As someone that often writes about accessibility into baby facilities, it seems to make sense to write a bit about the buggy I am using to give some context.
Pram/buggy/stroller/travel system – whatever you call them when I was pregnant the variety of prams was a bit of an eye opener, and the cost was eye watering. It was so expensive our bank rang us to check it was a genuine purchase by us. However, I do use it every day multiple times so it is worth investing in a good one.
When you go shopping for one, my top tip is to really think about your lifestyle and how you will use it in advance. The shop assistant will ask you lots of questions from the mundane (how often do you take public transport) to the personal (how many kids are you planning on having) and you want to be giving the same answers as your partner or it could lead to some awkward looks.
My other top tip is make sure you take it for a test drive. If you buy online see if there is somewhere you can test it out first. It’s like the old stereotype of kicking the tires of a new car, but the best way to test manoeuvrability really is to try it.
So here is my opinion on the one I chose – the SilverCross Pioneer. It’s a travel system with base unit and pram and stroller top part attachments. The stroller can be used either rear or forward facing, and should last a few years. You can also get a SilverCross compatible car seat, but we opted for a MaxiCosi car seat, and bought some adaptors so it can also be used with the SilverCross base. I’ve also included some information on how I use it because the positives and negatives might not be applicable to your lifestyle. Please note this is not a sponsored post and I purchased the pram at normal sale price.
Verdict: On smooth surfaces the manoeuvrability is excellent, I can wheel it round corners with one hand (leaving another hand free for coffee). If the path is a bit bumpy it does require two hands to steer, but it still feels light and easy to navigate. This meant even with a few stitches I was able to get out for walks within the first week after giving birth which was great for feeling normal again. I have banged into a few doorways, prompting the usual ‘learner driver’ jokes but I can get into most places.
Requirement: Essential – I like getting outdoors on uneven payments and rough surfaces (although I don’t need to go completely off-road as I live in a town).
Verdict: The SilverCross Pioneer can cope pretty well with uneven pavements, and is robust enough to withstand bumping off kerbs. On gravel surfaces it does well, but my baby always has a surprised look on her face at the jiggly vibrations.
Requirement: Desirable – no one wants to be messing about putting it together when they want to get moving.
Verdict: The instructions that came with it weren’t the easiest but we managed to put it together out the box OK. There’s a few places where it’s hard to get the pieces to fit, for example hooking the apron on to the pram attachment (it fits much better with the buggy), but you can manage without every hook being connected fully. When using it day to day the top part easily unclips from the base and the base easily folds down. However when you unfold the base again it makes a nasty click, like you are forcing it to do something it shouldn’t. I’m always worried it sounds like it is breaking. We’ve studied the instructions and tried different combinations of levers while opening it, but nothing seems to work, so I am not sure if this is a design flaw, or an operating problem, but it isn’t great.
Feature: Compactness and storage
Requirement: Essential – it needs to be able to fit in our car boot
Verdict: When I found out I was pregnant I realised it was time to trade in my Mini for a larger compact SUV family type car. I thought the boot space was massive, and luckily this pram does fit, but it pretty much fills the space, so it wouldn’t be a good option for smaller cars. One quirk is that it only fits if you unattach the top seat part from the base, but if it is raining this causes a dilemma because you have to put the seat part down on the wet ground while you fold the base. At home we can fold it up to store in the cupboard under the stairs. As the pram and seat parts are separate attachments you always have to have space to store the one that isn’t in use.
Requirement: Desirable – I don’t want to damage my back lifting it but I don’t need it to be super-lightweight.
Verdict: It is a medium weight option. It’s light enough I can get it in and out the car without straining, but not so light I would want to be regularly getting on and off public transport with it.
Verdict: The SilverCross Pioneer has a nice leather and chrome effect handle. It comes with an apron and hood in a choice of colours. I think it looks nice and stylish, with a classical feel, rather than super-modern.
Feature: Coffee holder
Verdict: When I was going shopping my work colleague advised me to pick one with a good cupholder, and I was pleased this had a cup holder, but unfortunately good is not an adjective I would use to describe it. It is so flimsy it can’t hold anything. I wouldn’t be expecting it to hold a full cup of coffee, but even an empty paper cup is too heavy for it. I ended up taking it off as it is next to useless.
Feature: Shopping basket
Requirement: Essential – I try to get out for a walk every day and usually pop into the supermarket and pick up supplies.
Verdict: The nice big basket on the SilverCross Pioneer is ideal for me, and one of the main features that made me choose it. It’s big enough to store the rain cover, a spare blanket, my jacket, enough food for dinner and even a sneaky bottle of wine hidden under everything else.
Feature: Rain cover
Requirement: Essential- we live in Ireland it rains a lot and always when you least expect it.
Verdict: A rain cover is included, and it does the job and keeps little one dry. You need about 6 hands to wrestle it onto the pram, so I often ended up with it only covering the top part, so it isn’t the best designed and it doesn’t fold up very small when not in use, so it’s one aspect where I think the design could be improved.
Feature: Sleepability and comfort
Verdict: The pram attachment has a fully flat wooden base, and removable cleanable mattress, so it can be used as a travel cot / moses basket, and meets the recommended safe sleep guidelines. When my little one was small she slept best on the move, so she slept really well in the pram and it was good to know her spine was in a good flat position. Once she reached 5 and a half months and could start sitting a bit we switched her to the buggy seat. This has 3 reclining positions so she can sleep in it laid back, but she isn’t fully flat, and doesn’t sleep as well. She prefers the more upright positions and looking around at the world, but seems comfortable.
Feature: Other considerations
Verdict: The buggy harness isn’t always the easiest to click into place, but then it isn’t either on our high chair or car seat so it might be hard to design an easy one. One thing I would change would be to include a zip on the apron, so you can open it up and adjust clothing and blankets without having to completely remove it. I really like the hood, as it has a few different positions, a sun shade and little flaps the open so you can let air flow or view your baby when they are in the forward facing position.
Overall Verdict: Overall I am pleased with our choice in the SilverCross Pioneer. For me it is the right balance between ruggedness and practical storage space, but without being too heavy and losing manoeuvrability. I think it looks good, and I use it multiple times every day without problems. There are a few aspects where the design could be improved to make it more practical for example a smoother opening mechanism, an apron that opens and better cup holder and rain cover. If SilverCross could improve on these it would really be an excellent travel system, but as it is I am happy with it, and will keep using it for a few more years.