Whether you're traveling far from home or just need a stroller for occasional use that won't hog trunk space, an umbrella stroller may fit the bill. While you (and your child) may not get a lot of extra features, a streamlined umbrella stroller will be a snap to fold, unfold and carry.
The UPPAbaby G-Luxe (Est. $225) is an easy-to-use umbrella stroller that is particularly comfortable for both child and parent, reviewers say. This stroller is heavier than it used to be at 15 pounds -- not the lightest umbrella stroller available, but still light enough to please most owners. Because it doesn't recline all the way, it isn't suitable for children under 3 months, but the upper weight limit is a relatively generous 55 pounds.
Reviewers say the G-Luxe folds smoothly, and the latch on the handle means you don't have to bend over to collapse the stroller or use your feet (a nice feature for anyone wearing sandals or flip flops). It also stands when folded, which makes it easier to transport and helps keep it clean. The G-Luxe includes a shoulder strap for ease of carrying. Parents say the stroller is easy to push and maneuvers exceptionally well for an umbrella stroller, even with one hand or over more challenging terrain. The padded seat can be removed quickly and easily for machine washing.
The G-Luxe gets rave reviews for comfort. Its wide, roomy seat means it stays comfy as your child grows, and the four-wheel suspension provides a smooth ride. The footrest is adjustable. The sun canopy is large, with an extendable sunshade for almost full coverage, SPF 50+ sun protection. There is a removable cup holder for parents and an under-seat storage basket, but GoodHousekeeping.com testers warn the basket "is smaller than it looks." The frame arches to prevent parents from kicking the stroller when they walk, and the ergonomic stroller handles are relatively tall -- particularly nice features for moms and dads with a little extra height.
The G-Luxe has a five-point safety harness and lockable front wheels for extra stability. The buckle is easy for a parent to undo, but difficult for a child. The latest version of the stroller has linked rear brakes, an improvement from previous models. The hinges are covered so little -- or big -- fingers don't get pinched. Experts with BabyGearLab.com warn that the G-Luxe is relatively easy to tip backward if shopping bags are placed on the handles, although that's something that most umbrella stroller manufacturers say is a no-no anyway.
Maclaren has long been noted for its durable, long-lived umbrella strollers, and the Maclaren Triumph (Est. $120) continues that tradition, reviewers say. At just under 12 pounds, the Triumph is significantly lighter than the UPPAbaby G-Luxe. While the seat reclines, it doesn't do so fully, so Maclaren recommends the stroller for babies over 6 months. The upper weight limit is 55 pounds.
Reviewers say the Triumph folds compactly and easily with one hand. The stroller locks when folded but does not stand like the G-Luxe. Reviews are less glowing on maneuverability: BabyGearLab.com says the Triumph had problems on anything other than hard, flat surfaces, and found that it was hard to push one-handed. The foam handles are not adjustable, but they accommodate tall parents just fine. However, those with long strides may unintentionally kick the back wheels or brake. The seat, made with durable water-resistant fabric, is removable and washable.
The Triumph has a carry strap and comes with an included rain cover, a feature that costs extra with most other strollers. It lacks an adjustable leg rest and canopy peek-a-boo window, however; both features are standard on pricier strollers in Maclaren's lineup. There is a storage basket under the seat that's about average-sized for umbrella strollers; you can access it from the sides and back, but not the front. The SPF 50 sunshade doesn't offer as much coverage as some competing models, experts note. Optional accessories include a Universal Organizer (Est. $40), Reversible Seat Liner (Est. $30), Foot Muff (Est. $120) and Cup Holder (Est. $9).
The Triumph and other Maclaren strollers have a buckle that requires pressure in two spots before it will release, foiling even the most sophisticated child escape artist. There is a five-point harness and one-touch linked brakes. The front wheels lock for greater stability. A tether strap, rare on an umbrella stroller, can keep the stroller from rolling ahead of parents on slopes. However, like the G-Luxe, it is easy to tip over by hanging bags from the handles.
Despite its name, the Joovy Groove Ultralight (Est. $150) is actually a bit heavier than the Maclaren Triumph at just under 14 pounds. Reviewers don't seem to mind the weight, because the stroller packs in a lot of features at a reasonable price. The partial recline will accommodate babies as young as 3 months, and the upper weight limit is 55 pounds.
The Groove Ultralight has a compact, one-handed fold similar to that of the Triumph, experts say. It also locks when folded. The stroller gets more uneven reviews for maneuverability, however. "Basic performance didn't impress," BabyCenter.com editors note, saying they often needed two hands to push heavier toddlers. Some parents echo those concerns, dinging the Groove Ultralight for tricky turns and flimsy wheels. The front swivel wheels are lockable for greater stability. While the foam-covered handles aren't adjustable, they should accommodate most taller parents.
One of the Groove Ultralight's best features is the massive sun canopy with a peek-a-boo window, similar to the one on the UPPAbaby G-Luxe. The stroller also comes with an adjustable leg rest, a carry strap, an integrated cup holder and a zippered pocket for parent necessities. The medium-size storage basket is comparable to the one on the Triumph, but the Groove Ultralight boasts added interior mesh pockets perfect for small toys, snacks or sippy cups. There are no additional accessories sold separately.
The Groove Ultralight has an unpadded five-point harness, and though parents don't report any complaints about the buckle, it's not as tough for a tot to undo as the Triumph's. The brakes on the back wheels are not linked, so you will have to tap both individually to set them, but BabyGizmo.com's Hollie Schultz says it's still easy to do with sandals or flip-flops. As with most umbrella strollers, there is a risk that the Groove Ultralight will tip if you hang heavy shopping bags from the handles.
Some parents simply want a sturdy, cheap umbrella stroller for occasional use, and the Summer Infant 3D Lite (Est. $80) fits the bill, reviewers say. At just 12 pounds, this stroller is about on par with the Maclaren Triumph and among the lightest umbrella strollers on the market. A multi-position recline will accommodate babies smaller babies, and the stroller has a maximum weight capacity of 50 pounds.
Most reviewers say the 3D Lite's three-step, one-hand fold is easy enough, but there is a learning curve. An automatic lock keeps the stroller compact when folded. Like the Joovy Groove Ultralight, maneuverability reviews are a mixed bag: It scores well in expert tests, but BabyGizmo.com's Schultz says you'll definitely need two hands to push bigger kids. The front wheels lock for greater stability, but some parents complain the wheels aren't very durable. While the grooved foam-covered handles aren't adjustable, they should accommodate most taller parents. Experts note that the stroller requires two hands to recline, and since the normal seat is already fairly reclined, the difference is minimal.
The 3D Lite has a medium-size storage basket, adjustable carry strap, removable cup holder and a storage pocket for parent essentials on the back. However, BabyCenter.com editors say the cup holder is too narrow to fit most water bottles. The sunshade isn't huge and lacks a peek-a-boo window, but a pop-out visor helps block a little more sun. There is no adjustable leg rest, and there are no additional accessories available.
The 3D Lite has a padded five-point harness. The padding hides the buckle, which Schultz says is very easy to undo with one touch. Parents should note that despite being "hidden," the buckle might be fairly easy for an older toddler to undo. Like the Groove Ultralight, the back wheels' brakes are not linked, so parents must set them individually. Heavy shopping bags can tip the stroller if they're dangled from the handles.