Mothers in Motion
By Lisa Unger
Shopping for a baby jogger
(Adapted from an article by Jonathan Beverly that originally appeared in Running Times magazine www.runningtimes.com)
Jonathan Beverly is an editor for Running Times magazine and the father of Landis, who rode in several baby joggers while Jonathan critiqued their performance. According to his article in Running Times, Jonathan ran with Landis on paved roads and also on dirt roads, totaling up to 20 miles on each jogger. Hopefully the following adaptation of Jonathan’s findings will help new families in GWTC decide if they should use a baby jogger, and what features to look for when buying a jogger.
The first jogger Jonathan tried was the B.O.B. Sport Utility Stroller. It took him less than half an hour to assemble to B.O.B. and to inflate the tires. He found the B.O.B. did well on rough terrain as the seat is positioned farther forward than on other joggers, which allows for better weight distribution. However, he found that the B.O.B. was only adequate on paved roads. The B.O.B. lists at $280.00 and is 23.5 lbs. It is good for children up to 70 lbs. The best features: great tracking and stability off-road, wide tires and pockets for child’s cup; worst feature: cumbersome folding process.
The next jogger was the Baby Jogger III. The assembly process was simple, but entailed more steps than other joggers. The BJIII is essentially a fabric seat hung between two aluminum triangles attached to wheels. The simplicity is its greatest strength and allows the manufacturer to offer a lifetime guarantee. The BJIII adds features such as shocks in the vertical supports, a reclining seat back that uses zippers along the sides and a canopy that can rotate forward to block low light. Jonathan found that the canopy, however, was difficult to position. The wheels on the BJIII are 24″ and worked well on pavement, but sunk into sand as much as 16″ wheels did on other joggers. He found the BJIII to be lightweight for its size, but due to its height, when used in windy conditions it created a sail effect and also the shocks gave a loose and bouncy feel on bumpy roads. This is a great jogger for older children and runners wanting maximum rolling ease with space on the roads and in their garage. The BJIII lists for $400.00 and is 23.5 lbs. It is good for children up to 100 lbs. The best features: large diameter wheels, wide seat; worst feature: canopy was difficult to use.
The third jogger tested was the Kelty Joy Rider. This 3-wheeler opens and closes with one hand and one foot much like an umbrella stroller. While it is one of the bigger strollers when open, it folds into a long tube shape that fits in a car trunk easily. The harness is padded and the seat lined so this is a hot jogger for summer months, but Jonathan found it to be very solid on both paved and dirt roads. He had to adjust to the asymmetrical two piece handle. The Kelty Joy Rider lists for $320.00 and is 22.33 lbs. It is good for children up to 65 lbs. The best features: folds with one hand, nice harness, solid construction and big canopy; worst feature: no ventilation.
Next tested was the Dreamer Design Suspension. It assembled and folded easily. The bubble canopy can be pulled all the way forward by releasing one snap at the frame and allows for low sun coverage. He found, however, that the rods in the canopy were weak and one broke on his model. It did not affect the functionality of the canopy. Jonathan found this jogger to be smooth on paved roads, but only adequate on dirt. The Dreamer Design lists for $300.00 and is 25 lbs. It is good for children up to 75 lbs. The best feature: versatile canopy and harness, folds small and an all-weather cover is included; worst feature: seat back sags and the parking brake rattles.
The fifth jogger tested was the Nordic Track Apex. While this jogger provided a smooth ride on paved roads, the small front wheel bounced back and forth too easily on rougher dirt roads. Also, the only storage compartment is on the back of the seat. Not only do items fall out of the compartment, but too much weight alters the configuration of the seat, which may become uncomfortable to the rider. This stroller is best for babies who do not need to sit upright and short runs where storage is not needed. The Nordic Track Apex lists for $199.00 and is 25 lbs. It is good for children up to 50 lbs. The best features: sporty design, solid simplicity; worst features: no bottom storage and the seat back is too flexible.
The next jogger tested was the InStep 10k Ultimate. Jonathan found that this stroller rode on dirt roads better then all of the other joggers except for the B.O.B., even though the InStep has standard width tires. This is due to better weight distribution with the baby’s weight spread to all 3 wheels. The seat has a soft padded back but is supported by a rigid frame that holds its position. The seat also reclined on the run by unbuckling one strap and there is mesh ventilation behind the seat. The InStep folds fairly easily but requires more steps than other joggers. The InStep 10k Ultimate lists for $149.00 and is 19 lbs. It is good for children up to 50 lbs. The best features: comfortable and adjustable seat with ventilation and good weight distribution; worst feature: canopy doesn’t cover low light.
The Kool-Stride has large, angled rear wheels and a long, low profile but this design did not provide a ride much different from other joggers. The handle height, however, can be adjusted allowing for a custom fit for each runner. This jogger performed well for Jonathan at a faster pace of sub-seven minute miles. On rough roads, however, the thin back supports and handle flexed significantly and felt too light and bouncy. The Kool-Stride uses a different braking system with a plastic pad that presses on the tire and the parking brake was not as secure as the standard caliper brake locked onto the rims. The Kool-Stride uses a unique sliding system that folds the top into the triangle between the wheels. It works easily but the folded stroller is still quite large to try to fit into a trunk. The Kool-Stride lists for $320.00 and is 21 lbs. It is good for children up to 85 lbs. The best features: large, angled wheels for stability and adjustable handles; worst feature: big, even when folded and hot in summer.
The last jogger tested was the Gozo 1X2. This jogger is very different from any others in that it can be assembled with a single seat, or as a double jogger. The seats are mounted onto the frame along with leg holders. The seats resemble car seats, so children adjust to the seat well. This jogger did well on paved roads, but the seat, which is attached securely but not rigidly only at the bottom, was too bouncy for rougher terrain. Jonathan found that little things broke or went wrong, such as the cup holder wouldn’t attach properly and the canopy support broke on the first run. Jonathan found that it was actually easier to push with both seats installed. The Gozo 1X2 lists for $350.00 and is 21 lbs. It is good for one or two children up to 85 lbs each. The best features: converts to tandem and has a familiar car seat feel; the worst features: lightweight component and a bouncy ride.
There were also 5 other double joggers tested. The B.O.B. Duallie was found to be the best for off road runs but was heavier on paved roads. The Kelty Duece Coupe was difficult to steer but was very comfortable for both kids that tested it. It also was the best at how it folds and collapses (because it has separate handles). The InStep Double Stroller was easy to assemble but didn’t collapse well. It was good on the road, but too narrow to be comfortable for two children. The Dreamer Design is lightweight and well suited for paved roads. It has a double canopy system that keeps children separated. The Baby Jogger II Twinner steered extremely well and there was plenty of room for both kids. It rode smoothly on paved roads and handled well on dirt roads and trails. The canopy, however, does not extend far enough and it doesn’t collapse as well as others.