The Best Lightweight, Umbrella, and Travel StrollersBy TJ Donegan
If you're on the hunt for a compact, lightweight stroller—sometimes referred to as an "umbrella" stroller—we think the best is the Kolcraft Cloud Plus (available at Amazon for $60.99). Though it's more of a lightweight standard stroller than a true umbrella model, it is maneuverable, lightweight, costs less than $70 on sale, and yet has features we typically expect to see only on larger, more expensive models.
How do we know it's the best? We've spent months researching every single stroller on the market—over 230 of them—and have tested more than two dozen in person for things like maneuverability, ease of use, build quality, and to see how well they fold up and store when not in use.
For lightweight and umbrella models, this means placing a particular emphasis on how well these things fold up and store. For most people, a lightweight model like this is a backup, or something you take on trips. None of the ones we tested hold a candle to our favorite stroller—the Baby Jogger City Mini—but they are ideal if you don't need a full-size model or just want a low-cost backup.
I'm a parent of a little one, and I know sometimes you just need a way to get your kid from Point A to Point B. The models we tested are perfect for that. Most cost less than $100, weigh less than 15 lbs, and fold down to a relatively compact size—or at least a long, narrow shape that's easy to store. There are exceptions, of course, but to find out about all the models we tested and which ones we think are the best, read on.
Updated August 16, 2017
Kolcraft Cloud Plus StrollerBest Overall
If you're in the market for a lightweight or umbrella stroller, we think the best is the Kolcraft Cloud Plus. In our testing we found it had the best all-around combination of size, build quality, maneuverability, cost, and features. It weighs less than 12 lbs, costs less than $70 on sale, and has features and storage space on par with larger, more expensive models.
Unlike the other models we looked at, the Cloud Plus can quickly fold up with a single hand using the folding mechanism on the handlebar. It takes some practice, but it is a snap once you get it down. It's not a true "umbrella" model in that it doesn't fold into a long, skinny shape, but it is very compact when folded. It can even free-stand, something none of the umbrella models we looked at could do.
Beyond that, the Cloud Plus excelled in our real world testing. My favorite part was how accessible the storage basket was, making it easy to stash bags, blankets, and other gear. I was also impressed by how easy it was to push and maneuver around obstacles, and the fact that you get both a parent tray and a child tray is great for the price—many similar models don't include either.
It's not quite as sturdy as the best full-size strollers, but this was easily the best lightweight model we looked at. Even if you're in the market for something closer to a "traditional" umbrella stroller, the Cloud Plus is worth checking out.
Summer Infant 3Dlite StrollerRunner-up
The Summer Infant 3Dlite is one of the most popular strollers on the market, and it's easy to see why: It costs around $50-60 on sale, it weights just 12 lbs, it feels a bit nicer than most other strollers in the price range, and it has a good amount of storage.
In our testing we found that it was highly maneuverable for an umbrella model, though its plastic wheels still struggled on rough or loose terrain. It does have a small wheel base, though, making it easy to get in and around tight corners or cramped stores where larger strollers wouldn't fit.
It did come in slightly behind the Kolcraft in our testing for a few reasons. It doesn't come with a child's tray, it's a little trickier to fold, the canopy isn't quite as nice, and the underseat storage isn't as easy to access. It does fold into that traditional umbrella shape, but it's very long and actually can be tougher to store sometimes as a result.
That said, it's lightweight, affordable, and of the hundreds of user reviews we've read, most are very positive. It's also especially good for taller parents (think 6'1" and up) who may have to bend over to reach smaller models.
Cosco Umbrella StrollerBest Value
Sometimes you just want a cheap stroller. Retailing for between $20-25 at most stores, the Cosco Umbrella Stroller is by far the most affordable option we looked at, and it shows. It has the smallest wheels, the thinnest frame, and it doesn't have any extra storage, cup holders, or a child's tray.
But for under $30, it has the basics: a seat, wheels, and the ability to fold up when not in use—all weighing in at just 8.4 lbs. While I wouldn't recommend this as anyone's everyday stroller due to the lack of storage, our research shows that most people buying an umbrella model often just want a low-cost backup. You could easily take this on a quick trip and have a backpack or something similar to carry your essentials.
One thing to note: pricing on this model is all over the place. At most big box retailers you can find this for between $15 and $25, depending on the print. Models with a canopy usually cost about $5 more, but our review unit had one and was just $20 at Target. Anything under $30 is good in our book, but beware online resellers that will jack the price above that.
Baby Jogger City Tour
The Baby Jogger City Mini won our roundup of the best standard strollers, so we had high hopes for the City Tour, which is lighter and can fold down to an even more compact size. It performed well in our tests, but it costs around $170 on sale, which is still about $100 more than our top pick.
The City Tour is not a traditional umbrella model, but it weighs just over 14 lbs and folds down a size and shape that we feel is actually better suited to travel. Like the City Mini it has a pull-to-fold handle on the seat, though you need to fold it a second time using a button on the handlebar to get it to its smallest size.
When open, the City Tour is actually quite a bit sturdier than other lightweight models. The wheels are still smaller than a standard model, but the frame feels much less wobbly than your typical umbrella stroller. The canopy is also excellent, but like the City Mini you have to pay extra for a child's tray or a parent console/cupholder.
The major issue, however, is the seat. User reviews on this model continuously called out the seat for being too shallow and sloped, meaning the center strap is often the only thing holding your child in place. My 15-month-old was fine, and the seat isn't shorter than the other umbrella models we looked at, but you may want to give this a shot in person before you commit, given the relatively high price tag.
Where To Buy$179.95 Amazon Buy
gb Pockit Stroller
The gb Pockit is one of the most intriguing lightweight strollers on the market. It weighs less than 10 lbs, supports kids up to 50 lbs, and features a complex series of folding mechanisms that allow it to shrink down to an extremely small size—small enough you could easily carry it onto most flights.
Once open, the gb Pockit works like any other lightweight model, with a relatively smooth ride and an excellent turning radius. Like the other strollers in the class it also has small wheels, so it does well in cramped quarters but struggles with rough terrain and obstacles. It also has a skimpy canopy that doesn't provide much cover.
Though it would be excellent for any frequent travelers who want something that can shrink to an exceptionally small size, it's expensive. Typically selling for just under $200, it's only worth it if you absolutely need a stroller that can get this small and weighs less than 10 lbs.
If you can deal with a few more pounds, we recommend the Baby Jogger City Tour—assuming the seat isn't a dealbreaker. Not only does the Tour drop to around $170 on sale, but it gets nearly as small as the Pockit with a much simpler two-stage folding action. When open, it's simply no contest between the two: the City Tour has a nicer canopy, nicer seat, more storage, better handlebars, and it's more maneuverable.
Graco Travelite Stroller
The Graco Travelite is a new contender in the lightweight/umbrella space, and it's a very good alternative to the Summer Infant 3Dlite. Design-wise, it's very similar, with a full-size canopy, large seat that works for children up to 50 lbs, and a small underseat storage bin.
Folding the Travelite is quick and easy once you get the hang of it, but it does require two hands and some practice. Once you release the horizontal bar that keeps the stroller frame rigid, the stroller snaps shut in a hurry. When folded it's a long, skinny shape that's about the same size as the 3Dlite.
In testing, we liked the fit and finish of the Travelite. Though not on par with a high-end stroller or anything, the seat, canopy, and buckles all felt sturdy. The wheels are small and plastic, but no worse than others in the category. We also liked that it included a padded belly bar, though a full child's tray would've been better. It also includes a cup holder for parents but it's very shallow.
Ultimately, it's a good stroller but if you're going to spend upwards of $70 we think the Kolcraft Cloud Plus is a better pick. And, if you want an umbrella shape, the 3Dlite is just about as good. The 3Dlite appears to be more consistently on sale (often around $50), but if this were to drop into that range we'd be just as keen on it.
Summer Infant 3Dtote Stroller
If you like the idea of an umbrella stroller but are turned off by the limited storage capacity, the 3Dtote is the way to go. Design-wise it's nearly identical to the 3Dlite, with small wheels, a reclining seat, a full-size canopy, and a slightly tricky two-handed folding mechanism.
Beyond that, though, it's improved on the 3Dlite in nearly every way. It has a nicer fit and finish, seems to be made of stronger stuff, and it has a significantly larger storage area. It could easily hold a full-size diaper bag, multiple winter coats, and still have dedicated pockets for all your toys, keys, bottles, and other accessories.
When folded it is a manageable size (like the 3Dlite, it's long like an umbrella) but compared to most lightweight models this thing is big; it's longer than even most standard strollers when folded and nearly as heavy at 18 lbs. Though that elongated shape may be more convenient for some people, my Baby Jogger City Mini actually fits in my car more easily.
The only other drawback is the price. At over $100 it is quite a bit more expensive than our top picks in this category. That might be worth it if you absolutely need the storage, as only a full-size "standard" stroller will hold as much and those start around $150.
J is for Jeep North Star Stroller
The J is for Jeep North Star wasn't our favorite lightweight stroller, but it was comfortably in the middle of the pack with simple assembly, an inoffensive design, and a sturdy frame for a lightweight model. It folds down neatly into a true umbrella shape, and it weighs just 10 lbs, making it one of the lightest that we tested.
It's also one of the most affordable, frequently dropping below $40 online. Despite this, it comes with a couple of extra like an included cup holder (which is deep, if a bit wobbly) and a carrying bag that can hang off the back for extra storage. You'll need it, because the underseat basket may hold a blanket and a few toys—but that's it.
In our testing we found the stroller does fold down to be quite compact, though it's a bit tricky to fold and the small wheels—while aiding portability—had trouble with obstacles. It falls a bit behind our top picks because the harness doesn't go over the shoulders and the seat doesn't recline, so younger children may not be as comfortable as with our top picks. It also only comes with a 90-day warranty, which is skimpier than the competition.
But if you're looking at the Cosco and want something that offers just a bit more without stepping up to the more expensive models, this reliably splits the difference.
Baby Trend Rocket Stroller
The Baby Trend Rocket Stroller comes very highly recommended online, with very positive customer reviews overall—especially given the stroller is usually just $50 or less on sale. That said, in our tests it just didn't live up to expectations. The main issue is the canopy, which was wobbly, difficult to attach, and wouldn't stay in place.
If you can get past that, the Rocket isn't a bad lightweight model. It's a bit trickier to assemble than others we tested, but it wasn't bad overall. It has an easily accessible storage basket, a tight turning radius, but—stop me if you've heard this before—its small wheels struggled to get over obstacles.
The main issue here is just the canopy. You're going to want it on sunny days, and we just have zero confidence this one is going to hold up and we don't have those concerns about the others we tested.
The Graco Literider is very popular online, but it's a stroller that is much better on paper than in the real world. The appeal is obvious: it's a sub-$100 stroller that has a full-size canopy, large wheels, a reclining seat, a child's tray, cup holders for the parents, and it even accepts Graco ClickConnect infant car seats.
I was very excited to see what the LiteRider could do, but it simply didn't live up to expectations. It had an unnecessarily obnoxious assembly process, the canopy never quite sat right, and the stroller was tough to fold correctly—and even when you get it right it isn't that compact.
That said, the stroller is fairly maneuverable and has a very easily accessible storage basket. The padded seat is nicer than most of the other lightweight models we tested in this price range, and you do get both the child/parent trays in the price. The user reviews are good, though, so we don't expect many long-term issues despite the poor first impression.
The fit and finish wasn't what I hoped for, but you can't argue with the value. Not only is the stroller affordable, but you can find it as a travel system (meaning it includes an infant car seat) online for just $100 on sale, which is among the cheapest options we've seen.