Saturday, January 15, 2011

UppaBaby Stroller Review

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We did a LOT of research into strollers before we decided on one. It was almost as much research as buying a car. We were living in Toronto and walked EVERYWHERE. We needed a solid stroller, that was comfortable to drive and that looked good. Seriously. I wouldn't be caught dead with those brown plaid monstrosities with the short handles and rickety tiny plastic wheels. We decided on the red UppaBaby Vista but the PegPerego was a close second. We are extremely happy with our purchase and for over two and a half years its holding up well after much use while growing with our family. Here's a full review of the UppaBaby Vista Stroller.
Ours was the 2008 model year (see I told you it was like buying a car) and it hasn't changed significantly from what I can tell from the new ads, just a few extra features or add-ons.

You can see the fancy new models here:

I will start with the bad, because I can only think of two things, which are really non-issues anyway:
1. Mystery squeak. The stroller developed an annoying squeak in the back wheels after over 2 months of constant use. This was easily remedied with a spray of silicone lubricant and requires another spray every 2-3 weeks or so (that's with daily use, otherwise you may spray much less often). I suspect any stroller will require a similar bit of maintenance.
3. Upright position is not really upright. The upright seat in its most upright position is still slightly reclined. Toddlers tend to lean forward to compensate. You could probably fix this by putting a folded receiving blanked behind them, but this has been corrected in the 2010 model year, so new owners don't have to!

That's it. That's all the bad stuff. This stroller rocks. Here's the good stuff now:

1. Fun Accessories are included. Comes with all the goodies so you don't have to go out and buy separately: A bassinet AND an upright seat, bugnet-sunshades for both seats, rainshield, bootie. The bassinet lays flat. When we visited family in our neighbourhood, we would bring Liam in the house in the bassinet and let him continue to sleep. And sometimes we'd put him in it in the dining room while we were eating dinner there. It's quite handy. We were considering having him sleep in it in our bedroom if the crib didn't work out. Luckily he took to the crib!
2. Comfort. The bassinet is super comfy and lasted us 4.5 months before we switched to the upright seat. The upright seat reclines back far enough so when our little ones can't sit up on their own, they are still quite comfortable.
3. Storage. Pocket in the front of the bassinet was super handy for my keys/cash, etc. The most favourite thing about the stroller is the GIGANTIC storage basket. We go grocery shopping and it fits a ton of stuff, plus the diaper bag. Once, we fit two medium sized watermelons, a diaper bag and two bags of veggies in there. See the photo above for one of our shopping trips - the front pockets has our mail, the basket has a full load of veggies and we bought a hanging plant that day too. Oh, and it holds our baby. That's important too.
4. Handling. Super easy to drive and off-roads quite nicely (although it's not technically an off-road stroller). We used to go on the dirt trails in High Park and now we hit the trails around our local pond. The kids think the bouncy ride is fun! The big wheels and shocks (it has shocks!) help absorb some of the rough bumps.
5. Good for tall or long-legged folks. The main reason we bought it is because my husband and me are tall and there is no cross bar to kick when walking. Also the adjustable handle is great because he likes it extended all the way out and I like it halfway and my mom (she's tiny) has it all the way down. So its comfortable for everyone who uses it.
6. It's gorgeous. We got it in red. I was sooooo not into the brown plaid plastic-y strollers from the department stores. It makes me feel good pushing it. Really. It makes me smile, it's so beautiful.
7. It's solid. We almost purchased a PegPerego but Andrew jiggled the handles and it swayed back and forth and rattled a bit. The welded frame makes the UppaBaby very solid feeling. It doesn't feel cheap.
8. It's easy to fold/unfold. You just have to know how, that part is not intuitive (ask both sets of Grandparents!), but once you know, its a snap. Squeeze, slide and its down. Bassinet/seat and frame fits easily into the trunk of my Honda.
9. People love it. Everyone who pushes Liam in the stroller loves it. The first summer when I was visiting in Windsor, I had three different people come up to me on a walk along the water and ask me what kind of stroller it was, where could they get one, etc.. And when I went to the mall more people asked and/or stared at it. This still happens today in London.
10. It grows with our family. We started out with Liam in the infant bassinet, then he moved up to the upright seat at the most reclined position. As he got older, we tilted it up to the fully upright position. Before Adeleine arrived we bought the "Piggyback" for Liam. Its basically a skateboard that attaches to the back of the stroller that he stands on so he can ride along with his sister. He loooooves this thing. It makes not being in the stroller fun for him!

Liam riding the PiggyBack with Adeleine in the infant bassinet.

Ok so as you've gathered we love the stroller. Its fabulous. Worth every penny.

On the topic of money, the review wouldn't be complete without a cost comparison. The stroller was a priority for us, a fancy crib was not. It is mid-range for the criteria that we had. We could have spent over $1200 on a Bugaboo, or $400 for the PegPerego. The UppaBaby cost about $600. Again, for us, it was worth every penny.
Now some of you might be thinking I'm nuts at this point (I know most of my family is gasping right now) and if you are just looking for a stroller to ride your kid around at the mall, infrequent use on shiny smooth floors, you could get an umbrella stroller from a department store for well under $200 (heck you could get a cheapo umbrella stroller for $40). You wouldn't even need to research it. But we needed a workhorse. We walk. For HOURS. Frequently. Even in winter. And it needed to be pretty. I think I mentioned that.

Here we are waiting for the Thanksgiving Parade - Liam at 2.5 years old still rides comfortably in the upright seat.

Buying a new stroller?

If you are thinking of a stroller purchase you just need to consider how you will use it:
1) Is it for a newborn or toddler or multiple kids? Some strollers grow with your kids, others are for a particular age/weight. Some are compatible with an infant carseat, some come with a carseat.
3) How often will you use it? If its only for once and a while, short walks or mall shopping, a big investment in a stroller is probably not necessary.
4) On what type of terrain will you be driving on? Different tires are meant for different surfaces: polished floors, bumpy roads, sidewalks, off-roading, snow. Make sure your tires fit your terrain and you'll be happy. If not, you'll be swearing at the tiny plastic double wheels as they spin around and get stuck in the snow and your poor baby will be jerked around in the stroller as you try desperately to just push the damn thing through.
5) Are you planning on running with it? Really? Really? Well good for you. You need the ones with with big bicycle tires. Beware that these can be rather long strollers that are sometimes difficult to manoeuvre in stores.
6) Will you be driving it outside in the winter? You need good solid large tires that lock in position as well as a bootie or other snow protection accessories for baby.
7) Will you need to lift it by yourself? Weight and awkwardness is the big thing to consider here. If it's too heavy for you to lift without baby in it, good luck to you picking it up with a baby and a bag of groceries. Also, big heavy strollers are difficult to get up and down stairs and to lift into a trunk. There are drastic weight differences in strollers so pick it up!
8) Are you or your spouse tall? Handle length is a big problem for tall people (or just taller-than-average people). Some strollers have short non-adjustable handles, so tall folks have to lean over very far to push it, which makes for a really sore back after just a few minutes. Also, some strollers have a bar that runs between the two back wheels and long-legged folks will kick it with every step. So both spouses should test drive it for comfort, or you'll be surprised on your first walk.
9) Do you like brown plaid? Just kidding. Sort of. Looks was a big thing for me and brown plaid was the trend out when we were purchasing a stroller. Don't be fooled into thinking the department store strollers are the only ones available. Treat yourself to a visit to your local baby or stroller specialty shop. There are hundreds of styles and colours available so get what you want!

Where to Shop
These are the stores I have been to and can attest to the selection of strollers and knowledgeable staff. Go for a visit, you wont be disappointed!

Macklem's (this is where we purchased our stroller)
L'il Niblets & Baby Sprouts

Children's Furniture Gallery
Cheeky Monkey

Bump Maternity and Baby

You might also enjoy these other posts:

Newborn Equipment List

Cloth Diapering Myths

Favourite Parenting Books

Marketing Crap: Children's Products

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