Interview with parents
The excellent book, Baby Bargains, by Alan and Denise Fields, considers parent and manufacturer interviews along with hands-on tests to assign product ratings, and also factors manufacturers’ history of build quality and recalls. Baby Bargains gets the top spot in our All Reviews chart—while both publications are up-to-date, Lightweight Strollers Review Baby Bargains more exhaustively covers every stroller on the market, while Consumer Reports covers just six lightweight models from the more mainstream brands.
How We Tested
Lightweight strollers have scaled-down versions of the niceties you’ll find on heavier full-featured strollers, such as reclining backs, sun protection, and padded seats. But lightweight strollers are more compact, weigh less, and offer spring-into-action open and fold. However, they’re less stable and durable than full-featured strollers, and models that don’t fully recline aren’t appropriate for newborns (see our separate report on full-featured strollers). Light-weight is the selling point here; after lugging around a twenty-pound baby, diaper bag, toys, wipes, bottles, and snacks, many parents are thrilled to save a few pounds on the stroller.
Over the last couple of years, the market has really expanded around lightweight strollers, and there are now several crossover models—strollers that blur the line between full-featured and lightweight. One such model is the Inglesina Zippy (*est. $280) featured in our separate report on full-featured strollers. This model has a fully reclining seat, so it’s appropriate for infants, a large canopy and basket, and a unique one-hand fold mechanism. The Zippy weighs in at seventeen pounds—more than most of the lightweight models discussed in this report, but less than other full-featured models. The Zippy has plenty of competition from other high-end labels, such as Combi and Peg Perego, discussed below.
For the purposes of this report, we’ll focus on models weighing in at less than fifteen pounds, without fully reclining seats. We’ll do our best to touch on lighter models with a full recline, but you’ll also want to consult our Full-Featured Stroller report for more options.
3#Other Things To Consider
Peg Perego and Combi are long-time competitors when it comes to high-quality lightweight strollers. Combi made a splash a few years ago with its Savvy series; the Combi Ultra Savvy (*est. $230) is currently the most full-featured model in the line, and a direct competitor with the Inglesina Zippy, discussed above. The Ultra Savvy has an aluminum frame, three-position (including full) recline, four-wheel suspension and washable padding.
Unique to Combi strollers is an “acoustic canopy,” with tiny built-in speakers. You can plug in a CD player to pipe music into the stroller. The Ultra Savvy can also be adapted into a travel system, with an attachment for either Combi’s infant carrier or another major brand’s carrier—the difference is in the model number. Look for “TS” in the model number if you want to pair the Ultra Savvy with Combi’s infant carrier; look for “PM” (for Perfect Match) if you want to use the Ultra Savvy with a different brand carrier. However, experts have recently noted that the Perfect Match system works better in theory than in reality, and some speculate that this feature may be discontinued in the future.
The Ultra Savvy is more of a full-featured stroller, but if you need plusher padding and a full recline, consider the Ultra Savvy alongside the Inglesina Zippy and Peg Perego Pliko P3 Classico (discussed below). We’ve haven’t included the Ultra Savvy in Fast Answers due in part to its weight—fifteen pounds—on the heavy side for a lightweight stroller, but lighter than other fully reclining strollers like the Zippy (seventeen pounds) and Pliko P3 Classico (17.6 pounds). The Ultra Savvy has machine washable padding, a removable guardrail, five-point harness, basket, and canopy.
If you don’t need a fully reclining seat or the ability to accommodate an infant carrier, the Savvy Soho (*est. $100) has many of the Ultra Savvy’s features, and shares the same basic aluminum frame. You actually get a bonus with the acoustic canopy (standard spec only with the Savvy Soho; it’s optional for other models), plus all-wheel suspension and washable seat padding. The Soho, however, weighs just eleven pounds, and includes a carrying strap. Both strollers have a stylish look that parents posting to opinion sites seem to like. Parents posting to Epinions say it fits easily in the trunk and is easy to use. One mom says “I love it, wish I had bought it sooner.”
Peg Perego has a similar twosome in its stroller offerings: the 17.6-pound, fully reclining Pliko P3 Classico (*est. $270) and partially reclining, 12.5-pound Aria LB (*est. $200). The Pliko P3 Classico shares most features of the Ultra Savvy, like a large canopy, shock-absorbing wheels, storage basket, and removable and washable seat padding, plus a fully reclining seat, so it’s appropriate for newborns. In addition, you can use both the Aria LB and the Pliko P3 Classico as a travel system with a compatible Peg-Perego infant car seat.
The big difference between the Pliko P3 Classico and the Ultra Savvy is the styling. The Ultra Savvy has a standard stroller frame, with a single, continuous handle for the parent. The Pliko P3 Classico is an umbrella-type model, with two handlebars. Some users posting to Epinions say that since you need two hands to steer the Pliko, it can be a bit more cumbersome to maneuver. Both models, according to reviewers, fold compactly.
Just as the Ultra Savvy and the Pliko P3 Classico are similar, the Peg Perego Aria LB (*est. $200) and Combi Savvy Soho (*est. $100) are also cut from the same cloth. Unlike the Pliko P3 Classico, the Aria has a single handlebar, and nearly identical features to the Savvy Soho—partial recline, shock-absorbing wheels, adjustable canopy, washable seat pad and swiveling child tray. The Savvy Soho and Aria LB even come in similar colors. The biggest difference between them is that the Aria LB has an attachment for a Peg Perego infant carrier, and the price tag—the Aria is about $100 more expensive than the Savvy Soho.
Parents posting to opinion sites are fans of both the Combi and Peg Perego strollers, and experts say quality is top-notch, so we’ve included both in ConsumerSearch Fast Answers. Some parents complain about the skimpy canopy and padding in the Aria LB, but these are some of the trade-offs that allow a stroller to be lightweight. The storage basket is enlarged in the 2004 version. However, the Savvy Soho weighs about a pound less and receives compliments from parents for plusher padding, and you get the canopy speaker system. The bottom line: If you have a Peg Perego infant car seat/carrier, that could sway you to go with the Aria LB, but similar features will cost less if you go with the Savvy Soho.
If your head isn’t already swimming with the huge variety of strollers on the market, there are more brands to consider than just Peg Perego and Combi when you’re looking for a lightweight stroller. Maclaren strollers have made inroads among savvy urban parents, and are now more widely available than in past years.
Several Maclaren models receive high marks from reviewers, and also carry some of the highest price tags. Maclaren’s niche is the high-end umbrella stroller. Maclaren’s fifteen-pound Techno XT (*est. $290) has a reclining seat, canopy, adjustable handles, and five-point harness, but isn’t quite as plush as the Peg Perego Aria or Combi Savvy Soho in Fast Answers. Maclaren’s super-stylish, high-quality strollers are trendsetters, and may be worth a look for urban parents who use strollers as their primary vehicles. But some experts (and parents) say that Maclaren strollers are overpriced for what you get.
Some 2003 models of the Techno XT also had trouble with cracked wheel housings under extreme cold temperatures. Maclaren did not issue a recall and there were no injuries reported, but the company encourages owners to call Customer Service at 1-877-442-4622 to arrange inspection or repair.
The Volo (*est. $100) is Maclaren’s entry-level model. It’s just nine pounds, but there’s no basket or hood. The seat is washable, but is made of a plastic mesh rather than fabric. At that price, it competes directly with the more feature-loaded Combi Savvy Soho. The Maclaren Triumph (*est. $140) is arguably the most popular Maclaren model. This eleven-pound stroller has a hood and two-position recline. Parents love the look and durability of Maclaren strollers, but experts say you’ll get more features for the money elsewhere.
Experts at Parents and Baby Talk magazines say cheaper umbrella strollers make great second strollers for quick trips, and are small enough to fit in airplane aisles. They lack seat padding, snack trays, storage baskets, suspension and sturdy wheels, but with many models available for about $25, owners say they’re useful and practically disposable. We’ve included the Kolcraft Umbrella Stroller (*est. $20) in ConsumerSearch Fast Answers. This model is as simple as they come, with a three-point harness and hammock-type seat.
A bit more money will get you a more stylish and durable stroller for trips to the zoo and the park; the eleven-pound Chicco Caddy (*est. $50) has a few more features—a two-position reclining seat, a small canopy, an included rain cover (an accessory that’s almost never included with any stroller), and a carrying bag. However, the Chicco Caddy doesn’t have any storage space.
Among budget lightweight strollers, some reviewers like one-hand-fold Graco models, including the CitiLite (*est. $90). The CitiLite has a multi-position reclining seat (including full recline), removable seat pad and canopy, three-point harness, lockable front swivel wheels, front and rear suspension, height-adjustable handle, parent tray, and large storage basket. At thirteen pounds, it competes with the Peg-Perego Aria LB, but experts say the CitiLite won’t stand the same amount of abuse as the Aria. Graco also makes the MetroLite (*est. $130) and LiteRider (*est. $60), but at seventeen and twenty-one pounds, respectively, these fall in the realm of full-featured strollers. (See our report on Full-Featured Strollers.)
Experts say the following about buying a lightweight stroller:
- Be cautious about buying a used stroller. Higher-end strollers, like Peg Perego, Combi, and Maclaren, have a high resale value, and you may find a bargain on Ebay. But be sure to check for recalls and give the stroller a good once-over before using it.
- You can find bargains by looking for last year’s fabrics. Stroller models often don’t change much year-to-year, so sales on last year’s fabrics and colors are common.
- Experts prefer brakes that lock both rear wheels rather than only one wheel. The Combi and Peg-Perego models in Fast Answers have rear-locking wheels.
- Check the stroller for balance. Make sure the stroller doesn’t tip backwards when light pressure is placed on the handlebars, and check for sturdiness and stability (i.e., a wide wheel base with seat mounted low and deep within frame).