It is finally happening that my 4.5 year old princess is getting too big for strollers. I knew this day would come, but I have been avoiding it - and so has she! At 44 inches tall, her legs are just too long to fit into any of my extensive collection of strollers anymore, yet since we always HAVE a stroller with us for the 9 month old, she wants in. So... we invested in the Joovy Caboose Ultralight.
Recommend this product?
We looked at three different models of the Joovy Caboose stroller before landing on the ultralight. The first (and appearance-wise the one I like the best) was the Caboose Ergo. Sleek, with air-pumped rear tires and smaller front wheels on an arched frame gave it a Bugaboo Bee look (you know how I like those Bugaboos). However, even though the front seat looks more comfy, it only has a slight recline making it very inappropriate for napping young tots, plus it is 10 inches longer, and 8 pounds heavier than either of the other models, which is exactly what I wanted to avoid. So, we moved on to the Original Caboose and the Caboose Ultralight.
The frames of the two strollers look almost identical with the same cushy handlebar, and side handles for the older child. However, the Ultralight is a full 5 pounds lighter. Both come equipped with a universal car seat adapter that works with most car seats, and a snack tray to use on the front when you're done with the car seat adapter. The sun canopies are very different, which is what sold me on the ultralight. The Original comes with a small, arked canopy like you would see on any umbrella stroller. The Ultralight has a very generous, wide brimmed canopy that is contoured to allow for the older child to stand right up next to it and lean slightly against it without any issues.
The storage basket is a few inches deeper in the Ultralight, though not necessarily easier to access. The front seats are both stiff, straight seats with little padding but the canvas that covers them (think the original adjusting recline stroller seats from the 80's) however, the Ultralight has 3 recline positions and lays 3/4 of the way back where the Original has only 2 recline positions, neither of which would be appropriate if your front seater happens to fall asleep. I think this is a very important consideration if your younger child is under 2 years of age especially. Lastly, the Ultralight comes with a parent organizer included, and the Original does not. These sell for $35 seperately. There is right about a $100 price difference, but again, everyone has different considerations. It was worth the extra money for my situation.
Hood: The sun canopy was put to the test on our first outing when it started raining. It was large enough to cover BOTH front and back children, and sat high enough that my older daughter's head wasn't having to bend down awkwardly at all. It is on a very sturdy frame, easy to open and close but won't do either without you wanting it to. It is easy to remove, by pushing a button on either side of the frame and pulling it off. If she is seated and tries to turn around and look ahead of us however, it does block her view whether it is open or closed.
Frame: The frame is lightweight at 22 pounds, and 38 inches long, I feel it is the size of an average single stroller. The handle has a nice padding on it, but it is not height adjustable, and I feel like the actual bar should be thicker. My husband is 6'2" and says it is definitely an awkward height/angle for him. I'm 5'7" and it's ok, but I do kick into the brake pedals if I'm not walking right in the center of it. The brakes are red and stick out a couple inches behind the rear wheels. They are attached somehow, so if you push down one, it deploys both. Pretty easy to do, maybe awkward with flip flops.
Seats: The rear seat is just a rectangular bench with very little padding and a crotch/waist buckle only. There is no shoulder harness and no seat back. It backs right up to the front seat, and if the front seat is reclined AT ALL, there is standing room ONLY. The foot board is a good 10" by 14" so it is good enough size for relatively safe standing while holding on to the side handles.
The front seat as I mentioned above is very sparcely padded as well, but does have a simple 5 point harness system. It is a straight back piece of particleboard with a flat, hard bench seat. It has a primitive recline mechanism just like strollers from the 80's where you squeeze one of several metal bars on the back to engage the recline. It is one-handed and easy to do up and down, but unless you're tall, you can't reach over the handlebar and do it while you're walking. It has an OK recline, my 9 month old was able to sleep comfortably in it reclined to its 148 degree max with the 2 position footrest raised horizontally.
Wheels: There are 4 front and 2 rear wheels. All are an EVA type solid foam wheel and they are larger than that of an umbrella stroller, probably about the size of your average Graco wheels. The front wheels have an easy push down lock mechanism, otherwise they swivel while the rear wheels are stationary. They are all easy to remove, which I think is good, as from seeing the same wheels on older strollers, I have a feeling they will wear out and need replacing before the average person is done with the stroller. I checked out the joovy website, and I'm happy to report that ALL of their parts are very easy to purchase, and are very reasonably priced. It seems you can replace all the wheels for $30.
Storage: There is a decent sized storage basket underneath. Getting to it is very tricky with a seated rear passenger. You can flip up the bench seat to access it fully by unsnapping two snaps on the bench that are attached to the frame. As stated above, it also comes with a neoprene parent console, which is very handy. It has two beverage pockets, then a smaller pocket on either side great for your phone, keys, smaller wallet, etc. I will say that the only negative is that it hangs down in front of the rear seat, making the child have to bend down kind of awkwardly to get down, but it isn't as bad getting up.
Folding: It has a very easy fold mechanism, two squeeze triggers, one on either side of the handle bar that you push down, then fold it over itself. It has a safety lock to engage when it is open, and a lock for when it is collapsed. It folds small enough to get into most any trunk, but the canopy does stick out the top and make it longer than might fit in some, so you might have to remove it prior to putting in the car. You also need to make sure the canopy and the seat back are totally upright to make folding go the smoothest.
The ride: This stroller - unlike the original - features a 4 wheel suspension, and offers a smooth ride with easy steering Even with my 60 pounds of kids, I can steer with one hand if I need to. It is definitely not the pinky steering my BOB offers, but for what it is, I am satisfied with how it handles.
All in all, I like the stroller and it serves its purpose. That said, I do wish that it had a more comfortable seat with thicker padding.
Amount Paid (US$): 245