to start? We polled our current participants and here are some of their top recommended strollers:
B·O·B (3-wheel Jogging Stroller)
This stroller delivers a very smooth ride, great on all terrains and the sun/rain shade provides nearly full coverage for baby. Due to its size, parents say it’s a bit bulky and difficult to travel with. Additional accessories like snack trays, weather screen and car seat adaptors are extra. $600-1000, add-ons extra
UPPAbaby (4-wheel full size stroller)
With various models and options, these strollers boast their ease of use: collapsible, compact, easy to maneuver. This stroller does well in moderate, outdoor conditions, with some models outperforming others. The main downside is its price point. $1000+, add-ons extra
Graco Jogger (3-wheel Jogging Stroller)
A more budget-friendly stroller, parents are pleased with the ride of this stroller in all conditions. Snack tray and cup holders are also included and some models offer the complete travel system, making getting baby out of the car and on the go a breeze. The downside, like most jogging strollers, is that it is heavy and harder to collapse and store. $300-500.
Thule, aka Chariot (Bike trailer)
Although often purchased for biking and running, these trailers rate high among outdoorsy mamas, even as strollers. The tires are big and durable and the trailer provides excellent protection to baby from all the elements. Attachments can be purchased for skiing, hiking, biking and more. Double wide models are available so you can use it for multiple children over many years. However, they are large and awkward to collapse, so this is often seen as a purchase in addition to a day-to-day stroller or an umbrella stroller. $1,200-1,500, accessories extra.
-Ashley, Fit Together Stroller Fitness instructor