Sunday, February 13, 2011

Product Review - Joovy Caboose Ultralight Double Stroller

For posts on this blog, I try to think of things that I get asked about a lot. Products I own, hobbies I have, and just general things I'd talk about with friends. The baby/kid product I review for friends most frequently has got to be the Joovy Caboose double stroller.

We decided to buy the Joovy when we had our first two kids 18 months apart. My older daughter was too little to sit on the bench seat at 18 months, but she was getting pretty cranky with sitting in the stroller and I couldn't imagine dropping all the money on a double stroller just to have her throw a fit about sitting in it.

There are a few versions of this stroller, and we got the Ultralight because it was smaller and space was an issue for us.

First, The Cons:
*It has a small basket underneath. Yep, it's tiny. If you're going to be shopping all day at the mall and want a place to stash your bags, this won't work. Some cruel moms might make their older kid get out of the jumpseat and walk so that they can pile all their bags in the back of the stroller - uh, not that I've ever personally done this, I'm just sayin' you could. You also can't really even fit a diaper bag under there.

*Lots of people give this stroller negative reviews because the seat doesn't recline very far for a kid to sleep, and obviously sleep is difficult in the jumpseat. This wasn't a concern to me because first of all, my kids aren't really the fall-asleep-in-public type, and second, I'm never really out ALL DAY in the stroller. If I just run to the mall or somewhere, they can come back and sleep at home. I will say that this is my stroller of choice at Disneyland, and we have had some entertaining experiences with the kids falling asleep in it. Once my son fell asleep in the back and we had to tie a blanket around the back handle so he didn't pitch forward and fall out (see below). So, you know, if your kids are sleepers, it's a valid "con," but wasn't one that came up for me personally very often.

*Next, it has a small/useless parent tray. It has a drink holder that will fit a can of soda or a smallish fountain drink, but no big gulp. It has a small zipper pocket and then an upright pocket as well. For me it worked because I travel light, but I've seen lots of complaints online about this. The regular Joovy Caboose does not have a parent tray at all.

*The buckles on the jumpseat are really just for looks. If you have a runner or a kid who is going to fight being back there, these buckles won't exactly do much for ya.

*When the front seat is reclined, it is pretty annoying/uncomfortable for the kid in the jumpseat. And if you have an infant seat in it, it has to be reclined. My kids have been pretty patient with it, but I try to recline it as infrequently as possible. Also, it only has two positions - upright and reclined. And the reclined position is.... well, not very.

So are the pros:
*It is SUPER compact. I mean, really small. It's small folded up, and it's small set up. This was perfect for me, because I drove a Honda Civic, and didn't want my stroller taking up the whole trunk. In fact, I could even fit our Joovy AND our double jogger together in the trunk of the Civic. Impressive, I know. Also, when I thought about places I would be taking a stroller, it was usually places like the library or the mall, where the setting really didn't lend itself to a giant beast of a stroller trying to fit down aisles and between racks of clothes.

*I liked the green color. Shallow, of course. But color's important to me.

*I liked the flexibility of the seating options. We bought this stroller almost 4 years ago, and now we have 3 kids. Someone can sit in the front, someone can sit on the jumpseat, and someone can actually stand on the footstand. Or, if your children happen to be on the more petite side, you can actually fit two on the jumpseat. I should note that Joovy does not recommend or endorse 3 passengers for this stroller, but it can definitely be done.

*I loved taking this to the zoo, Disneyland, etc. because my older kids could jump off to look at something, and then just come jump back on. It's also way easier to get through crowds.

*You can see on the picture there are two big handles for the kid in the back. I frequently use these for my kids who are old enough to walk, giving them a choice of, "You can sit on the seat, stand on the footstand, or walk alongside and hold the handle."

*It maneuvers really easily. I never felt like I was pushing anything more than a single stroller.

*It was the only stroller I needed when out and around. If I happened to be out and about with just one of my kids, I could put them in it and not feel like a nerd with this giant hulk stroller for only one kid.

*It can fit an infant carseat in the front. You take the tray off, and it has another attachment that sort of cradles the back of the infant seat. Then the seat sits down in there, and there are straps that come up, and you buckle them to secure it in.

*Joovy has good customer service. One of my seat buckles broke and they promptly sent me another one, free of charge and no questions asked.

I would make this same decision a hundred times over again, and I have had numerous friends who bought a Graco tell me they should have bought a Joovy. The only other thing that would have been better is a Phil and Ted's since you can use it as a single/double jogger as well, but I wasn't really familiar with that stroller when we got this. But we have loved the Joovy and it has served us well. It does have its drawbacks, but they weren't big ones for us, and the pros have far outweighed the cons.

To me the biggest thing is that for most kids, once they're old enough to have a younger sibling, they're old enough that they don't enjoy riding in a traditional stroller. This is a good middle ground, with lots of flexible options, and continues to be useful and usable even now that my older kids are 4 and 5. Questions? Ask away!

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Ramsey said...

Awesome review! Thank you!

Pam said...

Hi there.. You have reviewed the older version of the Joovy Caboose Ultralight. The new model has a much larger storage basket and the new version has 3-position recline for the front seat. ALso, the buckles should work perfectly for your rear riding passenger. The new version also has an upgraded wheel system - sealed ball bearing wheels and a smoother suspension. Just thought I'd pass along the comments.

aubrei said...

I know this review was a while back, but I just got this stroller and was wondering if the seat cover was machine washable, or how to you clean it?

Katie said...

We always just spot cleaned it. The light green did eventually start looking pretty dirty. The customer service people at Joovy were super helpful, so they may have some tips on cleaning. Enjoy your Joovy!

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