DOUBLE STROLLER – A REVIEW OF THE STEELCRAFT STRIDER COMPACT, DELUXE EDITION

We were reluctant to part with our Silver Cross single stroller that had served our toddler well for his first 20 months before our daughter’s arrival. It was sleek and stylish and very intuitive to use – but unfortunately that particular model didn’t come with the option of a second seat attachment, and those in the range that did were well over budget. Since we’d known we’d likely have two children close together, if we’d been sensible we’d have bought an adaptable stroller at the outset that could later accommodate a second seat at a fraction of the cost. But hindsight is a wonderful thing, and so was the $1000 our parents said goodbye to thanks to our lack of forward thinking – whoops!

Eager to avoid parting from our Silver Cross if we could avoid it, we spent an hour in Baby Bunting persuading our recalcitrant toddler to try out various skateboard style attachments (the best of which, if you’re interested, was the Veebee EZ Rider which was affordable and also had the benefit of a seat to give your toddler a rest from standing and a restraint to keep him safe), but since our son was not as much of a fan of it as we were, we knew we had to bite the bullet and find a suitable double stroller instead. Our main requirements were an affordable stroller that would fit in our boot (counting out all side-by-side models), and comfortably accommodate a toddler and newborn. Our parents kindly stepped in again (because – maternity leave), gifting us a Steelcraft Strider Compact Deluxe Edition double stroller in midnight navy (best not tell them about baby no. 3 then… just kidding), which ticked all those boxes.

In case you’re considering purchasing one for yourself, here are some of the best bits about this stroller:

  • The price: We purchased this stroller whilst it was on sale, and for such an attractive looking stroller it was one of the most affordable on the market at that time. Note that you need to purchase the second seat separately – overall this cost us around $750 which we think was comparatively reasonable for a double model.
  • The design: This edition of the Steelcraft Strider Compact has had a very stylish makeover to celebrate its 10th year, which makes it stand out among its more expensive competitors. It is available in dark chambray (grey), black, or midnight navy with an attractive leatherette handle and arm bars in a tan colour that boosts its appeal.
  • The size: Unlike the side-by-side style of double strollers, the top-and-tail design of this one makes it more compact for navigating shopping aisles and criss-crossing in between tables and chairs in busy cafes and restaurants. It also makes it a good fit for the boot of our mid-size SUV. Whilst it is a little on the bulky side, I think that’s to be expected given its job is to carry two children (and the shopping!).
  • Practicality: This stroller is generally user-friendly and practical for comfortably accommodating both of our children as well as a limited amount of shopping. It is pretty intuitive to use – the hardest part was the initial fitting of the second seat but now that’s attached we don’t plan on removing it anytime soon. It is quite heavy to lift into the boot but you can remove one or both seats for ease.
  • Steelcraft capsule-compatible: We currently sit our 11.5kg toddler in the second seat facing away from us and put our newborn in the capsule above him facing us. We thought our toddler might find the second seat a bit cramped, but whilst it can be awkward lifting him in and out he’s actually very happy in there – and we made use of the handy spacer attachments that increase the distance between the 2 seats to give each child that little bit extra wiggle room. We let our toddler walk alongside us more than ever anyway, so he doesn’t spend a great deal of time in the stroller. Once our baby has outgrown the capsule we will switch the seats so that she goes into the second seat and our son goes above her in the toddler seat.
  • Adaptability: I like that you can choose to have the toddler seat facing either towards you or away from you, that the toddler seat and capsule are interchangeable, and that the second seat can be adjusted for use by either a toddler or infant. Though the second seat is approved for newborns my understanding was that they must lay flat in a bassinet, but I couldn’t find a double stroller in our budget that would accommodate both a toddler and a baby in a bassinet. Apparently the addition of a triangular wedge beneath the comfort pack insert of the second seat provides the extra back support a newborn needs – obviously the intention would be not to leave a new baby in there for prolonged periods of time anyway. Both seats recline. The stroller frame folds with or without the seats attached according to the amount of space you have afforded to you in the boot – I tend to remove the toddler seat if I’m using it, but keep the second seat attached when folding.
  • Comfort packs: The comfort pack inserts are reversible and removable which is handy for washing.
  • Additional basket access: There is an additional access point to the basket at the front of the stroller accessed via a zip. This is very convenient for packing in smaller items of shopping that can fit through the opening, as when both children are using the stroller it is too difficult to access the basket the usual way. The basket itself looks a little flimsy but we have tested it out several times with our heavier items of shopping bumping up and down curbs and it’s still in one piece. It doesn’t have as much room as our Silver Cross did, but the reality is when you are using the second seat your child takes up much of the potential shopping basket space. You can still get your heavier items in there to save you from carrying them. It can be hard to stop my son from fiddling with the zips that keep the basket together.
  • Handle bar: Though the handle bar isn’t extendable, you can adjust its position up or down. My husband and I are both on the taller side so we lift the handle to its highest position and that feels comfortable for us.
  • The canopy and mesh window: The canopies on both seats offer adequate protection from the sun/rain. I like the mesh window feature so that I can keep an eye on the children if they are facing away from me.
  • The extras: This stroller comes with a lot of extras including a rain cover, a mesh sun shade, and a convenient removable storage pouch with 2 x bottle holders (the storage pouch can’t be attached if you opt for the capsule and second seat configuration, but if you aren’t using the capsule it will attach around the toddler seat).

The worst bits, from most annoying to least:

  • The folding mechanism: By far the most annoying aspect of this stroller is how awkward it is to fold away. The latch is very temperamental, in that if you don’t line up the pin to the latch just right (a very difficult feat to consistently achieve), it will spring open on you as you are loading it in or out of the boot and I worry about the potential to cause injury to the unsuspecting. To make matters worse, in order to maximise the likelihood of being able to fold this stroller away in just one shot you often need to have the front wheels perfectly aligned and to ensure the basket is empty otherwise the pin might not line up correctly. My husband and I have had many a roadside battle trying to fold this stroller away, but I’ve recently discovered a little trick that seems to work – fold stroller, get annoyed that pin and latch aren’t lining up, slightly unfold then refold the stroller once or twice, pin and latch are now perfectly aligned and click into place as if by magic.
  • Navigation: I find this stroller heavy to push and manoeuvre, and it can be particularly awkward to lift up and down curbs or steps (especially when both babies and our shopping are in there). My wrists often ache from pushing it and you really do need to be using both hands (i.e. difficult to push and steer whilst carrying a coffee or umbrella) at all times.
  • The second seat (when used for a newborn/infant): Whilst the stroller does come with an attractive looking, reversible comfort pack; I was compelled to purchase a generic comfort pack at additional cost that contained a head support for our infant daughter to rest against otherwise she just couldn’t settle comfortably as the headrest that comes with the stroller is too flat to offer enough head support or stability. In the end, after several unsettled trips with our infant in the second seat (even with the additional comfort pack), we decided not to use the second seat for her any more until she’s outgrown the capsule. This will temporarily negate the comfort issue (which isn’t such a problem when she’s snug in the capsule attachment instead). There is no velcro to keep the seat comfort inserts in place so it is a pain constantly having to put them (and the straps) back into place with a squirming child.
  • Suspension: This stroller seems to have poor suspension, which is unfortunate for parents using the second seat for their newborn as I’m pretty sure this is the primary cause of our daughter being generally unhappy in there and unable to fall asleep due to her proximity to all the lumps and bumps of the path.
  • Frame: The frame seems very susceptible to becoming extremely creaky over time, which again is unfortunate as it will potentially sabotage even your best efforts to get your child/ren to nap on the go. Maybe a good douse of WD40 will rescue it temporarily. It scratches easily.
  • The brake: Over time the brake has a tendency to come loose which is frustrating. The mechanism was also simple enough for my toddler to figure out hence he sometimes likes to lock and unlock the stroller and take it for a walk (occasionally with my infant inside), just because he can. My Silver Cross had a more durable brake mechanism that my toddler wouldn’t have figured out as easily, and that he wouldn’t have had enough strength in his little hands to press anyway.
  • The tires: This particular point is just nit-picking really because I like things to look good, but the tires on this stroller have a slight pattern indented into them which looks good initially unfortunately wears down pretty quickly making the stroller appear a bit on the tatty side.

We were gifted an older version of this stroller before committing to purchasing one for ourselves. This looked and functioned just like the Deluxe Edition, minus the swanky makeover. It was very creaky with a flimsy brake, a folding latch that no longer worked, and a tatty appearance. Whilst this is perhaps understandable given its age and that it had serviced two young children, the latest version unfortunately presents with the beginnings of those same issues, and we’ve only had it a couple of months. Whilst I do love this stroller’s updated look, I think priority should have been given to solving its more problematic mechanisms too in order to boost its usability, functionality and durability and help this pram stand out among its competitors and justify its price tag.

Overall however, we are satisfied with this stroller at the discounted price paid and I would still recommend it, ideally with the purchase of an additional head support for a newborn or infant; as it’s a very stylish looking stroller, manageable for lifting in and out of the boot, can hold at least the heavier items of shopping so you don’t have to, easily fits in the boot of our car (mid-size SUV), and the top and tail design makes it easier for negotiate public spaces and narrow paths than a side-by-side double stroller. It is also, on the whole, comfortable for my children and can adapt with their changing needs.

I hope you find just the right stroller you need to accommodate your family’s needs. Happy shopping,

Gemma.

Do you use a double stroller for your children? Which double stroller do you recommend and why?

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