Let me introduce the Jeep Overland Limited Jogging Stroller by saying that, above all, its greatest asset has just been the sheer world of possibilities it has opened for my wife and me.
Having a baby seeps into every crack of your life, including your workout regimen, usually an early casualty. Though we were by no means gym rats, we used to go together a couple times a week. That instantly went out the window, as did most things “just us.” And if we were going to hire a sitter, it surely wasn’t going to be for a night on the elliptical. So what can you do? The short answer is get a jogging stroller. The long answer is what follows.
As quickly as that aspect of our lives disappeared, it came roaring back bearing three wheels and clad in blazing orange and gray. We could once again work out whenever we wanted (weather permitting), but most importantly, we had the option to do it together as one complete, family jogging unit.
We’ve had the stroller now for three months, taken it out in both rain and shine. It’s not perfect, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Here are some of my favorite features:
• Fixed front wheel
I did a lot of research on this topic, fixed vs. free. I was a little skeptical after some of the reviews I’d read of fixed front wheel strollers being hard to control, etc. I suppose it’s up to individual taste, but I will just say I cannot imagine running with anything but a fixed front wheel. Yes, if you are maneuvering in tight quarters or boutique shopping, this is the wrong choice of vehicle. But if you’re out on the open trail/street/track, this is almost essential. We run in the city—lots of bumps and cracks that I fear would send an unfixed wheel askew. It is also much easier to control and steer than I imagined. I thought I would have to pop a wheelie every time I wanted to round a bend, and this is not the case; a simple steer gets the job done.
As I mentioned, we are city dwellers, which doesn’t always make for smooth strolling. But the Jeep handles bumps with no trouble at all with its 16-inch wheels that would stop our other stroller in its tracks.
• Comfort (For baby and for us)
The seat is mesh, easily-adjustable, and the 5-point safety harness is padded for extra comfort. The handlebar can also be positioned to your liking with complete ease.
It folds up really nicely for easy, compact storage. It did not fit in our trunk, but the front wheel pops right off to solve this problem.
A breeze. I actually got a little stumped with the wheel guard, but that’s my own engineering ignorance—I really just wanted to put the screws in the opposite way they were supposed to go.
• General appearance
I’m a little biased here, because orange is my favorite color, but I think objectively, the stroller itself is sharp.
• Adjustable canopy
They really put a lot of attention to detail with this, and it shows, and I appreciate it. It zips closed in the standard position, and has a see-through window so you can keep an eye on your tot. Unless it’s sunny, then you can cover that little window with a handy Velcro “shade.” But often that position fails to keep the sun off my son, so we unzip it, and it adjusts the entire range of the carriage. Our other stroller does not do this, and I really wish it did. Huge asset.
The bin underneath is surprisingly roomy. I’ve found myself at the supermarket after runs on a number of occasions, and I actually have the space to do a moderate amount of shopping. I also toss my keys and things down there while running.
I rarely use mine, as it took one big bump to send my aluminum water bottle crashing to the asphalt. But it’s nice to have the option, more for walking or smoother surfaces. And I like that there’s one for Baby, too.
So there are many things to love about this stroller, but there are a few things that could use some improvement:
• Takedown/locking clip
Setting the thing up is a breeze. It unfolds and snaps to easily. But getting it down is a real challenge, mostly because it requires two hands. You have to push down on either side of the handle and then fold. Tall order when you’re holding your baby at the same time. And the locking clip is almost useless. It frequently just slips right off, so when you grab it to take outside, it just starts to unfold.
• Wheel lock
The rear wheel lock is counterintuitive to me. Getting it unlocked can be a real trick, and really takes some getting used to (and some foot muscle). The wheels, while locked, still skid, which further complicates the takedown process.
• Bells and whistles
This stroller has some nice extra features, including the hand brake (never used it), the iBaby device (into which you plug your iPod and it has a small speaker for both of you) and the pedometer. It’s almost as if they were trying to do too much. My wife has a Garmin, so we don’t use the odometer, and the iBaby suffers the same fate as the cupholders if you are to encounter any uneven surfaces. Each big bump we hit either knocked the lid off the iBaby or reset the song or otherwise acted as a distraction instead of enhancement.
• Hand grip
This is a lesser grievance, but if you sweat like I do, you might appreciate a different material for the grip; the rubber is nice and easy to grip except after about mile four or so. Then it gets trickier. You can wrap a t-shirt around it, though, and it’s just fine.
This stroller has many, many miles on in its first few months, and I expect it to have many more. I highly recommend it to all runners, and anyone who might be interested in running. It’s easy to pilot, rugged and yet chic at the same time.
To buy: Kolcraft.com