Now that the weather has finally cooled enough, it is an excellent time to take your jogging (or walking) outside – and with your little ones! But before you head outdoors, make sure you have the right running shoes, a good running app or two, some great tunes, and the ideal jogging stroller.
With the many choices of jogging strollers these days, finding a stroller can be a bit overwhelming. Although the ideal stroller will probably look slightly different for each person, here are a few things to keep in mind for a successful match…
In my family, it is important to have a jogging stroller that is multiple-user-friendly, so that we can maximize its usage between my husband and I. For this reason, I tend to lean towards strollers that have an adjustable height handlebar. That way, short or tall people can comfortably use it.
Speaking of comfort, it must be comfortable for both the jogger and the child or your adventures will be miserable and short-lived. This can mean different things to each person, but generally look for:
- stable and supportive multi-position reclining seat (in case the child wants to sleep)
- padded seatbelt
- comfort grip handlebar
- generous airflow for the child (look for strollers with mesh and/or velcro openings in the rear and/or sides of the seat to allow air to your child)
- large enough footrest
- when you run, your legs do not kick the cargo area or seat (check this when seat is in a fully reclining position)
- good suspension system for a smooth ride on rough terrain
- maneuverability (look for swivel front wheel strollers)
I like to take my jogging stroller off-road on trails and (uneven) grass because it is so much better for my joints. So when I look for a jogging stroller, I look for an all-terrain stroller. The difference is in the wheels. The traditional jogging stroller has a fixed wheel, which, trust me on this one, is extremely important when running. Rugged all-terrain strollers have an option to lock the front wheel for running or to have it swiveling for everyday use. This makes them versatile and easier to maneuver (responsive and easy even for one-handed steering).
Large, rugged, pneumatic tires give a more comfortable and smooth ride on all types of surfaces. So look for all-terrain strollers with at least 16-inch wheels that are air-filled.
Storage and Amenities:
Think about the items you personally would want to tote with you on your runs – Snacks? Extra toys? Diapers? Your keys? Water bottles? Sippy cups? Make sure the stroller you choose has enough compartments to store it all. An ample parent tray, a child snack tray with sippy cup holder, a large and easily accessible undercarriage cargo area, and even mesh pockets on the inside of the seat (great for keeping the child’s snacks and toys easily accessible). Keep in mind that more cargo means a heavier stroller and a tougher run for you.
Personally the child snack tray on a jogging stroller is a toss up. When running I really don’t like to stop to pick up fallen sippy cups every 2 minutes. On top of that, eating in a bumpy, fast-moving stroller adds a choking risk. For me, the inside mesh seat pockets are suitable for their toys and cups. These items are more likely to stay inside the stroller when they are within the confines of the seat area, rather than on a distant, harder to reach snack tray (where the child has to stretch out of the seat bucket to grab his things).
A key factor for me is the sun canopy. While most jogging strollers have generous canopies (as they are made for outdoor use), it’s still a good idea to make sure the child will receive enough coverage from all angles. A peek-a-boo window is also convenient to check on your child without having to stop your run.
One fun feature you might like to have is the (detachable) iBaby sound system that the new J is for Jeep Wrangler Sport Jogger has on the parent tray. It connects to your portable audio device (an iPod or other type of MP3 player) and acts as a speaker, allowing for you and the child to listen to music.
Unfortunately, even on the loudest setting (of your portable device) the music is not amplified too loudly, so it wouldn’t work for noisy city streets. But it does work well on trails and your average neighborhood rides. Music is a great way to get motivated and forget the task at hand (running), but having earphones is distracting and sometimes unsafe. That’s why I like this system. It not only keeps the kids occupied listening to and enjoying the music, but it also keeps you alert to the hazards on the road or trail. Which brings me to my next point…
Safety and Durability:
Safety is key in any stroller, but especially in jogging strollers. Most strollers meet the general safety standards, but make sure that your stroller has:
- a safety strap or tether
- an easily adjustable and durable 5-point harness
- at least a 50 lb weight capacity (that way, you can safely use it when the child is a bit older)
- a solid frame
- no recalls
- easy-to-clean material (either removable and washable or something you can hose down)
Car Seat Compatibility:
This is especially crucial if you have an infant in a bucket car seat or plan on having more children. Make sure the stroller you purchase is compatible with your current car seat and a wide variety of others (in case you decide to get a new one for subsequent children). It’s also a nice touch when a separate adaptor is not needed.
Please note that although baby can ride in the jogging stroller with a car seat installed, it is never a good idea to run with an infant younger than 6 months old. Your child should have good head and neck control in order to tolerate the vibrations during running. (It is important to read the recommendations in each stroller’s manual and check with your pediatrician just to be sure.)
Size and Fold:
This is a biggie for most people if they have smaller cars, as jogging and other 3-wheel strollers are known to be large in size.
- Make sure that your new stroller’s dimensions (when folded) can fit in your vehicle.
- Factor in the weight – will you be able to comfortably lift the stroller in and out of your trunk?
- I prefer an easy folding system, and it’s a bonus when the stroller can stand upright when folded.
Jogging strollers are specialized strollers. This means that the price tag can also be “specialized.” But this doesn’t mean you have to pay an arm and a leg for what you are looking for. There are plenty of models out there that can fit the bill without breaking the bank.
My final bit of advice – do your research! Read reviews, ask other moms and test drive a few models. The more careful consideration you put into it, the happier you will be with your new stroller (which ultimately may mean the longer you actually use it for its intended purpose). Now, get outside and RUN!