The Bottom Line: great option for 2 part time riders
Here we go again!
Pregnant with my 4th child I had already gone through dozens of single strollers before I found something close to perfection for me and was very happy. But I had never once owned a double stroller. Now I was about to have a close age gap, less than 2 years between #3 and #4. That in my eyes constituted the need for a double stroller. Of course like every pregnant person I had these romanticized views of parenting, me pushing a contently looking around toddler and a sweetly sleeping infant through the mall. The toddler gets tired you just recline the seat, hand her a blanket and slumbertime here we come. OK back to reality, why after already having been there several times I believed that I don't know. It must have been the hormones. Whatever it was it talked me into buying a traditional double stroller.
Having already used a Peg Perego Twin Tender tandem stroller in my nanny days and a Graco Duoglider tandem with my nieces and nephews I test drove side by sides. I decided on the easiest to steer strollers. The Combi Twin Savvy for the mall and an Instep Safari TT double for outside. They were both wonderful strollers but 75% of the time they were 50-99% empty (I say 99% because they still carried my bags if not the kids). It was starting to feel like a huge waste to not be able to get down any aisles and to be inconvenienced by a huge double wide stroller when noone was using it. My toddler wanted to walk, my infant wanted to be carried (in the sling).
It costs HOW MUCH? So it was time to come into reality and evaluate what we really needed. Did we really need 2 fully reclining seats? How often did we even need 2 at all? What features did I really need? I decided that 1 handed steering was the absolute most important feature I needed. After that everything was negotiable. The Phil and Ted E3 by Regal Lager had rave reviews for my kind of situation. How neat would it be to be able to pick and chose a single or double as my needs changed. $500 for a stroller? My husband was NOT sold. I managed to get a $400 deal (thus the navy, not much of a navy person but $100 is a lot of money), husband still not sold on it but he just bought himself a new (old) truck so kept his mouth closed.
Assembly The stroller arrived in 2 boxes, the stroller in 1, the doubles seat in the other. The stroller had a very cute booklet that walked you through assembly. Mostly this involved putting on the wheels which just snap on and off. Other assembly was mostly snapping things into place. The only time I needed any tools was a screwdriver to bolt on the wheel gaurds which are mainly only needed for using the doubles seat in toddler/toddler mode. The toddler seat just snaps into place so required no assembly at all.
Single stroller As a single stroller it is like a typical swivel wheel jogger. The main stroller seat holds 55 lbs. It has a nice high seatback to easily hold a taller child. Though the seat is a bit narrow in proportion, my 7 yr old (45 lbs) fits fine. The seat reclines in technically 4 positions. There is upright, you unzip and it is reclined. However you can turn it into a flat enclosed seat for a newborn by undoing 2 buckles behind the seat and 2 at the top of the seat. Then if you need a slightly inclined seat for a newborn you can zip the zippers back. This enclosed bassinette is a fairly large size, my son still fits at 28" long. There is a plastic clear viewing flap you use to completely enclose the seat but we really never used it though it would be nice in bad weather and it can be left on and rolled up and out of the way secured with velcro. The legrest is not adjustable but is also not hard so does not dig into small childrens' legs. It has an adjustable handle for parents. The handle does not adjust at the push of a button, you have to remove it (easy) and flip it over. I find the low handle height is nice, the upper is rather high. This would be good for an average or tall mother or father but may not be as comfortable for a petite person. On the handle is a leash to prevent runaway stroller. It has a snap to make it shorter. The snap also snaps onto the bottom of the footwell when the stroller is folded to hold it closed. I find that to be more of a pain than it's worth so we don't use it. It has a removable canopy. It is a flat top stationary canopy so you do not get the coverage of a domed canopy or the adjustability of a ratcheting or floating canopy though it does have a front extension that offers a bit of help. The canopy snaps onto the back to keep it in place and when open snaps on the front to keep it open, this is helpful in windy conditions. There is also a velcro strap to use to keep it closed which is mostly helpful when folded. It has a removable front bumper bar with covers to cover the holes if not in use. It has a basket that, though not deep it does easily hold my diaper bag and then some. The seat features a soft shield 5 pt harness. The wheels are a large air tire that pop on and off, if needed, with th epush of a button. The front wheel can be swivel or fixed with just the twist of a knob.
The stroller does not have any cupholders or tray for parent or child but several after market are available. I am using a sassy toy bar on the bar for the child, it features toys plus a snack holder. For myself I am using the instep double stroller cupholder that I had ordered for my other double stroller and it works well. The Instep cupholder has a zippered underneath that I use to store the hole covers for the napper bar as well as the hinges when I am using the seat in toddler/toddler mode.
To fold the stroller you push buttons on both sides and the back flips down then you just lift and the wheels fold in. It is heavy but not ackward like the double jogger I was using so much easier.
Double for an newborn and toddler We started out trying newborn/toddler mode since my son had only just turned 4 months old. To do this the main seat is in the fully reclined or slightly inclined newborn positions. Once this is done you can set baby in it. Then the doubles seat is attached to hinges that you attach where the napper bar of the stroller would go and buckle on for added protection. In other words the toddler sits above the newborn. When you have the toddler seat in this position the only access to the newborn is through the hole in the back or by removing the toddler seat. At first removing the baby out the back is ackward but it becomes easier and you don't really think twice. The newborn/toddler positioning works well if my son is already asleep. Since he now sleeps on his tummy the large size and flat recline allows him to do this. The way the seat "hangs" kind of sways him to keep him asleep. It probably would have worked well when he was a newborn too, to keep him away from nosey touchy strangers and prevent overstimulation. As it is now though he will only use this position asleep, he screams if awake when you put on the doubles seat. As for my toddler. The toddler seat has 2 height positions you adjust with snaps. This really seems like a useless feature so we always just use it in the highest position. The seat does not recline but it is quite comfortable, my daughter prefers the doubles seat to the main seat. My daughter is quite short at only 33" so the canopy can actually still be used with her in the doubles seat up top, not something that you could probably do past 34", 35" tops. Both the stroller seat and the toddler seat have a nice 5 point soft harness/shield buckle. The stroller can still be folded with the toddler seat on in this position. I find if I have it in this position already and get somewhere I will only be using it as a single I just leave it. My kids like sitting up higher, I can store things within easy reach in the infant section and no need to take the seat off. Plus if I change my mind about it being a double I have the seat with me. This is also good for high chair use. My son has outgrown the infant seat but doesn't sit up well enough for a high chair. The doubles seat is a high height though in this position and I have been able to push him right up to the table.
Double for 2 older babies or toddlers We have also tried the toddler/toddler positioning. Whether the toddler seat is in this position or up top for newborn/toddler position the weight limit for it is 33 lbs. In toddler/toddler position the seat attaches to small bars on the axle between the rear two wheels right behind the basket. This is why the wheel guards mentioned earlier are needed, to keep the child from touching the wheels. When used in this mode the smaller child is supposed to sit in back but my children are fairly close in weight despite the large age gap (19+ lbs and 24 lbs) so we interchange them in whichever seat. The doubles seat is also meant for ages 6 months and up, however my 4 month old sits in it fine. My 2 year old thinks the doubles seat is her own personal seat and loves being able to climb in and out herself. At only 33" her feet just barely go into the basket so we still have plenty of room for storage. As she gets taller though I anticipate we will have less storage room. Before I caught her my 7 year old momentarily climbed into the seat and did fit but is way beyond the weight limit. I was worried she would not like being down there or would not have enough room but she has plenty of room and just loves it. We have even had the front seat in the slightly reclined position and she still had enough room. I also was positive I was going to kick the seat but somehow you don't and I am not short (5'6"). I have also had her up top and plopped the baby in and out of this seat and he sits in it fine. I also use the seat for extra storage if we aren't using it. When in this position though you have to remove the double seat to fold the stroller. It is simple, you just press 2 buttons and pull. However that extra step seems like a ton when you are trying to get on the tram at the zoo or something like that.
It all comes down to All in all I much prefer having this to a double. If someone isn't riding it is just like pushing a single with a big basket. Whether I have both kids, 1 or none in it it steers like a dream. It is the only stroller of it's kind and definitely fills a niche. I would prefer it if there were a way to access the baby easier in newborn/toddler mode. I would prefer a recline on the toddler seat. I would prefer a better canopy. I would prefer an easier recline. A lot, but not all, of these things though have been improved in the brand new model out in 2007. If you have two riders who ride regularly though or lay down in the stroller you would want a regular double stroller.
update: 5/09 I am getting really tired of the basket and footwell on this ripping b/c a child stretches. Also when they stretch or push on the footwell it effects the push and steering because it hits the front wheel. Of course they now make models with a sold footwell for considerably more money. However I think this issue actually effects functionality. So why sell a lower end model at all if it isn't even functional. I am not ready to "not recommend" this because it still fills a niche. But I am quite annoyed with it. I just had at least the 4th rip in the 2 years I have owned it.
Amount Paid (US$): 400 Age Range of Child: 12 to 36 Months
What did you think of this review?
Fun to Read
What's your opinion on Phil&Teds E3 Double - Navy Blue Char Jog...?