Sometimes even the best travel stroller system just doesn’t cut it. Such was the case when we moved to Monterey, California. Our awesome lightweight Chicco stroller and KeyFit 30 car seat combo had done right by us on the east coast – it got us all over town, across cracked sidewalks, and even out on some well-maintained dirt paths.
But it was no match for the beachfront trails in Monterey. We needed an all-terrain stroller with big wheels and serious suspension… something super sturdy that’d be able to take a bumpy beating on the regular. In other words, we needed the best off-road stroller we could find.
As always, I consulted Mr. Google. But I was also lucky to have an awesome tribe of Stroller Strong Moms to tap into. Plus, an extensive network of outdoor travel and mommy bloggers who were familiar with all the outdoor-specific baby gear (special thanks to travel-mamas Mary Carolina from Organizing Chaos 101, LeAnna from Well Traveled Nebraskan, Lori from Fitz 5 on the Go, Melissa from The Family Voyage and Cristy from Alaska Mom Life!).
So, after consulting with all my peeps, I felt pretty confident when I eventually settled on my BOB Jogging Stroller… in my opinion, the best off-road stroller on the market. We’ve beaten the hell out of it on some pretty gnarly trails, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down! That said, it’s equally useful for a simple stroll around town.
Of course, my tribe gave “best stroller” votes to a few other brands, too. Based on safety, ease of use, bells and whistles, and other features, several outdoor stroller options came pretty highly recommended. Thus, I bring you our picks for the best off-road strollers this year:
Best Off-Road Stroller Comparison Chart
|BOB Revolution PRO
|BOB Alterrain Pro
|Thule Urban Glide
|Joovy Zoom360 Ultralight
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What is an Off-Road Stroller?
I’ll go ahead and state the obvious… As the name suggests, an off-road stroller is meant to be taken off the road. These strollers are intended for use on trails, beaches, parks, basically any uneven terrain you might encounter (of course, they also perform great on paved roads and sidewalks).
As such, they typically have larger, rubber tires, as opposed to the small plastic wheels seen on lightweight or umbrella strollers. They also have suspension systems to keep the kiddos from excessively bouncing around when taken over rough terrain.
These days, off-road strollers, all-terrain strollers and jogging strollers are marketed as pretty much one-in-the-same. For example, our BOB is basically a jogging stroller with a more high-performance suspension and fixed front wheel, so it can be used over more difficult terrain with added stability.
Jogging strollers used to be defined by a fixed front wheel, but nowadays most have swivel wheels with a locking mechanism to fix them in place. It’s a feature that makes them more versatile because a swivel wheel is great for maneuverability. But off-road, locking the wheel is a must if you want to keep your sanity. Swivel wheels will jam up against obstacles all the time, whereas a fixed wheel will ride right over them.
Note that this article outlines our top picks for best OFF-ROAD strollers – it’s limited to the ones we think do best on the roughest terrain. If you’re looking for a guide specifically to the best jogging strollers, or best all terrain strollers meant for more versatile terrain, we like this list from Parenting Pod. If you’re looking for lightweight strollers, we like this guide from More Life in Your Days.
What Do You Need in an Off-Road Stroller?
The biggest thing to consider (and be honest with yourself about) is, will you truly be primarily taking it off-road? Or will that just be an occasional thing? For us, the answer was yes, so we bought a hiking stroller specifically to fulfill our off-roading needs, as opposed to buying a more multi-purpose stroller.
As such, we kept our lightweight Chicco stroller and KeyFit 30 car seat combo for running errands, walking around town, etc. (Side note: we LOVE this travel system, and recommend it to all parents in the market for a travel system – especially if they’re looking for something compact. Click here to see specs and pricing info for the stroller, and click here for the car seat.)
Other things to consider:
You primarily need a kick-ass suspension, to protect your baby from being jostled too much as you negotiate rocks, tree roots and rough terrain. A five-point safety harness is a must, as is a canopy for sun protection. Most strollers are also made of breathable fabric so baby gets the airflow needed to stay comfy. Hand breaks and safety tethers are useful for hilly terrain or slippery conditions. Any other features are just icing on top of the cake.
Go for one that’s made to last… i.e. high-end… i.e. expensive. If you’re gonna abuse it as much as we do ours, it needs to be as durable as possible. We don’t gingerly traverse trails and the obstacles we encounter… we hit ‘em full speed. A high-performance suspension and impact-resistant aluminum frame is a must, with thick fabric that doesn’t tear easily.
Stroller Ease of Use
Off-road and all-terrain strollers are bulkier than everyday strollers, so can be a little unwieldy. They don’t fold up as small and can be awkward to carry. To make up for this, manufacturers have tried to compensate with one-hand folding mechanisms and removable tires for portability. Something to consider if you’re going to be loading it in and out of your car frequently.
They’ve also added features for people with smaller frames, such as adjustable handles to accommodate different heights. Several have removable fabric for easy cleaning, too.
Keep your lifestyle in mind when deciding which stroller brand is right for you: Do you need it to fold up small? Will you need to store it between uses? Or will you just keep it open between outings? Will it fit in your car for transport? Is it adjustable for both you and your partner? Do you envision needing to clean it often?
Stroller Height/Weight Specs
To get the biggest bang for your buck, think about getting a stroller that has a large capacity as far as the height/weight it will accommodate. Pay close attention to the weight of the child vs. the total weight that the stroller will accommodate, if there’s a difference. Most will carry a child up to 75 pounds, though a few have 50 pound weight limits.
These days, all will offer extra features, accessories, or add-ons such as drink and snack trays, rain covers, car seat adapters, etc. If you want your off road stroller to double as an everyday stroller, consider whether it will accommodate these add-ons when purchasing.
Bob Revolution Pro – Best Hiking Stroller
We’ve used both the Sport Utility Model and the Revolution Pro model, and love, love, LOVE anything BOB. We wanted an off road stroller specifically for taking out on rough terrain on a daily basis – think the mountain bike of the stroller world! – so this was the brand for us.
In my opinion, BOB’s have the best suspension of any other brand – it’s state-of-the-art and makes for a smooth ride for baby. The three air-filled tires are huge, and can easily tackle bumps, crevices, roots, gravel – you name it! – without getting stuck. The handbrake is super helpful on the steep trails we encounter, so the stroller doesn’t run away from us when we’re heading downhill (note that only the “Pro” models have handbrakes). It has a large UPF 50+ extendable canopy.
It holds 75 lbs. (total including cargo) and baby can ride comfortably until he’s 44” tall. Speaking of tall, this is one of the best strollers for tall parents, according to my 6’3” husband, since it has a handle bar that adjusts to several different positions (it adjusts to my 5’3” frame, too)!
While we wouldn’t have traded our lightweight Chicco travel system for anything, this BOB could serve as the only stroller you’d need. It’s fine for a newborn since the seat lays flat (just stroll with your infant, though… don’t go jogging with baby until they’re several months old), and with BOB’s car seat adapter, it’s compatible with most brands!
Bob Alterrain Pro – Newest BOB Model
As part of their “Pro” line, the Altrerrain has the coveted handbrake that is a must on any steep trail. It also has reflective material for safety (with the added feature of reflective rims!), and a zippered cargo compartment so your stuff stays put.
If you wanna be one of the first to have one, check out the specs here:
Thule Urban Glide 2.0 – Best Beach Stroller
This gets high marks for being the best lightweight stroller. The mamas said it was especially good for the beach because of water resistant material and a covered storage compartment that keeps sand out. It has rear suspension, and its 16” rear wheels and 12” front wheel (lockable swivel wheel) perform well on soft sand without digging in too much. (I haven’t seen any reports of this model’s wheel popping out of locked mode.)
It has a UPF 50+ canopy and a flip-out sun visor. It also comes standard with a twist handbrake and safety tether, good for hilly and/or slippery terrain. Baby can use it up to 77 pounds, a great capacity for such a lightweight off road stroller. It has the added feature of an adjustable handlebar.
This Thule also comes in a Double! Click here for specs and price
Joovy Zoom360 Ultralight – Best to Push
This one has a highly rated rear wheel suspension system, on 16” rear wheels and a 12” front wheel (a lockable swivel wheel… one mama did report it popping out of its locked position while in use). Made with aircraft-grade aluminum, it’s super sturdy and light, but not ultralight as the name would suggest (at 26 lbs, its about average for an off road baby stroller).
It’s very responsive, and the mamas say it’s easier than other models to push, maneuver and course-correct. It has a safety tether, but doesn’t have a handbrake.
It also has an extendable canopy for sun protection. And this one can be used as a travel system with the addition of a car seat adapter (sold separately). It fits children up to 75 pounds. Unfortunately, the handlebar on this one is not adjustable.
Chicco Activ3 – Best for Versatility
This gets high marks for being the best off road travel system. For those needing car seat and stroller sets, the Activ3 is car seat compatible without the need for an attachment, so could (for some) be the only stroller you ever need. Its suspension is adjustable with just one toe-tap for smoother or rougher terrain, so it performs well whether running errands or running trails.
Unlike the air-filled tires of other off-road brands, its foam-filled tires never need refilling. The lockable swivel wheel is operated from a hand-controlled switch, as opposed to having to be locked/unlocked manually (no reports of this model’s wheel popping out of locked mode). Its tires have a thick tread good for any terrain, and there’s an extendable canopy. It’s got an adjustable handle bar, hand-operated brakes and a safety tether.
As a stand alone, it’s meant for kids from 6 months old up to 50 pounds, but just attach a Chicco Keyfit car seat to make it newborn-6 months compatible. (Note that pediatricians advise against jogging with baby until they are at least 6 months old, and manufacturers follow these recommendations.)
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