Saturday, February 13, 2010

stroller envy (reflections one year later)

i'm a huge fan of babywearing. the p-sling was so helpful in the first few months when leon simply wanted to be held all the time. even now we still use it in a hip carry for quick trips (especially in and out of the car) or at crowded places like bars or shops. when he was five months old, i discovered the bloo kangaroo on the baby wearer. it's very similar to the ergo (a soft structured carrier, ssc), but the padding is less bulky, and you can customize the fabric. we have both the kanga-j (secondhand) and the kanga-xt (custom), and both leon and my shoulders can't thank these carriers enough. 

that said, i am obsessed with strollers. i wanted a bugaboo cameleon in the beginning, but the price deterred me. so we bought a new micralite toro on ebay for half its retail price. however, i also fell in love with the mountain buggy swift, which are known for their durability (production has since moved to china, which may or may not have affected the quality, but the new zealand-made strollers have an excellent track record). for some reason i thought i could jog with it, so when magic beans had it on sale for $320 in august, i sprung for one. 

at this point i felt both smug (two strollers for less than the price of a bugaboo!) and dissatisfied. i wanted both a jogger and a stroller that could face both directions. i wanted a larger sun canopy and more storage for grocery trips. i wanted something that had a fully upright sitting position. the toro does this, but it feels unstable in this position. i also wanted something that didn't look worse for wear after just one year (the toro, again). now, the toro has many great features. it's pretty lightweight (18 lbs), folds in a cinch, stands up while folded, goes from upright to fully reclined, and the huge back wheels can go up and down flights of stairs without a problem.

so, most of my stroller issues revolved around the toro. the swift was fine except for the slightly annoying recline mechanism (you loosen straps on either side of the back). we use it for 2-hour walks and trips to the grocery store even though the basket only carries a small bag's worth of food. the toro stays in the car for mall-trips or traveling. and i remain, one year later, obsessed with strollers.

the problem with baby gear is that these babies grow up. if you're going to buy an $800 stroller, you'll want to use it from 6 months at the very latest. i mean, depending on temperament and size, babies often use strollers for 1.5 to 4 years. this is why second-time parents rarely buy expensive baby gear. either the babies are spaced out far enough that you can reuse the expensive stroller, or you have to buy a double. even better, you buy a maclaren and sling the newborn.

babies are like complex math equations with so many variables that you can almost never get it right. yet i can't help trying over and over again to find the perfect stroller for me and leon.

so after one year, this is what i want in a stroller for a very curious, active baby who loves to both face out and look at me:
easily taken up and down stairs
one-handed fold
full recline to upright
solid, sturdy, balanced
one-handed push
options for extra storage (like bicycle panniers)
forward and back facing
large canopy that can fold back to nearly nothing
extendable footrest 
snack tray (i never thought i would want this)

the new orbit baby G2 stroller may be the closest thing right now. we test drove it at magic beans last weekend, and i was pretty satisfied. i have no interest in car-seat strollers (slings and SSCs worked fine for us), so i never bothered looking at the original orbit last year. supposedly you can use the new seat from newborn up, so theoretically i could use the stroller if we had another baby 2-3 years from now. at any rate, i would have to sell one, if not both strollers, to help pay for an orbit G2 ($750). crazy talk, i know. but the clock is ticking. leon is nearly 12 months, which means i either need to get The Stroller or make peace with the fact that it probably doesn't exist anyway.


Jessica said...

the g2 looks amazing! we just settled for a maclaren because there was so much out there - and i couldn't get away from how bulky everything seemed unless you paid over $500 for a stroller. We don't live in a city so walking for transportation is far less for us, if we still lived in a city i think i would have invested in a really good stroller, so i can understand your quest (and frustration) for the perfect stroller.

erica said...

so true, living in a city makes it even more difficult to choose a stroller. as soon as it gets warm, i'm going to do back carries with the kanga, which will help make grocery trips easier.

agoandiga said...

Dear Erica, I completely understand the stroller envy. I felt very much the same way when we bought gear for our first child. By the time we were preparing for our second (our first was 1.5) I had owned a Maclaren, Buzz, Zapp, Teutonia. (Ridiculous, I know). They were all great strollers but I was still pining for the Bugaboo for the same reasons that you are. When our 1st was 1.5 we bought a Cameleon, and then when the 2nd was born we were gifted with a Bee plus buggy board. Needless to say we sold off the others. I can say now that the Bugaboo (both) met our needs perfectly. The customer service is excellent and their warranty is 2 years! Just a note though, the Buzz does push better than a Bugaboo and the Zapp conveniently folds to half the size of a Bee, but the Bugaboo can't be beat in terms of service and flexibility, also the quality of the design and fabric is superior. Our kids are now 4 & 2 and we still use the strollers. Last summer we also picked up a Chariot for bike rides. I highly recommend Bugaboo (not just to justify my cost, but) because it really is a great company and product.

findingzen said...

annoying i just left a big post and lost it.

i wish oban were into carriers. only one he remotely likes is a handmedown Bjorn - because it faces out. i made a moby and a maya and he hates both.

also i find that whenever we are out and about - i usually am never anywhere longer (outside the car) to justify getting him out of the carseat..ESPECIALLY considering he ALWAYS falls asleep in the car. so i wind up lugging the whole damn thing - its annoying.

we have a Bob.

Melissa said...

we have an uppababy vista and love it! it's very comparable to the bugaboo cameleon and a few hundred less. it's a cinch to fold up and has a huge basket which is great for grocery shopping. my cousin has the cameleon. we went on vacation with them and they would struggle getting their cameleon in the car and we would be done in a sec. i really think it's not worth the money and my cousin even said ours was probably better. you should check it out.

melissa said...

i know what you mean about the stroller envy/obsession. we don't live in a big city and use a baby jogger city classic for around the neighborhood. it's not plush, but it works well for bumpy sidewalks and the occasional off-roading. i hate how the seat has virtually no support, though. we also have a maclaren quest and i love it.

but now i'm obsessed with the bugaboo bee. i tend to like things smaller and lightweight, so i worry the cameleon is just too much stroller for me. but boy do i think i could use a bee...

Mona said...

stomach bug and little guys: if Leon gets a bad diaper rahs: it is worth insisting on the prescription fungal cream: the rash will disappear in a couple of hours. Your pedi may say it is not worthed but I think in terms of comfort management, it is a mirachle if the rach ends up being fungal (we had a stomach bug over thanksgiving) Also the triple paste is the way to go: the only one that actually is thick enough to help.

Susana said...

Hi erica, I hope you're still checking comments...I am wondering if you could tell me more about the Micralite. It sounds like you would NOT recommend it? I just sold my bugaboo frog (bought used last year) because I didn't use it enough since I use public transportation a lot. Now we're thinking of getting a Bob so husband can run, and I need to convince him I need my own stroller that is smaller and easy to fold up. My #1 criteria is that baby can ride facing me. I am debating between the Micralite and the new Bugaboo Bee Plus. Any thoughts? Thanks! and PS I am a frequent lurker...I love your updates and I am blessed with a 7-month-old son with a temperament similar to Leon's. Sigh. I hope you are sleeping better now.

erica said...


the micralite seat can't be reversed, which is one of the things i wish it would do, so it may not be an option for you.

things that make it perfect for bumping up and down subway stairs--huge back wheels placed close together (also a tight turning radius), handlebars that are both upturned and a straight bar (excellent grip for stairs), lightweight, super easy to fold, stands upright for rolling (like luggage).

cons include: small sun canopy (although leon prefers it pushed back so he can see everything), short footrest (he's already touching the bottom), not as high quality or luxurious fabrics and materials (both raincovers have ripped in less than a year), narrow seat (leon is skinny. bee might be similar, though)

i'm very intrigued by the Bee+, although the price hike is annoying. we're going to sell the micralite soon, since we really don't need 3 strollers in the house!

Susana said...

Thanks, Erica. For some reason I thought the Micralite DID have a reversible seat. I guess I'm back to the Bee Plus as my only option, I just wish it were out already. We ordered the Bob Revolution last night. Yippee! A new stroller! :)