<In case you’re looking for the 2015 UPPAbaby Vista review…carry on…>
When it comes to big investments – you know, a crib set or a vacation – I become obsessive (manic, really) about research. I’ll spend hours online reading about a product’s features and benefits, checking out reviews, and then spend an equal amount of time looking for the best price. So when it came to buying a stroller, I’m not sure what happened.
Dear reader, I could talk strollers all day. I’ll try to keep this blog post focused.
We had so many friends who loved their Phil & Ted’s strollers that we didn’t even take one out for a test-walk. I mean, why bother? It looked good, and everyone seemed happy. What was I thinking? I’m what you call “particular,” and I should have known better. Ultimately, the Phil & Ted’s didn’t work for us. More on that in another review.
We decided that for the right stroller (I say “right” because, I assure you, the “perfect” stroller does not exist), we would pay anything. Anything! Really, when you work out the cost-per-push, they’re all pretty inexpensive (we walk at least once per day no matter what, and more in great weather).
For all of the things that were important to us – including the absence of a rear-wheel axle (because Big B is ginormous at 6’6”), handling and ease of multi-positioning among other things – the final three contenders were the Quinny Buzz, the Bugaboo Cameleon and the UPPAbaby Vista. We went to Canabee Baby to give all of them a try, since it was one of the few places in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) that sold all three at the time. Fortunately, we could put The K Man in the passenger seat – a luxury we didn’t have with our first stroller purchase.
I can’t stress how important this step was in cementing our final decision; so if you’re pregnant now and in the testing phase, try to borrow a baby. Not joking. Ask one of your friends who has a baby (or, better still, two babies – one who’s a few months old, and a toddler, so you can see how strollers feel at different stages) to join you at your neighbourhood stroller store. You need to be able to see how easy it is to get the baby in and out of the stroller, how the stroller handles with an extra 15 to 50 pounds in it and how well the baby “fits” in the stroller. Word of caution: be sure borrowed baby is well-rested.
Some things to consider during your test-walk:
- Can you maneuver it with one hand? (You will inevitably want to drink some kind of beverage while out for a stroll or need to chat on the phone at some point)
- Can you recline the seat (and back again) with one hand?
- Does it recline smoothly (so as not to wake an already-sleeping baby during the recline process)?
- Can you apply and release the brake quickly and easily, and preferably with your foot (unless it’s at handlebar level)?
- Does it come with a sunshade and bug net or are these extra costs that you must factor into your overall stroller purchase (sunshade being a must-have and bug net being a nice-to-have)?
- Does it accept any kind of infant car seat and does it require a special adaptor to convert it for use with one? (If so, be sure you know what kind of car seat you’ll need to get and factor the cost of an adaptor into the overall price as well)
- Does it have enough storage space?
- Is the seat deep and wide enough that a bigger toddler is going to be comfortable?
- If you’re on the taller side (5’8″ and above), be sure you look at the rear wheels – is there an axle that connects them? If so, you are probably going to kick it with every long stride you take (Big B had to walk beside the P&T to avoid kicking the axle)
We looked at the Bugaboo primarily because it doesn’t have a rear axle, but also because with all the celebrity hype it enjoyed a couple years ago and the $1,000-plus price tag, we figured it had to be awesome. Here’s why we did not choose the Bugaboo:
- You need to remove the seat EVERY TIME you need to fold the stroller. Uh, way too annoying
- You need to swap the provided fabric from bassinet to seat, which means you can’t use both at the same time (so, with a newborn, you’d need a separate bassinet or be forced to change fabric every time you want to use the seat). Again, annoying
- There isn’t a ton of under-carriage storage
- Once The K Man got a tiny bit taller, his feet would dangle over the non-adjustable foot rest
It came down to the Quinny Buzz and the UPPAbaby Vista. While they both have pros and cons, the Vista won hands-down for several reasons.
The top 15 really good things:
- The seat sits high, so once your baby is eating off the table, you can use it in a restaurant that doesn’t have high chairs; it fits perfectly at table height.
- It comes with a bassinet (that has its own fabric; no swapping), lined with lovely organic cotton.
- It has a huge under-carriage basket. Biggest on the market that I’ve ever seen. You will appreciate this when you’re trying to cart around a diaper bag, a purse, some small toys and – if you’re in a major city – do a bit of grocery shopping on your way back from a park or play-date.
- It’s very easy to maneuver one-handed (again, this is especially important for drinking coffee/water/alcohol of choice while walking).
- It’s so easy to recline the seat!
- It comes with a huge UV sun cover.
- It comes with a bug net and rain cover.
- It has an adjustable foot rest.
- You can buy a second seat (called the RumbleSeat – another pending review)
- You can also attach a kiddie board (called the piggyBACK), which means you can put three kids in one stroller!
- Its fabric is both removable and washable.
- It has un-poppable tires, which will never deflate.
- The seat can face forward or toward you.
- The Vista frame folds with its seat on or off. Your choice.
- The handlebar is adjustable for taller folks, like Big B who comfortably uses it on its highest setting.
Honestly, this list is not exhaustive. Apparently, one can also buy a snack tray for the UPPAbaby Vista now. Bonus.
Not to say there aren’t a couple things that I think could be improved, but that list is quite short:
- The Cup Holder (an extra 25 bucks) falls off all the time, and I lost two during our time with the Vista. To UPPAbaby’s credit, their amazing customer service rep immediately sent me a replacement at no cost when I wrote to complain about the first loss. Impressive. But do yourself a favour and skip the UPPA-branded cup holder in favour of a universal one
- It doesn’t handle as well as the Phil & Ted’s in snow and ice, although if you lock the front wheels it definitely helps
- It doesn’t come with a rain cover for the bassinet – only a bug net…strange…
- The seat itself isn’t accommodating for very tall toddlers; my son outgrew it by the time he turned three (he’s somewhere north of the 85th percentile for height, if that helps)
- Once the Rumble Seat is attached, whichever child is in the main seat is forced to sit facing the stroller-pusher. Big downside when that child would really rather look out at the interesting world than at his mom who he sees day in, day out
- Folding the Vista can be tricky before you’ve had some practice
All in all, the UPPAbaby Vista was well worth the $800 it set us back, even though we’ve moved on to another stroller that better fits my very tall kids.
So…where can you get it?
- Macklem’s (notably, some of the best customer service you’ll find at any baby store)
- Moms to Be…and More (arguably my favourite baby store of all time)
- Baby Shack
- And about a zillion other places
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