"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."

Sunday, December 19, 2010

My Interim Review: The Micralite Toro

So I am continuing to use my Cortina while I am still in the states, other than when I am traveling… however upon having a major baby bottom blow out that necessitated the removal and washing of the Cortina cover, I decided to take my newly arrived Micralite Toro out for a Christmas shopping expedition last week.

While out shopping, I proceeded to have a minor panic attack.   My beloved large Chic-Fil-A styrofoam cup with Dr. Pepper (standard shopping sustenance) had no place to rest its weary head; my Cortina has not ONE but TWO cup holders in the handy dandy parent tray.  The Toro does not have any.  My adorable Ann Taylor Loft sale purchases might have fit into the tiny Toro basket but for the strap that stretches tightly across the basket area to prevent the stroller from buckling outward meaning that I had to actually hold my shopping bags whereas before I had been able to shove everything but the kitchen sink into my huge Cortina basket.  Finally, there was Miss Fussybritches who cried the entire time!  Now this was partly due to her teething, but also she has never been a huge fan of riding in a stroller and I started to think… maybe I should have decided having a seat that is reversible is a priority over stroller weight and fold???  Maybe if she could see me then she would enjoy riding a stroller more!  All that I could think was that I had just spent more money on a stroller than I had ever dreamed I would in my up to now suburban life and for that I am stuck with a screaming child and a megatron diaper bag that I am afraid to hang off the handles of my Toro because the stroller might tip over backwards!

Then I calmed myself down, and I reminded myself that I am not going to be a suburban mom soon, I am going to be a city dweller living in a tiny apartment who travels (hopefully) a lot, and I would go crazy if I had to use the Cortina in those circumstances.  Not to mention, there is no such thing as the perfect solution… EVER.  That is the first and most important lesson that I learned as an Engineer, there is always a trade off to any manufactured solution.

The Fold

I really got to put the Toro to the test on my quick little trip to California.  This was also my first trip using a stroller in an airport ever, and I need to say that I am not going back to the Bjorn.  Having a place to set Isla down in made traveling (and especially bathroom trips) so much easier!  Let me begin by demonstrating the one handed fold for you. 

PS. I meant to say “Ole” at the end of this video, but I forgot. :)

Its more like a one-handed fold plus foot kick to get it to finally lock into place, but the bottom line is that I can fold it and lock it, all while holding Isla.  Thus I was able to get through the (RIDICULOUS) airport security fairly easily by first lifting Isla, closing the stroller one-handed and lifting my lightweight stroller, again one-handed (huge deal for me!), up onto the X-Ray belt.  I had some trouble the first time because I was frazzled, but if not for that it can be done fairly quickly, or at least fast enough that the person behind you won’t give you a nasty, impatient look (the joys of traveling during the Holiday season!).  Best of all, the Toro fits perfectly through the X-Ray machine with an inch or so to spare, thanks to the 12 inch back tires.

Accessories

The Toro does come with a travel bag (at additional cost), which I originally intended to use on my trip, but I’ve decided from here on out that I will only use it on select trips, probably when Nick is with me.  It involves removing the wheels, and even though I practiced at home so that I could get it stowed away quickly for a gate check, in the end, dealing with the travel bag in the Toro basket on top of other carry-ons and Isla was a little much for one person.  Thankfully my Toro came through almost unscathed; the bumper bar was dislodged on the first flight from New Orleans to Houston, but I quickly snapped it back into place.

The Toro comes with a foot muff (included in price) and a winter fleece (at additional cost).  I am not sure what possessed me to get it in a Zebra print (I consider my hatred of animal prints to be one of my defining fashion characteristics), but I think it had to do with reading somewhere that Russians think that black and white is very elegant.  I’m glad that I went out on limb because I actually really love it more than the other options even the pink one!

Does this little girl look ready to take on Russian winters???

 photo (12) It also comes with a rain cover (included) and a sun and bug shield (at additional cost), which I have, but have not used yet.  There are other accessories, but these are all that I plan on buying for now.

The Ride

It handles so smooth on all terrains.  If it is a really rough terrain, all you have to do is lift the front tires slightly, which is easy to do since the stroller is so light, and go anywhere you want with the weight resting on the back wheels.  Here is Nick demonstrating on some rocks in our neighborhood pool parking lot.  You can buy 12 inch front tires to replace the front swivel tires if you are going to go off-road occasionally, but just lifting it up should work great for anything we plan on facing in a city.

It also maneuvers great thanks to the front swivel wheels and I can definitely push easily one handed.  Again, great for airports when pushing a stroller in one hand and wheeling your luggage in another!

Comfort

Isla seems to enjoy it better than her Cortina because it sits very upright!  It also has a full recline (so did the Cortina), which I took full advantage of.  Here she is sleeping in her Toro, fully reclined, during our 3 hour Las Vegas layover.

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Size/Weight

As you can guess by the name Micralite, the company that manufactures the Toro is especially preoccupied with making a stroller with a small footprint!  Everything about this stroller is small (except the wheels :)).  It folds small. It expands small.  Thanks to the combination of minimal bulk combined with low weight, I can pick it up one handed when closed, which is awesome!  Even if a stroller doesn’t weight much, it can be difficult to pick up depending on the weight distribution in the fold.

The front wheels are actually quite wide at 23”, much, much wider than the back wheels.  I didn’t find this to be much of a problem when maneuvering through crowded stores.  All I had to do usually when encountering smaller pass-through spaces was lift the front wheels since usually the obstruction was lower to the ground.  I did move my couch close to my bookcase and practice semi-closing the Toro for when I was just in a narrow aisle, and it was a little tricky and not something that I want to make a habit out of doing.

Here it is compared to my Cortina.  They are not in the same stroller class, but it is nice to have another standing stroller to compare it to.  That is the most compact that the Cortina handles fold.

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photo (16)

photo (13) photo (14)

Bonus

It is so stylish looking!  I even felt stylish when walking around beautiful, swanky Los Gatos, California, a place that is normally sure to make a frumpy engineering Mama, feel even frumpier.  I love it… maybe I am not destined to be a dork forever? :)

Cons

So as I mentioned before, the basket is small, and then it is rendered almost unusable for anything but the smallest of items because of the strap that covers the basket.

No cupholder.

It has a two-handed unfold and recline.  This is not hard, it is super easy to do!  Its just so easy to fold up to get through the X-Ray at Security, it was harder when we actually got through Security because I had to set Isla down (or pass her off onto a stranger!) in order to be able to open it to set her back into it.  This is not much of a con, but it is worth mentioning.  My Cortina had a one handed recline, and depending on how hard you tried, a one handed unfold.

The seat cannot be reversed.  Again, not much of a con, but this is one of the few strollers in its class that does not have this option.

Summary

All in all, I think that this is THE stroller for us, although I am withholding judgment until we actually arrive in Russia! I absolutely love it in spite of my original little freak out episode.  I do know that I have found the PERFECT travel stroller for traveling to countries with older/less modern infrastructure and a lot of mass transit.  What I am waiting to see is how much walking I do while in Novo for daily errands… a lot I hope, and hopefully I won’t miss having a big basket and cup holder while doing so!  We will have to wait and see. :)

4 comments:

  1. Very exciting! I think it's good you got through your initial freak out, b/c I think you are right on that there is no "perfect" solution, always going to be some trade off. Sounds like the perfect stroller for you guys. I'm jealous of the "stylsihness" and the big wheels. . . and actually a little sad that unless we have another baby, I think we are pretty much done with strollers . . . except my maybe my double jogger . . . but, with the kids proficiency on their scooters even that may be out the window.

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  2. b/c my first comment wasn't long enough . . . I also meant to say, the "model" in the toro is ADORABLE!!!

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  3. You have to have a third, I am sure that Lauren would demand it :). Ohhh, you must share with me about the new jogger! Right now I am in looooovvveee with all things Mutsy... I am sure that the Micralite will not be my last stroller, and I will be sure to post on those so that we can bond more over our shared obsession!

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