A stroller is essential for any new parent. But a stroller’s importance often makes it a very difficult purchase, especially considering the wealth of options available. If you’re having trouble deciding, we’re here to help. We’re comparing two of the most popular types of strollers – the umbrella stroller and the traditional stroller. We’ll explain the differences, advantages & disadvantages, and look at the top options for each.
Umbrella Strollers vs. Regular Strollers
First, what exactly is the difference between the two stroller varieties?
Umbrella strollers are lightweight, portable, and compact. They typically weigh under 15 pounds and offer ultimate portability. The “umbrella” moniker comes from the fact that this lightweight stroller folds down like an umbrella.
In contrast, standard strollers don’t have ultra-portability in mind. Because of this, they turn their focus to extra functionality. Standard strollers have more accessories, extra storage space, and an extra emphasis on smooth handling and traction (among other things).
Of course, with any stroller, you can find good and bad options. In the next section, we’ll be showing you how to identify quality. We’ll start with umbrellas and then turn our focus to regular strollers. Here’s what to look for in an umbrella stroller:
As mentioned above, umbrella strollers put a primary emphasis on lightweight, portable, and compact design. And while most strollers do fold up for storage, they generally aren’t nearly as lightweight and compact as a standard umbrella stroller.
Since it is such a popular type of stroller, it can be difficult to separate the good from the bad. Here’s what you should look for in a quality umbrella stroller. Or, you can skip ahead to our top picks.
Generally speaking, an umbrella stroller weighs under 15 lbs. Most weigh between 10-15 lbs., with a little variance on each end. There’s a tendency to think the lighter, the better, but this isn’t always the case.
With portable products, it’s often necessary to sacrifice functionality as the product becomes lighter. Products need to strip away different features to decrease the overall weight. This trade-off is a big consideration when purchasing an umbrella stroller. You want something lightweight, but you may be tempted by all those extra features – more storage space, more accessories, bigger wheels, etc.
Decide whether you value the extra portability or the extra bells and whistles. Below, we examine a few umbrella strollers with an impressive amount of functionality given their size.
Foldable and Travel Friendly
One of the most important features of an umbrella stroller is its foldable design. The strollers fold up like an umbrella for easy transportation. This compact design also makes it easier to pack away the stroller for travel or to carry it from location to location.
Pay attention to the dimensions of the stroller when folded. Not only does this make the stroller more or less portable, but it also makes it readily able to be packed, stored, or brought with on trips. This portability is important if you are taking the stroller on an airplane, as some umbrella strollers meet the regulations of an overhead compartment.
Also, pay attention to how easily the stroller folds down. Many strollers feature a one-hand folding mechanism – meaning you can pull a single handle, and the stroller folds down in seconds. We’d recommend this design.
Comfort and Function
Above all, you need to be sure that any stroller you buy is suitable for you and your child, meaning that your child is snug, comfortable, and safe. A 5-point safety harness is the industry standard, so don’t buy a stroller without one. Some umbrella strollers also feature reclining seats, allowing your child to sit up straight or lean back and rest.
For parents, be sure you buy a stroller with handles that adjust to your height. You don’t want to bend over to use your stroller, which is relevant for tall parents. Umbrella strollers tend to be less expensive due to their minimal design, but that doesn’t mean you should sacrifice your and your child’s comfort!
Best Umbrella Strollers
Now that we’ve examined what to look for in an umbrella stroller, here are three designs we like:
BEST OVERALL: gb Pockit+
The gb Pockit+ is one of our favorite umbrella strollers. It features a lightweight design, easy compatibility, and a surprising amount of features.
The Pockit+ has a minimal design, which allows it to be compacted in well under a minute. Once compacted, it’s small enough to fit into the overhead storage bin on most major airlines. When it comes to umbrella strollers, this is about as small as it gets. The device weighs in at under 13 lbs., which makes it impressively portable. But we do wish that it came with a dedicated travel bag.
As a stroller, the Pockit+ is reliable and strong. The front-swivel wheels make navigating busy areas a breeze, and the double-wheel design gives it impressive stability for an umbrella stroller. It’s not the type of buttery smooth ride you’d expect from a premium stroller, but it does the job just fine for such a portable device. It features a 5-point harness system that keeps your child comfortable and secure.
The Pockit+ adjusts to fit you and your baby. The handles extend to meet your height, which is a major factor in using a stroller comfortably. The seat is also semi-reclinable to keep your child comfortable. The overhead canopy is adjustable as well, which becomes a necessity on sunny days.
Although umbrella strollers are often known for minimal storage options, the Pockit+ has a decent-sized under-seat storage compartment. It’s not what you’d find on a larger stroller, but it’s good enough.
- Impressively portable and compact – fits most major airlines’ overhead storage requirements
- Comfortable for you and your child
- Under-seat storage basket
- Front-swivel wheels make for a smooth ride
- More expensive than most umbrella strollers
- We wish it came with a travel bag
The Pockit+ is a premium choice as far as umbrella strollers go. Given its compact, lightweight nature, it packs in an impressive number of features. What’s most notable is that the stroller can fit into an overhead compartment on an airplane, something many umbrella strollers cannot claim. If you want a versatile, functional, compact choice, the Pockit+ is tough to beat.
The Graco NimbleLight is another umbrella stroller we like. It doesn’t fold down as compact as the Pockit+, but it makes up for this with additional functionality. As stated above, this is a common trade-off with umbrella strollers.
The Graco NimbleLight weighs in at roughly 12 lbs. It features a one-step compacting process, meaning there is a single handle to compact the entire device. It folds up in seconds for easy storage and transportation. While it won’t fold down tight enough to fit an overhead compartment on a plane, it’s more than small enough for home storage or car packing.
Most notable about the NimbleLight is its feature-heavy design for an umbrella stroller. It has a large under-seat storage basket for all your necessities. There’s also a cup holder within reach and a spacious food tray for your baby. The canopy is adjustable and features a viewing window to keep an eye on your child.
The NimbleLight maneuvers well, thanks to its big, hard-rubber wheels. It does better over smooth terrain, but that’s the case with most umbrella strollers. The handle is also adjustable so parents can keep proper posture throughout.
This stroller also accepts Graco car seats, which is something to consider if you want an easy move from car to stroller. But do note these car seats are sold separately.
- Lightweight, compact design
- Wealth of features – storage, cup-holders
- Multi-position reclining seat and 5-point safety harness
- Affordable price
- Not as compact as competing designs
If you’re looking for an umbrella stroller that emphasizes the bells and whistles, then the NimbleLight is for you. It’s not quite as compact as other strollers, and you won’t be able to pack it away as efficiently. What it lacks in portability, though, it makes up for in extra storage, bigger wheels, and exterior accessories. The NimbleLight shows that, even within this narrow product category, there’s a lot of variety to be had.
The Summer 3DMini stroller is an affordable option that impressed us with its design. This stroller folds up to look like an umbrella, making it easy to carry around and store away.
The 3DMini weighs only 11 lbs. but features a full-sized seat for your child. The seat has a multi-position recline, a padded back-rest, and a padded safety harness. And the adjustable canopy keeps your child safe from harsh UV rays. In other words, we were happy to see that the 3DMini didn’t skimp where it mattered.
The storage options are minimal, but at least you have options. The lower basket is on the smaller side but still works to store a few things. There’s also a storage pocket affixed to the back of the seat, which is convenient for keys, phones, and wallets. There are also two cupholders.
The 3DMini maneuvers well, but it’s about what you’d expect from a budget stroller. The double 4-wheeled design is great for stability, but the hard wheels aren’t great at absorbing bumps. That said, it works just fine for walks, errands, and general use.
The stroller folds vertically, which has its benefits and downsides. The vertical design (with extruding handle) makes it easy to pick up, carry, and store away. But it also makes the stroller less suited to packing away for car trips, and it definitely won’t be suitable for a plane’s overhead.
- Comfortable design
- Plenty of storage options
- Folds up quickly and easily
- Less-than-ideal shock absorption
- Minimal storage space
The 3DMini is a great choice if you want a simple, affordable umbrella stroller. It folds up like an actual umbrella, which is a surprising rarity in this category. It’s simple, effective, and comfortable (for you and your child). It doesn’t do anything exceptionally, but it does just about everything well. For the price, you could do a lot worse.
As opposed to umbrella strollers, standard strollers aren’t as constrained by portability and compatibility requirements. In other words, regular strollers emphasize function and performance.
Here are the areas you can expect a regular stroller to be noticeably upgraded over an umbrella stroller:
Extra Features & Storage
Umbrella strollers need to make a lot of trade-offs to be so portable. Regular strollers don’t have these constraints. As a result, they have many impressive features – for you and your baby’s convenience.
You can expect a quality stroller to feature ample storage space (much more than what you’d find on an umbrella stroller), including baskets, pockets, compartments, cupholders, and more.
Decked Out for Comfort
Because they aren’t geared toward compacting down (at least not primarily), regular strollers can put a fuller emphasis on comfort and performance. Generally, this means more spacious seats with more generous padding, a more ergonomic handle design, and an overall more stable construction.
Simply put, you and your child will be happier to use a regular stroller for extended periods.
Stable Smooth Ride
One of the biggest sacrifices that umbrella strollers need to make is the size of their wheels. Regular strollers don’t need to make such a sacrifice, generally featuring much larger wheels often complemented by suspension systems. The result is a smoother, more stable ride, as the wheels grip the road and absorb impact much more effectively. The wheels themselves also tend to be made of higher quality materials.
You’ll notice the difference here, although the quality of the ride will still depend on the specific stroller model that you buy (such as the ones below!).
Top Strollers on the Market
If you aren’t concerned with the ultra-portability of an umbrella stroller, here are some premium strollers for you to consider:
One of the best strollers on the market, the UPPABaby Cruz has everything you’d expect of a premium product. Its comfort and stability are unmatched by any umbrella stroller. Of course, it also has the price tag to match!
This stroller has a roomy, comfortable seat for your child, with an XL canopy (with a viewing window) for ample sun protection. The Cruz also features a comfortable leather handlebar that is fully adjustable to your height. The Cruz shows how traditional strollers can put an extra emphasis on comfort – for you and your child!
You’ll also notice that the Cruz has way more storage than an umbrella stroller. The under-seat compartment is big enough for all your necessities and more, including diaper bags, groceries, and whatever you pick up along the way.
Also note that, although it’s not an umbrella stroller, it still folds down for easy storage, which is typical of just about any stroller, with the main difference over an umbrella being that it weighs significantly more. Either way, it’s super handy when you need to store it away or pack it into the car.
You’ll also feel the difference in how the Cruz handles compared to an umbrella stroller. The wheels are noticeably larger and designed with firm rubber. There’s also a capable suspension system on the front and back wheels that respond in unison to any bumps or dips. You’ll go faster and turn quicker, and it will all feel much smoother.
- Comfortable for you and your child
- Smooth ride – large wheels and full suspension
- Lots of storage space
- Sleek, stylish design
- Quite expensive
- No storage pockets
This stroller is one of the best on the market. It’s comfortable to use and comfortable for your child to relax or nap. It also handles like a dream, offering a smooth ride on almost any terrain. If you’re looking for a premium stroller designed for everyday use, then you might not need to look any further. The Cruz exemplifies the significant differences between umbrellas and traditional strollers.
A jogging stroller is one of the best examples of how a stroller can benefit from a lack of size constraints. Jogging strollers are for more than just jogging and are tricked out for comfort, performance, and more. That said, it’s a lot bulkier than your standard stroller.
The BOB All-Terrain features performance and control that you won’t find in other strollers. Its 3-wheeled design features large, air-filled rubber tires (with reflective rims) that glide over the ground with ease, absorbing impact as they go. The Smoothshox suspension further decreases impact, making the stroller suitable to (as the name implies) any terrain. Agility is further increases with the 360-degree swivel-locking front wheel. There’s even a handbrake affixed to the handlebar, giving you extra control on downhills.
The BOB All-Terrain adjusts to meet any jogger’s dimensions, with an adjustable handlebar for proper posture. It also has everything to keep a child comfortable with its roomy, padded compression seat, wind and waterproof canopy, and secure 5-point harness.
There’s plenty of storage space, too, with a massive under-seat cargo compartment and five extra storage pockets.
Of course, you sacrifice portability when choosing a stroller this large. It weighs over 30 pounds, and while it still folds down for storage, it will likely be too big and bulky for everyday use.
- Extremely smooth, stable, agile ride
- Very comfortable and adjustable for both parent and baby
- Big and bulky
The BOB All-Terrain is a great stroller for jogging, walking, hiking, or any outdoor adventure. But, ultimately, it won’t be the stroller for everyone. It focuses on function over portability, and it is firmly in that camp. Big, spacious, comfortable, and decked out with performance features – it’s the opposite of an umbrella stroller (with a price tag to match!). So, if you want the SUV of strollers, give this one some consideration. If its lack of portability turns you off its design, refer to our list of umbrella strollers above.
What’s Best For You – Umbrella or Regular?
So, all things considered, what’s the best stroller for you? We apologize for giving the obvious answer, but it all comes down to your individual preferences!
The number one consideration is how you will be using the stroller you buy. Before you start comparing different strollers, models, and types, take some time to think of your requirements. Do you need the extra portability of an umbrella stroller, or would you prefer the additional features and better handling found on a regular stroller? There are no wrong answers, but there are wrong answers for you (make sense?).
Of course, many parents also opt to get both! An umbrella stroller makes an ideal second stroller – great for busting out during day trips, vacations, or even quick trips around the block. But many parents also find that umbrella strolls lack the comfort and storage requirements of an everyday use stroller, which is why many parents opt to invest more money in a premium stroller alongside a budget umbrella stroller.
Whatever you decide, what’s most important is you make the right call. So, sit down and take some time to think about what you want. Then, use our list above to make the ultimate choice for you and your child!