Jogging strollers are showing up everywhere from city streets to country paths and every road surface in between and with good reason: they’re a great way for babies and toddlers to get fresh air while parents get their heart rate up. Although some jogging strollers do offer full recline positions, don’t mistake that for the OK to take your infant running. Infants need to lie flat and you don’t want to kick your child inadvertently when you hit full stride. Doctors recommend waiting to run with your child until they’re approximately 6-7 months of age and can hold their heads up. Even at that age, there are several things to consider before you invest in a jogging stroller and embark on family fitness. Let Pronto’s Jogging Stroller Buying Guide take you through all the points you need to consider before clicking the “buy now” button (see also Stroller Buying Guide).
Look for five-point harnesses that restrain your child at the shoulders, hips and crotch to prevent your child from slipping in the seat. Also look for rear-wheel brakes, mechanism locks that prevent the stroller from folding or collapsing when in use.
If you’ll do more than run with your jogging stroller, look for front-swivel wheels with locking capabilities which will perform well whether you’re on the trail or at the mall. Otherwise, a fixed front wheel is best for strollers that will be used for jogging and running only.
Bigger is better, especially for heavy running and negotiating tough terrains. Sixteen-inch wheels provide the best balance of comfort and performance, but serious runners will want to check out 20” inch wheels.
Alloy is your ally. Not only is alloy lighter than steel, but it won’t rust which makes it a good choice for marine, mountain or winter climate where moisture and road salt will corrode steel. Alloy costs more up front, but saves in maintenance and replacement costs down the road.
Jogging strollers, by virtue of their design, are more unwieldy than traditional strollers, especially when it comes to storing them in the cars. Quick Release features detach the wheels from the axles with one motion to make traveling with the stroller easy and hassle-free.
Seat harnesses that attach at both shoulders, both hips and at the crotch for a total of five attachment points. Beware models that only feature 3 attachment points They are not recommended by either Consumer Reports nor the American Association of Pediatrics.
All jogging strollers today feature reclining seats, but only a few fold flat and with good reason—it should never be used while running as a baby in a reclined position could wind up getting kicked when his/her running parent hits full stride.
Feature that detaches the wheels from the axle via a lever or button push for easy storage in cars or other means of travel.
Some bicycle trailers convert easily into jogging strollers. If you’re a multi-sport family, you may want to consider a trailer with this capability.
Like car seats, jogging strollers come with restraint systems, which are critical to keeping your child safe especially if you’ll be using your jogging stroller for hardcore running. The best restraint system you can provide for your child is a five-point harness. The difference between a five-point harness and a three-point harness is the addition of shoulder straps for added stability. What other safety features should you look for in a jogging stroller?
Jogging stroller brake types include hand brakes, parking brakes and wrist straps. Higher-end brand names may feature all three kinds of brakes; other jogging stroller brands may offer only one or two. Most high-end models have a handlebar-mounted hand brake similar to what you see on a bicycle that slows the speed of the front wheel. This braking power is enough for walkers or joggers, but serious runners lose hand-brake speed the faster they run, especially downhill. No one wants a runaway jogging stroller, so if there’s a brand of stroller you like, be sure you research its brake options before purchase.
Parking brakes are just that: good for any time you need to stop and can’t keep one or both hands on the jogging stroller handlebar. Jogging stroller parking brakes may be activated via push button mounts or foot pedals. If you’re a serious runner, a foot pedal parking brake may interfere with your stride. Most quality jogging strollers on the market today also feature wrist straps which allows you to ‘attach’ the jogging stroller to your person to prevent the stroller from getting away from you at any time. Wrist straps are the last defense in controlling a jogging stroller and are usually affixed to the stroller’s rear axle. Avoid wrist straps that affix to the stroller’s handlebar—the stroller will be less stable and more prone to tipping.
Lastly, because of the speed at which you’ll be walking, jogging or running with your jogging stroller, look for models that have fenders to keep baby’s fingers and toes safe from the spokes of a spinning wheel. At a minimum you’ll want the front wheel to have a fender, but some parents may insist on having fenders on both the front and back wheels.
One of the key things to consider when you’re buying a jogging stroller is whether you want it to function as a standalone stroller for jogging and running only, or whether you want it to be able to do double duty as your everyday stroller too. Answering this question will help you narrow your options almost immediately.
If you want your jogging stroller to perform well in a variety of functions (walking, jogging, running, everyday errands, etc.), limit your search to models that feature a front-swivel wheel with locking capabilities. In the locked position, you’re set for a run or power walk. Unlocked, the front wheel will help you maneuver narrow aisles and tight corners at the mall or grocery store.
If you’re purchasing a dedicated jogging stroller only, you can focus on fixed-wheel models. Dedicated jogging strollers often provide more features, like better shock absorption, than their multifunctional cousins. A fixed wheel is also more practical when you encounter difficult terrain like sand or gravel, and they're always better if you plan on doing any running off-road, or running in general.
The three most common sizes are 12 inches, 16 inches and 20 inches. The bigger a jogging stroller’s wheels, the better control and shock absorption the stroller has when used off road. Smaller wheels are generally easier to maneuver, decrease the jogging stroller’s overall weight and, of course, take up less physical space.
What size should you choose? It depends on how you’ll be using your jogging stroller, so be honest with yourself. Large wheels make for a smoother ride, but add to the size and weight of the stroller, while smaller wheels are lighter and easier to steer but make for a bumpier ride.
Twelve-inch wheels with a front swivel that locks are a good choice for light jogging or power walking and smaller wheels mean the jogging stroller will also perform well for other uses (running errands). For serious runners, 12” wheels won’t deliver the power or performance needed the way 16” inch dedicated fixed wheels can. A few jogging strollers now offer 20” wheels, which are the overall best performers for runners in terms of power and performance but also in terms of durability over time.
For power walkers/runners or anyone who will use the jogging stroller regularly over rougher terrain, 20” wheel are best—they make it easier to navigate bumps, holes, curbs, etc. Frequent walkers and joggers who only go off road some of the time will do better with 16” wheels. The advantage of 16” wheels is versatility: if you want your jogging stroller for running miles and running errands, they perform well on both counts.
Selecting the right wheel size for your jogging stroller is only the first step. The next is determining what kind of tires best suit your lifestyle. Experts say you’ll get the best performance from pneumatic (air-filled) tires made of rubber mounted on good, solid rims. The rims themselves should be on sealed hubs with ball bearings. What does that mean? Wheels attached to an axle provide more stability and sealed hubs make for better performance (smooth ride). Tire rims are available in steel and alloy. We recommend investing in alloy for several reasons.
Alloy doesn’t rust, so if you live in a climate where moisture is an issue (coastal, mountain, snow belts), you really shouldn’t go without them. Also, alloy rims are lighter than steel and reduce overall stroller weight. Spending more on alloy now means spending less on maintenance and/or wheel replacement later. If you happen to fall in love with a jogging stroller that has steel wheels, be sure to care for them regularly by rinsing after use near the ocean or on salt-treated winter roads.
You’ll want to be able to put your child in and out of the stroller with relative ease. That goes double for the harness—you should be able to fasten and unfasten the restraint quickly. Weight is another consideration, which most online shops list among the stroller’s specifications. Don’t forget that you’ll be pushing the stroller’s weight in additional to your child and everything you’ll be bringing along. Sometimes, every pound counts.
Quick release via a lever or button is a feature many parents find useful, especially if they travel with their jogging stroller. Most jogging strollers are too large to fit easily in the backs, hatches or trunks of cars without removing either one or all of the wheels. The quick release function is attached to the axle and allows you to remove those wheels without the need for tools.