Before our first daughter was born, I obsessed over what kind of stroller to buy. I coveted the fancy designer Bugaboo with a quilted bassinet attachment for strolling around town during naptime. (I found a used Frog on eBay.) I wanted a knobby-tired jogging stroller for getting back in shape. (A friend lent me hers.) I needed a folding infant car seat stroller for getting through airports without losing my mind. And a cheap umbrella stroller for when she got bigger. Soon we had more strollers in our garage than bikes and cars combined.
What a waste. It turns out I really only needed one: the BOB Revolution SE.
A few weeks ago, I borrowed a friend’s BOB. I’m training for a 50K trail run and I thought it would help me squeeze in a few more miles. With two daughters now, we own our own BOB Revolution Duallie, so I was already sold on the brand’s biggest selling points: light, responsive ride; bomber knobbies both front and back for plowing through dirt, loose rocks, and even snow; generous, multi-position canopy for keeping little ones out of the sun; comfy reclining seat; and 12-inch front tire that can rotate for tight pivoting in small spaces or lock-in when you want to run. But because running while pushing two kids sounds like my definition of hell, I’ve mainly just used it for strolling around town—never on the run.
My friend’s orange BOB was just out of the box when 21-month-old Maisy and I christened it on a five-mile jog across town. Right away, I had a moment of appreciation for the five-point padded chest harness, which is fitted with horizontal straps for easy, one-hand adjustment on the fly. Two mesh pockets on both sides of the seat kept Maisy's milk cup and bag of Cheerios close at hand—essential if you don’t want to stop every few minutes to placate a restless child. I snugged her in, pulled down the canopy, and peeled back the canvas cover on top so I could see the top of her head through the “window,” and off we went. Kiddy comfort is never in question with a BOB.
Weaving down our dirt road to the paved bike path, I realized that I’d forgotten to lock in the front wheel for running. I know from our double BOB that it’s easy to do—simply slide the red knob on the front axle—but even after several attempts, I couldn’t get it to hold, and the tire kept swiveling. Fortunately I was running right by REI, our local BOB dealer, so we dashed in for some roadside assistance; I’m not sure what I’d been doing wrong, but the guy in the bike department flicked his wrist and, presto, the knob slid easily into place. (The adjustment can be done on the go, while the child is in the stroller.)
Now that the BOB was tracking in a straight line, running with it was much more fluid and efficient. A short wrist strap keeps it at arm’s length while allowing you to let go of the handle without letting go of the baby and preventing your arms from getting too tired gripping the cushy foam handle. The BOB is light—only 25 pounds—and I’d deliberately chosen a route that was flat and paved, but running with it is definitely a workout. Though I was averaging mellow, eight-minute miles, the five miles felt much more taxing than hoofing it straight up a mountain trail at a considerably slower 10 minutes per mile.
For time-crunched parents looking to maximize their training, harder workouts in less time is probably a good thing, but pushing a stroller does change your gait. I woke up the next day with weird lower back and leg pain—a result, I suspect, of my less-than-perfect posture with BOB in hands. Then again, I’m the kind of runner who feels uncomfortable carrying a water bottle, so no doubt I need to work on my jogging-stroller technique. When I talked to elite ultra trail runner Darcy Africa to get her training secrets, she echoed the same sentiment: Running with a stroller is practically a different sport, but it’s worth it for sure when you can’t find a babysitter and you need to log some miles.
With roomy cargo pockets under the stroller and in the seat back, there’s plenty of space for stowing diapers, a jacket, and other essentials. BOB’s plush suspension eats up rough rocks and roots when you go off-road, and the stroller folds easily by depressing two levers on the handle. Quick-release wheels are a dream for easy-on, easy-off, and the foot brake is bomber. The BOB Revolution is compact enough to use in airports as your go-to travel stroller, and paired with an infant-seat adaptor ($55, sold separately; for walking only), it’s the only set of wheels you need for a newborn.
Bottom line: There’s no question the BOB is the lightest, smartest, most nimble and versatile jogging stroller out there, and it easily converts to the perfect all-around ride for everyone, from infants through toddlers (weight limit: 70 pounds). When it comes to running, you won’t find an easier jogging stroller to push, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. My backache went away, but I’m going to wait until after my race to run with the BOB again. And then I'm going to purge all my other strollers on Craigslist and streamline our garage with a BOB SE of our own.
BOB Revolution SE Single, $449, www.bobgear.com