What’s the best stroller for trails?

QWhat’s the best stroller for trails?

I want to run long distance with my baby and I need something that will last. I run on concrete trails. Thanks!

AThe Answer

The Best Trail Stroller(s)

Choose the stroller that suits the journey
As with most everything in life, there is no clear-cut answer as to which jogging/trail/terrain stroller is the “best.” All we can hope for is finding the best stroller for ourselves rather than finding the overall Holy Grail of all-terrain baby conveyance devices.

So before even discussing the actual strollers we have compared and reviewed, let’s first talk about you…

Why do you want a trail stroller?
Even on the cheaper end of the spectrum, you’re looking at spending at least a hundred dollars on a jogging/trail stroller (and that is indeed the cheaper end, FYI) so this is not a purchase to take lightly. And clearly you’re not – that’s why you’re here. Good for you. Rather than jumping right into product attributes, ratings, pricing, and other such metrics, ask yourself a few questions about your family’s current outdoor routines (or about the type of activities you’re hoping to get into once you have the right equipment).

First consider where you do your walking, jogging, or hiking. Are you usually traversing…

  • City Sidewalks
  • Suburban Sidewalks and Streets
  • Parks (trails and/or grass)
  • Paved Trails
  • Managed Gravel/Dirt Trails
  • Wilderness Trails (irregularly serviced and maintained)
  • The Wild!

Let’s be honest with ourselves: lots of people have lots of things they never use (or use enough to justify owning), and the tendency to over-acquire is at its peak during the baby years. If you find yourself registering for every infant and toddler product ever produced or going on shopping sprees once junior has made his or her appearance, take a step back and remind yourself that kids grow up and they do it quickly; all the stuff you’re adding to your home’s inventory will be outgrown and irrelevant faster than you know it.

This happens:
So do you really even need a trail stroller? If you live in the city or the suburbs and honestly don’t see yourself jogging or going off-road that often, chances are any decent stroller will more than suffice. Perhaps the parks and nearby natural attractions merit an all-terrain stroller… perhaps not. If you want to make sure you have a great stroller for urban/suburban living that can manage a few rugged trails when need be, choose the:
Bugaboo Chameleon
It’s lightweight and highly maneuverable in its standard arrangement, yet can handle uneven and varied terrain ably enough when its larger wheels are in the lead (just don’t try to turn sharply). It will set you back about a thousand bucks, but for most folks it’s all the stroller you’ll ever need.

Now… if you are already a committed jogger, runner, hiker, or long-distance walking enthusiast, a stroller expressly designed for the more active lifestyle may indeed be a good idea. In other words, don’t consider a trail stroller if you don’t already love trail running and hiking and such: chances are you will not take up a new hobby as the parent of a young child; in fact the exact opposite is more like it.

Once you have decided you do indeed want a trail stroller, you need to consider two major factors, because you can’t have your cake and eat it to. So which is more important to you:

  • Maneuverability
  • Ruggedness

If you’ll be taking to the trails of Central Park or The Boston Common, you’re going to want a stroller that’s deft and nimble, and that means one with a front wheel that can swivel with ease. Most decent jogging strollers available these days have a tricycle design with a front wheel that can be locked for jogging or running, and left free to turn for easier maneuvering in crowds or tighter spaces.

With that versatility comes a bit of sacrifice, though: a wheel that can both lock and swivel will never has the same level of suspension and stability of a permanently fixed wheel.

Swivel Wheel:
On the other hand, if you’re a bona fide outdoorsman/outdoorswoman who wants to grab that kid and take to the wilderness trails, charging over roots and rocks, splashing through streams, and traipsing across miles of meadow, then you’re going to need a stroller that’s a bit more rugged.

First let’s talk about a few features that are absolute necessities when considering any jogging or trail stroller.
Your trail stroller needs to have:

  • Large Inflated Wheels – these help deal with terrain and obstacles and help to to minimize the jostling, keeping your baby as comfy as can be.
  • Suspension System – without decent suspension, your kid will bounce around when you hit the slightest bump in the road. And pushing the stroller will be no fun, either.
  • Multi-Point Harness – ideally, a trail stroller will have a 5-point safety harness; if that arrangement is good enough for a race car, it’s good enough for a stroller.
  • Storage Space – chances are you’re taking your trail stroller for more than a quick 10-minute stroll, so make sure you can pack all the supplies you need with ease.
  • Reliable Brakes – this one is critical: any trail worth its salt goes up and down plenty of hills. Make sure the stroller can be locked securely even on an incline (and pack your gear and snacks such that it won’t tip over when stopped, by the way.)

  • Beyond those basics, cup holders are nice for you, a good hood cover is nice for the kid, and a seat that reclines with ease can be great for both of you: a slumbering child generally means a peaceful parent.

    Alright, we’ve covered the basics and the general details you need to consider before purchasing a trail stroller. Now let’s talk specifics. Remember what we said at the start, of course: the best running stroller for you might not be the same as our top pick or even be anywhere on our list! But on the other hand we have done a fair amount of research, so feel free to trust us.

    So Which Trail Stroller Is Right For You?

    First let’s take about the bottom line…

    The Budget Option:
    The Baby Trend Expedition Jogger
    This stroller will only set you back about a hundred bucks, so if money is tight or if you know right from the get-go that your jogging/trail stroller will get limited use at best, this is certainly one to consider.

    Low Cost
    Cup Holders and Covered Tray for Parents
    Swing-Out Tray for Child
    Collapses Easily

    No Suspension
    Only Compatible with Baby Trend Car Seats
    Not the Handsomest Choice on Three Wheels

    The Takeaway
    This is not the best trail stroller on the market, but it’s absolutely adequate provided you’ll be sticking to paved or at least well-packed dirt or gravel trails. It’s a fine choice for infrequent use, perhaps to be left at a grandparent’s house for use while visiting. For the highly active family who hits the trails frequently, keep on reading.

    The Cadillac Choice:
    The Bumbleride Indie Jogging Stroller

    Coming in at nearly five times the price of the Baby Trend Expedition, the Bumbleride Indie is far and away the most expensive trail/running stroller we looked at. It’s a smooth ride for both its occupant and its propulsion source (that’s you), and its polyester fabric is largely sourced from recycled plastic bottles and renewable bamboo, so you can feel good about being eco-friendly. The seat and harness are padded and comfortable and the stroller comes in multiple different colors (the Baby Trend Expedition comes in two, for the record), so you can make sure your stroller matches your style.

    Independent Suspension
    Compatible with Multiple Car Seats
    Collapses Easily
    Attractive Design

    Very Expensive
    Suggested Weight Limit Just 45 lbs.
    Handle Awkward for Taller Users

    The Takeaway
    If money is no object and most of your strolling activities take place on at least moderately maintained trails, the Bumbleride Indie Jogging Stroller is a great choice. It’s capable and durable yet lightweight and easy to collapse for travel or storage. But of course there is that hefty price tag…

    Our Top Pick:
    The BOB Sport Utility Stroller
    If you’re truly taking your stroller to the trails — and we mean nature, baby: the woods, not the boardwalk or the dog park — the you need a stroller that doesn’t try to compromise. Unlike many options out there that try to meet serve as a jack-of-all trades stroller, the BOB Sport Utility Stroller was designed with rugged terrain in mind. Its front wheel doesn’t swivel about for maneuvering down crowded streets (or through fancy uptown department stores), but rather is permanently fixed for superior stability on rough terrain.

    The Sport Utility Stroller comes with a price tag just a bit above $300, which, if you do a bit of math, you’ll see is the average of the other two options on our list. Coincidence? Maybe…

    Rather than featuring a smaller front wheel and larger rear wheels like most such strollers, all three of the BOB Sport Utility’s wheels are a full 16-inches in diameter; that along with the tire’s heavy treads offer more proof that this piece of equipment was genuinely built for use in the great outdoors.

    The stroller has a few more attributes that make it a fine choice for your long-distance overland treks, too. For example, the Sport Utility Stroller features multiple pockets and a hanging basket that offer more than enough storage space for food, water, a camera, extra clothing, and even some toys. Its generous multi position canopy will serve your young one even when the weather grows foul, and the hood’s built-in viewing window lets you check on your kid and/or your kid check out the world above.

    The BOB Sport Utility Stroller also boasts two different brakes: the foot brake can be set and locked and will keep the stroller from moving even on steep inclines and looser terrain. The hand brake is conveniently positioned for quick access and can be used to halt the stroller or simply to slow things down a bit as you roll down steeper hills or approach obstacles.

    The Hand Brake:

    Alright, now let’s break things down. As you’ll see, the pros vastly outweigh the cons when it comes to this, our top pick:

    Fixed Wheel for All-Terrain Stability
    Compatible with Multiple Car Seats
    Supports Kids Up to 70 lbs.
    Excellent Suspension
    Dual Braking System
    Mid-Range Price
    Collapses Easily

    Less Maneuverable
    Not Ideal for Urban Use

    The Takeaway
    Simply put, the BOB Sport Utility Stroller is not the right choice for the urban family who primarily promenades up and down the city’s sidewalks; it’s the right choice for people who spend time out in nature. The price is right, the quality is high, and thousands of satisfied owners will tell you just the same thing.

    So Are Any of These Trail Strollers Right for You?

    Probably, but just remember to check the return policy before you place an order, or better yet take a prospective purchase for a spin in person. For every 5-star review out there, each of these strollers has a few haters, too. If you’re taller than 6’2″, the Bumbleride may be a bad choice, for example. And if you actually only go hiking a few times a year, the BOB Sport Utility may be more rough and ready than you actually need, and in fact its greatest asset in terms of trails, the fixed front wheel, may prove nothing but a frustration as you lumber down sidewalks. So consider everything carefully…

    And take a look at this video for more info:

    ..and happy trails!