Umbrella strollers: A lightweight and space-saving solution
Umbrella strollers used to be a minimalist alternative for pushing older babies and toddlers without the bulk and heft of a traditional stroller. They tended to be nothing more complex than a sling-type seat -- no canopies or storage -- with a compact fold. But that was then; this is now.
An umbrella stroller can have all the bells and whistles of a full-featured model. Some of the higher-end umbrella strollers offer huge canopies, recline fully for newborns, are car seat compatible and comfortably accommodate children up to 55 pounds. And yet they still fold compactly and are lightweight compared to traditional strollers.
Most stroller brands offer an umbrella-style stroller, with a two-handled frame that folds up tightly in both width and depth, so you end up with a long, narrow package. They generally have smaller wheels and less storage than other stroller types and may be less durable over the long run. If you are looking for a full-service traditional stroller, read our report on full-featured strollers. Parents that want a rugged, outdoor stroller will want to see our report on all-terrain strollers. If you want your car seat to transfer to your stroller easily, head over to our report on car seat strollers. Families with multiple children close in age, twins or triplets should refer to our double strollers report. An umbrella stroller should never be used to run with; if you like to jog, our report on jogging strollers will interest you.
An umbrella stroller should have all the important safety features, including a five-point harness and secure brakes. The buckle on the harness should be difficult for a toddler to open. Linked brakes are easiest to use but are less common on umbrella strollers. A locking fold ensures the stroller won't open while being carried.
One important safety issue to watch for with umbrella strollers is the recline. Experts say that a newborn should never be in a stroller that does not have a full recline. If there is only a partial recline, it should only be used for babies with good head control -- generally from 3 to 6 months. The problem is that stroller manufacturers often do not list lower weight/age guidelines. Unless you can verify that the umbrella stroller has a full recline, it should not be used for a newborn, regardless of what it may say on the manufacturer's website.
Baby products are often subject to recalls, and umbrella strollers are no exception. Maclaren, Britax and Zooper umbrella strollers have all been subject to recalls in the past few years. We have carefully considered the reason for the recall and the manufacturer's response in our research.
In addition to safety, we looked at ease of use, lifestyle features and customer service to pick the best strollers in three categories: Best Overall, Best for Newborns and Best under $80. One of these is sure to be a perfect fit for your family.
Best Umbrella Strollers
The lightest, most fully featured umbrella stroller on the market is…
Weighing in at a mere 11 pounds, the UppaBaby G-Luxe (Est. $220) is one of the lightest and most versatile umbrella strollers available. Suitable for babies from 3 months old to 50 pounds, parents and reviewers commend the G-Luxe for its spacious and well-cushioned reclining seat, excellent maneuverability and full-coverage SPF 50+ sun canopy. The lever for the one-hand fold is located at the top of the stroller, so parents don't have to bend over, and it stands when folded. Extras include a shoulder strap, storage basket and parent's cup holder. For all of these reasons we determine it the best umbrella stroller you can buy.
The UppaBaby G-Lite ($150) offers many of the same features of the G-Luxe, but without a recline, making it suitable for ages 6 months and up. It has a huge sun canopy and excellent maneuverability at an ultralight 8.8 pounds.
The Cybex Ruby is a 13-pound umbrella stroller with a partially reclining seat that is noted for its minimalist design. It has a full-coverage sun canopy, a high 55-pound weight capacity and a large enough seat to carry bigger kids comfortably. The Cybex Ruby can accommodate an infant car seat with an adapter (*Est. $25), but the seat does not recline far enough for a newborn without the infant seat.
The Mutsy Easyrider, Baby Cargo 200 Series and 300 Series strollers offer cushioned seats that recline almost flat, for infants from 3 to 6 months and up, and 55-pound and 50-pound weight capacities respectively. The Easyrider's "dream-like" steering is praised by reviewers and parents, but the Easyrider's overall weight is higher at 15.4 pounds, and folding the stroller is a three-step process. Baby Cargo also makes a 100 Series stroller with no recline.
The Graco Ipo is heavier than most umbrellas at 17.5 pounds, but parents say that it works well on mixed surfaces, reclines for newborns and is weight rated to 50 pounds. However, more than one parent says that the Ipo's recline feature is unstable and that the canopy can fall off onto the child.
The Inglesina Swift ($130) and the more fully featured Inglesina Trip are both well rated for ease of use and comfort. The Trip includes a cup holder, a rain cover and leg support for reclining infants -- it accommodates babies from 3 months, the Swift from 6 months. Both strollers can carry children up to 55 pounds, have reclining seats, come with generously sized canopies and under-seat baskets, and are considered sturdy and stable. Some parents have commented that the non-adjustable crotch strap on the Trip stroller does not fit their child and causes the child's legs to hang out over the stroller.