Baby Jogger City Select vs. UPPAbaby Vista
Gear head: As I have previously mentioned, when I found out we were going to have a baby one of my first thoughts (besides hoping they were healthy and would hate Episodes 1-3) was about the gear. A lot of the baby gear is pretty straight forward as far as what it does, so often you are picking a brand/design/color that appeals to you. I soon found out that strollers, on the other hand, were a completely different story.
Plus 1. Plus 2: In an earlier post I talked about my major considerations when buying a stroller, as well as the fact that I bought a UPPAbaby Vista stroller after a long and agonizing search. However, when we found out that we were expecting a second child I was thrown into the tangled web of strollers once more. I thought it would be easy this time, after all I was now a super-know-it-all-stroller-brainiac. I had seen the (so called) 1 handed folding mechanisms and live to tell the tales, I triumphed in removing the fabric seat cover and washing it AND THEN remembered how to put it back on again (eventually). I was the KING of strollers.
..or so I thought.
UPPAbaby Vista with Rumble Seat and Piggyback
My first action was to simply buy the “Rumble Seat” attachment for my Vista. I mean, why not? I loved the Vista, had added some boss handlebar tape on the grips along with a few choice stickers that let everyone know “I’m that cool SAHD that you hear so much about”, so why change all that? But when it arrived I was not very excited about it. It is only rear facing, which means that my son will only have a view out the sides of his seat and the back of his sister’s seat. He will not even be able to see me while I’m pushing it. This was unacceptable. I put it back in the box and off it went to be returned. Of course this meant I was going to have to buy a new stroller for no other reason than that I didn’t like how the Vista to accommodated 2 kids. It was an expensive proposition, not to mention that I wasn’t sure if I could sell my Vista without losing even more money.
Option 1, 2 or 3? When I started looking at double (or as I like to call them, “2up”) strollers I found three basic design configurations.
- Side by side, or “double wide” like the BOB Revolution SE Duallie
- Rear seat, or “under mount” like the Phil & Ted’s Explorer Double
- Front seat, or “front seat” like the Vista or City Select
1. The side by side design seemed nice because the kids are on seated on an equal level and can interact, but since I live in an urban environment it was quickly ruled out for not fitting through most doors, hogging the entire sidewalk and taking up my entire trunk. If I lived in a rural or suburban area where these were not concerns it would be a great choice. I have also seen people keep this type of stroller in their garage for nightly walks through their cul de sac, and it seems like the perfect stroller for that application.
2. Many of the high-end strollers had an option to add a rear seat that attached over the axle in into the storage area under the main seat. The main problem I had with these were that my son would be looking at the back of the other seat and only able to see out the left and right sides of the stroller. But more pressing was the problem that this added seat occupied quite a bit of the knee and foot space for me while pushing the stroller, and at 6’3” I already have a hard time walking behind most strollers without my feet hitting the rear axle.
3. As I experienced with rear mounted seat, the front mounted “rumble seat” on the Vista was limiting the view of the child because it faced the main seat. This configuration also made the stroller to be pretty front heavy and caused it to be much harder to steer. The real difference came with the front seat design on the Baby Jogger’s City Select stroller. The front seat actually faces forward, so not only can my son be engaged in the world around him, he can also get in and out of the seat by himself (potentially) and walk around when he is bored of riding.
Baby Jogger City Select stroller
Transformer (more than meets the eye): The flexibility of mounting solutions is something that the City Select really pushes as a key feature (see chart below). However many of the configurations I think are a bit silly and only used in the advertising to say “we can do 16 different seating positions” because many of them don’t seem very practical and even look borderline dangerous in the pictures. When it comes right down to it I need maybe 3 of these. The big plus was the face that the mounting points for the main seat are the same as the second seat, which are located over the front axle. This design is what gives you the flexibility to mount the seats, car seat adapter and bassinet in either location as you see fit. It is worth noting that the front seat adapter posts come with the second seat kit, so if you want to use the car seat/bassinet in the back with the seat in the front you either have to buy the $120 second seat kit or the optional $20 post only kit.
Side by side: Both of these strollers are really well designed and made from high quality materials. Both of these strollers are somewhat bulky and on the heavier side, but that contributes to the sold feel of each. Both of these strollers are based around the same heavy duty folding aluminum frame design with almost identical features and an amazing level of finish and detailing.. so what sets them apart? The little things of course.
The UPPAbaby Vista
The Good: Vista
- Latch: The single handed side latch that auto closes is the thing I miss the most about the Vista. It is a very clever design that was elegantly simple in concept and easy to operate.
- Clearance: Because the Vista has no rear axle, at 6’3” I could walk in a hurried full stride to beat that old lady with all the coupons to the checkout without banging my feet and keeping my arms in a comfortable position.
- Maneuverable: With its top notch bearings and weight distribution (in 1 child mode) the Vista whips around like a stroller half its size, even with the storage basket full of your shopping bags.
- Storage:The area under the seat is pretty big and can handle most things that you need to carry with you as well as a few shopping bags.
- Free-standing: When folded the Vista’s handle acts as a kickstand which is really handy for storage or when you need 2 hands making the transition into the car.
- Solid: Overall quality in workmanship and materials
- Compact: Fit well in the trunk of our VW (TDI) Sportwagen
The Bad: Vista
- Bump: To fold the Vista you have to hold a finger slide button with 1 hand and give it the “Bump” with the other hand that is somewhat of a joke about strollers. And truthfully it’s a bit like the Fonze with a jukebox, if you have it then you have it, if you don’t you are bumping that dam thing all day to get it to close. (ayyy)
- 2nd seat: The front mount “Rumble Seat” only faces rear and looks point blank into the main seat.
- Wheel Lockers: The slide lock to lock the front wheels in a straight position is a large protruding button and we knocked off (or they fell off) both of ours.
- Cleaning: To wash the seat fabric it’s pretty tricky to get the covers off. I did it twice and it took me about 10 minutes to get just the seat cover off and then another 10 to get it back on.
- Maintenance: I had several bolts and washers fall off of my Vista (and our UPPABABY umbrella stroller) while I was using it that had to be replaced. Customer service was REALLY nice, but it was still a pain in the ass to get have to deal with that. 2 words UPPAbaby: Lock-tight
The Baby Jogger City Select
The Good: City Select
- 2nd seat: The optional front mounted bi-directional seat was the real selling point for me over the Vista.
- Fold: The City Select is easy to fold (with 2 hands) by simply lifting up the handles on both side of the seat and it collapses under its own weight.
- Hand break: Located on the uptube next to the handle is a very easy to operate positive lock knob to activate the brakes.
- Maneuverable: With its top notch bearings and weight distribution (in 1 child mode) the City Select whips around like a stroller half its size, even with the storage basket full of your shopping bags.
- XL Storage:The area under the seat is even BIGGER than the VISTA, big enough to smuggle a Wookie, and has a nice set of zippers front/back to keep everything inside and give it a really clean look, or you can leave them unzipped for instant access.
- Solid: Overall quality in workmanship and materials
The Bad: City Select
- NonFree-standing: When folded the City Select does not stand up, which was REALLY annoying at first, but I’ve learned to just lay it down on its side. It is not nearly as handy as standing, but still works.
- Locked/unlocked: Unlike the Vista the City Select has a fold over hook that locks the stroller closed in the folded position. Unfortunately about half the time when I put it in the trunk the weight/stress of handling the stroller causes the latch to pop open. Once causing it to unexpectedly open and scratch the paint on my car (BABY JOGGER!!).
- Wide load: The City Select will not fit in the trunk of our VW Sportwagen, which is pretty big, which was a major disappointment. However, when using the 2nd seat I have to remove it anyway (like I would on ALL strollers) to fit it in the car, so it’s not as big of a deal.
- Clearance: The rear axle is just low/closes enough that between that and the handle height I have to be a little careful when walking or my toes clip it.
- Snack Tray: The tray, like the shade cover, clips on to the frame rather than having lockable hard attachment point like on the Vista. This causes a real problem when putting a child in/out of the seat without completely removing the tray.
- Harness: The 5 point harness is a bit unruly, I guess because the straps adjust to accommodate larger kids(?), and I feel like I’m always left with lots of extra and unsightly strap that just flops around (and gets chewed on).
The Bottom Line on both strollers: At the end of the day these strollers are pretty evenly matched. So much so that I might even say that the Vista is a better stroller for single kid families and the City Select is a better stroller for multi-kid families. In fact when I was talking about this review with some other SAHDs who had strollers other than these two they said that theirs also had many of the “bad” features of the City Select and they never thought of it as a problem because they had never had the convenience of the Vista.
- $905 Vista (with bassinet, rumble seat, snack tray, car seat adapter)
- $840 City Select (with bassinet, 2nd seat, snack tray, car seat adapter)
So in this shootout I thinks it’s nearly a draw, but if I had to do it again I would probably buy the City Select as our first stroller and bypass the Vista. As I’ve said, the Vista is an amazing stroller, but as it transitions to a double it starts to fall behind in usability to the City Select. Besides, so much of what I spend my days doing is working to make sure that my kid has the most vivid and immersive experiences possible, so why would I want to limit that when we are out in the world in our stroller by facing him backwards?
Now if I could just figure out how I’m going to pimp this thing out as an 18 wheeler so I can dress the kids as Pee Wee and Large Marge for Halloween??
P.S. It’s also worth noting that spending $800+ on a stroller is a real luxury, and I know that. Not many years ago this would have been my food budget for many months (that’s a lot of ramen noodles). The market offers many fine strollers that are a fraction of that price of the Vista and City Select and offer a similar feature set, like the Graco Baby Wilshire DuoGlider for $150 at Walmart.
*Thanks to Kelly and the folks at New Baby Products in Atlanta for their guidance and expertise in all things Stroller, and for humoring me on my MANY visits to the store to ask “just a few more questions”.