Maclaren Volo: Really Portable Travel Stroller

Now that my colleagues upstairs have gone reviewing crazy, I’m feeling the pressure to keep up. As such, reading this stroller review prompts me to sing the praises of the Maclaren Volo, a very portable travel stroller.

A travel stroller is one of the most valuable pieces of equipment you can take with you when travelling with young children. When we were in Thailand two years ago, we took a Kelty backpack to carry Oliver on our backs, a selection based on our assumption that a stroller wouldn’t work well in the rough and tumble world of Bangkok and environs. It was a bad choice: we completely underestimated the effect that the heat of Bangkok (30 degrees C when it was cool) would have on us (carrying) and Oliver (confined inside a hot backpack). Within a couple of days we had set the Kelty carrier aside, and traded it in for a travel stroller borrowed from a friend.

When we returned home, we realized that we needed a travel stroller of our own. The problem with most travel or “umbrella” strollers — i.e. the kind that it’s easy to find locally at Zellers or Walmart — is that although they fold up to be quite small, they’re very uncomfortable for the kid that has to sit in them because the unfolded seat is too small, and too low-slung. This type of stroller doesn’t tend to hold up well either, especially when travelling hard (i.e. being flung into airplane holds, etc.).

After doing a lot of web research, it seemed that the Maclaren Volo was what we were looking for, and when we were in Seattle on the way to Johnny and Jodi’s wedding, we found a dealer with a good selection, and bought one.

We have not been disappointed. The Volo has served us well, both on local car trips to Halifax and Moncton, where it folds up nicely into the car’s trunk, and on a three week trip to Europe last spring.

Good points:

  • It’s very tough: we’ve flung it around all over the place, and it has never suffered for it. The wheels haven’t worn out or broken off, which is something that’s happened to every other stroller we’ve owned.
  • It’s very light: as light or lighter as a cheaper umbrella strollers, and easy to sling over your back with the included carrying strap, when you need to lug it folded up.
  • It’s comfortable: perhaps most important! The unfolding mechanism creates a seat that’s much less “sunken,” so the child’s bum doesn’t contort downwards. Oliver has happily spent many hours in the Volo, and has never complained. The mesh fabric breathes well, so there’s less opportunity for kids to get hot and sweaty.
  • Over the lap and over the shoulder straps means kid is less likely to fall out, even when going up and down escalators, or being carried up stairs.
  • It folds up quickly, and you only need one hand to do so: see this video on Maclaren’s website for a demonstration.
  • Lots of underseat storage: when we were in Spain, lugging two large backpacks, a car seat, and Oliver, we could stick Oliver in the stroller, one of the backpacks under Oliver, the car seat on one of our backs and the big backpack on the other’s back. We weren’t nimble, but we could navigate. You can stash an incredible amount of stuff there.

The only downside we’ve found is that it’s not a cheap purchase. With accessories (a rain cover, a shade cover, and a padded seat, all removeable), we paid about $175 Canadian for stroller; you can buy a cheap umbrella stroller for $30 at Walmart. That said, you’ll probably have to buy 3 or 4 cheap umbrella strollers to equal the lifetime of the Volo, and you’ll have a much less comfortable kid if you go that route.

You probably wouldn’t want to use the Volo as your around-town everyday stroller (unless you’re an always-traveling nomad family): it’s missing cup holders, you can’t recline the seat to let your kid sleep, and it doesn’t have any sort of shock-absorbers, so kids feel every bump in the sidewalk. It’s also not well-suited to winter use because of the mesh seat (although you can mitigate this somewhat with the padded seat accessory).

But if you’re looking for a rugged, compact, comfortable stroller to tour the world with, this is the best we’ve found.

Comments

Kelly's picture
Kelly on April 29, 2004 - 19:07

Great review Peter. Do you know the minimum and maximum weight limits on this stroller? If it doesn’t recline, I would assume the child would have to have excellent head control and able to sit up without support — how old was Oliver when you first used it? Price is steep but isn’t outrageous, especially if you can rent or borrow a jogger for more rugged & close to home travel.

A “carrying your kid” option that I found handy during hot summer weather was a traditional Myan sling, made from woven fabric. I bought it off the net at www.mayawrap.com. My daughter Taylor still likes to use it by sitting on my hip or on my back, esp. if she is in a clingy mood, and I need to do chores. I pop her in and in placates her need for a cuddle, and allows me two free hands. Nice to use with a heavier (i.e. 30 — 40 lbs) toddler as it is more of an aide to a piggyback ride. Fits folded into a large pocket, can double as a light blanket — a simple option that is regaining popularity.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on April 29, 2004 - 20:12

The Maclaren website says the Volo is suitable for children more than 6 months old; we started using it with Oliver when he was just under 2 years old.

Jackie Steeves's picture
Jackie Steeves on May 27, 2005 - 02:02

Did you buy your stroller locally? We are in Fredericton and are so impressed with your review that we want to buy a volo for our son.

I found this post thru google and was surprised to see that a fellow maritimer wrote the review for this stroller. Please let me know where you purchased your stroller.

Thanks in Advance

Elisa M's picture
Elisa M on September 13, 2006 - 19:26

Just found your great review of the Volo through Google- thanks! Just curious — what was your experience with car seats? What did you bring with you when travelling by plane with a car seat? We’re about to go for a vacation with our 18 month old this winter & was curious if there are any more portable versions (probably not). Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

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