Many parents say a cheap umbrella stroller is a necessity -- particularly for short trips or for times when you wouldn't want to leave your expensive stroller behind (like the stroller parking sections at amusement parks or the airplane gate check). However, the cheapest umbrella strollers that you can grab off the rack at your local department store for 20 or 30 bucks may be too flimsy to bother with. The good news is that there are good, solid choices that have all the convenience of an umbrella stroller but will last until your child doesn't need it any longer.
The First Years Ignite (Est. $60) offers many of the same features of high-end umbrella strollers -- 50-pound weight rating, reclining seat, adjustable footrest and an adjustable canopy -- at a much lower price point. It is on the heavier side at 14.25 pounds but is a great choice if you want stability and good performance on mixed terrain. The Ignite has larger 6-inch wheels with grooves for traction, and multiple parents say that their toddler can climb in and out of the stroller without tipping it. The Ignite is equipped with a five-point safety harness, locking rear wheels and front swivel wheels that lock in the forward-facing position. Taller parents say the handles are comfortable, and they don't kick the back of the stroller. Unlike most umbrellas, even in the high-end category, the Ignite comes with a parent console that holds a drink, keys and other small items.
Even lower in price than the Ignite, but equally well reviewed, is The First Years Jet ($45) . Weighing 11 pounds but still weight-rated up to 50 pounds, the Jet has slightly smaller wheels and the front swivel wheels don't lock in the forward-facing position. While the Jet's seat reclines, it's a slight recline, so it will not accommodate newborns or young infants. It should only be used for children from 6 months. Some parents say that the buckle on the five-point harness may be too easy for toddlers to open, but all reviewers agree that this is a great stroller in its price class, particularly for travel. Like the Ignite, the Jet comes with the parent console included.
The Chicco Ct0.6/Capri ($80) is a well-reviewed umbrella stroller, weighing just 11 pounds, minus the canopy. Parents say it's easy to steer, but many complain that the shorter handles cause them to hunch when pushing and that they kick the back of the stroller. The Ct0.6/Capri seat partially reclines for babies from 6 months old and up, but it is only weight-rated for up to 37 pounds, which will reduce its usable life. The harness/crotch strap combo is also not adjustable, so some kids may outgrow it more quickly than others. Still, it's a sturdy grab-and-go stroller that may be just what you need to get your kids through the toddler stage.