There's no substitute for a cheap umbrella stroller for short trips to the mall or park, when riding public transportation or negotiating a crowded airport, or for stashing away at grandma's house as backup. The best of the bunch are several steps ahead of yesterday's versions, mostly in terms of performance and build quality and somewhat in the way of features. These days the concept of an umbrella stroller has become a little fuzzy, with many now referred to as lightweight strollers. And while prices have taken a predictable leap skyward -- with some edging close to the level of a travel system or jogging stroller -- good cheap umbrella strollers are readily available. We identified several under $60 that are comfortable for the child and user-friendly for the adult.
Cheap Umbrella Strollers Buying Guide
At the very top of our list sits the The First Years Ignite (starting at $60) for its comparatively rich feature set (semi-reclining seat, parent organizer, under-seat storage) and commendable comfort and ease of handling. Following close behind are The First Years Jet (starting at $39), a minor version of the Ignite that wins accolades, and two versions of the Babies R Us Umbrella Stroller (starting at $20 and $30), both prized for their value and convenience. Problems with design and performance push the Jeep Wrangler All Weather Stroller (starting at $39) into the territory of product disappointments. We also found a double umbrella stroller, the Delta LX Side by Side (starting at $92), that doesn't adhere to our cheap guidelines for single umbrella strollers but is an excellent buy on a compact and lightweight buggy with the twin configuration.
Parents and caregivers often round out their collections of child-related gear with umbrella strollers because they're lighter and far less bulky than traditional strollers, joggers, and travel systems. This type of wheeled conveyance folds into a form much like, you guessed it, an umbrella: long and thin with curved handles for carrying. Umbrella strollers fit most anywhere, be it a closet, car trunk, or down a crowded aisle, and they open and close with minimal effort. Most adults can easily carry one while holding a child and lift it in and out of a vehicle.
Umbrella strollers, particularly those in the budget zone, are not designed for long-distance pushing or riding over varied terrain. Indeed, the dividing line between higher-end and cheap umbrella strollers runs through comfort and convenience. Among the less expensive models you won't find any cushioning or snack/activity trays for little riders. There is minimal storage for child paraphernalia and parent necessities. Just a few cheap umbrella strollers have seats that recline, but most at least come with a canopy that's supposed to protect passengers from the sun. Only rarely do the wheels swivel or boast any shock-absorbing capabilities.Pricier models sport the type of features more commonly found in travel system strollers, such as suspension to cushion bumps, generous storage, multi-position reclining seats, and adjustable-height handles. The best cheap umbrella strollers are arguably just as well made but are comparatively simple and graced with only a couple of upmarket "extras." And while they may be short on frills, many families couldn't do without a cheap umbrella stroller by their side.
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Features Comparison Buying Guide continues below table
The First Years Ignite Review
Weight 14.25 pounds
Capacity 50 pounds
Extras Parent pouch, under-seat storage basket
|60.00||5-point||14.25 pounds||50 pounds||Multi-position||Parent pouch, under-seat storage basket|
The First Years Jet Review
Weight 11.5 pounds
Capacity 50 pounds
Extras Parent pouch, under-seat storage basket
|39.00||5-point||11.5 pounds||50 pounds||Multi-position||Parent pouch, under-seat storage basket|
Babies R Us Umbrella Stroller Review
Weight 7.6 pounds; 6.5 pounds
Capacity 35 pounds
Extras Parent pouch ($30 version)
|20.00||3-point||7.6 pounds; 6.5 pounds||35 pounds||N/A||Parent pouch ($30 version)|
Umbrella Stroller Performance Reviews
Most umbrella strollers reviews stress the importance of comfort (who wants a fidgeting and whining child, even for a short trip to the mall?) and user-friendly operation (split-second folding and unfolding, easy and pushing and responsive steering) above all. The one challenge we faced in assessing budget strollers was the unevenness in online feedback. Some popular name-brand models garner hundreds of comments while private-label or in-house umbrella strollers in the Cheapism zone are not widely reviewed. The Babies R Us Umbrella Stroller, exclusive to that vendor and reviewed only on the Babies R Us website, is one such example that nonetheless earns a spot in our lineup.
Umbrella Strollers Ease of Use.Simple convenience is the primary reason people buy an umbrella stroller. The antithesis of a bulky travel system or jogging stroller, umbrella strollers are lightweight, easy to fold, and compact. And at their best, they're easy to push around.With hundreds of parents weighing in about The First Years Ignite (starting at $60), the assessment is overwhelmingly positive. Umbrella strollers reviews at sites such as Amazon and Toys R Us laud the Ignite's ease of use, saying it's a breeze to fold (one hand is all it takes) and unfold and light enough to carry onto a bus or train and quickly transfer into and out of a car. The handles are at a height that works for taller adults, users report, and maneuvering is almost effortless, even with one hand. Not surprisingly given the sheer number of comments, we also came across a few complaints about clumsy folding and locking, a storage basket that's hard to access, and wheels that skid on very smooth surfaces.
The First Years Jet (starting at $39), another model with one-handed fold, likewise boasts hundreds of fans. Posts at Diapers.com praise this slightly smaller sibling of the Ignite for the same user-friendly attributes. One umbrella strollers review notes how easily it glides through crowded aisles in busy stores and at Walmart another says it handled like a charm on Las Vegas's main thoroughfare. Still, we detected some grumbling about kicking the back of the stroller when pushing, sticky or wobbly wheels, and occasional difficulty with the folding lock.
Words of support are also directed at both versions of the Babies R Us Umbrella Stroller (starting at $20 and $30), the cheapest means of transport in our lineup. There are far fewer umbrella strollers reviews for these two models, but those posted at Babies R Us talk up their value, saying they're super-easy to fold and move around (perfect turns in tight spaces) and exceedingly light (no-strain lifting and carrying). Here, too, we read some critical appraisals, notably about having to bend over slightly while pushing, even for adults of short to average stature.
The Jeep Wrangler All Weather Stroller (starting at $39) generates comparatively less enthusiasm for ease of use. It passes muster for weight, folding, and storage capacity, according to umbrella strollers reviews at sites like Diapers.com and Target, but users caution it can be a chore to navigate. While some posts at Walmart say it rolls well on grass and gravel, others report challenges on all but the smoothest surfaces and some note that one-handed pushing demands heavy effort. More importantly, numerous reviewers groan about low handlebars that require taller adults to hunch over while pushing and a narrow wheel base that's all too easy to kick while striding behind.
Most users are high on the Delta LX Side by Side (starting at $92), again citing the user-friendly features and performance of this double model. Although some umbrella strollers reviews complain about low handles and sticky wheels, posts at Amazon and elsewhere commend the easy and compact folding, relatively light weight, overall maneuverability, and a width that fits through a standard 30-inch doorway.
Umbrella Strollers Comfort.Parents know that an uncomfortable ride means a cranky child -- something to be avoided at all costs. According to umbrella strollers reviews, the models on our list generally afford passengers the comfort they (and the adults in their lives) desire.The First Years Ignite and Jet win points for comfort. Parents tell of children who happily climb aboard, fall asleep with ease, and sit quietly. A relieved mom reports in a review at Amazon that her seven-month old contentedly snoozed in the Ignite between flights, and other posts say the roomy seat suffices for kids as old as five. The Jet is a slightly smaller version of the Ignite but seems to deliver an equivalent degree of comfort, according to umbrella strollers reviews. Both models boast a semi-reclining seat and a sun shade -- features that some reviewers praise and others shrug off. Fans of the partial recline (a few inches at most) assert it promotes sleep and quiet gazing about while critics contend the set-back angle is so minimal as to be useless. As for the adjustable sun canopy, even the larger version on the Ignite is frequently dismissed as ineffective, although some reviewers say both sizes do the job.
The two Babies R Us strollers also hit the comfort target, according to umbrella strollers reviews, even without a reclining seat. One toddler is so enamored of the slightly pricier version that he tries to climb in even when there's no need, a reviewer writes. Both models also boast a sun visor, which is quite a bit smaller on the cheaper stroller, but neither draws much notice in online comments.
A smooth ride for both passengers in the Delta LX Side by Side, regardless whether twins or children of different ages, is the consensus among reviews posted at Walmart. Still, a few umbrella strollers reviews grouse about seatbacks that are too short for taller kids and many ding the small sun shades; one parent suggests draping a light blanket over the canopies for better protective cover.
Grumbles about comfort trail after the Jeep Wrangler All Weather in umbrella strollers reviews. Parents say the seat is too narrow and the fixed-position seatback discourages napping. On the other hand, reviewers laud the roll-up seat pad, which leaves the child resting against a mesh net for heat relief in warm weather, and many like the adjustable sun canopy, which goes all the way forward and seems to adequately block the sun.
Lightweight Umbrella Strollers
Umbrella Stroller Weight.Lightweight umbrella strollers are just that -- light in weight, with the ideal maximum varying between 12 and 20 pounds, depending which expert you turn to. The lightest umbrella strollers we researched come from Babies R Us; they tip the scales at less than 8 pounds. Moving on up gets us to the 10.8-pound Jeep Wrangler All Weather stroller, the 11.5-pound The First Years Jet, and the 14.25-pound The First Years Ignite. Not surprisingly, the heavyweight of the group is the two-seater Delta LX Side by Side, at approximately 20 pounds.
Umbrella Stroller Capacity.How much child can a lightweight umbrella stroller hold? That depends. The Babies R Us models max out at 35 pounds, as do the seats on the Delta LX Side by Side. The Jeep Wrangler All Weather claims to manage a peak load up to 40 pounds but parents of big and tall kids say the fit is just too tight. Both the Ignite and Jet from The First Years can transport children weighing up to 50 pounds, although one parent who owns both says the Ignite is better suited to older kids because it seems roomier and the seatback is higher.
Umbrella Stroller Safety.Like travel systems and jogging strollers, lightweight umbrella strollers undergo rigorous safety testing. ASTM International (the former American Society for Testing and Materials) publishes all the guidelines and standards, some of which are mandatory (established by the federal government) and others that manufacturers have voluntarily adopted.In a nutshell, the safety standards are as follows: Lightweight umbrella strollers must be free of sharp edges and points. All small parts must be firmly attached so they don't pose a choking hazard. There must be a latch to prevent folding while a child is sitting in the stroller and there can be no pinching points. Lightweight umbrella strollers must have a strap at the waist and one between the legs that attach to each other (a.k.a. a three-point harness). And they must undergo testing for stability, brake function, static load, and impact.
All the lightweight umbrella strollers we researched meet minimal safety standards. They all feature rear brakes and The First Years Ignite is equipped with locks on the front swivel wheels to keep the stroller steady when taveling over rougher terrain.
Some models, including The First Years Ignite and Jet strollers and the Delta LX Side by Side, go beyond the minimum three-point harness requirement and outfit each seat with a five-point harness that also secures the passenger's shoulders. This added measure of security matters to parents of active children who report it keeps riders from leaning dangerously forward or wriggling around excessively. Several parents note this is one feature that drew them to these particular models.
The Babies R Us and Jeep Wrangler All Weather strollers come with three-point harnesses. While reviews of the Babies R Us buggies are largely mum about the strap arrangement, some reviews of the Jeep Wrangler bemoan the absence of the shoulder restraints.