Available from Back in Action
+ Gorgeous design, excellent build quality
- Very expensive
Well, I’ve had this pushchair for a few months now and finally feel ready to give it the detailed review it deserves. And boy, I think this is the longest post I’ve ever written! I apologise for the lack of detailed photos, when I started writing this I thought I had taken more. If you’re reading this though, you probably already know the basics of the Xplory and have seen photos and videos elsewhere.Read More
Anyway, onto the review. First off, I was looking for something I could use around town and in the supermarket. We live in the country and I already have an off-road buggy for rambling across fields which suits the purpose fine. But I didn’t like pushing this around urban areas, especially as it usually has clumps of mud all up the wheels and manoeuvres like a tank.
I had noticed the Xplory before whilst researching other pushchairs, but I must confess I didn’t initially like it. When I spotted it again, however, I noticed the high seating position and my interest was piqued enough to take a closer look. I’m very glad that I did as after just a few minutes, I fell in love with the concept and thoughtful design.
However, this is not a cheap pushchair (best price I’ve seen is £645) and we’re not exactly rich. I was disheartened to see that even used V2 models held their value well. After very careful consideration and debate with Sprogdaddy over using Sprogzilla’s savings, I decided to take the plunge and invest in a new one. I didn’t feel comfortable spending a lot of money buying second-hand and as I am likely to get a good re-sale price on it in future, this seemed sensible. I also preferred the subtly improved styling of the V3 and the fact that all current accessories will work with it.
I had seen a used one in teal blue on eBay. The seller had posted some gorgeous photos and I knew this was the perfect colour. I considered the lush purple, but was slightly worried it would look too girly. Not that it matters – you can easily purchase new textile kits for a reasonable cost if you fancy a change. Stokke even make it possible to buy the entire seat unit on its own, lending extra life to an older V1 or V2 model. You can mix and match the textile kits to your heart’s content, even including the summer and winter kit textiles!
I excitedly placed an order with Back in Action, who promptly delivered the very next day. As well as the pushchair, I purchased the matching footmuff and a cup holder.
The first thing I noticed on lifting it out of the box was the very high quality of construction. The aluminium frame looks expensive, having a solid weighty feel and a smooth, dark grey finish. The seat unit was surprisingly light, but perfectly sturdy and the textiles appear hardwearing but attractive.
But enough of how it looks, what is it like to use?
Well firstly, I love how this thing moves. It is an absolute joy to steer, feeling extremely light and turning in even the smallest of spaces. My only possible gripe would be that (being a short 5’1″) I can’t easily see over the seat unit at what I’m walking towards. This is purely a limitation of baby being up so high, I’m not sure how any pushchair manufacturer could get around this.
Sprogzilla loves being up high and facing me or Sprogdaddy. It’s wonderful being able to interact with him easily and you can see how much he enjoys the improved view. I also love that he is out of the way of car fumes, shopping bags and dogs – we were approached by an enthusiastic spaniel the other week, but he was only able to lick Sprogzilla’s hand.
The Xplory is so well thought-out, it really makes other pushchairs look old and tired. The adjustable, telescopic handlebar is an ingenious bit of design – it can go high, which Sprogdaddy finds most comfortable, or it can collapse right down near the bottom of the seat unit, where short old me prefers it. If that’s not enough, the handle itself can fold forwards, bringing you even closer to your child. The lack of a crossbar between the rear wheels means you can be that close and still have plenty of clearance for walking.
The seat unit can be locked into one of several height positions along the central shaft. At the moment, we are using it at the highest setting but as Sprogzilla gets older we will move it down accordingly. It can be forward or rear-facing and has a multitude of recline positions.
One of my favourite features is the enormous hood. Many pushchair hoods are woefully inadequate at shading your child – not so with the Xplory. At first glance, the hood seems similar to any other pushchair, but undo the popper at the rear and there’s a whole further section that can be brought down. If that’s not enough, there’s also a handy detachable sun visor hiding under the front. This all means that, even in full recline mode, your little one can have plenty of shade.
Another bonus of this hood is the hidden ventilation. Lifting up the fabric on the rear of the hood reveals a mesh panel for use when you want a little extra airflow inside the seat unit. It really is a cleverly thought out piece of design, and none of these features add any any unwelcome bulk to the hood.
The shopping bag is the largest I have ever seen, commanding a prominent position at the front of the Xplory. The expanding mesh inner bag means you can really stuff this thing full of shopping – I’ve easily had three carrier bags full in there! A couple of compact pockets on the front are useful for those items you may need to access quickly. There is a trade-off in that you can’t use it like a traditional shopping basket found on most pushchairs, and it can be a bit unwieldy to push with heavy shopping in. I remember it being quite a struggle to get up a hill once with all my fresh veggies stuffed inside.
The footmuff is enormous, I thought Sprogzilla might drown in it at first! The lining is very thick and cosy and it secures comfortably enough into the seat unit, though it is quite bulky. It’s definitely going to last Sprogzilla well into toddlerhood.
The Xplory comes with the usual rain cover, but I think it deserves a special mention. Obviously it has to go onto the pushchair a little differently because of the central stem being in the way, but it does this very neatly with a double zip arrangement. What I love is the little hatch that you can roll up without having to take the entire cover off. This is fantastic for nipping in and out of shops when your little one might otherwise get too warm or stuffy.
There is also a mosquito/insect net which I haven’t needed to use. The cup holder, which secures neatly inside the handlebar, is easily detachable for when your want to fold the pushchair down. It could be a little wider, but holds my bottle of Evian just fine. I also find it handy for hooking my handbag over.
One of the first accessories I purchased for the Xplory was the summer kit. This contains some replacement textiles for use in cooler weather. The most important of which being a new hood – it doesn’t include a sun visor, but does have adjustable ventilation panels and a thinner, cooler fabric as well as a large extending canopy like the regular hood.
The accompanying terry-cloth liner draws sweat away from your child. There is a replacement rear textile for the seat unit which also provides extra ventilation by way of a mesh panel and thinner fabric. The sunsail is an unusual accessory which hooks over the hood and down to the footrest providing shade for your little one. It is composed of two halves, either or both can be rolled up out of the way or shifted to the side without removing the whole thing. It cleverly folds in on itself after use, looking like a little purse which can be stashed in the front of the shopping bag.
Finally, there is a parasol which easily clips on and off. All the textiles have an SPF of 50 for that little extra sun protection (though this doesn’t mean you should skip the sunscreen for your little one).
At a little over £100, I’d say the summer kit is pretty good value and it has the added benefit of giving your Xplory a whole new look without buying a complete textile set. A new set of designs has been launched for 2011, though I personally prefer the animal print that I bought. You can still find them at selected retailers and through eBay sellers if you like mine (and it comes in pink and beige too!).
I thought long and hard about buying the winter kit – the cold weather was over and this particular accessory is rather pricey. I eventually gave in and bought a barely used one off eBay, in navy.
Like the summer kit, the winter kit contains several replacement textiles, this time made to keep your child warm. The hood has a thick fur trim which can be detached and placed on the regular hood in place of the sun visor if you so wish. But the most interesting part of this kit is the cosy fur-trimmed handmuffs that secure onto the handlebar, so mum or dad don’t have to worry about taking gloves on and off while out shopping.
The storm cover gives added protection to your child in very cold weather and, like the summer kit, there is a replacement rear textile.
The winter kit is a very luxurious accessory for your Xplory and it commands an equally luxurious price tag. I wouldn’t want to pay more than I did, but then I don’t think I’ll use it anywhere near as often as the summer kit. If you really want to splash the cash, there’s an equally luxurious fleece liner available which looks fabulous and will really keep your little one snug.
The Xplory has many other accessories available, not least of which being the carry cot for newborns. As I didn’t buy the Xplory until Sprogzilla was nearly eight months old, this is something I didn’t have the opportunity to use sadly. There is also a popular celebrity blanket, which secures to the hood when you want some additional privacy for your little one, a matching changing bag which hangs neatly under the seat unit, and a rider board so your older child can tag along in style.
I am using my own changing-bag (a BabyBjorn clamshell) with buggy clips. Unfortunately I haven’t taken any photos, but it hangs comfortably from the handlebar without hitting my legs – and that’s even with the handlebar set down very low.
I absolutely love the Xplory. It’s distinctive style is not for everyone, but I get more admiring looks than distasteful ones. I wish this was the first pushchair I’d bought, it even takes the Maxi-Cosi Cabriofix car seat Sprogzilla used from birth (with optional adaptors). It is an expensive purchase, but if you’re the kind of person who ends up buying several pushchairs trying to find the ideal one, consider this first – it might tick all your boxes and save you money in the long-term. Plus, take good care of it and you should get a good return on your investment a year or two down the line.
Personally, I love it so much I might stash it in the loft when Sprogzilla moves on and save it for my next baby. I’ve even become a fan of Stokke products generally – shortly afterwards I bought their iconic Tripp Trapp highchair, which I will probably review here too at some point.