My daughter is now 2 and we’ve become very “stroller optional” the last few months. In fact, my mother has our jogging stroller now for grandma’s house visits and my daughter usually holds my hand (or her backpack) when we go shopping together. However, she still has her lazy days and sometimes likes to look what’s around her while someone pushes her through the mall. I’ve been looking at cheaper stroller options lately (since I don’t want to drop $800 on another jogging stroller we’ll barely need) and have a set of criteria:
- It must fold and unfold easily
- It should be light
- It must be comfortable
On paper, the Recaro Easylife stroller appears to fit the bill. Let’s take a look at how the Easylife performed when I had the opportunity to review it.
Very little assembly required
The Recaro Easylife is ready out of the box, requiring very little installation. In fact, the entire stroller itself is put together and all you have to do is clip the front wheels and the cup holder on. The front wheels can be removed at any time for easier storage and the cup holder slides off and on a small metal fastener. The stroller is one of the lightest I’ve ever seen (at around 13 pounds) and has an easy fold up/fold down system. The folding mechanism is a button operated twisting swivel at the top of the handlebar, very similar to many popular city stroller models of the last decade.
The recommended age for this stroller is 6+ months though the box says it can support babies as small as 5 lb. As you can see, there is no “tray” style apparatus at the front of this stroller which means you cannot clip an infant car seat to it. Since the harness system isn’t the same five point style you would see out of a car seat, this definitely would not be a “first” stroller. It will not provide proper head and neck support to an infant. However, once your baby has proper head and neck control, this would be a safe choice.
Simple to Get Going
Operating the stroller is pretty straight forward. The button swivel unlocks the folded stroller and you just have to stick your foot out to help expand it until it clips into place. I found this stroller to be stiffer than many others so it may take you a little bit more work than other models you’re used to. If you want to be fancy though, you could just grab it, press the unlock button and flick it as hard as you can. The stroller can actually set up that way too if you do it hard enough! The back wheels have individual locks on each one, operating with a push up/down mechanism for your foot. The front wheels have locks on them as well, though those locks are more geared toward ensuring they don’t swivel around in transport. If you lock the front wheels while in motion, you’re literally stuck pushing the stroller in a straight line which you’ll soon regret.
Adjusting the shoulder harnesses are a must before you sit your child in there. They come out of the box ready for the smallest size child so you’ll have to adjust accordingly. Achieving this isn’t any more difficult than adjusting shoulder straps on a car seat but it does require you to separate the belts and some of the clips that go with them and can’t really be done with an anxious toddler waiting for a seat. The openings are a little tight so you’ll have to wriggle and fold through a little bit too.
The stroller itself is fairly narrow and snugly sits your child in. In order to cut the weight on this down as much as possible, seating adjustment is done through clips and straps rather than plastic clasps and releases. You can adjust the seat to recline to nearly a laying down position or else you can prop it up so that your child is sitting up. If you’re worried about the sun at all, don’t be. A massive oversized canopy can hang over the seating space and provides shading up to 50 SPF.
Where you’re going, you’ll need roads
This stroller is completely urbanized. That is, you shouldn’t be using it for anything but roads, sidewalks and malls. It definitely won’t work if you’re taking baby for jogs in the trails and up and down bumps. The stroller isn’t heavy enough to provide any sort of counterweight on the trails, nor are there any shocks. In fact, after pushing my daughter around for a couple hours, I didn’t even think of taking this along in the trails near our house because I wasn’t confident it could be used for that purpose.
There is one huge annoyance with this stroller and thankfully, it’s optional. The location of the cup holder has to be the single worst decision Recaro made when designing this stroller, perhaps next to the fact that there is only one to begin with. Since the stroller can’t cut corners with the exact precision of your average jogging stroller (or lift from the back to swivel on a single wheel,) the cup holder in place makes it really tough to maneuver around objects. I found myself having to reposition regularly or brush past clothes racks gingerly hoping that my coffee didn’t fall out. If the cup holder hook was located inward to the center or even jutting out of the back, it would have been much better. It’s a really simple design flaw in my opinion, but without the ability to be flexible about where the cup holder goes, it’s a big deal to me. The presence of only one cup holder was a bit off-putting too. I couldn’t figure out how to have the stroller hold my coffee and my daughter’s water bottle simultaneously, so I had to trust her to hang onto the latter. Needless to say, we had a rather “magical” search at the Disney store had for an orange and green water bottle once she realized she’d dropped it and wanted it back.
The only other thing I was not a big fan of was size of the basket underneath. There is enough room there for things like extra diapers and wipes but you can’t really more than a small size diaper bag in there. The slant of the basket also means that you have to be careful about stacking more than one layer of things as they may just slide out backwards onto your feet.
The Recaro Easylife is Toddler Approved
Overall, my daughter quite enjoyed the stroller (acting silly in the process as you can see.) Unlike her jogging stroller or the other one we had before it, she wasn’t restless or bursting to come out. She was comfortable and had a good line of sight so I don’t think she felt like she was missing out on anything. This would be the type of stroller I would recommend that you downsize to after your child is a little bit older and you don’t need to carry around big diaper bags full of backups, clothing and snacks. Once you’ve downsized to just a couple diapers/pull-ups, wipes and snacks, the basket should provide you just enough stow and go space. I do like the fact that when you fold the stroller down, it effectively traps the contents of the basket so that you don’t have to worry about anything falling out when you fold and unfold.
While the Recaro Easylife stroller isn’t perfect, it holds up to the name claim. It’s a light-weight, simple to operate stroller that doesn’t need many bells and whistles to succeed. It might just be the right one for you. It’s available online now at BestBuy.ca