When I first started shopping around for a stroller, I was on the lookout for something very specific. My family lives in a small house with limited storage space, and my husband and I both drive cars that are a little on the small side. I knew I didn't want to deal with a bulky stroller taking up our limited space, but I didn't want to skimp on safety or quality either. The Maclaren Quest is a high quality umbrella stroller that is suitable for babies from three months old until they reach 55 pounds. For us it really fits the bill, with its lightweight and sturdy aluminum frame (only 12 pounds!) and ability to fold down into a slim profile. I’m also impressed by Maclaren's commitment to global safety standards.
When the Quest arrived on my doorstep, I was pleased that it required no assembly. My husband and I pulled the folded Quest out of its box, marveled at its lightness and sporty look, and set about acquainting ourselves with our new stroller. The instruction manual is somewhat helpful, although I thought some of the illustrations were a bit cryptic. In the end, it was easier for us to just fiddle around with the stroller until we figured things out ourselves.
Whether you find the instruction manual clear or not, the Quest itself is very user-friendly. I appreciate that once I have unclipped the storage lock, I can just use my foot to unfold the stroller. Folding it back up again is quick and easy as well, and the storage clip locks automatically to hold the stroller closed. Once the stroller is folded, it has a small profile that easily fits in the trunk of my compact car (with room to spare!), as well as in the back of my husband's hatchback. The folded stroller can be carried over the shoulder using a convenient removable carrying strap. Unfortunately, once folded, the stroller cannot be stored standing up, since the wheels keep rolling. However, because the stroller is so light and slim, we found a way to hang it in our son’s closet and out of the way.
The seat cover of the Quest is fairly plush and seems comfortable and supportive. It can be removed and hand-washed. The seat has four reclining positions, and the recline is very easy to adjust. It doesn't recline totally flat, but the lowest setting would be a comfortable angle for younger babies or snoozing toddlers. This stroller also features a leg extender for smaller babies. The seat cover has three sets of slits at varying heights that the harness can be fed through to adjust the size of the harness as your child grows. Adjusting the harness height is not particularly easy and basically involves a lot of cramming of buckles through the seat cover slits, but luckily it is not something I will have to do every day!
The five-point harness is sturdy and adjusts easily. The harness's clasp has a button on the front and another on the back that must be pressed simultaneously with both hands to release the harness. You can rest assured that your child will never escape from this harness! However, I have a lot of trouble releasing the clasp myself. It takes all the strength I can muster to press hard enough to release the clasp, and I don't fancy myself a weakling!
As for weather-related features, the Quest comes with a sun canopy is easy to install and remove by just slipping it on or off the frame of the stroller. It's nice quality material, but doesn't extend out very far. It does have a window in the back so that you can keep an eye on your little one. It also has a nice little pocket for stowing your keys and phone! The Quest also comes with a rain shield that fits easily onto the canopy and frame and stays put.
As for storage, the Quest does have an under-the-seat mesh basket, but it really can't hold much, and it is nearly impossible to access when the seat is in a full recline. It also does not have cup holders for parents or a snack tray for kids, but that is not a deal breaker for me.
When I took the Quest out on the road, I found that it handles beautifully. The hard plastic wheels swivel smoothly and provide a tight turning radius. I also took the Quest “off-roading” in my yard, and found it easy to navigate in the grass. Since the stroller is so sturdy and handles so well, I'd be comfortable using it for daily walks. I also love that the rear brakes are easy to engage and release with just a touch of my foot.
I never thought I'd love stroller handles so much, but the handles on the Quest are so comfortable! They are bent at an ergonomic angle and put no strain on the wrists. As someone who works with my hands, this was one of the first things I noticed about the stroller. The handles are also at a comfortable height for both me (5'4″) and for my husband (5'10″).
To sum up:
Favorite features: easy to use brakes, profile is slim when folded, very lightweight frame, comfortable handles.
Gripes: does not stand when folded, harness clasp is stiff and hard to use.
The Quest suits our needs perfectly as our main stroller, but it would also make a great alternate stroller for a family who already has a bigger travel system. I can also see it being very useful for people who travel often with a small child. Yes, there are cheaper umbrella strollers out there, but the quality, safety, and durability of the Quest can't be beat. I would highly recommend this stroller.
To buy: maclaren.com