I know not everyone feels the same way about strollers that I do. I love them. They’re an addiction for me; yes, as much as shoes (for reals).
I never felt like my kids were too old for a stroller at any given age. In fact, if my six year old still fit in a stroller, he’d gladly go for a ride after a long day at the zoo. And it’s certainly not uncommon to see Miss Q — nearly four — getting wheeled around or taking a snoozer in a stroller.
I know some people balk at seeing bigger kids in strollers, I do. You think to yourself, “Hmph! Just look at that lazy child.” Judge me all you want, but it’s a selfish decision rather than one designed to coddle my kids. I use a stroller for two distinct outings: (1) shopping; when’s the last time you went shopping with a spirited child and a mountain of bags? The convenience of being able to both strap in my child to contain her when I need to zip in and out of a store or up and down a couple of aisles is magical. And adding a Mommy Hook or taking advantage of under-seat storage can’t be beat if you’ve been on a bit of a spree. And, (2) day trips — when we know the kids could be walking for five or more hours. Inevitably, little legs get tired and the incessant “carry me!” tirade is easily avoided just by having a stroller in tow.
During the past 6.5 years of motherhood, I’m slightly ashamed to tell you that I’ve owned 17 strollers. Yes, many of these have been for review purposes but I’ve purchased a good chunk of those with my hard-earned cashola. So let me be clear: I know strollers. While there’s no such thing as the perfect stroller (trust me, I’ve looked), the Mamas & Papas armadillo is a very strong contender in its category. Not quite an umbrella stroller, not quite an SUV stroller, the armadillo is a unique hybrid that marries the best of both worlds.
I’m going to kick this off with the fold. I’ve folded more than just the 17 strollers I’ve owned. I used to be a nanny and folded those strollers, too, plus all the strollers I’ve checked out at retail over the years. I’m obsessed with a good fold. And the armadillo does it, and incredibly well. A quick flick of the wrist, and a grab of a handle, and you have single-handedly — and I mean that literally — folded it in seconds. And it’s pretty compact, especially if you’ve been toting around an SUV-type stroller in your trunk. It opens back up in seconds, too. Take a look at just how easy it is:
While we’re on the subject of umbrella strollers, if you’ve found one with a reasonable amount of storage space, can you tell me which one it is? Most seem to have only enough room for a spring jacket and a water bottle. But the Mamas & Papas armadillo manages to sneak in more storage than you’d be used to if you’re solely an umbrella fan. This works out well for me when it comes to shopping trips because I can actually fit either my monstrous mom purse or a bag or two of goodies I’ve procured.
I love love LOVE the yellow hood on the Lemon Drop model that Mamas & Papas sent us. It’s bright and bold and looks elegant but fun. Oh, and it’s highly water-resistant, too. Bonus.
So while the armadillo feels compact, many of its features also make it feel full-sized. Like:
- It takes a Maxi-Cosi car seat (with add-on adaptors) and has some really funky foot muffs designed to fit inside perfectly if you’re out and about in colder weather. (I love a good foot muff, especially when it colour co-ordinates!)
- A full recline, and because the leg rest can move up and down, legs can come up for a comfy nap-on-the-go
- An easy-to-use foot pedal to lock the wheels (swivel wheels are imperative for a smooth ride that can turn on a dime, while locked wheels making strolling through snow much easier)
- Front swivel wheels that can also lock into place
The black frame is shaped beautifully and takes on any high-end, full-size stroller.
This might sound odd, but I love that the handlebar is full width; often when you get into umbrella or smaller strollers, there are bars on each side for your hands rather than a full bar that sweeps from left to right without a break in the middle. Aside from being more comfortable overall and much easier for one-handed steering, if you’re a shopper and like to hang bags from your stroller bar using a hook, you can actually do so with the Mamas & Papas armadillo.
I think the price, at around $290, is totally reasonable. You’re getting a stroller that functions very similarly to an UPPAbaby Vista (without the same amount of storage space or an adjustable handlebar; see gaffe) with the convenience of a Maclaren (but way, way, way more space and comfort for your child). Both are quality strollers costing hundreds of dollars — with a Maclaren easily setting you back $300 and the Vista starting out around $830.
The armadillo is also pretty light, all things considered.
There’s no foot rest. Although Miss Q is still OK without one height-wise, another few inches and she probably won’t find it as comfortable.
The handlebar is not adjustable. This isn’t so much a problem for me (I’m about 5’7″ or 5’8″), but it’s a huge problem for Big B who towers at 6’6″. Because of the handlebar height, I’ll be stuck doing all the driving.