When you’re in the market for the best baby travel system you can find, you’re now looking to make a tandem purchase – you’ll need a reliable stroller AND the accompanying carrier/car seat. The combo needs to be safe, lightweight and easily interchangeable amongst other things.
With so many options on the market, how do you pick the right one for you and your baby that won’t have you scrambling for the warranty card a month later?
Well, picking just any ol’ stroller/carrier combination may net you something you’re initially satisfied with, but you also may find that buyer’s remorse comes quickly with these types of purchases… especially if you’re a first time mother (or father) and really don’t know what to look for. Take it from the parents who have already been there and voiced their concerns.
BENEFITS OF A TRAVEL SYSTEM
Obviously a stroller is an essential component in your life if you have a baby – certainly one of the top ‘must have’ items. And if you’re carrying around your little one from place to place, you’ll definitely need a car seat. So, why not just combine the two and save yourself the hassle of buying independently.
Sure, you may like the Disney Stroller for its cute Minnie Mouse design, but does the Chicco Keyfit 30 Car seat (rated by Consumer Reports as best in crash protection) detach and immediately re-attach to your Disney stroller? Let’s face it, parts that don’t go together add to the confusion – and sometimes price. So what are some of the real benefits of buying a travel system?
- Easy car-to-stroller shifting. No un-fastening, moving and re-fastening your child in the middle of the grocery store parking lot. Unclick the carrrier from the carseat, snap it into the stroller. Compatibility.
- Some hospitals may not let you leave without having an infant car seat for the ride home – all reviews are with infant car seats
- Convenience. If you live in a cold climate, you’re going to like the quick transfer of carrier-to-stroller.
- Ease of shopping. Compare the safest car seat and stroller combo and go with it. How many strollers and car seats would you have to investigate individually. Ugh!
- Repeat the process for your future children.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A BABY TRAVEL SYSTEM
The main components in your standard travel system are going to include 3 things. The differences between certain Make and Models of each component are normally pretty nominal, yet can vary significantly depending on price.
Stroller (3 or 4-wheel)
Infant Car Seat, compatible with Stroller
Car Seat Base
Just as with any other product purchase, you’re going to find so many options at your disposal – especially when buying the components individually! Do you fork out for the Cadillac Escalade of strollers, the extreme budget version – is this thing for a Cabbage Patch Doll or my kid?!? – or something in between. Here are the classic styles of strollers you’ll be looking at.
These 3 strollers below are your standard. You’ve got the Jogger Stroller, the 3-wheel and 4-wheel daily use strollers. Much like deciding between crib mattresses, not a lot separates these strollers in regards to features, but there are certainly aspects that will be more appealing to you, individually.
Notice that they all look similar, so which one do you choose?
“Oooh, I want that one because it looks cooler! And since they all look the same…” Errrrrr, wrong answer!
Do you drive a compact car? Is your husband 6′ plus? Do you prefer a certain look enough that you’d be willing to forego its undersized storage compartment (hope you really like carrying stuff). Are you physically active and prefer to take your baby out with you? Maybe you have questionable terrain on the stroll to your park?
The 3-Wheel and 4-Wheel Travel System Stroller
The differences between each of these 2 styles of travel systems aren’t all that far apart, with only a few defining characteristics.
- The 3-wheel has a sharper turning radius and better overall maneuverability, yet is less stable than the 4 wheel version – though not to be confused with not being stable. With carrier attached, center of gravity is higher and obviously less stable.
- The 3-wheel is easier to steer one-handed
- The 4-wheel typically folds easier and stands better when folded
Also, you’ll notice that rubber, air-filled tires as typically seen on Jogging strollers (and the BOB) add more suspension and are typically a better ride for the baby, whereas plastic tires eat up bumps and cracks while transferring the shock through the stroller.
Noteworthy: Some strollers barely have enough storage for one diaper bag, let alone room for a purse, toys, or even a convenient spot for your smart phone.
Car Seat and Base Qualities
Picking on the Chicco Keyfit 30 Car Seat and Base again, you’ll notice below a certain number of options that come standard with most car seats/carrier combos. Since the Chicco has been so highly rated, we’ll focus on a number of its qualities.
- Energy Absorbing Foam protects from side impact
- Removable Infant Insert for the smallest of babies
- 5-Point Safety Harness
- “Bubble” Level and Center Pull Latch for proper and convenient installation
Many of the reviews throughout the web-isphere have recurring complaints about certain products. The majority of them revolving around strollers and car seat carriers are as follows…
- Some strollers can be a bit heavy for moving in and out of your car – especially for new mothers
- You sometimes get what you pay for. Cheap parts are guaranteed on cheaper travel systems.
- Strollers are bulky and may be a struggle trying to fit into a compact car
- Non jogging-style strollers typically aren’t great for terrain outside of smooth sidewalks and in stores
- Not enough space for diaper bags!
SAFETY INFORMATION FOR TRAVEL SYSTEMS
Standard 213 of Part 571 (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards) stipulates the requirements for child safety restraint systems in an effort to reduce the amount of children injured or killed in automotive accidents.
*All car seats sold in the United States must meet these regulations.
Even more stringent guidelines have recently been set to further improve the safety of carriages and strollers, reducing a number of potential hazards brought forth by consumers. This includes travel systems and jogging strollers.
The Best Baby Travel Systems
(click links to see Amazon Reviews)
|Chicco Cortina Keyfit 30||22 / 7 lbs||$330||4.5/5|
|BOB Motion||23 / 9.8 lbs||$420||4.5/5|
|Graco FastAction Sport||22 / 7.5||$220||4/5|
|Graco FastAction||22 / 7.5||$185||4/5|
|Britax B-Agile and B-Safe||16.5 / 9.8||$330||4/5|
|Safety 1st SleekRide LX||22 / 9.7||$230||3.5/5|
|Evenflo JourneyLite||20 / 7.5||$150||3.5/5|
|Summer Infant Fuze||22 / 11||$450||3.5/5|
|Disney Saunter Luxe||Not Available||$170||3/5|
The Chicco name (pronounced kee-ko) is one of Europes top baby brands and is committed to products and improving their products specifically designed for birth to 3 years old. One of their best rated products is the Chicco Cortina Keyfit 30 Car Seat, in which the accompanying Chicco Stroller was actually built for. The stroller comes with an adjustable seat (fully reclinable and Memory recline), all wheel suspension, ample storage basket, rear brakes, child and parent cup holders and 5-point harness for securing your child. The carrier shell is constructed in EPS energy absorbing foam, while the car seat base comes with dual level indicators and easy, one-pull latch tightening . All these factors, combined with the Consumer Reports ‘Best in Crash Protection‘ rating, make this the best baby travel system on our list. Models Available: Foxy, Adventure, Midori, Sedona, Azura, Element, Gemini, Pegaso
Pros: Adjustable handle compensates for Husband/Wife heights – Lockable front wheels – Carseat easily clicks in and out of base – Stroller has multiple recline settings + Memory recline – Stroller folds and unfolds easily – Plush fabric – Infant pillow insert – Easy maneuverability – Several color choices
Cons: Bulky stroller may be less practical for day-to-day – Compartment may not hold your Samsung (or larger than iPhone) – Basket access cumbersome when using carrier in stroller
The BOB brand started out as an accessory brand for bicycle riders and morphed into one of the most reliable manufacturers of strollers – optimal for the active parent. With multiple advancements in their technologies over the years, it’s easy to see why BOB has become known for their smooth-riding strollers. The strollers are built standard with pneumatic tires, rugged suspension for all terrains, adjustable handlebar, 5-point harness, swiveling (and lockable) front wheels, rear brakes, total seat recline and more. The BOB carrier is certified for air travel, constructed with energy absorbing foam for safety, with level indicators on their adjustable car seat base. Models Available: Orange, Navy, Black
Pros: Easy click-in adapters – Air tires for better suspension – Smooth ride with excellent control – Lightweight stroller – Easy fold – Quality construction – Adjustable handlebar for height differences
Cons: Some accessories sold separately – Car seat is heavy – Shoulder strap adjustment seems limited
Graco is another popular company, well-known for it’s quality nursery product line. Having established itself over a half-decade ago with the very first wind-up infant swing, they took off to become one of the leaders in their field. The Graco FastAction Fold Sport Stroller is a 3-wheel traveler with multiple recline adjusts, large storage basket with expandable rear pouch, parent and child cup holders and 3 or 5-point harness to match your baby as they grow. Additionally, it comes with a top rated car seat (the SnugRide Click Connect 35), built standard with energy absorbing foam, 5-point harness and level indicators as an extra measure. Models Available: Tangerine, Gotham, Pierce
Pros: Base fits comfortably in compact cars – Easy assembly – Light stroller – Easy maneuverability for narrow situations (stores) – Easy release carseat – Extended canopy – Extra storage
Cons: Not as compact when folded vs. competitors – Remains loosely open when folded, doesn’t lock in place
Similar to the aforementioned Sport Stroller travel system, the FastAction Fold Click Connect 30 is nearly it’s equal. The glaring difference, of course, is that this is the 4-wheel version – which, typically are less maneuverable than their 3-wheeled counterparts – and perhaps, as reviews are concerned, may have a smaller basket, perhaps due to distance in wheelbase in the 3 versus 4-wheel cart. However, this stroller comes nearly identical in available options, with the benefit of a reduced price tag. The Classic Connect 30 Carseat is also top rated and similarly produced with energy absorbing foam, 5-point harness and level indicator. Models Available: Nyssa, Farrow, Finley
Pros: Quick assembly – Lightweight in comparison to others – One-handed fast fold – Stroller basket accessable when child is fully reclined – Soft material
Cons: Basket is undersized – May have to remove tray to fit stroller in trunk – May not be good for people over 5’8, low handlebars – Doesn’t ride well on all terrains
Britax has been in the mobile safety field for over a half-decade, pioneering innovations in child safety along the way. They’re another top selling baby products manufacturer that is leading the way in baby strollers and car seats, evidenced by their recent purchase of the entire BOB brand. Their B-Agile, 3-wheel Stroller comes with infinite recline, 5-point harness, rear parking brakes, all wheel suspension and large canopy. The B-Safe Car Seat also comes with energy absorbing foam, 5-point harness, level indicator and is certified for air travel. Also, the travel system is compatible with other car seat brands, such as Graco, Chicco and Peg Perego. Models Available: Black, Red, Sandstone
Pros: Significantly lighter carseat – Smooth ride stroller, ok for tougher terrain – Sturdy foot brake – Easy fold – Highly rated for safety – Nice sun shade coverage
Cons: Harder to control on rougher surfaces (3 wheel vs. 4 wheel) – Smaller storage area – Rubber handlebar is tough to clean and feels sticky – Carseat-to-stroller unlocking is cumbersome – Accessories sold separately – Carseat material gets hot
Safety 1st is a leader in child safety products and specializes in many types of car seats, strollers and other related products. The SleekRide LX Stroller comes with a multi-position seat recline, parent and child cup holders, ample storage basket and 5-point restraint system. The accompanying onBoard35 Air Car Seat comes with a 5-point harness, level indicator and Air Protect Side Impact design to protect your baby’s head in the event of a collision. Models Available: Vintage Romance, Eiffel Rose, London Stripe,
Pros: Cute design – Large canopy – Easy to fold – Lightweight – Nice cushion support – Easy carseat removal – Stroller rides nice
Cons: Basket a bit undersized – Cheap plastic wheels that wear quickly – Carseat may be too big for compact cars – Heavy stroller
The EvenFlo JourneyLite Travel System is an upgraded version to their previously successful Travel System 300. This newer version still includes the highly-rated Embrace Carseat, which is subject to EvenFlo’s 2-times the Federal Crash Test Standard. As far as functionality, it now comes with a peekaboo window, parent and child cupholders, deep tray for child, a covered parent storage area, ample baggage area, multiple recline positions and a lockable front swivel wheel for extra maneuverability. Models Available: Marianna, Koi
Pros: Lightweight – Easy to clean – Solid construction – Simple, one handed fold – Easy assembly – Cute design patterns – Large basket space for storage
Cons: Difficult carseat buckle release – Shallow cupholders make for easier spilling – Non adjustable handles for height – Not good on bumpy roads – Handle tray doesn’t fit smart phone
Summer Infant is another company in the baby health field that has been dedicated to the safety and innovation in baby products across multiple categories. The Summer Infant Fuze Stroller was designed with a 5-point safety harness, height adjustable handlebar, parent cup holder, baby seat recline and ample storage space beneath the carriage. In an effort to ensure safety for your child in the car, the Prodigy Car Seat was designed with SmartScreen technology to absolutely ensure correct installation of base unit.
Pros: Quick assembly – Soft car seat material – Adjustable handlebar – Nice basket space – Spring mechanism on basket for easy retrieval of things – Smartscreen childseat installation for peace of mind
Cons: Have to remove cupholder when collapsing stroller – Flimsy feeling carseat handle – Stroller somewhat heavy – Smartscreen may seem gimmicky – No cupholder for baby – No handlebar storage tray
The Disney Saunter Luxe Travel System is actually another product in the Safety 1st line, so it comes constructed with child safety in mind. As with the SleekRide LX, this Saunter Stroller comes with 5-point harness, seat recline, parent cupholders with storage compartment and ample storage department under carriage. The Comfy Carry Elite Plus Car Seat is lightweight, has a 5-point harness and has side impact protection. Models Available: Floral Minnie, Alice in Wonderland, Bambi, Dumbo, Winnie the Pooh
Pros: Easy to assembly – Lightweight – Cute design – Great value – Easy fold-up – Soft and comfortable for child
Cons: Material can get hot – Cheap plastic wheels wear out quickly – May outgrow removable infant seat quickly – Adjustment settings aren’t big enough – Carseat-to-stroller attachment may be cumbersome – Heavier, not the most easy to maneuver
As you can see, there are a number of options available but these are the best baby travel systems available today. They’re absolutely essential for their all-in-one functionality and their ability to take you wherever you need to go when you need to get there.
Since all car seats on the market are rigorously tested and approved for safety, what you really need to determine is whether you prefer a 3-wheel or 4-wheel stroller (as mentioned, there is not that much that separates the two). But, with these reviews, you now have a baseline to go by in your search – do you value better store maneuverability, a bigger storage compartment, easy fold-and-stow stroller? Perhaps you’re only interested in the safest car seat? In any case, you are now informed to make the best decision and are far less likely to purchase that “lemon” with the cheap plastic wheels and the cup holder slot that keeps tipping your water bottle.