When considering an umbrella stroller, obvious factors come into play: You want something that is light weight, compact and easy to transport. Often times this is your second stroller for quick errands or for a special trip.
Many parents unfortunately choose a product that has shabby quality and it breaks down right in the middle of your Disneyland vacation. A good rule of thumb is to budget at LEAST $60 to get something decent.
So that leaves the question – what about the higher-end umbrella strollers? What features and benefits are offered to justify spending $200 or more? Let’s take a look at the main factors.
1. Wheels & Suspension
High-end umbrella strollers have all-wheel suspension and larger wheels than their cheaper counterparts. A good suspension system gives your baby a smoother ride over rough terrain, think cobblestones or a boardwalk. Larger wheels, especially if made of softer rubber, absorbs bumps, too. Some brands use ball bearings in the wheels and this improves the steering, making turning effortless and one-handed, a real achievement with separate handles!
2. Plush Padding, Premium Fabrics
One thing for sure when your sits down, he or she’s going to be really comfortable. While quality products have cushy padding, at the same time, there’s full support. UPPAbaby G-series have some of the cushiest padding with REALLY soft liners. Look for padded shoulder straps as well.
Then you’ll have a pop of color when walking down the sidewalk. Your stroller is likely to turn heads with a nice bright color, made of sturdy material that is not going to fade or wear down from weathering. In 2013, Bumbleride will incorporate a green technology into all their fabrics, utilizing 50% recycled material for exterior and 50% bamboo for the interior material.
3. Weather Protection
When you buy a higher-end umbrella stroller, a rain cover usually comes with your purchase. Rain covers are nice not only for rain, but for foggy misty days and for the wind.
Cheaper products will have a small, inadequate sun canopy, prompting many moms to buy a sun shade extender. You won’t need this when you spend a bit more on a better brand. You can expect a huge sun canopy with a visor that comes at least halfway down the seat. Below is the Joovy Groove, which has an amazing canopy that also ratchets down even more from the back to block the lowest sun angles. Many of these brands have a peek-a-boo window at the top, too.
4. Sturdy Frame
A cheap umbrella stroller is rickety and clatters over the sidewalk. Often times it only holds about 30-40 pounds. Enter a quality-made item and the high-grade lightweight aluminum in the frame withstands a 50 to 55-pound weight limit. You should expect a well-balanced stroller that, even when empty, won’t tip back when you hang your purse on the handles.
Now the product weight varies from featherlight to rather hefty, up to 19 pounds. It depends on how important a very light weight is for you, but either way, you will be getting a well-made, sturdy product.
5. Ergonomic Comfort
Better umbrella strollers are actually comfortable to push. The handles are high enough for the tallest parents not to hunch over and even for most petite parents to feel comfortable with. The handles themselves are foam covered for a flexible grip. The high handles provide enough clearance to allow for a natural stride and you won’t kick the back.
Little extras that make baby more comfortable, too. A few higher-end umbrella strollers have a sling-type seat, with a hammock-like design; the Maclaren Volo comes to mind. But most of your choices will have a supported backrest. Look for an adjustable leg rest to prop up baby’s legs so they don’t dangle.
What is your criteria when choosing an umbrella stroller? Would you spend more for these extra features?