View Full Version : Looking for a lightweight/umbrella stroller
03-07-2004, 03:10 AM
I have a Combi stroller I've used for my 20 mo old dd which I got for $70 and enjoyed using. She still can be in it, but now we are flying to Japan soon and will live in Tokyo for a year, which means we will walk and use subway and trains a lot (going up/downstairs).
So I started thinking about purchasing a new umbrella stroller. I'm planning to buy one at a local BRU using a $10 off coupon I recently got in the mail (I have to use it by the 13th).
I want something that
--is lightweight (of course),
--is compact when folded,
--can be folded with one hand,
--possibly comes with straps to carry it, and
--does not have to come with a tray and/or cup holder,
--around $50 (which, I'm not sure if it's realistic).
I'm not worried about the weight limit to sit on it (my dd is very skinny and tall so I'm quite sure she will outgrow it by hight not weight)
Any recommendation? Is there such a thing?
Now, does it make sense to make this investment if the weight of the stroller that I'm looking for and possibly purchase is not much lighter than my Combi (which weighs about 15 lbs.)? Many umbrella strollers I've looked online (like Maclaren) that have the features I want seem to weigh about 11 lbs, which is lighter than 15 lbs, but not super light. I'm thinking if I cannot find what I really want, then maybe I should just live with the Combi... Are the other features that I want, like one-hand maneuver, still too important to ignore?
What's (a) no-no umbrella stroller(s) on the market that I could encounter at BRU? The other day I was at a TRU and I saw a model (umbrella stroller) by Kolcraft, plus another couple of models by Baby Trend. They seemed to come in the simplest designs and I believe they were the cheapest lines ($13-20). I came home to check how much the Kolcrfat model weighs, and it was 7 + lbs, but I wasn't sure if it was worth the investment (however small).
Any advice will be welcome!
03-08-2004, 12:12 AM
I know this is an unpopular choice, but we bought a Kolcraft umbrella stroller for $9.95 about 4 months ago that we are very happy with.
Mine is as basic as you can get (no recline, no shade, no basket), but I have modified it in the following ways: I made a new cover in colors that I like, I added three key rings along the back top which I can snap things to (keys, cell phone, chapstick, etc.), I made a matching bag that is just big enough for a bottle of water and a snack (or a hard back book and an umbrella), I made an over the shoulder strap for it (but later took it off, found I didn't use it at all!), I also added reflective tape to it. All these 'improvements' together cost less than the stroller and took one evening to do.
We got this when my DD reached the age that A) she wasn't falling asleep every time we went out (she can and does sleep in it, but it makes me uncomfortable watching her) and B) she could be trusted to walk with me. She had been at the age where she wanted to walk by herself a lot, but I wasn't ready for her to do it all the time. Most umbrella strollers are good to 40#.
Definitely buy this in the states. Also, if your daughter will outgrow her current carseat in the next year, plan on buying your next carseat while in the states too. The baby gear in Japan is outrageously expensive (they sell a Kolcraft equivalent for $30!) I've found that it is cheaper to buy online and have them ship it to you then to buy locally (when it comes to baby gear.)
A good source for you is www.japanwithkids.com they have a special section just for Tokyo. Okinawa is a lot different from Tokyo (about like comparing the capital of Nebraska to NYC) but it is still Japan, so if you would like me to answer any question email me, if that doesn't work (and I've had at least one person on this board have problems with my email address) post another message and I'll email you.
Take care, we LOVE Japan.
Jen in Okinawa
Mom to Noelle (2 1/3)
03-08-2004, 04:58 PM
Wow thanks so much for your reply. Glad to hear from someone actually in Japan. Well I am a Japanese native but I know nothing about life with kids in Japan (my dd was born and has been raised only in US) so part of me is very curious about what's available (differently from here) for mothers and kids, and another part of me has "oh everything's gonna be quite expensive there" fear!
Like you said life in Okinawa must be different than that of Tokyo in many ways but prices of things in general are going to be, well, expensive, in either cities (as compared to the US). So you are right, I should buy and bring whatever I can from here.
Wonderful that you made your own "peripheries" to your Kolcraft. I wish I had the talent to sew too... like you, I don't want anything that comes with frills this time either, and in that sense, there was nothing wrong with the Kolcraft model I saw. I guess I wanted to learn what other choices that I can choose from are out there.
As for a car seat I bought Marathon and will bring it there. because Japanese started using car seats fairly recently, I thought I could trust American (and Europe) products better. I know some foreign models are available there but they must be really expensive (often just because they are imports).
I will look into the linked site you gave me now. Thanks a bunch!!
03-08-2004, 07:02 PM
A lot of the 'modifications' I made can be done even by the least crafty person and they can wait until you get to Tokyo and see how you use your stroller. All the stuff (except the fabric) I got at the 100 yen shop. First can buy large keyrings and caribiners (the things that look like a 'D' that has been squished on one side and have a hinged side that is springlocked closed - you can see them at nice sports stores like REI, but don't buy them there, wait till you can get them at the 100 yen shop.) I sewed the keyrings to the back top of the seat, but you could slip a larger keyring over each handle and fasten the caribiner to the keyring - then you can slip your keys or cell phone into the caribiner. The reflective tape you can get at the 100 yen shop too - just clean the section of metal you want to add it to, snip off the length you need, peel, and stick! The tote I made could easily be a purchased one, the 100 yen shops carry tons of them, just make sure the handles of the tote slip easily over the handles of the stroller without sagging too much.
I also saw a very 'mod' Kolcraft the other day at Toys'R'Us - it was a leopard print with a brushed aluminum look frame and black handles and wheels, much more stylish than the standard navy blue frame with childish print.
The cover that I made was VERY easy to sew, and like I said only took 1 afternoon. Maybe you have a friend who would like to do this for you? If you couldn't already tell I am a HUGE aficianado of the 100 yen shop. All my daughter's dishware comes from there (see the Mealtime forum for info on toddler dishes, I posted a picture of hers there). They also have wonderful baby/toddler snacks and foods, washcloths, some clothing, and an assortment of toys.
Jen in Okinawa
Mom to Noelle (2 1/3)
03-09-2004, 02:48 AM
I guess I could possibly sew something simple like that... I really liked your idea of using the D-shaped rings for keys and cellphone! I also saw a leopard print version of Kolcraft at a TRU. One of the reasons why I did't jumped on what I saw (Kolcraft along with other Baby Trend one) was because I didn't like any of the designs available.... I will go to BRU sometime soon and look into some choices to make decision.
100 yen shops started popping up all over the place around the time I left Japan for US (mid 90's) so I haven't really had an opportunities to shop at them. Well I'm guessing they are just like 99 cents centers (dollar shops) that we have here (selling lots of junk in bulk but there are some things that you cannot find anywhere else that you love and keep going back there for, and the low price is always guaranteed!!).
I loved the web site you gave me the link to. Wow! It was exactly what I needed (useful word of a mouth ["kuchi-komi"] info for foreigners/English speakers living in Tokyo/Japan). I spent hours today to read posts on "flying with kids" forum there!!!
Thanks a lot,
03-09-2004, 11:44 AM
Oh! 100 yen shops and dollar stores should not be mentioned in the same breath!!! There is soooo much NICE stuff that you can get there... Okay, mostly the toys are dollar store stuff, but you can get great office supplies, home decorating, organizational, kitchenware, beauty supplies, crafting, gardening, and laundry stuff. They also have hardware too and baby supplies too.
The worst part about sewing the new cover was taking the old one off - THAT was gut clenching, but I kept telling myself that it was only $10 and I could get another one if I had to... The sewing is all straight line and straight forward. The sling is actually just a rectangle of cloth that has been cleverly cut and folded. If you do try and duplicate it make sure that you take the whole thing off and only undo the stitching on one side - this will give you the dimensions that you need for the fabric, but will still keep the fold that you need to duplicate intact (it sounds harder than it actually was, the fold was a bit like origami, once you've done it once you go 'AHA!')
Jen in Okinawa
Mom to Noelle (2 1/3)
03-10-2004, 04:09 AM
I went to BRU today and compared a few models I would possibly buy.
Baby Trend $ 59.99 simple, quite easy to maneuver, I thought "simple one like this is what I need."
Baby Trend 79.99 reduced to 59.99, just like the model above but it comes with an insert with a feet cover which I thought was wonderful.
BUT these Baby Trend models weighs 16# + which is heavier than my Combi at 15# (even though they are less bulkier than that) I wouldn't buy them. I wasn't sure if I liked how to use their buckle either (it was not very easy to put my dd down and buckle her up for some reason)
Right next to these two models there was the famous Volo by Maclaren. Well I LOVE how it looks (light blue), very lightweight, easy to manuever, BUT... it was really hard to fold it. First I didn't know how. I asked for help and the store clark who helped me said "(stepping on a little piece, just like many other makers' models) Do like this, BUT this model is a bit hard because of the piece attached to the carrier is right on top of where you are supposed to step on." Exactly it, there was a little piece that gets in the way to step fold it. I really didn't like it. Besides, it's beyond my budget.
Then I saw a Kolcraft model at $20: very simple, easy to fold. It wasn't too bad at all (unless it starts to fall apart after using it for a few times). I just hated the colors (plain navy or green). holds only up to 35# (which may not be a biggie for me because my dd is light).
For the same reason (colors) I didn't like Chicco's models I saw there. Both are around my budget (49.99), light weight, simple, but I wouldn't buy those just because of the colors.
What I wanted is with the color (stylishness) of Maclaren, baby Trend or even Kolcraft's ease of use, and I'm willing to pay up to Chicco's price.
BRU and TRU are conveniently there to try something out firsthand, but the selection of products seems rather small. Now what should I do? Any good online store to buy possibly with a free shipping deal?
03-10-2004, 04:13 AM
I will definitely go to a 100 yen shop when I get home!
Well you said you got your Kolcraft for $10, but where? I went to see one at TRU and their cheapest model was on sale at 12.99 I think. Another model with leopard print or with cover was sold at 19.99 I believe. The one I saw today at BRU was one of them (as I mentioned in another message on this thread).
03-10-2004, 11:18 AM
The only thing to keep in mind about the Maclaren (we used to have one) is that the very design that makes them easy to manuever also makes them easy to tip over. My DD tipped over our Maclaren by stretching when she was in the reclined position! Maclaren basically said that this was inherent to the design and to deal with it. Having said that I LOVED ours and, had the Volo been available at the time, probably would have purchased the Volo. For what you are looking for, the Volo is probably worth the extra money (it doesn't recline, so the tip over problem is non-existent). If DH wasn't so appalled at the number of strollers we have/had I would have bought it instead of the Kolcraft, but it was definitely easier to sell him on a $9.95 model!
We found our Kolcraft stroller at the BX, sometimes the BX (Base Exchange) gets discontinued pattern/colors at a cheaper price.
Jen in Okinawa
Mom to Noelle (2 1/3)
03-11-2004, 01:12 AM
>Volo is probably worth the extra money (it doesn't recline, so
>the tip over problem is non-existent). If DH wasn't so
>appalled at the number of strollers we have/had I would have
>bought it instead of the Kolcraft, but it was definitely
>easier to sell him on a $9.95 model!
What would you say the major difference between Volo (or other Maclaren product) and Kolcraft is? I don't get any feeling that you have problem using your Kolcraft (after you worked on its look yourself), but with no money issue, you would have bought a Volo. Would you say Volo is still better made than Kolcraft, worth that much more money? Is the difference its look, ease of use, or ....?
Pricewise Kolcraft is definitely a winner in our household!!
>We found our Kolcraft stroller at the BX, sometimes the BX
>(Base Exchange) gets discontinued pattern/colors at a cheaper
I hadn't heard of BX till now.
03-12-2004, 11:39 AM
The best thing about the Maclaren's is the ease of pushing it. It spins on a dime and the front wheels never 'lock up'.
Have you ever been stationary with your stoller for awhile (say, stopped at a light, or pausing to decide which cough syrup in the store). While you are paused you probably automatically 'rock' the stroller back and forth (a holdover from when they were infants and seemed to need constant motion in order to sleep). Well, after you've been rocking it for awhile, the front wheels sometimes get backwards then when you try and move out your wheels 'lock up' and you have to sort of back up and THEN go forward. The Maclaren that I had (a Techno) NEVER did this.
If you look at the frame of the Maclarens the back wheels sort of sit under the baby. This is what makes them easy to turn, the wheels are very close to the center of gravity.
If money were no issue I probably would buy the Volo (though, if it were no issue, I would probably search around and see what cool stuff I could get, but I'm like that).
The Volo is, hands down, better made than the Kolcraft. For me the issue was how long were we going to continue using the stroller. We had pretty much given up using the stroller when I decided that we would probably need something for our trip back to America (something to contain her in the airport and catch her tired body during all the mall walking, zoo visiting, and museum viewing I planned on doing). Then I figured if I needed something I probably ought to go ahead and get it so I could use it in the interim.
I had NO idea how much we would use this stroller! I figured it would pretty much sit until our trip, but DD wanted to use it right away. She like that she got to choose (do you want to ride in your stroller, ride in the cart, or walk?) and she was old enough to appreciate getting someplace faster if she was riding.
So, we ended up using it A LOT more than I ever dreamed. It did help a lot in the airport, even if it carried our carry-ons more than it carried our DD, and we've used it almost every day on our trip. However, even knowing now how much we use it, I still wouldn't have bought the Maclaren (because DH would have gone into convulsions).
So it kind of depends on what your stoller use is like now. I can promise you that despite being in a completely different locale you will probably use the stroller the same. So, do you use it daily? Do you plan on having any more children? Will you be traveling by plane a lot (say back to the states for visits)? How big is your child? Will they outgrow the Kolcraft by weight soon?
Quality-wise the Maclaren wins hands down. It is sturdier, easier to push, and will last a lot longer. My thought was that at $20 ($10 for initial purchase and $10 for improvements) I can still replace it 5 times before I equal the cost of the Volo. I am shallow though, I go out and sigh over the other strollers, I envy those moms that have the pricier stuff that is sooo cute or elegant. But... I just can't justify the cost - for me.
One thing you might want to consider - a lot of the public buildings here in Okinawa (well, not public, more like shopping malls) have strollers for their patrons to use. Even stores like the 100 yen shops, grocery stores, and DIY (do it yourself) shops have baskets you can put a toddler into.
Oh, and the BX, it is the store on the military base, sort of like a tiny Walmart, that is supposed to keep our cost of living down and provide us with a few American amenities.
Jen in Okinawa
Mom to Noelle (2 1/3)
edited to add:
I was going to attach some photos of our stroller, but DH just confessed that he left some cables (the ones to attach the digital camera to the laptop) back in Japan. He said we might be able to get a replacement one inexpensively, if we do I'll add some photos, if not I'll post them when we get back to Japan.
03-13-2004, 04:26 AM
Oh so you are back to the US right now.
>So it kind of depends on what your stoller use is like now.
>I can promise you that despite being in a completely different
>locale you will probably use the stroller the same. So, do
>you use it daily? Do you plan on having any more children?
>Will you be traveling by plane a lot (say back to the states
>for visits)? How big is your child? Will they outgrow the
>Kolcraft by weight soon?
First, my dd has been always light (20-30 percentile) so I don't think the weight is a big issue. Right now she must weigh about 24-25# at the most.
I don't go out very often except to get some grocery. When I do go shop at the mall for instance I cannot concentrate on what I'm doing if I have my dd with me, so I tend to leave her with my dh. Whenever we go out as family my dh tends to carry her from places to places (he thinks the stroller often ends up not being used because dd wants to get out of it, or taking too much space, and it's easier for him to carry her. I don't necessarily agree with him), so we actually don't use our Combi that much. Actually I don't remember when I used it last. Let alone daily.
Having said that, in Tokyo, which may be a little different from life in Okinawa, everywhere we go, it will be by train/subway or by foot. I won't rely on my dh to carry dd around because nowadays my dd is too active to carry in the first place, and starts to be very squirmy if being held for too long. Life in Japan in general requires a lot of walking (from/to stations, bus stops, nearby parks, etc) as we won't be driving on a regular basis like here.
When my dd was 5 months I was back in Tokyo briefly and I did go out alone with her using my Combi. It was crazy. It may depend on the line you have to ride on but there are often only stairs to and from the platform where trains arrive. That means I had to carry the stroller up and down the stairs. She slept in it, and I couldn't pick her up, hold her, and fold the stroller at the same time, and ended up rolling the stroller into the most crowded commuter train during the rush hour. That was really embarrassing. After that experience, when I went out with her (without anyone else with us), I used my carrier (Baby Bjorn) instead (which I don't think is the best option for outings longer than half an hour....)
I don't think I'm going out with her by train/subway every day while there, but when I do, I will definitely need a stroller that doesn't take too much space in a crowded area, that has strong wheels to endure the concrete (and sometimes bumpy) paths, light enough to pick up and carry up/down the stairs.
Also, we will be traveling a lot by plane during the next one year. We'll be flying on the 25th back to Japan, and then we will come back to the US once during the summer. Sometime in fall we will be back to the US again, and there is a possibility we will be visiting Singapore in winter. Then we will be back to the US finally in next spring. All these trips (except one to Singapore) will need at least one transit so I'm talking MANY airports to walk (probably run).
We are planning to have another child sometime in the future so my dd won't be the only and last one to use it.
All this seems to mean that there is no reason for me not to invest on a new nice umbrella stroller.
>Quality-wise the Maclaren wins hands down. It is sturdier,
>easier to push, and will last a lot longer. My thought was
>that at $20 ($10 for initial purchase and $10 for
>improvements) I can still replace it 5 times before I equal
>the cost of the Volo. I am shallow though, I go out and sigh
>over the other strollers, I envy those moms that have the
>pricier stuff that is sooo cute or elegant. But... I just
>can't justify the cost - for me.
I'm with you. I know the dillemma you felt exactly. I have the feeling that if I pick Kolcraft I will be jealous over other people's fancier strollers, but I do have to have some strong reasons to spend that much money on a little stroller that I may or may not use much.
You are almost selling the Volo to me,,, but I still don't know how to justify the cost when I tell my DH about the purchase that I would be making!!
When I bought the Baby Bjorn carrier, car seat (Britax Marathon), high chair (Chicco), and other stuff I showed relevant pages on Baby Bargains book for him to read, and he was with me all the way (basically). In Toddler Bargains (the first edition) I have, there is no umbrella stroller section (I don't think) so I cannot tell him "Hey this is what they say and so this model got to be great" or use "this model is cheap but has had a lot of accidents including death, that's what it says in the book!" type of scare tactics either...
BTW, did your Maclaren have a little piece that goes in the way to step on another piece to fold it? I don't know how to describe this but like I said in another post, when I saw the Volo at BRU I tried it and it was kinda difficult to fold it. Store clark said the same thing.
Also, do you know anything (good or bad) about Chicco umbrella stroller?
I'm coming late to this, but I think the Chicco Caddy would fit the bill on all of your points. It's a bit difficult to fold it w/ one hand, but it can be done w/ practice -- I've done it while holding my 14-month-old on one hip. The weight limit is 33 lbs. I don't know what the height limit is though. The stroller itself only weighs 11 lbs.
I'm late to this discussion but I have the Volo so I can tell you a bit about it. I love it! I live in NYC and I take the subway, bus, etc and it's perfect for that. My Mom has the Kolcraft in Ohio and it's great for the suburbs but doesn't compare to the Volo for city living. A couple things to consider, for city living weather is a much bigger issue because you'll be out in it for a lot longer period. So, you need to be looking at strollers with good wind and rain protection. The Volo has an attachment package with those items, so more options but more cost. Just my two cents, you may have already purchased something.
03-19-2004, 02:34 AM
Caroline and tme
Thanks for your responce. You are exactly right, budget-wise, Chicco Caddy is a perfect option! I did look into it at BRU, and noticed it was within my budget. But as you said, the weight limit issue (33 lbs is rather small compared to other ones), the weight of the stroller itself (11 lbs compared to say 8 lbs Volo), as well as color options they had (green and blue but no red available) were not attractive to me at the time.
I spent a lot of time comparing Volo and other options and thought through for a long long time. I came to a conclusion that for city life, as "tme" mentioned, Volo was the answer... , I looked for different web sites to buy one at the best rate and found another thread on this site someone mentioned Baby Dealz on Yahoo had the best deal (about 80 dollars including shipping). I was about to spend that much money for the Volo which was way over my budget but thought was worthwhile, when I noticed it doesn't come with the rain cover (sold separately for another 50 bucks). As you said, in the city you are often walking outside and rain cover (which Caddy comes with) I think is a must. And I realized somewhere I have to come to a compromise between what I want, what I need and the $$ I can spend. I really want a Volo but it's beyond my budget.
Now Caddy is my final choice. As we are moving in a few days I cannot buy anything over the Internet. I will go back to BRU to see if they have another color rather than blue or green (those colors in general I don't dislike but for some reason they simply didn't look attractive to me). If not I may just pick one of the two and get settled with it.
All the responces I got from here I really appreciate. They all helped me think twice, formed my opinions about the choices and make decisions.
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