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Jogging strollers

Published: August 2010

Jogging strollers are often confused with all-terrain strollers. What's the difference? Jogging strollers, or simply "joggers," are almost always three-wheeled strollers with a fixed front wheel (vs. the swivel-type found on all-terrains). Joggers also have a hand brake in addition to a foot-operated parking brake. This, along with large, air-filled tires, makes them more suited for running.

While people may think of jogging strollers as something being used on a paved road, path, or trail, their manufacturers stress how rugged their strollers are—ads often show running parents pushing their happy, smiling toddlers or babies along a rough-looking wooded hiking trail. Manufacturers may also claim that their jogger stroller is "the only stroller a parent will ever need." We feel that that is a stretch. A jogger's fixed wheel makes it more difficult to maneuver, and often ill-suited for day-to-day use—particularly in tight spaces or crowded areas where turning and maneuvering can be difficult.

All-terrain strollers typically have a locking/unlocking front swivel wheel, and can maneuver more easily in day-to-day situations (shopping, walking in more crowded areas, etc). Of the two types, the all-terrain is more versatile; some all-terrains can even be used for jogging, with the swivel wheel locked. If you already own an all-terrain and want to use it for jogging, check your user's manual to be sure that the manufacturer doesn't prohibit its use with running.

No matter what type of stroller you choose, always secure your child in the stroller's harness. A 5-point harness, such as those on all the joggers we tested, is preferable to a 3-point for safety. Due to the bumping and jarring that a child passenger will experience, we do not recommend jogging (or even fast walking on rough terrain) with a child under a year old.

We test jogging strollers for performance, maneuverability (while walking in on- and off-road conditions), ease of use, and safety. We also evaluate construction quality, which takes into account any non-safety-related damage that might occur during testing. The models in our most recent test ranged in price from $115 to $350. All have 5-point harnesses and hand brakes in addition to the foot brakes, are fairly heavy (21 to 28 pounds), and large/bulky when folded.

Recommendations

A jogging stroller is most useful for jogging. Though manufacturers show their jogging strollers being used in all types of situations, we don't recommend using a jogger as your one-and-only stroller.

If you often exercise (walk briskly or run) outdoors and want to take your child along, and particularly if you find yourself using bumpy trails or paths, you will probably want some type of exercise stroller. But if you are not a serious runner, you probably don't need or want a jogging stroller. Joggers are limited in maneuverability by their fixed front wheels.

You may find an all-terrain model whose manufacturer has approved its use for running to be a better all-around choice, as the front wheel can be locked for jogging, but allowed to swivel for everyday use, making it easier to maneuver in those situations. It's nice to have that option.

Jogging stroller features

The following features are useful to consider when shopping for a jogging stroller.

Stroller weight (in pounds)

The weight of the stroller with any included accessories (none that is purchased separately).

Maximum claimed weight of child (in pounds)

The manufacturer's specified limit for a child passenger.

One-touch or linked brakes

One pedal operates both rear brakes.

Car-seat compatible (must purchase adapter separately)

Means the stroller can accept a seat. If an adapter or bracket is needed, it must be purchased separately. (None of the jogging strollers in our most recent Ratings test, which is available to subscribers, can accept a car seat without an adapter, and only one of the six can hold a seat with an adapter.)

Tray for parent

A place for parents to put their keys, cell phone, a snack, etc.

Tray for child

A tray in front of the child, to provide a place for the child to rest his hands, or put a toy or other item.

Extra storage (in addition to the storage basket)

Extra pockets on the seat back or sides, or perhaps saddlebags.

Adjustable handle

The handle can be adjusted for height or angle to better suit users of differing heights.

Stands folded

This is convenient in restaurants or other tight spaces. It also makes storing at home easier.

How we test jogging strollers

Our jogging stroller tests evaluate performance, maneuverability (while walking in on- and off-road conditions), ease of use, and safety. We also evaluate construction quality, which takes into account any non-safety-related damage that might occur during testing. (See the jogging stroller Ratings, which are available to subscribers).

Performance

For our performance tests, a group of staff members, all regular runners, scored each stroller for a number of attributes, including the ease of pushing and maneuvering. Each stroller was used on varied terrain—including sidewalks, asphalt, grass, up and down curbs, and even on paths with compressed snow and ice.

Maneuverability

Each stroller was tested on a course that included asphalt (with flat, uphill, and downhill sections), right and left turns, and a dirt/grass/mulch section punctuated with the occasional tree root or small fallen branch. Testers were instructed to walk the course (not run) with each stroller. They judged each stroller on the ease of pushing and maneuvering, turning, and other attributes.

Ease of use

This evaluation includes use of the harness, ease of folding and unfolding, adjusting the backrest, ease of lifting and carrying the stroller (as if putting it into a car trunk), and more. Possibly due to their size and weight, joggers tend to have lower Ease of Use scores than do traditional or umbrella strollers.

Safety

The strollers were safety-tested in accordance with ASTM F833-09, Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Carriages and Strollers. In addition, we perform the Consumers Union-designed Stability and Braking test, in which our requirements exceed those of the ASTM standard.

Our Stability and Braking test involves placing each stroller, in different orientations, on a platform that's angle can be raised and lowered hydraulically. The platform is raised until the stroller either slides or tips, or until a 20-degree angle is reached, whichever comes first. The angle at which the stroller tips or slides, if it does, is recorded.

A blob score is calculated based on the Stability and Braking test score for each model. If that model has passed all the ASTM requirements, its Safety score is simply the blob score for Stability and Braking. Depending on the number of ASTM failures, and their perceived seriousness, the Safety score is lowered accordingly. Some failures are deemed not critical, and thus not deserving of "Don't Buy" status.

Safety is a "limiting factor" in its overall score in our Ratings (available to subscribers): a stroller with a Fair Safety score cannot end up with an overall score higher than Good.

Construction quality (not displayed in Ratings, which are available to subscribers)

This attribute is used to account for things such as damage to a stroller during testing, where such damage is not deemed to be a safety issue. (For example, with a previous batch of strollers, we had one model that's front wheel's swivel lock was broken during the impact test. The wheel could no longer be locked to the fixed position; it could only swivel. That was judged to be inconvenient, but not a safety issue, and less inconvenient than having the swivel lock break and be stuck in the "fixed" or locked position. That model got a slightly lower score for its Construction Quality, but not for its Safety.)


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