The Graco Modes Pramette travel system is an interesting consideration for any new parent, or someone buying a gift for expecting parents. When looking for car seats or strollers, you’ll inevitably come across the idea of purchasing a travel system. These are combo infant car seats, car seat bases and strollers. Some are great and some just really aren’t. As a former Travel System owner from when my daughter was an infant, I’ve experienced firsthand how hit and miss one can be. Our Travel System’s car seat was great, but the stroller was extremely underwhelming. After spending time with The Graco Modes Pramette, I’m really impressed and wish this was a choice I had when we were shopping. My daughter is now old enough to help me review things like this, and you’ll see her helping with the stroller install in the review video. Let’s take a look!
Introducing the Graco Modes Pramette travel system
The Graco Modes Pramette Travel System is a pretty multi faceted offering. The Travel System is basically 2 pieces brought together in one – The Graco Modes Pramette stroller, aptly named because of the different features (or “modes”) you can transform it into and the SnugRide 35 Lite DLX Infant seat.
While the stroller itself doesn’t have a specific expiry date that I could find, the car seat does and expires 7 years after the manufacturer’s stated date. Graco has a habit of printing or putting a sticker right on the box, so you should be able to locate your seat’s expiration date quite easily.
Assembling the Graco Modes Pramette travel system
There is a fair bit of assembly required for the Travel System’s stroller (the seat and base are already together) so I’d give yourself about a half hour or so. Nothing is particularly difficult since it all fastens together using Graco’s Click Connect system. The hardest parts are probably installing the rear wheels (since cotter pins aren’t really that cooperative in small spaces) and putting the toddler seat together. Whether or not you do the latter will be up to you, as the infant seat attaches directly to the stroller frame. You could also install both and attach the infant seat to the toddler seat. There are some pretty clear instructions in the manual that will guide you through both ways.
I’ll show you some of the basic installation steps in the video that accompanies this review.
Features of the Modes Pramette stroller
The Graco Modes Pramette stroller is pretty convenient for both parents and children. For parents, there’s a cup AND a phone holder for either side of the stroller, both of which are dishwasher safe and can be removed quite easily. The wheel base is also very large and the wheels are considered all terrain, which means you should be able to take this on different terrains quite easily. I probably wouldn’t treat this like a jogging stroller for trails (since it doesn’t have any shocks and will have probably have difficulty on really uneven terrain) but this is a big step up from other travel systems I’ve seen with small wheeled strollers that have trouble on bumpy sidewalks and grass, let alone in parks with varied terrain.
For your children, the safety features start with a solid multi-point harness. The harness works very similarly to the 5 point harnesses you see in infant seats and you can feel safe that your child will be safely strapped in while you’re pushing the stroller along. There’s also a tray that can be used in the toddler phase of the seat. It isn’t obvious at first since the majority of the stroller’s pieces are packed together, but the tray is actually packed with the infant car seat. You’re more likely to find the armrests before you find the tray itself. Just like all the other pieces, this clicks and snaps together and you can remove it just as easily as you install it.
The canopy has an air vent (or a Peek-A-Boo window as Graco calls it) at the top too. There’s a massive storage basket at the bottom where you can fit your diaper bag and whatever else you might be bringing along with you (or buying while you’re out shopping, right?) It’s big enough that you probably don’t need to buy one of those “parent hooks” that they sell as shopping bag clip accessories for strollers.
Once set up, the stroller sets up and folds down really easily with the push of a couple buttons. I’ve experienced strollers that folded down a bit too easily for my liking and some that are a bit too difficult. This one feels just right and isn’t a burden. The wheel locking rear axle is a snap too and locks and unlocks pretty easily.
The nice thing about this stroller is that it isn’t excessive or bulky and fits comfortably into the trunk of most vehicles. I had a jogging stroller that would struggle to fit into the trunk of my wife’s Toyota Corolla based on its folding length and awkward shape when folded down. This stroller fits just fine into the trunk of any vehicle and lays as flat as possible.
The different “Modes” of the Modes Pramette stroller
There are 3 distinctive modes of this Stroller
- Infant Car Seat Carrier: This mode is pretty self explanatory. You can attach the car seat directly to the stroller base and use that combo as your stroller
- Infant Stroller: This is the mode where you take the “toddler” seat, remove the armrests and convert it into a bassinet, or a “pram”.
- Toddler Stroller: This is the basic attachment with the seat fully upright.
I’d recommend spending some time reading the owner’s manual to understand how to fully utilize these different modes. It’s pretty simple, since most of it is literally pulling on the seat or unbuckling harnesses, but it will take some getting used to. Once you know what you’re doing, it takes literally seconds to convert the stroller from one mode to another. I’ll also show off the conversion steps in the video.
The infant car seat in this travel system
The car seat that comes with this Travel System is the Graco SnugRide 35 DLX. It’s extremely light weight and transitions from the car to the stroller very easily. Installation into your vehicle shouldn’t take very long. It won’t be very apparent at first, but there’s a cleverly hidden secret door on the bottom slope of the base that has the UAT latch connectors. If you have trouble finding the opening, just give the base a quick shake back and forth and you should hear the latches sliding around inside. They’re regular/traditional metal clips, which is a bit disappointing knowing that Graco has their InRight UAS system that makes these installs much faster, but it’s really the smallest point of contention. The base is universal to any Graco Click Connect seat, so if you end up getting a different one of those seats at any point in the year, you won’t need a new base.
The release for the seat is on the back side of the seat (behind where your child’s head would be) and is a really simple flick up and down. Like seats of this type, you would pull the release switch up and pull the seat out. The seat handle can be adjusted easily for you to leverage picking the seat up or setting it down again on the base or the stroller. Should you decide to utilize the stroller base without the toddler seat, you’d place this seat down onto the same awaiting edge clasps. Like the toddler seat, it will “click” into place. You can take the seat off the stroller base the same way you remove it from the base. You simply pull the release switch up and pull the seat off.
The seat itself has a standard 5 point harness, headrest cushions and its own canopy too. Please remember to follow the instructions on the side of the seat while placing your child in it. The harness should rest at the child’s shoulders and their head needs to be a safe distance from the top of the seat.
The base is equipped with Graco’s Snugride technology. The Snugride element varies based on the seat type. With this one, the Snugride arm is a simple up and down lever. You simply flick up feed your belt path underneath where you’d close it and then snap the level shut with a click. The base has a level on the side to ensure that your seat is flat and leveled for your child’s safety and comfort. If you’re not comfortable installing the seat or are having difficulty, you can always reach out to your local child passenger safety specialists for more information or help with the installation itself.
I’ll show you how Snugride module works on this base in the video.
Should I buy a travel system or buy everything separately?
The Graco Modes Pramette is easily the most versatile travel system I’ve ever seen and if it suits your lifestyle, I’d recommend taking a look. There are great features that I really like with the stroller, like the fact that you can convert the toddler stroller seat into a bassinet and easily swap the canopy to shift it from forward to rear facing. The fact that it comes apart and sets up quite easily is really good too. While I think you’ll have some problems with the bottom wheel removal, the fact that you can still take the majority apart (in case you’re traveling and need to disassemble it) is a nice benefit.
You’ll also save a lot of money with a travel system. The price of these travel systems are typically less than some strollers alone and with the added features of this, it definitely gives you a really solid bang for your buck.
The one thing I’ll mention about travel systems and the strollers specifically are that they’re meant for pretty simple purposes. The strollers are basically road/urban features and aren’t meant for much more. Granted, this one has better all-purpose wheels for some unpaved roads and parks. I still wouldn’t treat it like your standard 3 wheeled jogger stroller, despite the multi-directional front wheels. Graco has jogging strollers you can look into for those purposes. However, if you’re walking around the block, at a park, a track or at the mall and that’ll be your main purpose, I don’t think you can do much better for this travel system at this price range. I’d say this is probably mid-range pricing for a travel system, but it has a lot of helpful features that I wish I had in the long gone travel system we purchased for my then-infant daughter.
Always do keep in mind that you’ll only ever realize the full benefits of a Travel System in the first year and a bit of your child’s life. You’ll have to invest in another car seat once your child is ready to face forward in the car, but the stroller is versatile enough that they can sit in it until they’ve pretty well outgrown it.
The Graco Modes Pramette travel system is now available online at BestBuy.ca