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Best Umbrella Stroller

By: Saundra Latham on March 17, 2017

Umbrella strollers are your best bet for travel

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-Lite (Est. $180) is an easy-to-use umbrella stroller that draws raves from experts and parents where it counts: It's very lightweight at just 11 pounds and compact enough to fit in very tight spaces. Like most umbrella strollers, it won't accommodate newborns – in fact, the seat does not recline at all – and UPPAbaby recommends a lower age limit of 6 months. It can accommodate children up to a relatively generous 55 pounds.

Parents say the G-Lite folds smoothly and easily, though it does require two hands. It also stands when folded, which makes it easier to transport and helps keep it clean. The G-Lite includes a shoulder strap for ease of carrying. Maneuverability gets more mixed reviews. While most parents don't complain about smooth-surface use, experts with BabyGearLab.com say it's "hard to push and turn over uneven terrain" and there is some wheel friction. The stain-resistant mesh fabric is very breathable.

The G-Lite doesn't get the raves for comfort that its more fully featured sibling, the UPPAbaby G-Luxe, receives. On the bright side, there is all-wheel suspension to help smooth out bumps for riders, but the seat does not recline at all – not ideal for stroller naps – and there is no leg rest. The sun canopy is large, with an extendable sunshade for almost full coverage, SPF 50+ sun protection, but it lacks a peek-a-boo window. There is a removable cup holder for parents and an under-seat storage basket that is easily accessed from the back and sides. The ergonomic stroller handles are relatively tall -- particularly nice for moms and dads with a little extra height.

The G-Lite 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. Brakes must be set individually, but experts with BabyGearLab say the process is sandal-friendly.  

Maclaren has long been noted for its durable, long-lived umbrella strollers, and the Maclaren Triumph (Est. $225) continues that tradition, reviewers say. At just under 11 pounds, the Triumph is just a hair lighter than the UPPAbaby G-Lite. 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-Lite. It gets mixed reviews on maneuverability, with some experts and owners saying it's tricky to push one-handed or on uneven surfaces. The foam handles are not adjustable, but they are ergonomic and accommodate tall parents just fine. The seat, made with durable, water-resistant fabric, is removable and washable. Overall, the Triumph has a higher-quality build than other strollers, says Matthew Lee of TheNightlight.com.

The Triumph has a carry strap and comes with a 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. $30), Pannier (Est. $15) and Cup Holder (Est. $17).

The Triumph and other Maclaren strollers have a buckle that requires pressure in two spots before it will release, and Lee notes that this will foil even the most sophisticated child escape artist. There is a five-point harness and convenient one-touch linked brakes. The front wheels lock for greater stability. However, like the G-Lite, it is easy to tip over by hanging bags from the handles.

The Recaro EasyLife (Est. $200), a relative newcomer to the stroller scene, is actually a bit heavier than the Maclaren Triumph at about 12½ pounds. Reviewers don't seem to mind, because the stroller packs in a lot of convenience features. The multiple recline positions will accommodate babies as young as 6 months (younger babies can ride in a compatible Recaro car seat), and the upper weight limit is 50 pounds.

The Recaro EasyLife draws particular raves for its fold: BabyGearLab calls it the easiest one-handed fold that they tested; the stroller also auto-locks and stands when folded. Also, somewhat unique to umbrella strollers, the Easy Life folds into a square shape that's thicker but not as long as other strollers when folded – in certain places, such as trunks, this might be a space-saver.

The stroller gets more uneven reviews for maneuverability, however, with experts noting that it's not the easiest to push on surfaces that aren't smooth. On the bright side, there is all-wheeled suspension, the wheels are lockable and the stroller can be pushed with one hand. The handle is not adjustable.

The sun canopy on the EasyLife offers solid coverage with three extendable panels; it also has a peek-a-boo window that has a magnetic closure. The leg rest is not adjustable, but the storage basket can fit a large diaper bag and is very easy to access even when the stroller is reclined unlike most of the competition, according to BabyGearLab. There is also an additional exterior mesh pocket and an included drink holder, and the stroller will accommodate Recaro Performance Coupe infant car seats without an adapter.

The EasyLife has a padded five-point harness and a buckle that's about average to undo – potentially a concern for a very determined toddler. The brakes on the back wheels are not linked, so you will have to tap both individually to set them, but it's still easy to do with sandals or flip-flops. As with most umbrella strollers, there is a risk that the EasyLife 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 on par with the pricier strollers we've reviewed and among the lightest umbrella strollers on the market. A multi-position recline will accommodate 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 most umbrella strollers, maneuverability reviews are a mixed bag: It scores well in expert tests, but BabyGizmo.com's Hollie 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 Summer Infant 3D Lite has a medium-size storage basket, adjustable carry strap, removable cup holder and a storage pocket for parent essentials on the back. 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. A padded five point harness helps to hide 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 Recaro EasyLife, 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.

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