We asked elite runner and new mom Mary Beth Chosak of the blog SlowFoodFastPace.com to test out for us Graco’s latest jogging stroller, the Fast Action Jogger Travel System. ($319.99)
(For a very thorough assessment of the stroller including comparisons to another jogger she already owns, check out the full and comprehensive review on her blog HERE.)
We’ve got the soup and nuts summary below:
OVERALL PERFORMANCE If you’re in the market for a stroller that you can jog with from the time your little one is a newborn well into toddlerhood, the Graco FastAction Jogger Travel System is a fair value that will give you some bang for your buck.
VALUE On paper, the Graco FastAction Jogger Travel System has a lot going for it. It retails for about one hundred less than the BOB Revolution SE, yet it comes with a car seat, a base, a child tray, and a parent handlebar console. If you buy all those things a la carte and trick out a higher end jogger until it has all the same features as the FastAction Travel System, you would have spent roughly twice as much as you would have in opting for the Graco.
APPEARANCE Aesthetically, the Graco is a snazzy ride (I tested the chili red model). It’s gender neutral and looks to be made of durable material that would stay looking fresh after years of use. Taking a closer inspection of the features of the stroller, some of the parts are plastic and not as durable as first thought.
SMOOTHNESS OF RIDE The tires are large and inflatable and the decent suspension provides a comfortable ride on a level and paved surface. I tried it on a paved exercise trail with our 15 pound five-month old in the SnugRide infant seat as well as with our 30 pound two-year old without the infant seat. The ride was plenty smooth enough for both children on the trail, though it felt somewhat rickety on the sidewalk.
ANCILLARY FEATURES The stroller has some snazzy little features that add comfort, safety, and convenience. The handlebar console has two cup holders and a place for your smartphone that will come in handy if your tot, like mine, appreciates some tunes on your runs. The storage basket under the seat is fairly large and accessible. The stroller has a tether, which I consider a valuable safety feature, though the placement of the tether near the basket of the stroller is curious; it could easily attach to the handlebars instead and I don’t know why the manufacturer would unnecessarily use a long strap on any children’s product. The locks on the rear wheels are well-placed and effective, though it would be handy to be able to fully lock and unlock the stroller in one place instead of on both the left and right wheels. The stroller includes safety reflectors on the rear tires.
EASE OF FOLDING The stroller does fold up easily. The one-second, one-hand fold is nice, though I’ve found that once any stroller is yours, folding it up becomes second nature in no time. The FastAction has a kickstand, which can get in the way when you’re collapsing the stroller.
SNUGRIDE INFANT SEAT The infant seat is fine. The harness secures easily and my baby seemed very comfortable in it. However, the SnugRide is a popular car seat that’s been around for a while. This is one of Graco’s bread and butter products, and it has had plenty of iterations on it to get it right. So it was surprising to me that the handle bar and the canopy get in each other’s way. This is annoying and not a big deal, although to boot, the canopy is neither taut nor sturdy-feeling. The levers that secure the base of the car seat to the car’s latch system do not have the push-button feature that some car seats do; I consider this a nice feature, even though it is just a frill that you’ll hardly ever appreciate unless you take the infant seat base in and out of your car regularly.
SHORTCOMINGS An important reason the Graco disappoints as a jogger is the poorly-designed front wheel lock. This isn’t obvious until you get a jogger out on a downhill (with precious cargo inside), or even just get moving at a steady clip, but the front wheel really should lock to give you maximum stability. When you’re walking with a stroller, a swivel feature in the front wheel is convenient. When you’re running, a sudden swivel caused by a pebble or bump on the trail can mean you wobble or lose control.
The other place where the FastAction Jogger strikes out is the canopy. It’s not large enough to completely shade your child. While somewhat useful, I wouldn’t consider it sufficient protection from UV exposure. If heading out on a sunny day with this stroller, slather on the sunscreen or have your babe don a hat and long sleeves. The mesh window that’s designed to let you peer in and check on your passenger is too small to be useful, and I found myself simply pulling back the canopy to check on my toddler.
Also, short folks like myself (5’ 1’’) may find the handlebar placement on this stroller a little too high.
SUMMARY The Graco FastAction Jogger Travel System is a good jogging stroller, but in this mama’s view, not the best. If you’ll be using the stroller extensively for running, you’re bound to notice some of the Graco’s shortcomings. And like all joggers, it’s big and heavy. If you want something you can use to jog a mile or two once in a while on smooth and even terrain, and you don’t mind the small and flimsy canopy, then the Graco may be just fine. And given that a jogger would be one of many, many pieces of baby gear you’ll ever buy, it’s nice to have an option by a reputable manufacturer at this price point.
If you’re thinking of getting this stroller, consider getting it from our partners Amazon.com at a discount for $269.99.