We’ll admit it: we’re stroller junkies. We’ve got three for each kid. An expensive habit, yes, but you can’t carry an infant car seat on a tiny umbrella stroller and there’s no way we’re vacationing with our giant travel system.
If we were pressed to choose just one and only one stroller, however, the clear winner would be the fabulous Inglesina Zippy. We’ve tested almost every stroller on the market, and love most of them, but hands down the Zippy wins for best all-around stroller on the planet.
Priced just north of $400 (a bit more expensive than last year’s model), the Zippy is a bit more expensive than a standard Graco, but the outstanding design and versatility make the Zippy a much, much better buy. While the lightest Gracos will safely accommodate an infant car seat, they are too bulky and fold too large to be used like a convenient umbrella stroller. The Zippy, a stroller we classify as a “lightweight plus” can be used from birth right up to kindergarten. It offers the best of both worlds: a sturdy, roomy stroller for infants and a delightfully compact and lightweight stroller for older kids and moms on the move.
While other lightweight plus strollers also accommodate infant car seat carriers, they do so on a rather rickety, small frame. We don’t want to lug a 30-pound stroller around, but we do like to feel our infants are at least somewhat shielded by their stroller. Fully opened, the Inglesina Zippy is a surprisingly roomy stroller with a host of wonderful convenience options like a front seat bar that easily pops off in favor of a snack tray. Yet, fully closed, the Zippy disappears into a neat, tight package that rivals any umbrella out there.
We were also amazed at the stroller’s stability. While at first glance, the stroller seemed a little shaky, we discovered that was due to the Inglesina’s amazing four-wheel suspension system, not an inferior frame. In fact, after several months of continuous use and abuse, we’ve come to call the Zippy one of the strongest and sturdiest strollers around.
The Zippy also gets high marks for being virtually untippable. Much as we love them, our Maclarens will tip over at the slightest provocation – a real pain when you forget to unload the packages on the handles and lift baby out first. The Inglesina’s slightly different design places the center of gravity squarely over the back wheels. To test it, we took an empty Zippy and loaded its handles with all manner of mom paraphernalia. It held up to a full-size, well-stuffed messenger diaper bag, an equally-stuffed full-size purse and no less than 5 full shopping bags. We literally couldn’t get the stroller to tip over before we ran out of room adorning the handles.
That’s not to say you need the handles for carrying (although, against all good sense, we do love to hang things there). The Zippy has a nice-sized basket. We had trouble accessing it from the back when the stroller seat was even slightly reclined, but then figured out (embarrassingly, when we saw another mom in public do this) that you could easily access it from the front as well. We’ve now taken to slipping things in and out of the sides of the basket as well, but it is deep enough that nothing falls out.
The Zippy handles also have an ergonomic grip and can not only be adjusted in height but they can also be rotated. The height adjustment is great for taller parents and the handle rotation is great for easier turning with one hand.
The entire stroller is only 19 pounds, which is light enough to lift with just one hand into the back of an SUV. In fact, the Zippy’s one-handed fold is truly one-handed. While other “one-hand” fold strollers will collapse with one hand, they usually do so by crashing to the pavement in front of you. And then, especially if they are flat folds, they require two hands to lift up and into your trunk. And some “one-hand” folds require just one hand, but also your foot, knee and a trick thumb.
Inglesina has the best fold and unfold on the market, bar none. The Zippy’s patented one-hand fold is so easy and genius, an 8-year-old can do it (in fact, we employ ours for stroller duty quite often). It truly is one-hand and nothing else, and even better, it folds upwards into a standing fold. (We personally l-o-v-e the standing fold because it keeps a nice stroller nice even longer.) While other strollers do stand when folded, most are up just barely and even more are still quite bulky. The Zippy folds into a compact, umbrella standing fold that really does stay upright.
If that weren’t enough, there is a large, easy-to-access handle on the side of the frame that allows you to easily grab hold and swoop up into your trunk. We’re not kidding – you can literally fold and load this stroller with one hand. We’ve tried it holding a baby even. We’re in love with this fold. We thought we dug other folds, but none compares to the genius that is the Inglesina fold. The one-handed, still-holding-baby genius fold works when unfolding the stroller as well. One lever by the top handle and a simple shake, and you’re in business.
All this folding goodness is for naught though if the stroller didn’t steer well, but the Zippy doesn’t disappoint in this area either. In fact, it drives like a dream. We tested it at the top of its weight limit, with a four-year-old on board, and while the Maclaren distributes the weight of heavier kids just a tiny bit better, we’ll take the Inglesina system because of its tip-proof structure any time. With smaller children, you can glide the Zippy with ease. Older kids require a bit more wrist power, but the Inglesina still drives about 15 times better than most other strollers.
Another feature of the Inglesina that puts it at the head of the class is its shade. Taller than most other strollers, it gives older children more much headroom. And it is enormous. Not just big enough to adequately shade from the sun, but the clever canopy lowers all the way to the snack tray, completely shielding tiny riders from rain, snow and nasty gusts of wind. The canopy also sports a nice pocket on the back for parent essentials and a peek-a-boo window.
The Inglesina also has superior handling and brakes thanks to four-wheel suspension and a one-touch-two-wheels braking system. We hate having to engage each back wheel separately; the Inglesina’s brakes lock and unlock with a simple, even barefoot, nudge. The lever on the front wheels that locks and unlocks their swivel power is also big enough to engage with your toe – a nice feature, since we hate to bend down to push a small button with our fingers. We’re moms on the run – we have no time for bending!
The wheels are much larger than most umbrella strollers, 7 inches in fact, but not too large to add too much extra bulk when folded. The extra size does allow for us to take the stroller off-pavement. It won’t handle all terrains, but we’ve successfully navigated gravel, grass and dirt. The four-wheel suspension gives a great ride, even over the nastiest urban potholes.
The stroller seat is well cushioned and well made and reclines almost completely flat. All of the children we tested had more than adequate room. The five-point harness is easy to use, but we do wish we could cinch it in even more for our tiniest tots. It does lack a chest clip, so our Houdinis did immediately free their own arms, but they were securely buckled at the legs.
The Zippy comes with a couple accessories that are definitely worth mentioning. A fabulous matching foot muff will keep your little rider out of the elements, plus a great rain cover to keep them dry. Also, the Zippy has a small cup holder for mom that is convenient yet out of the way on the back of the stroller.
Now, for the pie de resistance: the optional carrycot. Proof of its infant friendliness and stability, the Zippy offers a detachable bassinet so you can stroll with your newborn like the celebrity moms we all secretly are. From afar, we never fully appreciated the carrycot, but once we started using one with our newest addition, we were hooked. We think babies in bassinets sleep better, seem more protected and are much easier to monitor. We also love being able to bring baby’s bed with us indoors.
Finally, the Zippy can become a travel system by pairing it with a Graco or Compass infant car seat.
Whether you’re shopping for your first stroller or in the market for an umbrella but don’t want to sacrifice stability and room for your baby, we couldn’t recommend the Inglesina Zippy any higher.
To watch our full video review of the Inglesina Zippy 2009, click the video below: