Sunday, December 1, 2013

Product Review: Britax B-Agile Double

*Portions of this review were originally written for Amazon Vine.  I was provided with this item for free in exchange for my honest review.

Next to car seats, strollers have to be one of my favorite baby gear items to review.  You could call me a stroller snob.  I have a garage that is littered with a collection of strollers, most of which never see the light of day because they simply didn't meet my standards for everyday use after being test driven several times.  Now that we're expecting a new baby I am now on a quest to find the perfect lightweight double stroller since I will be joining the ranks of double stroller moms for the first time in 12 years of parenting.  My first three children were all spaced far enough apart that we only ever needed single strollers so double strollers are getting a lot of attention from me at the moment as I search for one that will accept a Chicco Keyfit infant seat and weigh in under 28lbs.  Does such a stroller exist?  I'm not sure, but if it does I intend to find it!

A little over a year ago I wrote the following review of the Britax B-Agile double stroller:

I'm going to do a little bit of comparing apples to oranges here by comparing the B-Agile Double to the single B-Agile. The stroller on the whole is a very nice double stroller. While I've yet to have two little ones of my own to push around in a double stroller on a regular basis, I have plenty of experience in pushing my friends' children around in their doubles.  

Just as you'll find in the single B-Agile, this stroller also has the infinite reclining seat backs. I'm not a fan of infinite reclining seat backs. No matter how easy or simple the manufacturer claims they are, there's usually something that gums up the works. I had issues with our single our of the box with the webbing for the adjustable portion being twisted, so be aware that the webbing could twist during repeated use and it is a pain to untwist.

It should be noted that while you could use this stroller with a newborn, the seat backs do not fully recline. It comes close to it, but it does not form a flat surface. It does recline enough that a baby will be able to nap, but if you are looking at this for twins and are hoping to use this instead of a travel system, this might not meet your expectations. One of the biggest drawbacks to this stroller as far as I'm concerned is the fact that you cannot use this with two infant car seats. The adaptor clips to use the Britax b-safe seat are shaped differently than the single B-Agile (they curve outwards on the double because the seats on the double are narrow, which is why the stroller can't accommodate two infant carrier car seats).  The stroller also cannot accept car seats from other manufacturers which is also disappointing.

The folding mechanism for the double B-Agile is essentially the same as the single, only with the double you need to pull on two pull straps instead of one. Just as with the single, I'm not thrilled with how this stroller folds. Sure it's quick and easy, but at 28lbs, this stroller is a bit heavy to handle as it falls into it's folded position. I do like that this stroller can stand on it's own once folded if you position the adjustable handle just right. Of course, the handle bar will come in contact with the ground once folded. I don't know about you, but I prefer the portion of the stroller that my hands will come in constant contact with to stay off the ground. If you're a soccer mom like me, imagine how dirty the handle bar will get when you fold this up in the muddy parking lot at the soccer field.

The buckle on the child restraint harness is super easy to snap together and release which is a huge improvement on the design found on the single B-Agile. Releasing the straps from the buckle requires very little effort. This buckle may be easy for little escape artists to free themselves.

The lack of a parent tray for the price of this stroller also does not impress me. I've felt the same way about my Peg Perego strollers as well. For what you're paying for this stroller, it would be nice to not have to buy the cup holder, too. However, if you do go with this stroller and need a parent tray or cup holder, I highly recommend the Britax parent organizer. I have one on my single B-Agile and I love it.

The storage basket underneath is decently sized. Thanks to the thoughtful design of the zip open foot rests on this stroller you can access what is in the basket from the front of the stroller if the seat backs are fully reclined. If you have an oversized bag in the basket you're probably going to encounter some difficulty in getting it out from the front.

I'm not a fan of a fixed height handle bar like you'd find on the single B-Agile, so I was happy to see that the double has an adjustable height handle. It's a nice feature to have especially for shorter or very tall parents. 

The canopies are very nice and generously sized. They will certainly shield little ones from the harsh sun. I love the peek-a-boo window on the canopies. The flaps lift up to reveal a mesh insert which you can see through. This design means you won't have clear vinyl that develops a hole over time or gives you a distorted view. It also means you can actually see your child. The rear of the canopies have a nice storage pocket which can be rolled up and secured. Once the back is rolled up there is a mesh lining that offers ventilation.

I love how smoothly this stroller handles. It is every bit as smooth and easy to steer as the single B-Agile. Even with my 50lb seven year old testing out one seat (she hardly fits in this stroller, but she sat in it so I could test it out) while my nine month old (nearly 20lbs) sat on the other side, the stroller handled very well. Thanks to the thoughtfully designed handlebar, you can easily push this stroller one handed.

The one touch brake is nice. It is easily engaged and disengaged. I like that one touch locks both rear wheels. Since the brake isn't stiff, you can lock and unlock the brake with sandals on and not kill your toes as you disengage the brake. It's the best brake lever that I've encountered on a stroller.

The stroller upholstery is nice. The material is a type that feels like it can easily be spot cleaned. I'd say the fabric is comparable to what you will find on Chicco and Peg Perego strollers. It's certainly nicer than what you will find on a Graco, Baby Trend, or Kolcraft stroller.

Adjusting the height of the harness straps is pretty easy. I like that there's no rethreading involved.

The maneuverability of this stroller is excellent especially given that it's a side by side double. To look at it you'd think there's no way it will fit through a standard doorway, but I was able to fit it through regular doors with a 32 inch opening in my house and it easily fit through the front door. This stroller is every bit as agile as the single version only it's wider. The widest part of this stroller is 30.5 inches.

I do think the seats on this stroller are narrow. My nine month old looked like a giant sitting in this stroller. She has loads of room to spread out in the single version of this stroller, so I was surprised at how little room she had in this one. I think children upwards of four years old will not be very comfortable riding in these narrow seats.

Overall, it's a very nicely made double stroller, but I see areas where improvements could be made. No stroller is perfect, you simply have to find one that has the features that are most important to you.

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