The stroller is probably the most important items you own when you have a baby (besides maybe the crib). It is a means to transport the baby, but it’s also a gateway to getting outside, especially if you have a jogging stroller. There’s no shortage of choices, and today we are looking at the Chicco Activ3 Jogging Stroller.
We’ve used a BOB jogging stroller since my son was born, first with an infant seat adapter and then as a regular stroller when he was big enough, so that’s our benchmark for an active-lifestyle stroller. The BOB is the 800 pound gorilla of the stroller world, as most runners will tell you they had a BOB, immediately followed by stories of their kids yelling for them to push faster. So the Activ3 has some competition, and it’s inevitable that this review will contain significant comparisons between the two strollers. More than likely, if you’re cross-shopping jogging strollers, it’s going to be the BOB versus a similar competitor, but does the BOB’s dominance come from superior design or just a strong brand recognition?
Let’s start by looking at setting up the Activ3 stroller. It had some minor assembly required, but even with misunderstanding some of the directions I had it fully assembled in about 15 minutes. It’s important to get oriented on which end is forward with the folded up stroller, however, or you’ll find you’ve attached the front wheel assembly backwards. Luckily it’s fairly simple to fix, but it does confirm that you need to pay close attention to the directions and instructions. I was fairly sleep-deprived when we built the BOB, but I vaguely recall my brother-in-law and I working on it and being confused, so we’ll give a slight advantage to the Activ3, in that it only took one person to understand the directions.
Once it’s fully assembled, opening and closing the Chicco Activ3 Jogging Stroller is an absolute snap — you just turn the handle/button combo at the top and the whole thing folds together tightly. It’s laid out quite intuitively, as everything you need is across the top handlebars. There’s the front wheel lock on the left side (more on this below), the brakes on the right, and the closing mechanism in the middle. In addition, you can adjust the handlebars to higher or lower levels depending on your height and comfort, which is a nice feature.
The only adjustment features not along the handlebars were the seat adjuster (located logically behind the seat area), and the suspension adjustment, which is located near the rear wheels (this lets you change the suspension to accommodate walking vs running, or bumpier vs smoother surfaces). The seat area can be adjusted to various levels of reclining, and you can adjust the harness easily as well (we were even able to adjust it on the fly, as I underestimated how tall our son is when I first set up the stroller). One thing we really liked was how high the seat could be positioned-our son enjoyed being fully upright and having a better view of everything while out for a walk.
Overall, the general use of the Activ3 was excellent, but we did have one issue. The canopy is attached by snapping it to the stroller and then it uses velcro to stick to the top and sides. As a result, pulling it down too hard (or a curious toddler pulling on it) disconnected it from the velcro fairly often. This was a bit of a pain, especially if we wanted the canopy fully extended to protect our fair-skinned baby from bright days. Snaps would have been far more effective, making the canopy easily removable but also secure.
The real comparison was in pushing and running with the Chicco Activ3 Jogging Stroller. From a child comfort level, I think the Activ3 was a bit nicer than the BOB for our son; he sat a little straighter, and the seat is a bit more padded and comfortable. It was extremely smooth on streets and sidewalks, even when popping off curbs and higher surfaces. Nothing creaked or felt remotely loose or uncomfortable, and we really liked how the handlebars could be easily adjusted. I also appreciated that the front wheel could be locked on the fly, as this made it easy to switch between running (with the wheel locked) and walking (where the wheel could be unlocked). The idea behind locking the wheel is that it gives you a bit more control while moving quickly, and there’s less likelihood that a sudden bump or uneven surface could cause the stroller to tilt or sway. The BOB has a wheel lock as well, but it’s in the front by the wheel, so it’s not as easy to lock it down on the fly.
Interestingly, the Activ3 weighs 2 pounds more than the BOB (27 pounds versus 25 pounds) but I found the Activ3 to be much easier to manage when closed. I think it’s because the BOB is fairly floppy when closed, and requires a manual strap lock to keep it from flipping open, while the Activ3 stays closed until you twist the handle lock to open it. It makes for a much more portable package when the whole thing isn’t shifting around on you.
There were a few niceties that the Activ3 offered over the BOB system, and a part of me wishes we’d known about them before buying into a baby stroller brand. For one, the Activ3 came with an adapter to allow the Chicco Keyfit infant seat to sit in the Activ3; since we don’t have a Keyfit seat we couldn’t test this compatibility, but we had to buy a separate adapter for our seat for the BOB. It’s not a huge deal, but it’s a nice feature to tie the infant seat and stroller brands together, and can save new parents a bit of money at least. We used our infant seat with the BOB quite a bit, as it was more comfortable for both us and our son to have the better suspension of the jogging stroller, so infant seat compatibility is a big bonus for any jogging stroller. In addition, the Activ3 had a built-in organizer and cup holder set for parents; while the cup holders were a little shallow for a Nalgene bottle, they fit a regular cup perfectly. Again, this is a minor accessory that we bought separately for the BOB, so having everything in one package makes life much easier. Finally, the Activ3 offers rubber never-flat tires, so you don’t have to worry about pumping up your tires before heading out on a run.
I liked the Chicco Activ3 Jogging Stroller quite a bit; my wife Sarah was a bit cooler on it versus the BOB, but likes it a lot as an everyday stroller. We both felt the stroller was more compact than the BOB, which made it a far better everyday stroller, and the way it locks securely when folded makes it so much easier to transport. So which stroller is right for you? Honestly, the only way I could comfortably recommend the BOB over the Activ3 would be if you’re receiving a number of hand-me-down BOB accessories; otherwise, the Activ3 has a number of advantages for someone with no clear preference. For one, the Activ3 has a tremendous number of add-in accessories like the organizer tray and infant seat adapter. Second, it folds up a bit tighter and more neatly, which is key if you’re crunched for space in the car. Finally, it costs significantly less, at only $299.99 (the BOB officially costs $459.99, but you can sometimes find it for under $400). Still, a difference of over $100 is nothing to sneeze at, especially when you consider that you need to add an additional $60 for an infant seat adapter to meet what the Activ3 offers for a lot less.
Even if you’re not taking your baby jogging, a jogging stroller is a key part of a good baby gear arsenal. You get a solidly built stroller with a versatile suspension, all without too much bulk. The Activ3 is sturdy, smooth, well-built, and quite attractive…you and your baby will feel good, whether it’s a walk around the block or a long run through the neighborhood!
Source: Manufacturer provided review sample
What I Liked: Well made; transitions from infant to toddler and up easily; can adjust suspension for running and walking; brakes and wheel lock are easy to use and locate; attractive style; comfortable for child; comes with organizer tray for parents
What Needs Improvement: The handle to fold the Chicco Activ3 Jogging Stroller takes some getting used to; canopy is velcro’d in and comes off easily