Compact and foldable, these collapsible strollers are a cinch to deploy on quick trips, errands around town, or ambles in the park
The quick-folding umbrella stroller is a great lightweight second stroller for babies who can sit up on their own.
By Keith Flamer
Parents of toddlers are always on the run. So whether you’re walking to a store, driving to a playground, or flying to Disney World, a compact umbrella stroller is the quickest way to get you and baby back and forth.
At least, that’s what aviation engineer Owen Maclaren thought in 1965 when he invented the umbrella stroller (a collapsible "baby buggy") to replace his granddaughter’s heavy pram carriage before an international flight. His revolutionary stroller was made of lightweight aluminum with blue-and-white stripes. Since then, parents of all stripes choose to push their kids around in this convenient stroller type.
“They were christened as umbrella strollers because they fold into a long, narrow package—though not as narrow as an actual umbrella,” says Joan Muratore, the engineer who oversees stroller testing for Consumer Reports.
Most umbrella strollers are designed to carry babies 6 months or older—those who can sit up on their own. With fabric seats and two distinct handles, they’re generally the lightest strollers, too, nimble enough to navigate tight spaces and corners.
You’ll find umbrella strollers in our ratings that weigh as little as 7 pounds and as much as 18 pounds—but still a lot less than other strollers, which can weigh as much as 38 pounds. They’re also quick-folding and compact for easy stowing in closets, car trunks, or airplane storage areas. A select few conveniently stand while folded. All of these pluses make umbrella strollers a popular choice among parents, often as a handy second stroller.
The trade-offs? Many umbrella strollers have limited storage and small wheels that may not handle uneven terrain well. And some have a fixed (non-reclining) seat back or a limited recline.
How We Test Strollers
CR’s engineers test umbrella strollers in the lab at our Yonkers, N.Y., headquarters to assess which ones are safe, maneuverable, and easy to use. Using weights to simulate a child, we navigate strollers along our indoor test course, steering around S-curves, between cones, up and down a curb, and over obstructions that mimic grass, mulch, and tree roots. We also assess strollers for safety, using tests patterned after the CPSC/ASTM standard. When CR discovers a stroller is unsafe, we warn consumers about potential dangers.
If you’re in the market for a lightweight umbrella stroller, check our stroller ratings, which include brands such as Chicco, Maclaren, Summer Infant, and UPPAbaby. Refer to our stroller buying guide before you shop. Here are three top-rated lightweight umbrella strollers (listed alphabetically) that will get you on your way.
Chicco Liteway Stroller
CR’s take: At just 18 pounds, the Chicco Liteway umbrella stroller is compact, simple to use, and folds/unfolds easily. It’s responsive, sturdy, and maneuvers well for its small size, even on rough terrain. Unfortunately, the basket access is limited with the seat reclined, and our diaper bag did not fit completely in the basket. The harness also requires some rethreading to adjust. However, the stroller earns a top score for safety.
Safety 1st Step Lite Compact Stroller
CR’s take: As with many umbrella strollers, this Safety 1st Step Lite Compact stroller is compact when folded and maneuverable when in use, even though it weighs in at 17 pounds. Its pockets provide additional storage options in addition to the standard basket and/or tray. However, our diaper bag barely fit in the basket even when the seat back was upright (not reclined). Testers also found the shape of the handles uncomfortable to grip in spite of their padding. The harness also requires some rethreading to adjust.
Summer Infant 3D Lite
CR’s take: At just 12 pounds, the safe and compact Summer Infant umbrella stroller is a top-notch choice for traveling with a child of 6 months or older, up to 50 pounds. The seat reclines, which is great for on-the-go naps. It’s easy to fold, unfold, and carry, thanks to its convenient shoulder strap. It comes with a cup holder, an extra-large undercarriage storage, and a small seat-back pocket.
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