When I was pregnant with baby #2, my father-in-law bought my family a Thule Chariot Lite 2 — a double stroller that also converts into a jogging stroller, bike trailer, and ski pulk (it also comes in a single version, Thule Chariot Lite 1, with all the same capabilities). I was hesitant about accepting this gift at first, because: 1) it was insanely expensive, and 2) it seemed big and bulky (that was back when I was accustomed to single strollers… those were the days…).
Turns out, it is light for a double stroller and well worth the price. In fact, it’s been one of our most-loved, most-used pieces of “baby gear” in the last two years (hence its muddy appearances in all my photos), which is why I was eager to review it (BTW, this is one of the only unsponsored Thule Chariot Lite reviews out there).
- Weight capacity: 75 lbs.
- Width: 25”
- Stroller weight: 26 lbs.
- Weight capacity: 100 lbs. total
- Width: 31.5” (yes, it can sneak through standard doorways)
- Stroller weight: 27.5 lbs. (that’s correct — this is only 1.5 pounds heavier than the singles version!)
The Thule Chariot Lite is a GREAT all-around stroller, not to mention all its special sporting capabilities. Besides being able to use it as a bike trailer, a cross-country ski pulk, and a jogger, we’ve continued to use it almost exclusively as our everyday double-stroller. We’ve even traveled with it. In short: yes, the Thule Chariot Lite can truly wear many different hats.
The stroller itself has a screen cover that zips closed on each side and clips securely at the bottom. The screen is really nice for daily use (no bugs), but we especially love it for biking purposes. We often take our bikes over commuter bridges, and there’s lots of dust and dirt flying around from the cars, so I love that the screen protects my kids from all of that.
You can affix the clip-on sunshade (UPF 50) overtop of the screen, and it slides up and down for more or less sun blockage very smoothly.
Lastly, the clear plastic rain cover hooks on over all of that (or on its own) and really has a nice snug fit to keep the interior dry. As a bonus, this lining seals in warmth. We use it a lot during the winter (or on very windy days) to help keep the kids warm. We’ve snuggled them up with a blanket over their laps, and I’m always amazed how warm they manage to stay after having been out for an hour (or more) in the snow and ice. (Meanwhile guess who’s freezing?! Me.) See also: Best Stroller Footmuffs/Bunting
The “push” on the Thule Chariot Lite is simply amazing. The stroller — even weighed down with a toddler, a preschooler, and pounds of gear — is a breeze to push. It maneuvers really well and has that glorious “glide” effect that BOB devotees will love.
The front two (small) tires are plastic and the rear two (huge) tires are air-filled (we’ve only ever had to re-inflate them a couple of times in the two years we’ve owned it), and the suspension is really impressive, especially for a double. The Thule glides smoothly over bumpy terrain both in stroller and biking mode thanks to the GIANT 20″ tires in the back (compare this with 16″ tires on full size joggers, like BOB).
The handlebar adjusts easily and has a wide range (see below), so the push is nice whether you’re on the shorter or taller side:
The locking mechanism is a brake on the right base of the stroller; it’s easy to engage and disengage with one foot and holds in place really well. There’s no hand brake on this stroller, which is somewhat surprising given that it has the option to use as a jogger, though you can buy one separately if you want it (you live on steep hills or whatnot).
The double stroller features two seats that are connected (as opposed to separated, like most double strollers). This is great because it makes for a smaller footprint (at 31.5”, this stroller is quite sleek for a double and can fit through most doorways), but it can feel snug in there for the kiddos, something to consider if your kids don’t do well in tight quarters. That said, my 4-year-old is as big as the average 6-year-old and he still fits in with his little sister just fine.
If, on the other hand, your kids get along alright, having the shared seat (vs. separated seats) is actually wonderful. My kids share books, snacks, and toys on stroller rides and seem to generally like the proximity (as do I — they like to serenade me with their best rendition of “Let it Go.”) There’s the typical squabbling here and there, but overall the joint seat feature works well for us — plus there’s no fighting about who’s in the front or the back, facing front or back, etc. Very egalitarian. 😉
Each seat has a 5-point safety harness that’s easy to buckle and unclip (but not so easy that my kids have ever done it). There’s no ability to adjust/recline the seats, and it is not car-seat compatible at all… which means that you cannot use this stroller with a newborn baby — the seats just sit up too upright.
For infants, you can purchase an infant sling ($99, below), which easily hooks onto either seat. Thule advertises it for 1-10-month olds, but we were not comfortable using it with our daughter until she was more like 5/6-months old. It’s safe to say you’ll want the sling for any child under 1 year. Even in the sling, a young baby is propped up such that I’d be worried about the “neck slump” factor — so I wouldn’t recommend using the sling until your baby is old and strong enough to sit up well enough with some support.
*One final point about the seats on the Chariot Lite — they are low and out of your sight. Translation: they are not so easy for you, the parent, to access. Any time I need to check in on my kids, I have to stop the stroller, lock it, walk around to the front, stoop down, and (sometimes) remove the rain cover or unzip the screen to see what’s going on in there. This can definitely be a bit of a pain, so if that would be a deal breaker for you, it’s important to keep in mind. The difficult-to-access factor is magnified, of course, during any of the more sporty outings, as you can’t super-easily get or talk to your child from up ahead on your bike or skis, but this is the case for any trailer of this type.
The storage on the Thule Chariot Lite is in the rear of the stroller (rather than underneath) — it’s essentially a big expandable storage pouch. Although some users complain that they’d like more storage space, I have to say that we’ve successfully — and relatively easily — loaded it up with TONS of stuff for outings. The netting has a nice stretch to it, and it can really hold quite a bit: beach bags, diaper bags, water bottles, blankets, etc. We’ve carried all of that (combined) on multiple occasions.
The Thule Chariot Lite has color-coded buttons that make it really simple and intuitive to fold and unfold. To fold, you push in the blue buttons on either side of the stroller, and it collapses down (forward) into itself; then, you fold in the handlebars in the same way (pushing the blue handlebar buttons on both sides). Folded all the way down, a clip lock on the left side clicks into place and keeps everything contained. Collapsing the whole thing is actually pretty simple, although it does require both hands.
To fully break it down for its smallest footprint, the wheels can be removed (the back ones slide off by pushing the blue buttons in; the front ones slide down and out by pulling the blue lever to release them).
With the back wheels off, this monster will fit in my trunk, laid flat (I have a mid-size SUV). It’s definitely annoying to have to break it down each time I use it (although I suppose it’s easy enough to do), although it’s not an issue if you aren’t transporting it.
The Thule Chariot Lite comes standard with the bike conversion kit and all the necessary hardware to use the stroller as a bike trailer (including a flag and reflectors).
It’s actually surprisingly simple to get the stroller set up in bike mode. It takes me about 3-5 minutes. (However, the first time you attach it may take ten minutes since there is a piece you need to secure to your back bike wheel. Yes, with tools.)
To convert to bike-trailer mode, you have to remove the front wheels (once removed, they fit facing up on the top so they don’t get lost). Then slide the bike attachment into the front left “slot” until it locks into place. You secure that with a small clip, then affix the other end via a ball and socket connector to your rear wheel. (Cue to 2 minutes on this video to see the setup; it takes the model less than a minute.)
OK — so this stroller technically calls for “the jogging kit” ($129) — a front big jogging wheel (see below) — to run with it.
If you’re a serious runner, I imagine you’d want this, and yes, that’s an expense. HOWEVER, if you are not an avid runner, you can definitely use this stroller without the formal jogging attachment. I consider myself a casual runner (i.e., I run anywhere between 3-6 miles at a time, at lightning speed — kidding! 9-minute miles riiiiiight here — mostly on pathways) and use the Thule Chariot Lite without the true jogger wheel. It’s still comparable to my BOB in the push at a jogging clip, IMO, but you know better than anyone whether this is something you need/want.
If you buy any of the add-on kits/accessories for your Thule stroller, *make sure you double check the model number and the compatibility before you buy. Unfortunately Thule doesn’t have a master chart anywhere, but you can click on your trailer here to see which exact parts and add-ons will be compatible with your model. They have excellent customer service, too, so you can always call to check if you’re unsure.
There’s a lot to love about the stroller on its own, but the COOLEST thing about the Thule Chariot Lite is that you can use it as a ski pulk and take your kiddos cross-country skiing. Yes, you do need another heinously-expensive accessory — the Skiing Kit ($324, gulp) — but if you’re a skier, it’s just SO fun to be able to get out there.
Similar to the bike component, you remove all the wheels (including the rear wheels), and click skis into place at the base (!). Then the ski “puller” slides into the front. Once you’re all set up, the belt clips around your waist and off you go! (You can watch the set-up here.) I was worried the belt would be uncomfortable to ski with, but it’s actually quite thick with padding, and it didn’t bother me at all. Bonus — your cross-country ski outing will be an even better workout.
Seriously, though, this apparatus is truly cool. Cross country skiing with your kids is one of our favorite ways of staying active outdoors (with kids!) in the winter.
Thule Chariot Lite Review — Bottom Line:
The Thule Chariot (single or double version) is a very high-quality stroller that can play the role of everyday stroller, jogger, bike trailer, and ski pulk. It’s a fantastic stroller in its own right, with excellent, user-friendly features like screen, sun, and rain covers, color coding, and adjustable handlebars. But given its expense, it’s probably best for families who are interested in taking advantage of its multi-sport capabilities.