When my daughter, Jojo, was born last fall, I quickly began devising ways that we could spend time outside together. I thought maintaining an active lifestyle with a tiny child would be a piece of cake. As a skier, cyclist, and runner, I had successfully organized my life so far around outdoor sports. Why would that change when I had a kiddo?
So I started taking her out on my runs, pushing her along in a stroller. The first five or so times I tried this, Jojo ended up crying. But she’s come around, thanks in no small part to the Thule Chariot Cross Trailer ($950), and we now have eight successful, fuss-free runs under our belts. The last time we went out, Jojo openly cooed as we brushed up against the leaves of an aspen next to the sidewalk and let out her breathy staccato giggle when a rooster crowed as we passed a farm.
At its base, I love the Chariot Cross because it keeps my daughter safe and comfortable. If she gets fussy in there or starts to cry, I know it’s because she’s hungry, needs a diaper change, or is super bored, not because she’s uncomfortable or being jostled around. That comfort is the result of the leaf-spring suspension under the stroller, as well as the cush infant sling harness securing Jojo inside. When we first started running, I would slow down to a crawl at every off-kilter piece of sidewalk or bump in the road to make the ride as smooth as possible. But the Chariot’s suspension is so solid that I now hit those little ramps at speed, and the smooth bumps elicit squeals of joy from Jojo. The mesh interior, bomber and intuitive buckles, and plush strap padding make the stroller even more comfortable than her fancy car seat, which she still cannot stand.
Like all things Thule, every detail works organically. I didn’t need the directions to put it together, swap out the various accessories, or pack it down. The running experience is similarly smooth. While the Chariot’s 31.5-inch width originally intimidated me while navigating sidewalks with other pedestrians, I found it fluid and easy to control—I sometimes run holding on with only one hand, even near Ashland, Oregon’s tourist-swelled downtown. The solid webbing leash that attaches to my wrist (preventing the Chariot from catastrophically drifting if I were to trip) is straightforward and good for peace of mind.
Yes, the Chariot is crazy expensive for just a stroller, but it’s worth going big on extra accessories, like I did with straps for towing the stroller behind me while on a bike or even skiing—the conversion kit allows you to swap out the rear wheels for a pair of skids. Despite the admittedly ambitious backcountry objectives I had cooked up for Jojo and myself, I haven’t used them yet. But we’ll get there. For now, we’re both plenty happy with our 2.3-mile runs.