Tandem strollers carry two kids, one in front of the other.
We find, from talking to loads of mamas, that you either love ‘em or you hate ‘em.
The lovers rave that they fit through every doorway.
The haters rage that kid No. 2 kicks kid No. 1 all day.
I looked at the Jeep Traveler Tandem stroller ($230) and discovered that it has a lot of great features and a few limitations.
Assembly and Fold
It took about 15 minutes to assemble the Traveler Tandem. It wasn’t particularly difficult, though I did have to use pliers to insert the axle pins. The instructions were cryptic in places because the photos are of very small details, but it wasn’t rocket science.
The fold is pretty convoluted, but the result is impressive. First, you push the two sun shades down. Next, tilt the back seat forward using the recline mechanism. Then, push the adjustable handle all the way down. Now — are you still with me? I’ll spare you the rest, but trust me — the extra work is worth it. The stroller automatically locks into a snug fold that’s about the same size as many single strollers we’ve tested. The manufacturer, Kolcraft, says “No SUV required,” and they are right. It slips easily into even a small car’s trunk.
I wouldn’t want to go through all that to fold it five times a day, and I think it could be challenging to teach another caregiver how to do it, but I got used to it over time. If storage space is an issue, this is a great option for a double stroller.
Seats, Recline and Ride
Both seats on the Traveler Tandem recline. The rear seat reclines flat and accommodates many brands of infant car seats (Britax, Chicco, Graco, Evenflo, Combi and MaxiCosi, to name a few) without costly adapters. When not in use, the car seat strap fits neatly into a little pouch on the side of the stroller. When the infant seat is in place, the front seat will not recline.
I put my 4-year-old son, Finn, in the front seat and my 15-month-old, Egan, in the back for several walks in the neighborhood. Both are average size for their age, but the sun shade brushed my big boy’s head. When I reclined the front seat, Finn’s head went beyond the seat back by several inches. It also encroached on Egan’s leg room, causing him to pitch a fit and kick his brother in the head. Less than optimal, I admit.
Maneuverability is an issue with this stroller and I struggled with it. The Traveler Tandem is 3 ½ feet long, which is about the same length as my full-sized single jogger, but carrying two passengers front-to-back made it feel a bit like a battleship. The wheels are hard plastic and offer no traction, but the ride is pretty smooth. Steering was difficult and took a firm grip with two hands, and it pulls hard to one side if the sidewalk is even slightly sloped, but a wide, grippy push handle is the best design for the job. Because the bigger child goes in front (he’s 34 pounds), I was unable to get enough leverage to tilt the front wheels off the ground to get over a curb. I had to back up and lift the rear wheels over, then pull the front wheels up and over.
The brakes work one at a time, but are quite effective. An adjustable handle works in three positions to accommodate taller parents. The safety restraints are cushy and padded with mesh. They are easy to manipulate and comfy on the kids.
Storage and Bells and Whistles
One big advantage to a big stroller is huge baskets, and the Traveler Tandem has two. The front basket is accessible from the front and sides of the stroller and the rear one clicks down so you can reach in, even when the seat is reclined or the infant car seat is in place. It also has little Velcro pouches attached to the sides for the kids’ stuff, a snack tray and cup holder for the front child, and a cup holder for the grownups.
A cute steering wheel toy was a hit with both my kids, but there is only one. Finn managed to detach it easily but a smaller child wouldn’t be able to yank it out.
While the sun protection is ample for both passengers, the shades can be easily wiggled out of position by the kids. One needed addition: a window for looking in on the infant without stopping.
Pros: Extremely compact fold for a double stroller. Nicely padded shoulder straps. Older children can get in and out without detaching the toddler bar. Adjustable handle. Compatible with most popular brands of infant car seats.
Cons: Not enough head room for taller kids. Plastic wheels give no traction. Steering is difficult on anything but a perfectly flat surface.
Final Verdict: The Jeep Traveler Tandem is a solid tandem that won’t work for tall toddlers, but would be a good choice for parents who prefer the front-to-back setup, have a small car, or need lots of storage.
Recommended For: Parents who have a small car and two small kids who are close in age.