When I set out to find the perfect European travel stroller, I had no idea what I was getting into, and it appears that I didn't even really know what I wanted, other than I wanted it to do everything. I toyed around with the idea of sturdy umbrella, a jogger, and possibly even spending the money to get a single to double convertible stroller. It soon became apparent that from my long list of MUST haves, a few factors were going to be very important to consider:
- I am a total weenie. My current Chicco Cortina stroller that I thought was soooo heavy, actually only weighs 23 lbs, which is on the lighter side of a mid-weight stroller... strollers can get MUCH heavier. I did not know that. I supposed I could continue to beef up my guns, but I think carrying a growing girl will do that on its own.
- It definitely had to fold small, not just for utilizing subways, but we found out that Nick's company has already selected and furnished our apartment in Novorossiysk. We have not seen pictures or layouts, but the ONE fact we do know that our oven is only 17" wide, which does not inspire much confidence that it will be large enough to store a big stroller. Space is going to be a premium, I think.
- We have also found out that we will not be allowed to drive in Russia. That is ok, but that means we will be utilizing taxis, mass transit, and walking much more than I had originally intended.
- The Wheels were going to be so important. After conferring with several sources and informants, good wheels in Europe are very important. Apparently not all developed nations are created equal, and in Europe the roads and sidewalks are not the smooth, milky way ribbons of asphalt that we have here in the US of A. Vacations days spent forcing small, rubber wheels over cobblestones, rubble ruins, and unpaved roads were going to make for a very sore Nick! Here he is pushing a Peg Perego Aria, which has decent, but not off-road tires to the tank at his Grandparents Ranch. A quick trip the tank was doable with street tires, vacation days spent lifting the stroller over every little bump was not.
One good thing came out of our rough and tumble walk to the Tank. Isla's comfort is not something we really need to worry about, she can sleep through any stroller ride, no matter how bumpy :). I love this picture of Isla and Bear!
So we checked out the umbrellas, but none had the big, pneumatic 12" dream tires I dreamed of. We checked out jogging strollers, but they were so much money and I didn't really want to spend that much on a stroller that was only good for one baby, plus, with the exception of the Bumbleride (20 lbs exactly), they were all pretty heavy. I felt like if I bought the Bumbleride Indie, then I would need to get another little umbrella to go with it for when Isla and I traveled alone, which I didn't want to do for the price of an Indie.
Finally I decided to check out the single to double convertibles, expensive, but worth it for two babies, but they were soooo heavy! I LOVED the Baby Jogger City Select, but that one was already a whopping 28 lbs as a single set up, and by the time you added a second seat it got really heavy. It had a great, easy fold though. The only other possible single to double was the Phil and Ted's Vibe, which came in at 26 lbs with a double set up, but Nick hated it, and this review here pretty much had me convinced that the Baby Jogger City Select was much better for me. Plus, it was absurdly expensive, and you had to buy a ton of extra things on top of it to make it functional for what I wanted a stroller to do. I decided that I wasn't ready to make the leap to a convertible until I knew what our family would look like, even if it meant spending more money overall. Plus, there is a part of me that wants to wait and see what new things these stroller makers come up with in the next few years. Perhaps we might be lucky enough to get a Joovy Caboose Ultralite with pneumatic tires if we are willing to wait :).
I was at one point convinced that the Baby Jogger City Mini was the stroller for us. It is light weight and I LOVE the one handed fold, but upon in person inspection, I hated the wheels and I refused to compromise on them. Plus, even though the up front prices wasn't that bad, you had to buy every single little accessory, including a bumper bar, so it was not as cheap as it seemed for not being exactly what I want.
And this my friends is where I left my search this past weekend. I had several people suggest I wait until we get to Russia, but thanks to the internet, I have a pretty good idea of what Europeans are using and what is and isn't available... in Europe, strollers are serious business since people walk everywhere there! There were only a few brands not available in the US that were somewhat popular there, and then they were absurdly expensive. Plus, we have a lot of travel coming up in the next couple of months, and I would like to have my travel stroller for those trips.
Disheartened, I was mindlessly flipping through stoller reviews, and I decided to check out the Stroller Queen's website, when I stumbled across her 5 crown rating selection of strollers. And there at almost the beginning was the Micralite Superlite with its gigantic, back tires! It was like manna from stroller heaven. Plus, upon closer inspection, I realized that it weighed a mere 14 lbs. It also had a one handed fold, awesome accessories, and from what I could tell, handled super smooth.
The only thing I didn't like about it was the tiny canopy (remedied with a sun cover accessory at additional cost) and the mesh seat. Sure, it would be perfect during the summer, but even with an additional fleece liner, I was afraid that it might not be warm enough for those freezing Russian winters.
I decided to check out Micralite to what other strollers they carried, and it turns out that they make the Toro in addition to the Superlite! Apparently, I had already read several reviews, including each and every review on Amazon.com, and had somehow dismissed them without realizing that I had struck stroller gold. As I read and reread reviews, I got several cases of Deja Vu, and I don't know how I kept missing this stroller - The One as I like to call it :). It was even mentioned on the above review comparing the Phil and Ted's Vibe with the Baby Jogger City Select, and I didn't pay attention to it!
The Toro is a little pricey, but I have been able to find several good deals on it, and it already comes with all of the accessories that I will need, so I shouldn't need to purchase anything additional, although I probably will... :). I got a very good deal on it, and I am hoping that it is not too good to be true!
I still went back and forth between the Toro and the Superlite, but I found out that Nick will have to spend at least 10 days in Moscow in February and I am going to move heaven and earth to make sure that Isla and I can join him, and just then I was convinced that that mesh liner was not enough to keep Isla warm... rumor has it the winters in Moscow can be pretty brutal!
This is why I chose the Toro:
- It is only 19 lbs. Even weenie me can manage 19 lbs one handed.
- It has a one handed fold, and it folds small. It folds much smaller than our current stroller, and it can stand on its own when folded. My current stroller does that, and I love that feature.
- It travels well, in fact it comes with a travel bag (additiona cost), and can be wheeled like luggage! I have often wished that my Cortina had that feature. Its such a natural thing to try to do when you have something with wheels that stands upright.
- It has a full recline.
- It can be semiclosed to fit through tight spaces with a child in it. This is not recommended by the manufacturer, but it was mentioned in several reviews, and I am sure I will end up doing it.
- It can be used in snow! I found the Stroller Queen review for the Toro, and it definitely moves in snow well.
- You can buy extra pneumatic wheels to replace the front wheels for when you are going seriously off road! Why don't all strollers come with this?
- It has the best optional accessories that I have found on a stroller. They are so well thought out, and you can easily get by with just the accessories that it comes with (like the muff and the rain shield). It could possibly be used for TWO kids, depending when W-2 comes along.