The frame stroller mentioned on the previous page is a wonderful *general purpose* item for the first year and a must-have for air travel. But afterward (when your baby-in-car-seat becomes too heavy to carry), you’ll probably want a real stroller (i.e., medium- or full-size stroller) that can take you into the toddler/preschool years.
In my opinion, these are the top five criteria when selecting your long-term (aka one-and-done) full-sized stroller. See also: Best City Strollers.
- What is your access-to-the-street situation?
Meaning: Do you have a garage at ground level that you can roll right out of? Or perhaps you live in a walk-up apartment (stairs, no elevator)? Think about where you will keep the stroller and how you will get it outside each time. This is probably the most important factor to consider (e.g., size and WEIGHT). If you need a super lightweight stroller to carry up and down stairs and such, you may just want a simple umbrella stroller or travel stroller.
- What is your budget?
Strollers range from $60 to about $900 for luxury strollers, and some are even more (ridiculous!). Think about how much you want to spend. Keep in mind you can probably find a high-quality used stroller on Craigslist without too much difficulty.
- Do you have plans for another baby in the next three years or so?
If you’re pretty darn sure that another baby is in your near(ish) future (less than three years or so), you may want to consider a stroller that upgrades to a double, also known as a “convertible” stroller. Check out our favorite convertible strollers here. Got twins? Check out our recommended full-sized twin strollers guide.
- What terrain will you (predominantly) be rolling over?
For those of you who have to roll over bricks, sand, gravel or any other unpaved surface, you’ll want an “all-terrain” stroller with large tires and good suspension (not to be confused with a true jogging stroller, which is for actual running).
- Parent facing or no?
Strollers with a seat that can rear-face, or “parent-face” are all the rage. The formal name for this is a “modular” stroller. Typically, modular strollers are heavier and more expensive, although they are getting lighter and cheaper every year. See full Reversible Stroller Smackdown.
With all of that in mind…let us begin.
Best Full Size Strollers
When it comes to medium and full size strollers (non-umbrella), here are our all-time favorites. If you’re a city dweller, please see also: Best City Strollers.
We’re starting with the 3-wheeled compact, lightweight stroller, because it’s by far the most popular. There are four (the Baby Jogger City Mini, the Britax B-Lively, the Baby Jogger City Mini GT and the Chicco Viaro) that we like, and you should ideally choose the brand that matches your car seat — simply because you might save money by buying a “travel system” (car seat + stroller combo) and/or on the adapter itself.
The City Mini and the Viaro are 18 lbs, which is pretty light considering the features you get. The B-Lively gained a couple pounds when it replaced the B-Agile, but still lightweight. The City Mini GT, which has all-terrain tires, is 22 lbs, which is lightweight for an its category. They all fold with one swift motion and fit in most trunks.
The seat on these full size strollers only faces forward, which is why it is lightweight (unlike reversible strollers). Note that the cargo baskets on these are not huge, like with your frame stroller. Hence, you can’t take this one to the farmer’s market or mall and plan on filling it up, sadly (you can only fit about 4 bottles of wine in the bottom… so I’ve heard).
Let’s begin —
Price: MSRP $181.99
Weight: 18.4 lbs
The City Mini was my original love — I was horny for this stroller the first time I laid eyes on it: so compact, sleek, sporty, easy to fold. Mmmmmm mmm. Since I lived in the city (SF) and had to walk up a flight of stairs to get to my apartment, I needed something lightweight that also had some suspension. A 28-pound stroller the size of a small golf cart (sneeze: BOB) was not going to fit the bill.
Here’s the thing: the City Mini collapses into a neat, carryable package with one lift of the arm (see my quick demo here, previous model). That’s it! When you’re at the subway station and you realize the elevator is out of service, this is the stroller you wish you had. (Everyone else has since mimicked their fold, but they were the original.)
The City Mini has a pivoting front wheel, which makes it easy to steer with one hand (you are so demanding!). It scoffs at bumps and curbs. The seat lies down flat for a napping baby (what I call the “first class” position) and sits up for “coach” — and every position in-between. It’s also beautifully designed and has a fabulous sunshade that pulls alllll the way down.
This is the original 3-wheeled compact stroller and I think it’s the best (though the others are VERY similar). Baby Jogger is really good about making a plethora of car seat adapters — including ones for Graco, Britax/BOB, Cybex, Maxi-Cosi, Nuna, Peg Perego and the Chicco KeyFit 30.
If you really want *just one* stroller in your life, you could get this stroller with the car seat adapter and be done with it. Not too shabby for just $182!
Chicco Viaro ~ $199, 18 lbs
- Travel system w/ Chicco KeyFit 30 ~ MSRP $349
Chicco makes a 3-wheeled stroller that’s verrrry City Mini-like, called the Chicco Viaro. If you have a KeyFit car seat, you should also look at it. Two notes: it doesn’t auto-lock (so it flops around, which annoys people). On the upside, the basket is very generous.
2. Britax B-Lively – New!
Price: MSRP $359 (~$80 more than the regular) — the 2016 is still available for less
Weight: 22.5 lbs
- Travel system w/ City Go Car Seat ~ MSRP $579
Don’t overlook the City Mini GT, which is the lovechild of the original City Mini (above) and the beloved all-terrain City Elite (no longer available). The GT has all-terrain “forever air” tires that never need to be re-inflated, a higher weight limit, a taller seat, and a handbrake on the side.
The City Mini GT is an awesome all-terrain option for those who can’t handle the size and bulk of a traditional all-terrain baby stroller. Worth every penny.
Note that City Mini and the City Mini GT come in a double version as well.
4. Graco Modes – Reversible Economy stroller
Price (stroller only): MSRP $199.99
Weight: 23 lbs
- Modes travel system w/ SnugRide SnugLock 35 ~ MSRP $306
- Modes 3 Lite DLX stroller only ~ MSRP $162
- Modes 3 Lite DLX Travel System w/ SnugRide SnugLock 30 ~ MSRP $237
The Graco Modes is a “modular” stroller, which means the seat can come off to face forward or backward. This is usually something you only see in luxury full size strollers.
In addition to facing forward or rear, you can also remove the seat altogether and use it with just the car seat alone (like a frame stroller). At 23 lbs, it’s definitely heavy for a non all-terrain stroller (typically, only joggers weigh that much). Also — note that Graco is an economy brand, so the build quality is not as good as others listed here. There have been quality complaints with this stroller, but the reason people buy it is because it’s cheap, so that’s the trade off.
However, the 3-wheeled Graco Modes 3 Lite made our “Best in Show” 2015 list. At 19 lbs, the weight is much more palatable. Nineteen pounds for a fast-folding, modular stroller is really phenomenal.
Both the Modes and Modes 3 Lite have a standing fold, an extra large basket, and come with a parent tray with two cup holders. Yeah, it’s kinda everything you need. Again, not the highest quality, but Graco delivers great value for the money.
Price: (Flex) MSRP $449 (Pro) MSRP $499
Weight: (Flex) 28.5 lbs; (Pro) 30.5 lbs
The notorious B-O-B is the Land Rover of full size strollers. It’s expensive (~$449, although usually on sale), it weighs 28.5 lbs, and it does not care what you think of it. If you have to walk up steps to get to your door, don’t even think about buying this stroller. However, if you live in suburbia or you have a garage in the city (i.e., you’re loaded!), this is our favorite all-terrain stroller. Don your yoga pants and you can pretend like you’re out to get exercise. Kidding (sort of)!
In 2016, they phased out the SE. Now it’s just the Flex or the Pro. The Pro model is the Flex, plus a hand-activated rear drum brake. If you have serious hills or need extra braking control, I would pick the Pro.
With 16″ rear wheels and the ability to roll right over just about anything, it is the ultimate all-terrain stroller. The BOB Revolution pushes like a dream and holds up to 75 pounds of human flesh, so you can actually use it for your 4’10″ grandmother. See, very versatile!
This is an all-terrain stroller (although it can double as a jogging stroller) with a state of the art, adjustable suspension system. The real beauty of BOB is that his front wheel locks OR swivels. Lock the wheel for jogging or for heavy terrain; use in swivel mode otherwise.
On the downside, it’s heavy (as all joggers are) and takes up a lot of space in your trunk. The fold is a two-handed, two-step process and the storage basket is smallish. But seriously, the push of this stroller is like no other.
Editor Hack: The Scout stroller rack fits nicely in your tow hitch and allows you to transport your BOB without filling up valuable trunk space. Get 15% off with code lucielovesscout.
Car seat-wise, you can buy an adapter for a plethora of different car seats — including the Graco Click Connect, Chicco KeyFit and Peg Perego!
But if you’re getting a BOB, do yourself a favor and get the Britax B-Safe 35 (Britax owns BOB, so their gear plays nicely together). Hey, and if you’re a matchey-matchey kind of gal, there’s the Bob B-Safe 35 car seat that matches BOB colors. Oh, won’t you be the envy of your Stroller Strides class!? Girl, shoot.
Bottom line: If you need a heavy-duty, super durable, all-terrain stroller, this is the stroller for you. Ask anyone who owns this stroller and they will tell you it’s well worth the money.
*Consider this stroller if you have to roll over grass, sand, gravel, brick sidewalks, or any other non-paved surface in order to get from A to B.
*The Revolution also comes in a double version.
*For those who own BOB strollers (or are planning to purchase a used one) manufactured before 9/30/15, please refer to BOB’s education video about how to properly and safely use the front wheel and quick release.
6. Baby Jogger City Select – Reversible, all-terrain convertible
- Price: Single ~ MSRP $529+; Doubles kit ~ MSRP $169
- Stroller Weight: 29.5 lbs
If you’re planning on another baby in the near future (within the next 2.5 years…), don’t overlook convertible strollers. These are full size strollers that start out as a single and later become a double. The big downside to convertible strollers is the extra weight and bulk, though because you can use them through multiple children, they can be a tremendous value.
The single version of the City Select is pretty sweet — and a good bit more affordable than the UPPAbaby Vista. It has TONS of storage and all the luxury features you find on luxe strollers, such as an adjustable handlebar, a hand brake, a huge canopy, and other niceties.
You can remove the seat and use it just as a frame stroller with your car seat – you can even purchase a bassinet for 0-6 months (if you aren’t a big car seat user).
The tires roll realllly nicely over bumpy terrain. Yes, this stroller (while heavy) is a great value. See full review of the City Select as a double/convertible .
Alt Option: The new(ish) Baby Jogger City Select “Lux” is also pretty badass, and includes a rear jump seat (but no standing) for your older kiddo. Options, people!
Price: MSRP $439+
Weight: 21.5 lbs
The UPPAbaby Cruz is the lighter, peppier, (slightly) more affordable full-size offering from UPPAbaby.
“Compact without compromise,” the Cruz is lighter than its larger counterpart, the Vista (21.5 lbs vs. 26.6 lbs) and more compact, yet still boasting the key features of the Vista.
Like the Vista, the Cruz is also modular, which means the seat can face forward or backward. It’s super easy to fold, has the same amazing sunshade, telescoping handlebar, extra large basket, and includes a bumper bar.
The tires on the Cruz mimic the cushioned ride of an air-filled tire with the lightweight benefit of foam. *This is not an all-terrain stroller, per se, but it’s still a darn good ride!
The Cruz does not come with a bassinet like the Vista (however, you can buy one separately), and cannot convert into a double stroller later on: those are the two big differences. But all-in-all, this is a rock solid everyday stroller that will serve you well for years to come. I wish it were more affordable, but alas…
If I were to do it all over again and had to pick ONE stroller, this would be the one. Serisouly, if you don’t need an ultra lightweight or a big all-terrain stroller, this is my top pick.
*If you are getting the Cruz or the Vista, do yourself a favor and get the UPPAbaby Mesa car seat.
Note: The 2018 Cruz has a few stylistic changes from the 2017. All 2018 Cruzes now come with either black or brown leather handlebars and bumper bars. UPPAbaby has brought back its formerly popular “Denny” red and added two new colors, a green melange and a charcoal melange. Additionally, the fabric on the 2018 Cruz comes in a nice matte finish. The Cruz’s frame is also now powder-coated to reduce scratching. See more.
Price: MSRP $549
Weight: 24 lbs
Learn more: in the running department, please see also the Bumbleride Speed Full Review.
9. Austlen Entourage – Becomes a Double, great for lugging cargo/luggage
Price: MSRP $719+
Weight: 26.6 lbs
The Vista is a versatile, fancy pants, modular, all-terrain stroller. It is UPPAbaby’s larger, pricier, full-sized stroller offering (vs. the Cruz). For your newb, the Vista comes with a beautiful bassinet so your babe can slumber comfortably.
The seat can face forward or backward, which is actually a very cool feature. Attention tall people and NBA players: this one has adjustable handles (up to 6’6″), which is key for us Amazonians. This, and the floating arch “no kick” rear axle, mean you will never kick or trip on the back with your long stride.
The sun canopy is extra large (HUGE and amazing) and comes with a zip-in weather shield and mesh bug/sun shield. The storage basket is probably the best on the market — it’s so huge and accessible.
To me, the Vista is better than Bugaboo’s all-terrain stroller, the Bugaboo Cameleon 3, because the Bug is way more expensive (if that’s even possible) and requires you to remove the seat in order to fold it (seriously?), then just flops onto the ground. For that price, I’d expect more, but hey that’s just me. Also, the Vista can become a double, so it’s much more versatile.
For the newer Vistas (2015 and later), the rumble seats can face the front or rear AND CAN RECLINE (woohoo!) – it is a bit more reminiscent of the Baby Jogger City Select, except the weight is further back to the rear, which makes it easier to steer.
For your bassinet, you can also buy this beautiful bassinet stand (below), which converts to a laundry hamper when you’re done with it. ISN’T THAT COOL?? So cool. Gosh, I love UPPAbaby.
The stroller weighs 26 lbs as a single (warning: not light!) and can be used until your kiddo is about reaches 50 lbs. If you need to heave your stroller in and out of the car a lot, I would not recommend this stroller due to its weight.
Note: The 2018’s new features include a slightly longer bassinet to accommodate taller babies, polyurethane front wheels for an even easier push, and a powder-coated frame that prevents scratches. The 2018 Vista also has a replaceable handle and comes in some purdy new colors (charcoal melange, green melange, and bright red). All 2018 Vista models now feature leather accents (ooo-la-la!). See more.
Those are our Top 10 Favorite single full size strollers. Choose wisely!