Sunday, January 16, 2011

BOB Revolution vs Baby Jogger Summit XC

Before Avery was born I read and re-read the stroller section in the Baby Bargains book (the bible of baby gear and a must-have in your library!).  Their recommendation is to buy a basic snap-n-go stroller frame for your infant car seat and wait to buy a stroller until you know what you need it for.  They reason that it's easier to just leave the newborn baby in the car seat instead of getting them in and out and into a separate stroller.  Plus, as you might suspect, your life changes radically after you have a baby and you won't know what you really will use a stroller for until the little person is here.

That worked perfectly for us, especially since we were blessed with a baby who hated plastic seating of all kinds - car seat, stroller, bouncy chair, swing - and preferred to be in-arms.  Six weeks in, I was so glad we didn't invest in a stroller before Avery was born because we had little use for one.  If we were out and about, Avery was in the Ergo.  It took me so long to recover from giving birth that our walks around the neighborhood were limited to slow shuffles around the block, which the snap-n-go was fine for.

Fast-forward six months to when Avery learned to sit up and became more amenable to riding around in a stroller.  I borrowed my friend's jogger and she loved riding around the neighborhood.  And I knew I wanted a stroller for walking or jogging outside.  I initially thought I would buy a used jogging stroller on craigslist and invest in a nice lightweight stroller like a Maclaren.  I searched and searched, but didn't find what I was looking for.  I tried out two versions of the Maclaren and found them to be rather heavy and difficult to fold - not what I had in mind.  So I decided I would invest in a nice jogging stroller for outdoor stuff, and try to find one that would work as an every day stroller too.

Word to the wise - there is not one stroller to rule them all.  If you want a jogger, it's going to be heavy and big.  If you want a lightweight stroller, it's going to have crappy plastic wheels not suited for going over bumpy surfaces.  The best you can do is pick what's most important to you.  If you spend most of your stroller time walking around the mall or running errands and need to get the stroller in and out of your trunk all day, you need a light weight stroller.  If it's more important to go off roading and have a smooth, durable ride, an all-terrain or jogger is the way to go.  I personally fall into the latter category.

So I did a ton of research, and looked at lots of strollers.  At first I thought I would get an inexpensive one like the Baby Trend or Jeep joggers.  But after trying both out, they really bugged me.  They were heavy and hard to push and didn't fit in the trunk of our car.  Not to mention the skimpy sun canopies.  I coveted a BOB Revolution, but the $400 sticker nearly gave me hives.  I tried to find a used one, but the resale value is pretty high and I just couldn't stomach spending $300 on a used, rusted stroller.  By Christmas I had resigned myself that I would get a new BOB and look at it as an investment that would last through a couple kids.

Then I heard about the Baby Jogger Summit XC.  It's nearly identical to the BOB, but has some additional features that made me lean towards buying it instead.  But nowhere stocks them!  After hemming and hawing I finally ordered both from Amazon so I could compare them side by side.  I'll just tell you right up front that the BOB won out in the end, although both strollers are great. 

Here's the Baby Jogger Summit XC.
And here's the BOB Revolution.

As you can see, they are really, really similar. The dimensions and weight are almost identical, and they fold down to almost the same size.  The main reason I thought I would end up keeping the Baby Jogger is the one-handed fold.  Behold:
Now, the stroller pictured is the Baby Jogger City Mini, not the Summit, but the fold is the same.  What could be easier?  You can fold the stroller and throw it in your trunk while holding your baby in the other arm.

Other reasons the Summit almost won me over:

1. It locks shut when folded whereas the BOB does not.  You can use the wrist strap on the BOB to secure it shut, but it doesn't have an automatic lock.

2. Better sun canopy on the Summit.  It's really sturdy and opens at multiple positions.  It has a smallish peek-a-boo window on top that secures easily with velcro, and two ventilation windows on the side that secure with velcro.  The sun canopy on the BOB is just as large, but doesn't feel as sturdy and won't stay open in as many positions (i.e., partially open).  The peek-a-boo window is larger on the BOB, but the means of securing it is not as well engineered, and there are no ventilation windows.

3. More headroom in the Summit.  It has an inch and a half more headroom, which is technically not that much, but the canopy on the BOB kind of hangs down the seat back when it's not in use and unless you tuck it up, it cuts off several inches of room.

4. The seat in the Summit.  It's slightly more upright and more padded.  The recline mechanism is much better than the one on the BOB.  To the BOB's credit, its seat back is much more rigid and supportive.  One complaint in reviews of Baby Jogger strollers is the lack of back support.

5. Shocks.  The Summit has shocks on every wheel whereas the BOB has only rear-wheel shocks.

6. Accessories.  You can buy a belly bar for the Summit, and a rider-board for the back that a second child can stand on.  The BOB car seat adapter comes with a snack tray, but from what I've read, it's too high to be useful as such.  

So why on earth did I pick the BOB???  Well despite all the lovely facts above, the biggest thing that sold me on the BOB is that it's narrower.  The back wheels are noticeably closer together under the seat.  That makes it much easier to maneuver.  Even just pushing it around my kitchen I could tell a big difference.  The BOB felt so much better to push.  The handlebar is nice and padded and it turns on a dime.  I can imagine pushing the Summit through doorways or aisles would be trickier because of how far out the wheels stick. 

In addition:

1. The fold on the BOB.  While not quite as simple as the Summit, it's nearly there.  You have one extra step with the BOB - flipping down the handlebar.  Then you pull up on a handle just like the Summit and voila.  BUT... the BOB is so much easier to open.  You just pull on the handlebar and the thing flies open easily.  I was struggling to get the Summit open and upright.

2. Alignment.  The BOB has a front wheel alignment mechanism.  That's important if you plan to jog with it in the fixed wheel position so you can adjust the wheel if the stroller is drifting to one side.

3. The basket underneath.  The baskets are the same size, but it's nearly impossible to access the basket on the Summit.  There is no way I could fit my medium size diaper bag in it, not because the basket is too small, but because of the way it's nested in the frame of the stroller.  I had to squish, but my diaper bag fit easily into the BOB basket.

4. The handbrake.  I guess some people would see it as a plus, but I didn't like the handbrake on the Summit.  It just sticks up awkwardly from the handle.  The BOB doesn't have a handbrake.

And, most importantly, like I said above, the BOB's narrower profile and maneuverability were what won me over in the end.  It just felt better to push. 

I feel like I might end up getting a smaller umbrella-type stroller too at some point, but I'm going to live with just the BOB for a while and see if I think I really need that.  The BOB might prove to just be too cumbersome for some things like the mall or Target, but we'll see.

Hopefully this helps if you are deciding between these two very similar strollers!


Swistle said...

YES. If I were hugely rich I would have a whole garage for my FLEET of strollers, one for every possible use. The hardest stroller decision was when I needed a double: side-by-side, or front-and-back? AAAAAAAAAAA THERE IS NO RIGHT ANSWER AAAAAAAAAA!!

Chris said...

You made the right decision. Since we're in the city, we use strollers a lot. We started with the Snap-N-Go, and Erin wanted a jogger, so, without really thinking it through, she got the BOB Ironman. The problem is the front wheel is fixed, which makes a great stroller for actual jogging, but a crappy stroller for everything else (like strolling...). So now we needed a THIRD stroller.

Erin wanted the UppaBaby Vista, which is one of those super expensive ($800?) strollers all her friends have. I liked the BubmbleRide, which is very similar to the two you tried out. Since it was cheaper, we got the BumbleRide as our main stroller, kept the BOB as a dedicated jogger (which never gets used in the winter), and put the Snap-N-Go in storage (since Kayla prefers the Bumbleride anyway). I think three-wheel strollers with inflatable tires and shocks are the only way to go.

Lindsey Broere said...

You'll love your BOB..I love much so that i keep it inside rather than out in our building :-)

I've taken it on a 12 mile run and Layla (YES--Layla) was perfectly comfortable and so was I--tired, but comfortable.

getOutsideMM said...

Great review and evaluation of both strollers. Like pretty much every decision on "gear" it requires one to understand "what will I really use it for? (e.g. walking, shopping, running, hiking)"

As a recreational runner having a safe/reliable jogging stroller was the primary factor for me. But as a husband, I know very well the limit of my unilateral decisions. Fortunately, the wife loved the maneuverability of the BOB revolution and a "middle east" peace agreement was formed.

However after a year of lugging the "sport utility" of strollers around, the weight really got to her and she longed for a lighter umbrella. We ended up with a basic MacLaren Volo for a 2nd stroller. (Which turned out to be excellent for the grocery, mall, and especially air travel (for destinations where we weren't planning on running of course))

In any case we still love the BOB, with the wife loving it for her long walks/jogs.

The exciting part is that there are a ton of very functional/aesthetic/"relatively" affordable strollers out there for different tastes.

But my experience with the BOB has really been super positive. And almost 2 years later, if I had to select another stroller today, I still think I would get a BOB.

That one girl said...

Yeah, I think you made the right decision. I had the single BOB, LOVED it!!! Couldn't spend the crazy money on the double when I had baby two so bought a used Baby Jogger. Not the Summit but close. That sucker is HEAVY. Crazy heavy. It doesn't push that well and I know the Summit would push better but still. Here is the big thing, I loved how easy it was to fold up but it doesn't open up as easy and is actually really awkward. It forced me to have the thing hit the ground and scratch up the outside of it instead of the tires hitting the ground first. So just sold off the baby jogger and buying a new double bob. I'm spending the money because dang, it's worth it!

the girl said...

Thanks for that great review and what a great blog! I'm expecting and I'm finding your whole blog to be right up my alley! Can't wait to read more!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the side by side comparison. Your review made it easier to convince my hubby to invest in the Bob jogger!