If you’re anything like us, then hearing the words “umbrella stroller” pre-baby might have promoted images of the baby-transporting equivalent of a one man band, a Wallace and Gromit-esque vision of buggy plus umbrella plus goodness knows what else. Unfortunately the truth isn’t quite so funny, but it is rather more useful. An umbrella stroller is actually so called because it folds down compactly, and while it won’t come with the Pimp my Ride-style additions and tricked-out features of a regular modern buggy, it does make a useful addition to the fleet for short trips out, holidays or taking on the Tube. But what exactly is the best umbrella stroller for you?
Just because they don’t come with abundant under-seat storage or rocket boosters that’s not to say they can’t still be sturdy, safe and easy to manoeuvre. We’ve rounded up our list of the best umbrella strollers available to parents and caregivers right now to make life on the move just that little bit easier.
While each buggy has its own particular set of charms, there are certain things you’ll likely want to look out for depending on your needs. All of the buggies below are fairly lightweight as these things go, but if you know you’ll have to carry it for long stretches, or add it to your baggage allowance on trips abroad, look for the lightest one possible – we’ve listed the weight next to each of our picks to make it easy. The holy grail, the one-handed folding mechanism is present in all, however some make it a little easier than others thanks to things like the ability to auto-lock once folded, or a shoulder strap for easy scoop-up once you’ve reached your stop.
If you think having twins or two similarly-aged children to cart around exempts you from the wonders of the umbrella buggy, think again, because we’ve included one twin or double pushchair, where the seats sit side by side, and one tandem stroller, where one seat sits in front of the other. Both are slightly on the heavier side than our other choices, and understandably so, but are still supremely convenient for light travel days, and still have the edge on heavier traditional tandems and twins.
This pushchair’s big distinction is that it can fit in the overhead locker of a plane, and when the ultimate umbrella buggy is characterised by ultimate foldability, it’s easy to see why this takes our winning spot. Extremely compact, light to carry, and foldable and steerable with one hand, reviewers raved about this stroller as an ideal ally for perpetually single-handed parents who also find themselves lugging around shopping or luggage. And, with the removal of the newborn nest and addition of the sold-separately 6+ pack, it can also offer some real longevity.
Parents of multiples, or those with two small children of buggy-able age, need all the help they can get, so finding a double pushchair that’s as practical as possible is first order of business. We think this might just be the one. Its slimmer-than-most design makes it comparatively easy to navigate narrow pavements and tracks, and the fact that – unlike many foldable pushchairs out there – it can be used from birth, sets it apart from the competition. It’s not the lightest out there, nor does it fold down the smallest, but as a twin pushchair option it’s certainly not bad.
While the industry’s exacting standards mean you’d be hard-pressed to find something to be worried about with any new buggy, this is still a particularly good option if you’re the worrying kind. Reviewers found it to be the ideal meeting of reassuringly sturdy and super-lightweight, and simple to steer with just one hand. Its one-handed pull-fold mechanism is among the easiest around to grapple with when getting in and out of the car, and the automatic fold lock means that once it’s packed down, it stays there until further notice.
This foldable stroller received the 2017 Made for Mums Gold Award for Most Compact Pushchair, which pretty much sums it up. While it might be a deal-breaker for some that the seat doesn’t recline fully flat, if you just need it for quick trips, it’s nigh on unbeatable thanks to an ultra-lightweight frame and simple one-handed folding mechanism. Best of all, it doesn’t actually have an umbrella fold, but rather folds lengthways, and while this might seem at odds with the whole concept, it actually means it’s the easiest buggy on our list to pack and store.
This Inglesina buggy doesn’t just fold with one hand, it does everything with one hand, and looks good while doing it. The large seat offers ample room from birth up to around 55lbs, and the fully reclining backrest and adjustable footrest offer a supremely comfortable ride, especially for such a compact stroller. Add to that a narrow, ultra-light frame and a construction that’s steerable, openable and closeable single-armed, and you have one of the most convenient lightweight buggies around.
As our best buggy for travelling, the Maclaren Mark II has to meet a pretty exacting set of standards. Most lightweight? At 3.3kg, that’s a yes by quite a wide margin. Light and strong? The fancy-sounding aluminium hexagonal tubing and waterproof, rip-proof, washable seat covers see to that. In essence, it’s both light enough to add to your baggage allowance and strong enough to withstand years of use, not to mention rough treatment in transit, making it a great one for multiple children and trips away, although it’s worth noting that it’s only suitable for use from six months up.
It’s already quite a demand on the limits of engineering to have a buggy that’s light, strong, foldable and easy to move about, but turning that into a tandem stroller? Well, Summer Infant have somehow managed it, and parents have raved about their efforts. Twins or close-aged pairs are assured of a sturdy, safe ride in this foldable tandem, and reviewers found that they could weigh it down with all manner of bags without sacrificing manoeuvrability. Add to that a one-hand fold and one-hand recline, and it’s a remarkably useful option for twin transportation.
With its no-recline design, this lightweight pushchair may not be the most luxurious whip out there, but if you’ve got an older tot in tow, its easy up-and-down and standout style makes it a true – in the words of Quinny themselves – “travel hero”. Ideal for urbanites, the fact that it packs down so small, opens up easily, and is comfy and convenient to carry thanks to a clever shoulder strap, makes it a sensible option for taking on public transport. It looks pretty snazzy too, with its sharp clean lines and unusual handles.
Not all umbrella strollers are suitable for use from birth, so if you have a new arrival and are still in the market for a buggy, check out our list of the best prams for newborns.
If you are active parents, check out our guide to the best jogging stollers for a pushchair that you can pound the pavements with, and if it's recognised brands that you want to discover, head to our guide of the best Bugaboo pushchairs for a comprehensive insight into the infamous buggy brand.