For many parents, double strollers are a necessary evil
Because they're built for two, double strollers are heavier and often harder to maneuver than their single stroller counterparts. But as tricky as it can be to manage one baby while you're out and about, the task is doubly difficult with two small children, making a double stroller a must for many.
The stroller market is crowded, but there aren't as many doubles to overwhelm parents. For instance, a manufacturer may make 10 single strollers and only one or two doubles. Still, needing a stroller for two children poses some tricky questions that make the buying process more difficult: Will the kids be better off beside each other in a side-by-side, or would a tandem model better keep the peace? Can the stroller accommodate two newborns, or just one in a car seat alongside an older child? Will the stroller be too wide to fit through a narrow doorway, or too big to be stashed in a small trunk?
To narrow your search, you may want to start by deciding which of the three major kinds of double strollers will best fit your lifestyle: a traditional stroller, an umbrella stroller, or a jogging stroller.
Traditional double strollers are the most versatile
A traditional double stroller gives parents of two the most options. While there are many traditional side-by-side double strollers, this category also includes tandem strollers and single strollers that convert into doubles.
As the name suggests, two children sit beside each other in side-by-side strollers. Though wide, these double strollers are often easiest to steer. They may be the best choice for twins or children who are very close in age because it keeps the weight balanced. Tandem strollers position one child in front of the other, and because of that, they're much more narrow than side-by-sides and can make it through any doorway or narrow store aisle. They may allow more configurations that better accommodate children with a larger age gap -- for instance, a young baby can stay close to you in an attached car seat, while an older toddler can sit in a more upright seat and look out. On the downside, tandem strollers can be much harder to steer and maneuver over curbs.
There are some also some traditional strollers that can be used as single or double strollers. Called convertibles, they usually become tandem doubles with the addition of an optional second seat. They may be the best pick if your children are a bit farther apart in age and you'll only need a double for a short time. This flexibility can come at a high price, though, as adding second seats, bassinets, and ride-on boards isn't cheap.
Double umbrella strollers can give your back a break
Bad news first: Double umbrella strollers usually lack features like full-coverage sunshades, child snack trays and parent consoles that make traditional double strollers so convenient. You also won't typically be able to use a car seat with a double umbrella stroller. However, the good news is that these strollers are stripped to the basics in order to make them as light and compact as possible -- particularly good news in the world of heavy, bulky doubles. They're usually a go-to for parents who travel frequently or who may need to carry their stroller onto public transportation.
Double jogging strollers have a smooth glide despite their bulk
While double umbrella strollers are as light as possible, double jogging strollers are some of the heaviest around -- most are well over 30 pounds. So while these bulky beasts may not be best for urban dwellers who are short on space or anyone who needs to frequently carry their stroller, they have plenty of fans among parents who want to squeeze in a workout with their kids in tow. Large, air-filled tires and shock absorption make for a smoother ride, and some models have a front wheel that can either swivel for greater maneuverability or be fixed for running.
A word about optional accessories
Most strollers, even those that are originally bare bones, have optional accessories available such as rain covers, cup holders, child trays, parent organizers, prams or bassinets, and other convenience items available as an additional purchase. However, many of these are sold at ridiculously inflated prices by third party sellers on many online retail sites, and these are often older versions of the accessory that has been discontinued by the manufacturer. Because of this, rather than linking to specific products in this report, we often just refer you to the accessories section of the manufacturer's website, where you can buy the most current product at true retail.
Even if the stroller you choose does not have the option of adding accessories, or if you don't like the specific accessory offered by your stroller manufacturer, generic accessories are available for virtually every stroller made. Often, these off-market products get much better reviews than the manufacturer's version, so we recommend you check those out as well.
How we chose the best double strollers
Though there aren't as many expert tests and reviews of double strollers as there are for single strollers, sites like BabyGearLab.com, ConsumerReports.org and TheNightLight.com offer helpful hands-on tests. BabyCenter.com's Mom Picks Awards also provide a quick snapshot of the double strollers most parents prefer. Amazon.com is the most helpful site for owner feedback, offering hundreds of parents' perspectives on how their double strollers stand up to day-to-day use and abuse. To pick the best double strollers, we evaluated these reviews by focusing on ease of use, lifestyle considerations and safety.
The best double strollers
The Britax B-Agile Double (Est. $360) has cemented its status as a parent favorite for several reasons: It's versatile, easy to use, and lighter than many competing doubles at 28 pounds. Each seat on this side-by-side stroller has a weight maximum of 50 pounds, but the narrow and somewhat short seats might be uncomfortable for larger children or those in winter clothes. The seats recline independently to nearly flat, making it a good choice for smaller babies.
Experts say the B-Agile Double is easy to maneuver through standard doorways and over everyday terrain like uneven sidewalks and playground mulch, although its plastic wheels mean it doesn't qualify as an all-terrain stroller. The all-wheel suspension absorbs bumps, making for a smooth ride. Most reviewers find it easy to fold and unfold with two hands, and they like that it locks automatically and stands when folded. Though it's not compact when folded, the stroller fits into most standard trunks. The adjustable handle accommodates parents of all sizes and has a cut-out around the center bar, so you can place your hands in the middle and manage a one-handed steer.
The B-Agile Double's storage is a strong point. Reviewers love the roomy pockets on the back of the canopies, and they say the large under-seat storage basket is easy to access. Two large, independently adjustable canopies provide sun protection and have peek-a-boo mesh windows with removable covers for ventilation and viewing. A rain cover (Est. $60), parent organizer (Est. $30), child tray (Est. $25) and cup holder (Est. $15) are sold separately at the Britax website. An integrated adapter allows parents to attach a Britax infant car seat. While the single B-Agile is compatible with other car seat brands via an optional adapter, that's not the case with this stroller. Also, the B-Agile Double will accommodate only one Britax car seat -- you can't use two at once, which could be a drawback for parents with twin babies.
There is a five-point, no-rethread harness system on the B-Agile Double. Removable infant headrests provide greater stability for small babies, and the buckle is easy for parents to operate and adjust. The one-touch linked brakes engage both rear wheels with the tap of a foot, and the front swivel wheels are lockable for greater stability. Experts with BabyGearLab.com say the stroller fared better than competitors in sideways tip tests, but not as well in backwards tip tests. Still, it needed a hefty 42 pounds hanging from the handle before tipping backward.
If you're not sold on the Britax B-Agile Double, the Baby Jogger City Mini Double (Est. $430) is another excellent side-by-side stroller with similar strengths. At 26 pounds, it's even lighter than the B-Agile Double. Each seat can accommodate up to 50 pounds, and they're slightly roomier than those on the B-Agile, with some reviewers saying their 5-year-olds fit comfortably. The independent, near-flat reclines mean newborns can ride safely, too.
Though it can fit through standard doorways, many reviewers report difficulty getting the City Mini Double through narrower doors and halls. The stroller is easy to steer and turn, and BabyCenter.com editors say they could push it with one hand. Front-wheel suspension absorbs bumps. It performs best on fairly level surfaces, though reviewers have no trouble wheeling through playground mulch or gravel. The quick two-hand fold earns praise, though some smaller women find it cumbersome to manage. The stroller doesn't lock automatically, but it does stand when folded, and fits into most car trunks. The handle is not adjustable like the B-Agile's, so this may not be a good choice for very short or tall parents. Some parents say the seats can be hard to recline at first, but are mastered with practice.
Parents love the great sun protection provided by the City Mini Double's individual canopies. Praise is more muted for the stroller's storage: While parents like the seat-back storage pockets, they say the under-seat basket is small and hard to access. Optional accessories include a compact pram (Est. $170), belly bar (Est. $45), child tray (Est. $25), weather shield (Est. $65), glider board (Est. $85), cup holder (Est. $25) and parent console (Est. $35). Like the B-Agile, the stroller accepts only one infant car seat at time. You'll have to shell out extra money for the adapter (Est. $100), which accepts seats from Britax, Chicco, Cybex, Graco, Maxi Cosi, Nuna, Peg Perego and UPPAbaby. You can view the full line of accessories at the Baby Jogger website.
The City Mini Double has two fully adjustable, five-point, no-rethread padded harnesses that buckle securely. The linked rear foot brakes lock with one touch. The front swivel wheels can also be locked for more stable strolling. There have been no reports of tipping. However, many reviewers cite problems with front wheels locking spontaneously, requiring replacement wheels. There are no recalls, but be aware that this could be an issue, especially on rough surfaces.
If you'd prefer a tandem double stroller instead of a side-by-side, reviewers say the Baby Jogger City Select with Second Seat (Est. $700) shines because of its extreme versatility: It can be arranged in 16 different seating configurations with the purchase of optional accessories. It can be used for twins or two children of different ages, and it has the ability to accommodate two car seats or two bassinets. Depending on how it's configured, the stroller weighs from 28 to 34 pounds. Each seat accommodates children up to 45 pounds, but they don't fully recline, so newborns should be in an attached car seat or bassinet. The "high canopies, wide seats and plenty of leg room" are particularly good for older toddlers, says Katie Parsons of TheNightLight.com.
The City Select has a narrow profile, so it easily fits through doors, store aisles and between parked cars. However, the stroller isn't the easiest to lug on public transportation, and it may not fit in smaller car trunks. Maneuverability isn't always a breeze, either, which is the case for most tandem strollers. It can be quite heavy to push when carrying two children, and one Amazon reviewer says it takes "super human" effort to lift and get up and down curbs, which can be remedied somewhat by putting the bigger child in the seat closer to you. A button reclines the seats to four positions fairly easily with one hand. The Forever Air tires never go flat and can handle varied terrain like snow, grass and mud, although it is not an all-terrain stroller. The stroller has a one-hand fold, but doesn't self-lock or stand. A telescoping handlebar accommodates both short and tall parents.
Getting the most versatility out of the City Select requires purchasing optional accessories, including the Second Seat Kit (Est. $180) one or more car seat adapters (Est. $25 to $70), and one or two Bassinet Kits (Est. $100). With all of that, there are 16 different ways to position the kids. They can face you, the world or each other in a number of combinations, and the stadium seating gives each child a good view. Reviewers rave about the large storage basket that can be accessed from all sides, but say the fabric is flimsy. The large, multi-position canopies provide plenty of sun protection. As a bonus, the peek-a-boo windows on the canopy close quietly with magnets, instead of noisy Velcro. Other accessories include a belly bar (Est. $30), child tray (Est. $25), parent console (Est. $35), glider board (Est. $85) and cup holder (Est. $25).You can view the full range of accessories at Baby Jogger's City Select page.
The City Select has a convenient hand-operated parking brake on the handle, something that sets it apart from other strollers with foot-operated brake pedals. Its front swivel wheels lock for greater stability on rough terrain. Reviewers say the five-point, no-rethread harnesses are nicely padded and easy to buckle and adjust. The stroller earns high marks in experts' safety tests, requiring a greater angle for sideways tipping and nearly 29 pounds on the handlebar before falling backward.
Double strollers tend to be an expensive bunch, but the Joovy Scooter X2 (Est. $250) manages to pack in loads of features at a very reasonable price, reviewers say. This recently updated side-by-side stroller isn't the lightest ride at 32 pounds, but it accommodates children up to 45 pounds in each seat. The independently reclining seats are recommended for babies as young as 3 months.
Joovy's newest version of the Scooter X2 features bigger wheels than its predecessors, "a significant improvement" over the older model that should help with maneuverability, note experts with BabyGearLab.com. Still, reviewers recommend sticking to flat, smooth surfaces and say you'll need two hands to stay in control. The stroller should fit through standard doorways, and parents say it's easy to fold with one hand. It's also relatively flat when folded, making for a compact package that Meg Collins of LuciesList.com says will fit in the trunk of a small sedan. The Scooter X2 has a manual lock and will not stand when folded, however. The handlebar is not adjustable, and some reviewers warn that it's a bit on the short side. They also say taller parents may accidentally kick the brake while walking.
The Scooter X2's major strength is ample storage. Parents love the very large, easy-to-access storage basket under the seats. There are also two roomy zippered pockets on the back of the stroller, and two mesh cup holders that are big enough for sizeable water bottles. Interior mesh pockets offer kids space for small toys or snacks. The sunshade is large, with ventilation and a peek-a-boo window. However, it is one piece and doesn't independently adjust for each seat. The leg rests are adjustable. There are no optional accessories available for the Scooter X2, although you can probably find some generic cup holders or child trays, and parents say the biggest disappointment is that there's no adapter to make the stroller compatible with infant car seats.
The Scooter X2 has padded five-point harnesses and a belly bar that offers an additional measure of security for antsy toddlers. Parents say the linked one-touch parking brakes are easy to engage, but a few find the harness straps tricky to adjust. The stroller aced expert safety tests, with BabyGearLab.com testers saying it was particularly hard to tip backwards, requiring 86 pounds of pressure on the handle before toppling.