Pram!

Now there’s a word to strike fear into the heart of every pregnant woman! With so many out there, where do you even start?

Our pram is a Joolz Day, affectionately known as The Monster Truck. And if you’d have told me two years ago that it would take us about four weekends worth of collapsing and unfolding perambulators all around the county to reach that decision, I would have laughed in your face.
joolz_day
We began on sensible enough ground – lets just get any old pram off Gumtree for a bargain, then reassess how we’re doing once Bump arrives. But then we made the mistake of having a casual browse around town… and things escalated fast!

 

Well, to be fair, I thought our first excursion was fairly disastrous. After the sales assistant’s fifth attempt to explain what a travel system was, my brain went into panic mode and shut down. (If you are a newcomer to prams, here is a guide)
But DP was on it, and seemed to have learned something. All I learned was that Mothercare Guildford is a bit on the small side for trying out prams.

So we hit Mothercare Weybridge, and made progress. Among others, we collapsed, assembled, poked and generally manhandled…

Graco Evo XT: not bad, and the price was right, but we read various complaints of their car seats being uncomfortable for babies and, at the time, their attachments were not compatible with any other makes of car seat.

The ubiquitous iCandy: a pal deemed hers ‘worth every penny’ and she’s a no-nonsense gal, so I can believe that these are good prams. Really easy to collapse. Big bonus. But, you know what, I just find them… a bit too garish on the metal front. And I don’t like the name (yeah, I know, I’m a fussy a-hole).

Various Bugaboos (listed on their site as ‘Mobility Concept Creators’. Sorry, but that just makes me want to punch someone!). Too squat for us. Steering wasn’t quite as good as some others. Though I will say if you’re a small person, with a small baby, in a town centre, their Bee is a good bet for you.
 (A sharp-looking rival ‘compact’ contender that has caught my eye since is the Egg)

Over at Mamas and Papas Farnborough, the Armadillo Flip XT impressed us. The hood can fold further over Baby than any other we’ve seen, which has to be handy. It’s also very light, and it was easy both to collapse and to remove the cot one-handed. A shame then that it trailed the others a bit in the looks department, and that further investigation found that the stroller attachment buckle is composed of about six separate parts – apparently making it a real ball-ache everytime you need to use it. Still, it seemed to me to be a really good allrounder overall, so I would suggest to anyone that they check this out too.

 

armadillo_chestnut
Above: Armadillo Flip XT – looks like they do some nicer colours now – phew!

We’d tried a Joolz Day early on, courtesy of the very helpful folk at Baby Barn, and were immediately been seduced by its understated good looks. (The Dutch just know how to do things in that department, huh?). It also had a big advantage for Bump’s tall-arse Dad: an extendable handle, along with a high-set cot, keeping Eva clearer of dogs, fumes etc and later on, doubling up as a highchair into the bargain if needed.

But the big drawback was the collapse mechanism. It’s just… kind of tricky to get the knack of. And often requires two hands, pretty frustrating when trying to contain a wriggling tot.
There is also a storage issue with the Joolz – the existing compartment is compact, low down and, frankly, you’re going to want it for the rain cover if you live in UK! Their XL shopping bag is the solution but it costs extra. Nonetheless, we kept finding ourselves drawn back to this pram.

So in the end there was much hand-wringing deciding between The Joolz and the Flip, not helped by the fact that they came in much the same cost-wise, once we factored in extras and various special offers. But Reader, we bought the Joolz Day.

In the end, the height, safety and ability to double as a highchair swung it for us. Also, I have to admit, the looks. And, finally, the opportunity to buy from Baby Barn, whose customer service was the best.

 

eva_joolz
Above: The Monster Truck now, expertly steered by Eva

So, 16 months down the line, how do I feel about the Joolz Day decision?

 Ultimately, we chose a Travel System, with a Cybex Aton car seat as recommended by the Baby Barn folks, and I think this was a good decision for us. It has saved us having to wake Eva to remove her from the car on numerous occasions, and that is worth a lot with a young baby.
The Off-road wheels I’m not so sure about. I commented as much to DP as I was once again trying to wrestle the Joolz over some tree roots the other day, and he responded that I should try doing it without them.
Fair enough. I think the fundamental problem is that, if you are doing any ‘serious’ off road walking, you need large front wheels, and for that, you need a jogging buggy. You can pick one of these up from Gumtree for £100-odd quid if you keep your eyes peeled, so this may be worth considering as Baby gets older and you no longer need the cot attachment. (It is also very worth having a sling – a convo for another day.)

Lets list some additional Joolz Day pros and cons.

PROS

Looks:

What can I say? They are just so very tasteful. I know its frivolous, but it still gives me pleasure to look at it, even muddy and covered with splatters of goodness-knows-what. Short of being a vintage Silver Cross, I think it might be verging on some sort of Hipster Pram (Not that I am cool enough to be a hipster).

Comfort:

Nothing much to report here – it delivers. Basically, Eva has always looked at ease in her Joolz, even if she’s not always keen on being strapped in! And the footmuff is fulsome and fluffy. Oo-err.

Safety:

A properly aerated cot means you can effectively double it as a moses basket, sleeping Baby in it overnight in confidence ..though in reality I’m not sure how many people are really concerned about this, outside of panicky new mums! However, the more sleeping options you have for a new baby, the better as you often need somewhere in nearly every room to plonk them!
But the overriding feeling with the Joolz is that you are in safe hands. I don’t call it The Monster Truck for nothing – that thing is built like a brick sh*thouse! And the raised position of the cot really does help you feel closer to your baby.

Size:

One problem I have seen with the ever-popular Uppababy pram is how quickly some babies outgrow that compact cot.
No chance of this with the Joolz, the cot is biiiig, and the stroller foot extends too. So no worries for long babies.
Not only has the extendable handlebar made life easier for DP, it has also helped me on many an occasion when I have needed to break into a run/negotiate a hill.
It has seen some use as an emergency highchair too. The disadvantage, of course, is that the thing is bloody massive, so this has mostly been outside at country parks, etc. And all this comes at a cost weight-wise. It’s a bulky bit of gear.

Steering:

Flawless. That thing can turn on a dime!

Hippy:

Some sort of ‘plant-a-tree-for-your-baby’ scheme. Great news for eco-conscious middle class-types everywhere, and there are plenty of them around this neck of the woods!

CONS

Collapsibility (is that even a word? It is now!):

 

This is my one big bugbear with the Joolz. Although the collapse mechanism loosens up as time goes by, it’s still just.. a bit awkward. You can do it whilst holding a tot, but it takes practice. Once the stroller attachment is on and facing outwards, life becomes easier, and you can collapse the whole shebang one-handed. I’d suggest checking out this video for instructions on how to do that (though please note you need to grab the underside of the stroller with this method, not the hood!)

Size:

Lets make no bones about it, the downside to the stuff listed above is that this thing is heavy. And I’ve lost count of the times I’ve caught the back wheels on corners (disclaimer: I am a clumsy so-and-so). If you have a smaller car, double-check that it will fit in your boot. It fits well in our Honda Civic, alongside a small stroller, but then Civics have a boot like a tardis: fact.

ACCESSORIES

Changing Bag:
DP doesn’t like it because there are no compartments apart from some small mesh ones at the front. Thats exactly why I do like it. You can just shove everything in, and go.
The problem is that the way I shove stuff in to bursting point, the magnetic strips haven’t a hope of keeping it closed. And it can be tricky to hook the bag onto the handle bars, though once there it usually stays put nicely.
The changing mat could do with being a little stiffer, to make for easier folding/shoving!
I continue to get daily use from the insulated bottle holder, though it can be awkward to unzip.

 

XL Shopping Bag:
In my opinion, this is an absolute must if you are buying a Joolz. It’s lovely and big and sees use every single time we go out, allowing me to keep the lower storage for the rain-cover (also a must) and hit Waitrose hard without needing a carrier bag.

 

Parasol:
A lady stopped and asked me if it was worth getting a parasol for her Joolz the other day, and I’m afraid I did rather umm and ahh about it.
In short: yes, because when you need it, you really really need it. But it can be awkward to position, come unscrewed at the top and (in the case of my red one) bob around annoyingly like a rather strange phallic attachment when not in use. So, while I wouldn’t be without it, it could use a design rethink on some fronts.

Cup holder:
Great.. when i remember to attach it!!

Top tip – if you’re looking for a big water bottle that fits it well, go for Smart Water, as other large bottles are too curvy.

CONCLUSION:

So overall, am I pleased with our choice? Yes – not ecstatically so, as I think there’s always room for improvement, but a solid 7 out of 10.

And I’m really noticing the difference now we use a little Obaby stroller for some trips. It’s like steering a shopping trolley. Awful. By the time I’ve finished trying to stuff the tiny storage net with a changing bag, and keep Eva shaded from the sun I wish I’d bought the Joolz anyway. It might be hefty, but it’s the full package with the extras attached – everything you need for a comfortable day out with your baby.

So if you were considering a Joolz, I’d encourage it, but I’d ask two questions first:

  • Will the size/bulk be manageable for you and your car boot?
And the biggie…
  • Have you tried collapsing it?

If the answer to these are yes, I’d say: knock yourself out. The world gets another tree out of it after all.

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3 thoughts on “Pram!

  1. Good write up. I would give a +1 to Baby Barn they are excellent.
    I think you might have overlooked Bugaboo a bit quickly though. We’ve got a Bugaboo Chameleon which has lasted more than five years and two kids and I’m still expecting to get something for it on eBay. I find the handling very good, and it solves your offroad problem by having two modes: little wheels at the front for manoeuvrability and big wheels at the front for offroad. Overall it’s a good option for Surrey, especially if you like walking.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Ollie – ah, good to hear a Dad’s point of view – and a tall one at that! The dual mode thing does sound handy. We did skim over the Bugaboo a bit I’m afraid as we didn’t feel it rang our bells. Maybe I’ve developed a bit of a Peak Bugaboo problem, given you can hardly take a step outside without seeing one, but obviously there’s a good reason for that!! So i’m pleased to hear this hands-on info from you :0)

      Like

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