...The Stroller That Fits In Your Purse!
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Ah, the umbrella stroller. One of the quintessential accessories of child rearing. The right one can make your #momlife a lot easier; the wrong one will leave you cursing under your breath, with a crying infant in one hand and a stroller locked in the half-folded position in the other.
Side-by-side: the GB Pockit and Summer Infant 3D Lite, letting it all hang out in the living room.
The dynamic duo folded into their smallest selves.
This week's post may seem a little off-topic compared to the last dozen or so I've put out since starting this blog. How does a stroller fit into 'home decor, organization & style with kids,' you ask? Well, at the heart of neatntiny.com is a desire to simplify life with kids. So, if I discover something that significantly improves my life, I'm going to share it here! Niche police be damned! But, if home decor's why you’ve come here, don't worry: next week's post is back on topic!
For you to fully understand just how an umbrella stroller changed my life, I should give you some background. Being a quick walker, I previously enjoyed running (sometimes literally running) errands around the city, weaving around roadblocks and slower (errr...more leisurely???) walkers. Think Gene Kelly in Singin’ In The Rain, except with pedestrian rage.
It wasn't until my son was born and I was saddled with a stroller (and all of the other paraphernalia of motherhood), that I realized how difficult to maneuver our otherwise-world-class city of Toronto could be. I was saddened by the shops and subway stations that became off-limits because they didn't have wheelchair ramps or elevators. The transition from our 'regular' stroller to our GB Pockit stroller has opened up those possibilities once more!
Our First Stroller
Before delving straight into the GB Pockit review, I'll tell you about our previous strollers, for context. (If you're just interested in the Pockit review, there’s a succinct list of pros and cons and a summary at the end. Feel free to scroll down at any point, if you get sick of the personal anecdotes and wish I would just get to the point already)!
Our first stroller was the Baby Jogger City Mini GT, an 'all-terrain' stroller that can be used from birth to 65 lbs.
We decided on it after my husband spent hours scouring the internet; his favourite pastimes include researching gadgets and bargain hunting. (Check out my Father's Day Gadget Gift Guide, which was a collaboration with him: a gift guide for dads, thought up by a dad, but approved by a mom)!
We chose the Baby Jogger City Mini GT, as it seemed to be the most well-rounded stroller in terms of maneuverability, ease of use, and cost. (It's less than half the price of the UPPAbaby Vista, one of the other, more popular, multi-purpose strollers).
It was a prudent choice. Its large, rugged tires have made easy work of Canadian winter sidewalks and it turns on a dime. It's also capable of a quick, one-handed fold down to a reasonable size.
When unfolded, though, it’s pretty clunky. It's width (24") meant that we were limited to wheelchair accessible entryways, and it was a very tight fit in shop aisles.
Umbrella Stroller: Take One
As soon as my son was big and sturdy enough for one, we searched for a daintier 'umbrella' stroller (most are suitable for kids over six months old).
We started out with the Summer Infant 3D lite.
This is a prototypical umbrella stroller at a reasonable price. It's currently the best-selling light weight stroller on Amazon.
It's much slimmer than the City Mini GT, which made getting through narrow spaces a lot easier. But, when folded, the Summer Infant 3D lite is still 41" long (this is even longer than our City Mini GT, which folds down to 33").
It doesn’t fit neatly under the table at restaurants or in the overhead compartment on the plane (like the GB Pockit does). It does, however, come with a strap, so you can fold it and toss it over your shoulder (it's only 16 lbs), when faced with a flight of stairs or a fussy baby who needs to be held.
The Summer Infant 3D Lite is a good choice for anyone looking for a well-rounded umbrella stroller that doesn't need to be ultra compact.
Umbrella Stroller: Take Two
About a year after purchasing the 3D Lite, I saw a Facebook ad for the GB Pockit Stroller, and knew this was something we just needed. (If you've read my review on the Antonia Saint NY 'heels that feel like sneakers,' you'll know I'm quite susceptible to gimmicky Facebook ads...).
In the ad, you see the stroller folding down easily to the size of a briefcase.
The GB Pockit stroller: more than meets the eye. Any 80's kids reading this? I don't know about you, but I hear that Transformers sound effect in my head when I see the transformation...
We've had the GB Pockit for about three months now, so I finally feel equipped to write a semi-comprehensive review. We've taken it on the subway, streetcar, bus, train, plane, and even a boat! (It accompanied us to Costa Rica, recently).
Here's my review of the GB Pockit Stroller:
For ages 6 months to 55 lbs
Weight: 9.5 lbs
Dimensions when open: 28" x 18" x 40"
Dimensions when folded: 12" x 7" x 14"
Storage compartment beneath the seat holds up to 11 lbs
Five-point safety harness
Foot brake on right rear wheel
For me, the most important characteristic of an umbrella stroller is portability; this was lacking in the 3D Lite.
The most remarkable thing about the GB Pockit is its compact fold. Folding down to a mere 12" x 7" x 14" and weighing just 9.5 lbs, it's earned its place in the Guinness Book as 'the world's most compact stroller.' When folded, it's small enough to fit in a large tote or shoulder bag.
To put this into perspective for my fellow bag addicts, it fits easily into a Louis Vuitton Neverfull GM or a large Longchamps Le Pliage tote (if you don't zip up the top). Personally, though, I would never carry this around in my purse (10 lbs on your shoulder does no favours for your back or your purse--and that's coming from a doctor and purse lover)!
The GB Pockit in my large Longchamps Le Pliage to give you an idea of size.
A cheap fabric tote is probably a more reasonable vessel for this stroller.
Where the Pockit's compact fold comes in handy is not so much in transit (as typically, your little one would be occupying the stroller from point A to point B), but when you arrive at your destination.
It's so convenient to be able to fold it down and tuck it under the table at a restaurant. Or, take it as a carry-on item on the plane! It can be stowed with ease, either under the seat in front of you or in the overhead compartment. (I'm really sorry I didn't get any pics of this during our recent trip. Foresight goes out the window when trying to entertain a three year old on a five hour flight)!
There's nothing worse than travelling carry-on only, then having to wait at the luggage carousel solely for your stroller (on flights where gate-checked strollers are not already waiting for you as you deplane, that is).
On level ground, the Pockit does just fine. With such a slim, light stroller, you can really speed along and pass between slower walkers you'd normally be trapped behind in a larger stroller! (It's done wonders for my pedestrian rage).
It does not, however, fare well on unpaved streets. This tiny thing has tiny wheels (4.5" in diameter) which means a bumpy ride for your little one and quite the workout for you on anything other than paved streets and sidewalks.
There's the ability to lock the swivelling front wheels into place, which makes it a little easier to control on uneven surfaces.
Be sure to fasten the harness each time! We learned this lesson the hard way, when I was rushing home one day with my son. The Pockit's front wheels got caught on a raised piece of sidewalk and he was launched into the air, landing three feet in front of the stroller. Luckily, he was unscathed (physically, at least). To this day, he asks if his seat belt is on correctly before we venture out...
Ease of Use: Folding & Unfolding
The Pockit folds down easily in just two, quick steps. It is, however, a two-handed fold.
It can be folded two different ways: the first is less compact, but easier to achieve, and the second is the more compact, but involves more steps.
This is better demonstrated than explained. So, here's a YouTube video of someone demonstrating the fold:
As you can see, it opens up and folds down in seconds! (Did you here the Transformers sound effect in your head?)
As you might imagine, a stroller designed to fold down to the size of a briefcase isn't going to have a lot of padding. When compared to the Summer Infant 3D Lite, the Pockit seat is quite thin. Although, it feels sturdy and is definitely supportive enough for my 35 pound three-year-old. (It's designed to support up to 55 lbs).
Also, unlike the 3D Lite, the Pockit doesn't recline. Personally, this hasn't been much of an issue. The seat back's at a good slope, and my son has enjoyed many a nap in the Pockit!
As mentioned above, the tiny wheels and lack of suspension can lead to a bumpy ride on uneven ground. But, my son's never complained about it (and he's kind of in a complaining phase right now--at least, I hope it's a phase)... He's even managed to sleep through several bumpy strolls on gravel roads in Costa Rica.
In terms of parental comfort, the handles are cushioned and 40" above the ground (like most other umbrella strollers, they're not adjustable). At 5'1 I find the handles to be at a comfortable level. My husband, who is exactly a foot taller, says it's comfortable for him as well. He's commented that when walking, his long legs never kick the back of the stroller, which he's found can be an issue with the Summer Infant 3D Lite.
The sun shade on the GB Pockit is pretty pathetic. It's a flimsy piece of fabric stretched along a square, wire frame, about a foot long on each side. It only shields your kid from the sun if it's directly above you. Sorry, sweetie, we can't leave the house. It's after high noon...
Left: The GB Pockit's measly sun shade nearly disappears when viewed from the side. Right: The Summer Infant 3D lite shows it how sun protection's done.
For this reason, we opted for the added protection of the Summer Infant Rayshade stroller cover, which can be put atop any stroller's existing sunshade to add overhead and side protection. It weighs only 10 ounces and can be squished down to fit into a large purse or diaper bag, so it won't hamper your compact game. It's also waterproof and will shield your kid from the rain.
It's worth noting that the GB Pockit+ (an upgraded version of the GB Pockit) is equipped with a more generous, rounded sunshade (though, at a less generous price). More on this upgraded model further down...
The storage compartment beneath the seat is smaller than that of most average strollers. (Though, many umbrella strollers don't have any storage). This is an acceptable consequence of the Pockit being so compact. I'm still able to fit my purse in the compartment (a diaper bag would likely fit, as well). And, despite it's size, it can handle up to 11 lbs.
The GB Pockit's storage basket is about 2/3 the size of the Summer Infant 3D Lite's.
The lack of a cup holder is a bit of a nuisance, as is the lack of any upper stroller storage, but the Summer Infant Rayshade (mentioned above) has hidden pockets on each side, where parenting essentials like sippy cups and cell phones can be stored.
The lack of upper stroller storage is another shortcoming addressed by the GB Pockit+, which sports a zippered pocket on the back of the seat.
After three months and a trip to Costa Rica, our Pockit still looks fairly new. The fabric is sturdy and amenable to an easy wipe down. It's rolling along just as smoothly as day one!
Very small profile: gets through tighter spots than almost any other stroller
Extremely compact: when folded, it fits under a restaurant table and can be taken on the plane as a carry-on (it's in the Guiness book for most compact stroller!)
Light weight (moves quickly)
Quick and easy fold/unfold
Due to its tiny wheels, it doesn't handle well on bumpy terrain
Size comes at the expense of comfort: seat is unpadded (though sturdy); backrest doesn't recline
Inadequate sun shade
No upper stroller storage or drink holder
As mentioned above, many of the short-comings of the Pockit have been remedied in the upgraded version, the Pockit+; it features a larger seat with added neoprene padding, the ability to recline, and a zippered pocket at the back of the seat. It also comes with carseat adapters and can accommodate a Cybex or GB car seat, which means that it can be used from birth. However, it's not as compact and is pricier than the standard GB Pockit.
The GB Pockit stroller has a few, minor shortcomings owing to it's small size and incredible compactness; for a stroller to be able to fold down to the size of a briefcase, it needs to shed some features! All things considered, it's the best compact stroller out there and can't be beat for travel and urban commuting!
Do you have a favourite travel stroller? Let me know in the comments!
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