Buying a Best Strollers is just as complicated as buying a car. All you want to do is take your baby for a walk, but we’re talking about hundreds of different ways that you can push your kid around the block. Out of all of them, we think the Britax B-Agile is the best choice for most parents’ needs.
The B-Agile by Britax is the best all-around standard stroller because it is a top performer in functionality and quality, and costs much less than any stroller of a similar caliber.
1.Britax B-Agile Review
- Designed for serious runners, light, comfortable for baby, front fixed wheel, responsive hand brake, 70 lbs. capacity
- Handlebar not adjustable, accessories are extra, not for tight or crowded places
I have spent the last 5 months obsessing over baby strollers: reading about them, testing them, and stopping random parents on the street to talk about them. There are dozens of websites that discuss strollers, but many of them are vague and unreliable. For example, Good Housekeeping, an otherwise decent source of information for parents, picked the Bumbleride Indie as their favorite stroller…and that stroller was recalled in February 2013. Parenting.com, the website of Parenting magazine and a thundering voice in parent-focused media, also had its favorite stroller recalled back in 2009! Neither sites have updated their reviews to reflect these recalls.
The biggest problem with most stroller reviews is the limited scope. With so many brands available, the “top 10″ lists that are prevalent at parenting sites are so varied that they feel arbitrary in their selections. Even some of the most reliable sources in my research—namely, Baby Gizmo, Baby Gear Lab, and Consumer Reports—had gaps in their coverage, and didn’t do a great job of comparing strollers within categories. So it’s hard to decide on what the right ones are by online research alone.
Nothing beats seeing a stroller in person, and when you’re actively looking for strollers, you realize that you see them everywhere. I know that not every parent’s opinion is the same, but I have stopped a lot (well over a hundred) of parents in the last 5 months to talk about their strollers and what they do and don’t like about them.
And then of course, there’s the testing of them. There’s no way to test every single stroller out there because of the amount of brands, and then models within those brands. After extensive web research, I focused in on the brands that were consistently referenced at the major websites to make sure I got to see them in person. These brands are:
- Phil and Ted’s
- Jeep Explorer
- Baby Jogger
- First Years
The nice thing about these brands is their availability. It helps to see your stroller in person before you get it, and I was able to find these strollers at pretty commonplace stores, like Babies”R”Us. You won’t have to hunt out specialized boutiques to give one a spin of your own.
What To Look For
With over 25 hours of reading and testing, and then who knows how many hours talking to parents on the street, I’ve come across a few clear criteria for what makes a stroller great, which has a lot of overlap with Consumer Reports’ Stroller Buying Guide. Every stroller I considered has the basics down: sturdy wheels, a good canopy for shade protection, a 5-point harness for strapping the baby in, some type of storage for diaper bags, reliable brakes for locking the stroller in place, and the ability to recline so the baby can sit up or lean back. These are non-negotiables in today’s stroller world, although of course they can vary greatly.
For example, lighter strollers tend to have limited storage space, while heavier ones have a lot more room for tucking away bottles, snacks, and diapers. Storage is a bit of a tricky issue with a stroller—sometimes it feels easier to have too many things handy when you’re with your child, rather than too few. But don’t forget, the more you weigh down your stroller with crap (do you really need 5 diapers for a one-hour walk?), the bulkier and clunkier the stroller itself becomes.
Another example: brakes. You need a brake for your stroller, so that when you’re standing around you can lock the stroller in place and not worry about it rolling away on you. This is one of the pivotal safety issues of a stroller, and every stroller I reviewed has good brakes. They wouldn’t be approved without reliable brakes. However, some have separate brakes for each wheel, while others have a single brake for the entire stroller. Truth is, all of these work–the stroller would be immediately recalled if the brakes didn’t work–but I found that it’s much more convenient to have a single brake, rather than both.
But points like storage size and single-wheel or all-wheel brakes, are the nitpicky details. In all my time with strollers, I found that the heart of the matter is in a few key issues. The three variables that will steer your decision the most are how heavy and bulky the stroller is, how much terrain it can handle, and the cost.
You need to be very realistic about your lifestyle to make sure you’re getting the right purchase. Someone who lives on the 5th floor of an apartment building in NYC with a very small elevator is going to want a different stroller from someone who lives at the end of a dirt road in Montana. For example, I live by the beach in San Francisco, which is also near Golden Gate Park, and I love to take my son jogging in our stroller. Clearly, a top priority for us was a tough stroller that could handle sand and trails as well as paved roads. So we went with a jogger, and it’s our go-to stroller. Sure, when we take it grocery shopping it’s a bit bulky, but it still works just fine, and it is the only stroller we use. But for others who might not care about sand and trails, a leaner stroller probably makes more sense.
Cost is a tough issue with purchasing a stroller. There is a wide range of prices, from $100 all the way up through $1,000. This wide range creates a false sense of what a “mid-range” stroller should cost. You’d guess it’s probably somewhere in the middle, around $500 or so. But in truth, the overwhelming majority of strollers are under $500, and in fact, most are closer to $300 and below. Once you cross over $500, there are far fewer options available, and in fact, they tend to be more like $750 and above.
f you break them down by price, only 75 of the 622 strollers cost more than $500, which is around 12%. Meanwhile, 381 of the strollers are less than $300, or 61%. So if you’re looking for the mid-range price, $300 is a good starting point.
I’ve looked into many of the cheapest options, and for the most part, they are not worth it.
A stroller is something you will use with your baby almost every day. As I’ll explain in more depth later, the cheap strollers feel cheap, even though they technically cover all the bases of what you want from a stroller.
Instead, I have focused mostly on “mid-range” strollers, meaning those that are above $100 and below $500–and again, most are actually in the neighborhood of $300. There are many excellent strollers in this price range, which should come as a relief to those who don’t want to spend a thousand bucks to get something that will work for your family. But again, don’t cop out and go thrifty, either. Because of how much you’ll use your stroller–my wife and I probably take our son out for 15 hours of strollering a week–it’s definitely worth spending a little extra money to get something that is right for you, rather than just good enough.
Of course, that raises the question of just how much extra money makes sense? With this in mind, I also checked out the luxury strollers, mostly out of curiosity, to see if the extras that come with a luxury stroller merit a price tag that is three, four, or even five times what you’d pay for an excellent mid-range stroller. The extras tend to focus on materials, or amenities that cater to the pusher, rather than the pushee, with things like cupholders, places to store your keys, beefier warranties, or even a USB charger on one model. For the most sake, I’ve found that these are neat, but you can live without them.
One Stroller To Rule Them All
I should clarify that I’m working under the assumption that you want to purchase only one stroller for your child. I realize that many families have two strollers: a main stroller for everyday use, and a second stroller for other purposes. Maybe the second stroller is a lightweight stroller for short walks and easier travel, or maybe one that’s better for jogging. But here I’m focusing on finding the stroller that will work best as the stroller for your family. This is an important distinction to make. With every stroller I found, I asked myself: “Could this be the only stroller that a family uses?”
After a full survey of the field, I’ve grouped strollers into three main categories:
Standard Stroller. This is your go-to, all-around stroller, the type that you’ll take on walks, to the nearby market for shopping, the one that is meant to be easily loaded into the car, etc. The only thing you can’t do with this stroller is go running, so if you don’t plan on taking the baby on jogs, but want to do everything else, go with a standard.
Jogger/Off-Trail. This is the most durable genre of stroller, and is meant to handle rougher conditions, like trails, beaches, gravel—you name it. They come with sturdy suspension systems and heavy-duty, inflatable tires to handle the terrain. These strollers work just fine for schlepping around town, except they tend to be heavier and clunkier than your standard stroller, something to consider if you use public transit a lot.
Doubles. If you have twins, or have more than one kid who is of stroller age, you’ll need a double, or a stroller that can convert into a double. Even if you plan on more little ones to follow your first, I wouldn’t recommend starting with a double. Many families purchase either a standard or a jogger for their first child, and then sell their first stroller and upgrade to a double once they have their second kid.
There’s a fourth category, the lightweight aka “umbrella” stroller, but I’ve kept these strollers out of this review because they cannot be the only stroller your family uses. They do not accommodate car seats so they do not work with kids under the age of 6 months, so this is definitely an optional second stroller.
Here are the Sweet Home’s recommendations for the best stroller.
Our overall pick
Standard strollers can range in price from $50 to well over $1,000, but all of them accomplish the basic purpose of getting your baby from Point A to Point B. The Britax B-Agile is our pick for best standard stroller because it has the look and feel of a high-end stroller, it’s incredibly lightweight and easy to carry around, and it’s a great deal at only $180—hundreds less than what you will pay for strollers that are not noticeably better in quality.
The Britax B-Agile gets a lot of love from reviewers. It’s the Top Seller for strollers on Diapers.com, which is pretty impressive since Diapers.com is one of the premiere parent shopping websites. BabyGizmo.com, which has reviewed a grand total of 93 strollers (holy crap!), recently crowned the B-Agile as one their top picks, replacing it with the otherwise popular City Mini by Baby Jogger. As they put it, “the B-Agile is similar to our beloved City Mini but has a few improved features that makes it even better.”
It only weighs 16.5 pounds, while most standard strollers weigh over 20 pounds. And when you take the baby out of the stroller, there’s a handle in the seat that you pull, and the stroller folds. No twisting of handles, pushing of buttons, or levers to pull. Just grab the handle and go. Hollie Schultz of BabyGizmo.com told me, “the one-handed fold is one of the easiest on the market.” Many standard strollers require the use of two arms to fold the stroller—with the B-Agile, it’s clearly a one-arm operation. This is huge, because it frees you up to carry the baby with your other arm. If you need to load the stroller in the car, bring it up stairs, or store it in a closet, it’s hard to downplay how handy this seemingly simple feature becomes. It also stands on its own when you fold it, which not all strollers can do.
Of course, B-Agile is not the only stroller that is light and folds easily, but I found it to be the best in this regard.
Looking beyond weight and foldability, the B-Agile does very well compared to the competition. Its wheels are arranged in a triangular pattern, and the front wheel (which is actually two wheels side-by-side) pivots to allow for a tight turning radius. In general, I have found that three-wheel strollers can handle tighter corners much easier than four-wheeled strollers. (And who doesn’t like a good turning radius?) Also, it has a 2-year warranty which (like all strollers) covers damage in the stroller itself, but not anything that might be caused by use.
The wheels on the B-Agile are hard rubber tires that can handle flat surfaces really well, and even do decently on gravel, but you’re not going to want to go off-road with them. The rear tires can lock when you are in the stationary position.
The seat is wide (Schultz calls it “huge” and says the stroller works great all the way up to preschool age and beyond) and the cushioning is soft and doesn’t feel cheap—especially compared to Graco and Chicco strollers, which are popular budget brands that use materials that feel very synthetic and plasticky.
The canopy for shade coverage is large, and you can purchase an attachment to make the stroller work with most major car seat brands for when the baby is under six months old.
It’s not perfect; no stroller is. The handle is not adjustable, while other strollers allow you to raise or lower the handle so taller people don’t have to hunch over to push. But the B-Agile’s handle is high enough at 40″ that it should accommodate parents of most sizes. Another drawback: there’s no tray for the baby to put things on, even though many strollers have trays. In the name of saving weight, the B-Agile also has a smaller-than-average basket. You can still store snacks, a bottle, and a few diapers below, but probably not your typical over-stuffed diaper bag. At $180, you only get the basic stroller, and any amenities—like a tray, or extra storage space—you’ll pay extra for.
As for that $180 price tag…I think it’s worth pointing out that Britax sells the B-Agile for $250 on their website. It’s at sites like Amazon and ToysRUs that you can get the Britax for so much cheaper, which makes the stroller even more appealing.
2.City Mini by Baby Jogger
- Optimized for use on unpaved surfaces, sturdy, comfortable for baby, fixed front wheel, hand brake, knobby tires, 70 lbs. capacity
- Handlebar not adjustable, accessories are extra, not for tight or crowded places
The strengths of the B-Agile serve to highlight the many drawbacks of the competition, with one exception. The City Mini by Baby Jogger is without a doubt the most obvious competitor of the B-Agile, and it’s an excellent stroller. There are entire forums on parenting discussion sites like Babycenter.com and TheBump.com that try to figure out the differences between the B-Agile and the City Mini, and I have to say, they are negligible. The B-Agile is slightly lighter (16.5lbs compared to 16.8lbs); the folding mechanism on both is almost identical; the two strollers even look similar. The main difference is that the B-Agile is $60 less at $180, while the City Mini is $249. I’ve held these two strollers up next to each other and have read every single item of description for them, and I can’t find any game-changing decisions besides the price. To me, that’s a no-brainer. Save the $60 and go with the B-Agile.
Graco and Chicco have about 10 models that could be considered standard strollers. I checked them all out, but focused in on Graco’s Vie4 ($109) because it is Consumer Reports’ best pick for strollers. (They put B-Agile and Britax in the middle of the pack based on the size of the storage basket.) I’m surprised at Consumer Reports’ heaping praise, because I think the stroller feels clunky and cheap. It’s nowhere near as mobile, easy, or lightweight as the B-Agile. Even user reviews on the Consumer Reports website panned the stroller, giving it only 3 out of 5 stars. It’s a good price at $108, but then again, it feels like a stroller that only costs $100.
3.Chicco Liteway Stroller Review
- Affordable, lightweight, fixed front wheel, adjustable handlebar, generous canopy
- Quality of material, bulky when folded, not maneuverable, no cushion in baby’s seat
The Chicco Liteway ($140) is a common competitor to Graco’s many models, and I’m not a fan. It has the same drawbacks of the Graco strollers in that it feels cheap. It also touts itself as being such a lightweight stroller, when in fact it’s a few pounds more than the B-Agile.
There were a few other stand-outs in the field of standard stroller, each with their own defining characteristics that make them unique. Again, I love the B-Agile because I think it’s the best at being portable and lightweight for the cost, but these other strollers are also cool for less-essential reasons. For example, the Contours Option 3 ($153) is cool because its seat swivels, so the baby can face forward or backward. I think this is a really fun feature to have for parents and kids, but the stroller is a tank that weighs almost 30 pounds. I don’t think the annoyance of such a heavy, bulky stroller makes the swivel feature worth it.
As far as weight goes, the lightest is First Years’ Indigo ($140), which is superlight at 14 pounds, but many reviewers on Amazon point out that the stroller started to fall apart after only a few months of use.
4.InStep Safari Swivel
- Affordable, light, maneuverable, locking swivel wheel, floating canopy, stands folded
- Seat not well padded, no shock absorbers, narrow seat, non-adjustable handlebar
The InStep Safari Swivel ($104) is a classicly over-heavy stroller…it weighs 30 pounds, and doesn’t come with any of the fun features like swiveling seats. It’s just heavy, and although it calls itself a jogger, it’s flimsy and I certainly wouldn’t take it on a jog.
And let’s not forget, I have mostly ignored umbrella strollers, since they cannot accommodate car seats. The standout in umbrella strollers is Maclaren, which makes pretty legitimate umbrella strollers that collapse neatly. Unfortunately, you can’t attach your car seat to any of their models, which severely limits the usability for the first 6 months. Peg Perego suffers from a similar problem, with their slightly beefier four-wheeled strollers. While you can attach a car seat to their strollers, you can only attach a Peg Perego car seat, which is limiting and annoying.
What About More Expensive Strollers?
While there are $1,000 strollers, and those can be easily considered way too expensive for a stroller, but many parents think that if they want to splurge on their kid, splurge on the stroller. Think about it: if you use your stroller every day, a $365 stroller only costs you a buck a day to use. That’s not too much.
I’ve spent a lot of time looking at strollers that are expensive, but not ridiculous–$300 to $600–and there are unquestionably many great strollers in this price range. Strollers that any of us would love to have. But with each stroller, I found myself asking the same question: are the differences in quality between this stroller and the B-Agile worth twice the cost? Because if I’m paying twice the cost, I want something twice as good, not something that is hardly any better. Because let’s not forget, a $365 stroller might cost you a buck a day to use, but the B-Agile only costs you 50 cents each day.
5.Phil and Ted’s Explorer
A popular stroller is the Phil and Ted’s Explorer. I really liked this stroller. Its folding mechanism is easy, it’s sleek, and the sun canopy is very good. The big difference that I found between the B-Agile and the Explorer is that the Explorer’s seat is well-ventilated. In fact, the seat ventilation is one of the main selling points of the stroller. This is a great feature. Who wants their baby to get hot in the stroller? But the Explorer is more than double the B-Agile at $390. I don’t think seat ventilation merits an additional $200. Also, the stroller has middling Amazon user reviews (3.2/5 stars), many of which cite bad tires on the stroller. So you’ve got better ventilation, but questionable tires, and the stroller is $390. I’ll save my $200 and stick with the B-Agile.
6.Mountain Buggy Urban Jungle Stroller Review
The Mountain Buggy Urban Jungle Stroller probably has the best name in the industry, and is a quality stroller many compare to Phil and Ted’s Explorer. I got to see this stroller and I like it–except there’s really nothing that exceptional about it. Its defining features are common to almost every stroller: a front wheel that pivots 360 degrees, a 5-point harness for the baby, a sun canopy, soft grip on a handle….these are standard features, and nothing worth writing home about. As far as features go, the Phil and Ted’s Explorer is better than the Urban Jungle, whose biggest selling point is its appearance, which definitely looks cool and very “urban jungle.” But it’s $390 and I’m not going to pay an extra $200 for something just because it looks a like more urban chic.
7.Quinny Buzz Stroller
The Quinny Buzz Stroller is noteworthy because it can unfold with the touch of a button. That’s really cool. It’s a sleek-looking stroller that has its drawbacks, like how bulky it is at 27 pounds, but it’s otherwise a very nice, fancy stroller. For $580. I’m inclined to give it credit for the automatic unfolding, but the folding mechanism on the B-Agile is so easy that an automatic unfold in no way justifies the $400 difference in price.
You are probably getting the point here. Strollers that are twice the cost of the B-Agile are definitely good strollers. But they’re not twice the quality of a B-Agile, they don’t have twice the features, they aren’t twice as easy to use in an urban or suburban environment. I understand the urge to spend up for your kid, but a few more hundred dollars than the B-Agile is not getting you a huge upgrade. It’s instead a minor upgrade, if even an upgrade at all. You might gain one feature, but you’ll lose in getting a stroller that’s bulkier, or less easy to fold. And besides, there are expensive strollers that are noticeably worse than the B-Agile, like the Inglesina 2012 Avio Stroller, which is all looks, and no functionality. Its bright, flashy colors and sleek design are clearly meant to attract attention, but the thing is clunky to fold and very difficulty to put together in the first place. Not at all designed for a parent whose hands are full with a child, diaper bag, car keys, and groceries. But it does come with a pretty hilarious product description: “Unparalleled, made-in-Italy smoothness and effortless thrust, even after long use.” Funny, but I’m not paying $390 for it.
And finally, there are the top-dollar strollers. These are much, much more expensive than the B-Agile. As one Amazon reviewer unabashedly put it, these are “the Manhattan strollers.” And it’s true. Out in the streets of Manhattan, I saw an impressive amount of of Bugaboo ($889), Uppababy ($730), and Stokke ($1,100) strollers. Almost anywhere else in the country, these strollers are endangered species, rarely seen amidst the sea of Graco’s, Chicco’s, City Mini’s, Britax, etc. Not that I’m calling these snobby strollers, but there’s no denying that they are expensive, and often for features that revolve around aesthetics as much as anything else. Granted, if I was to win one of these strollers in a raffle, I’d keep it, but I’m not going to seek them out in a store to pay close to a thousand dollars. The Amazon reviewer who called these type of strollers “Manhattan strollers” ended her review with a telling sentiment: “I like my Uppababy a lot, but truth is I wonder if I really needed it.” In fact, she admitted that she used her second stroller–a much cheaper stroller from Chicco–much more than her expensive Uppababy.
What's the top jogging stroller? We decided to find out by putting 10 of the top-rated and most popular joggers through a gauntlet of tests.
- Versatile, maneuverable, smooth and comfortable ride for baby, 70 lbs. capacity, high quality
- Handlebar not adjustable, accessories are extra, expensive