Debbi is a mum to two primary-aged children. She has spent many years wheeling buggies around and is constantly on the lookout for the latest parenting innovations to make life easier.
She has been writing about parenting issues for over eight year and lives by the mantra ‘it’s just a phase’. Throughout her research and testing of travel systems, she has been impressed with how far prams have come over the last decade, with many thoughtful touches such as puncture-proof tyres, effortless folding and stylish design.
During testing, she partnered with parent tester, Terri, to put all 15 travel systems through their paces.
Which travel systems did we test and how did we test them?
We spoke to local NCT groups as well as engaging with parents on the Mumsnet Talk boards to find out which products they rated and which they didn’t.
We also reached out to experts, such as Nick Lloyd, the Acting Head of Road Safety at The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), for advice, particularly when it came to pushchair safety.
After 12 hours of research, we created a longlist of 25 travel systems to put to the test, which we later narrowed down to 15. The products on the list consisted of firm favourites and newly-launched models by trusted brands.
- Nuna Mixx 2019
- Maxi-Cosi Zelia
- BabyStyle Oyster 3
- Bugaboo Fox
- Mamas & Papas Ocarro
- iCandy Orange
- Joie Chrome DLX
- Bugaboo Bee5
- Hauck Rapid 4
- Ickle Bubba Moon 3-in-1
- Silver Cross Pioneer
- Micralite SmartFold
- Stokke Xplory 6
- Quinny Hubb
- Cosatto Woosh XL
Which travel system is best?
Following five months of research and thorough testing, five travel systems triumphed and were awarded a coveted Mumsnet Best badge: the Nuna Mixx 2019 (Best Value Travel System 2019), the BabyStyle Oyster 3 (Best Toddler and Newborn Travel System 2019), the Bugaboo Fox (Best Versatile Travel System 2019), the Maxi-Cosi Zelia (Best Lightweight Travel System 2019) and the Mamas & Papas Ocarro (Best All-Terrain Travel System 2019).
While choosing a pushchair is personal to each and every parent, we think that these travel systems offer the best value for most parents.
For information about what to look for when buying a travel system, take a look at our buyer's guide.
Who tested the products?
For continuity, we think it’s best to get one tester to test all the models. This reduces any potential variables during the testing process and means that our results are based on like-for-like comparisons.
We asked Terri, a mum of two to test each travel system with her seven-month-old and six-year-old. She also had help from her two-and-a-half-year-old niece.
Terri is a busy, active mum with both a newborn and older child. This meant that she was looking for a hardworking buggy that could handle the needs of a newborn, but also go the distance on the school run and to football training sessions with her eldest.
We set a variety of challenges that you would find in everyday life as you juggle work, children and the weekly shop and our test buggies were often fully loaded, not only with changing bags but with family shopping, snacks and even a football on occasion.
How did you test for safety and stability?
We made sure to cover a variety of terrain (pavement, dry bumpy grassland, wet ground, steep inclines) over at least 80km with each pram.
We tested the stability of each travel system to check it wouldn’t overbalance or collapse. This included a topple test with shopping and changing bags.
Three- or five-point harnesses were checked to ensure children couldn’t wriggle out or undo clips, and hoods and brakes were tested (and retested!) to ensure they were doing what they were supposed to.
While all the travel systems we tested met UK safety standards, we made sure to check for safety features and overall usability.
How did you test for ease of use?
Of course it’s important how your travel system performs on a day-to-day basis, so we also looked at how convenient it was. Could it be collapsed and opened quickly and easily, and could this be done with one hand? Did it fit in the boot of most cars? Was the brake quick and easy to use? Could you adjust the handle bar for different users?
Terri was challenged to assemble the pushchair, pack it full of shopping, check its suitability for a tiny newborn and make sure it could also transform later to contain a wriggling toddler.
She marched it up and down high streets, squeezed it through shop and restaurant doorways (noting the turning circle), and wheeled it up and down escalators and stairs. She also gauged how well it coped in all weather conditions including bright sunshine and blistering rain.
Slopes and kerbs were all tested several times over, with a variety of loads on the buggy. She also took the travel system on buses, tubes and trains, to the park, up hills (conducting a hill brake test to see how well it performed on a steep gradient), along bumpy pavements and even on muddy tracks.
She tested the storage basket for both volume and capacity to see exactly how much it could hold, with essentials being the bare minimum. Would it take a rain cover, changing bag and supermarket groceries all at the same time?
She also analysed assembly and made sure to test how easy it was to change the attachments. How useful and effective was the carrycot, seat and car seat adaptors? Was it easy to change the attachments and did they perform as they should?
How did you test for cleaning?
It’s unlikely that a travel system will escape vomit, exploding nappies, crushed rice cakes or soggy apple cores (to name but a few), so we made sure to test for different types of stains.
We checked how easy each travel system was to wipe down and take apart and whether the covers could be run through the washing machine without a fuss.
What about aesthetics and comfort?
A travel system is an investment and, while usability always beats looks, it will likely be in your life (and hallway) for many years, so you’ll want it to look as pleasing as possible.
We rated each travel system on their aesthetic as well as their practicality and durability, studying everything from the chassis to the hood.
We also carried out a comfort and joy test to see how comfortable each system was for its small passenger. How much did they enjoy it or not and did it really make their parent’s life easier?
What came with each travel system?
No travel system bundle is the same. Some will contain a car seat along with a carrycot and standard seat, while others will only include car seat adaptors.
There may be added extras such as rain covers, sunshades and cup holders, while sometimes you are only buying the chassis (wheels and frame) and will to pay extra for everything else.
Our tester checked exactly what was included in each bundle and how well each element worked.
What about value for money?
We tested models across all price ranges to suit a variety of budgets to see which really came out on top despite its price tag.
Longevity (the maximum age or weight) was also taken into consideration. How long would the product last and would it have to be resold within a couple of years?
How was each travel system scored?
We scored each travel system on the above criteria from one to eight to work out which model was the best of the best and which others deserved honourable mentions.
Why you should trust us
Mumsnet has been making parents’ lives easier since 2000 and, in those years, we’ve seen, tried and reviewed countless products. We’ve watched trends come and go and safety features become more and more slick. Our testing is best in class – we rigorously test each product with real children in real-life situations as well as standardised lab-style testing and we're confident that our testing leaves no stone unturned. This means that parents don’t need to compare reviews or hunt around for other opinions. They know Mumsnet has it covered.
About Mumsnet Reviews
All Mumsnet product reviews are written by real parents after weeks of research and testing – this includes recommendations from the Mumsnet Talk boards. We work hard to provide honest and independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. However, we never allow this to influence our coverage.