As a mum of two girls, who are four and two years old, I very much enjoy having a buggy suitable for running to give me the freedom to exercise. I believe not enough people in the UK (vs in America or Australia) know enough about running buggies and their various features. For example, the swivel front wheels that come with most buggies and the way they can function as a complete travel system, with car seat adapters and carrycots. You don’t need three buggies after all! I even took mine on a budget airline (to the gate) to Spain this summer, so then I could enjoy running in the sun. Admittedly, some buggies have more bells and whistles than others but, when making your purchase, it’s helpful to know what to look out for. Here’s six features I’d mark as essential and 5 buggies I’d recommend for runners…
1) Fixed Front Wheel
It’s important that the front wheel of you buggy either has the option to lock OR a is permanently fixed (i.e. doesn’t swivel). This is a safety measure and ensures that, when you are traveling at speed, the buggy stays moving forward in a straight line. A swivel front wheel could come off the ground and then jolt you off to the side when it touches back down again, or it could get stuck in a rut. The outcome of these situations would be a potential tip sideways causing injury to the child, even if safely strapped in.
2) Big Tyres
The rear wheels should be a minimum of 16 inches with inflatable tyres. The bigger they go, the better. This creates a smooth ride for your baby and makes it easier for you to push. It also puts your body under less stress pushing while you run and we know sustained bad posture can lead to injuries. If you’ll be running on uneven terrain go for 18 or 20 inch wheels.
Most running buggies have this now. It is designed to slow you down when running downhill, much like a brake on a bike. This is especially useful with a double buggy, which has some weight pulling away from you, or if you live in a hilly area.
4) A decent depth sun canopy
This is one from a mum who speaks from experience! There is always that doubt in your mind that your baby will have a tantrum when you are out running and ruin the whole thing! Having sun in the eyes isn’t pleasant for anyone, let alone a little person with sensitive peepholes. Obviously, you can faff about clipping on blankets to the hood or sunglasses but, let’s face it, at speed these are likely to be swept aside or left on the verge. Check you are happy that the hood comes low down enough to cut out the sun’s rays!
5) A lightweight design
The lighter the buggy, the easier it is to push. Which gets handy when you are pushing a four-year-old. It’s not just about lifting it into the car, with a fixed front wheel, you lift it to steer and it helps if you can do that with one hand to keep your running posture on form.
6) Adjustable handlebar
It is important to have your arm at 90 degrees to your body to prevent injuries.
There are other factors which I’ve not included that most buggies, suitable for running, should have, such as suspension, a five-point safety harness, wrist strap and then the obvious storage to put that pint of milk and other items that you end up carting about with you. These are usually pretty standard but are worth looking out for.
Out ‘N’ About Nipper Sport V4
British designed, this is one of the most popular fixed-front-wheel running buggies on the market. It’s light, provides a smooth ride via its three 16-inch wheels, folds up small and is outstanding value, even offering a free rain cover in the price. There are well-placed zipped pockets in the hood for your phone/ keys and the seat cover comes out to resolve the inevitable crusty snacks/potty training accidents.
Referred to as ‘the F1 car of running buggies’ by dad blogger @THISDADDOES, this is designed for the ultimate smooth ride at speed. What makes it so is its 16-inch fixed front wheel, being light (9.9kg) and having 18-inch rear wheels, the largest of any listed here. The excellent sun canopy and the five- point safety harness (for speed of tightening while wrestling a toddler) are the best on the market. Its scandi design makes it the one most Instagrammed from our stand at the London Marathon Expo this year!
Mountain Buggy Terrain
Originating from New Zealand, this is a swivel-front-wheel buggy which is the tallest in our range. Mountain Buggy has thought of lots of appealing features like spare smaller 12-inch rear wheels for urban use, a rubber handlebar which is tougher than traditional foam, two bottle holders and ample storage. The whole seat comes off to wash, and there’s a removable seat pad. A handbrake and 100 per cent lie-flat feature make it a very popular choice.
Britax BOB Revolution Pro
Relatively unknown in the UK, the BOB is a hugely popular buggy in the USA and had been at the forefront of buggy running for the past decade. Hugely hardy, this swivel- front-wheel running buggy will go on and on, with many taking in over 5,000 miles in their lifetime. It has all the features you need like the handbrake, adjustable handlebar, shopping basket and good sun canopy. It’s the only one here suitable for running with babies aged nine months and up (the others are for six months and up) and the car seat adapter is only suitable for Britax models.
Thule Urban Glide
With many of the same seat features as the Glide (including sun canopy and safety harness), this model has a 12-inch swivel- front wheel, making it suitable for having as your only buggy. Although it doesn’t have a handbrake, it does have a shopping basket with a waterproof cover! Both Thule buggies have generous 10-year guarantees on their frames and two years on fabrics. (The others are between one and two years cover.)
Further details of all buggies available in the Compare table on runningbuggies.com.
While on maternity leave in 2015, Wendy Rumble launched up the first business to specialise in selling running buggies in the UK, with the aim of helping parents get clarity on the buggy market and find the right product for them. To find out more about her business, Running Buggies, visit www.runningbuggies.com.