I make the same promise to myself at the beginning of each new spring: I vow to exercise more. I commit to shaking the dust off of my Schwinn cruiser that’s been hibernating all winter and bring out the strollers that are extra-conducive to moving more.
I realized just how out of shape I am yesterday when I hooked up the Chariot Chinook 2. I made it around the block (somewhere between a measly one and two kilometres), and couldn’t bring myself to do a second lap. For someone who could once rollerblade the entire Toronto waterfront, this is pretty pathetic.
But with the Chariot facing me every time I open the garage, I’m expecting (hoping?) it to guilt me into trying to turn one lap into two and two into four in the coming weeks as the weather gets nicer. (You know, before it gets too stinkin’ hot that I use that as an excuse.)
I received a Chariot Chinook 2 (versus Chinook 1, which is the single version) to test out as part of my freelance work with CanadianFamily.ca last year, and ended up including it in my roundup of the best double strollers. Here’s why:
The Chinook is part of Chariot’s “Urban Series,” but as a full-blown suburbanite, I assure you it’s perfectly good outside of the city, too.
Like every other Chariot model, the Chinook is a total chameleon, becoming a stroller, bike trailer, hiker or skier depending on the conversion kits (attachments) you use. Out of the box, the Chinook is only a stroller, so if you know you want it to be a bike trailer, too, be sure you purchase the Bicycle Trailer Kit Chinook conversion kit separately. And be sure it’s the one made specifically for the Chinook; any conversion kits made for different or older models won’t work with the Chinook series.
If you’re one of those crazy people who’s had three kids in a matter of three or four years, you’ll really appreciate the option to purchase the infant kit that allows you to attach a car seat to the top of the Chinook. That’s three kids in one fairly compact stroller, which is both handy and impressive.
Unlike some of Chariot’s previous models, the Chinook allows you to roll down the side “windows” so there’s only a screen separating your child from the world instead of a sheet of plastic, which can get far too hot in the summer months. Considering you must keep the plastic screen down in the front when biking (to protect your kid from incoming rocks and other debris), being able to let air in via the side windows is awesome.
Another big improvement is the ability to recline the seat to make the interior a little more comfortable for kids who are prone to fall asleep during a stroll (or bike). It’s by no means flat, but it’s enough for a kid who’s used to sleeping upright.
Speaking of the interior, it’s really nicely padded. In fact, the Chariot Chinook comes with so much padding, I think the manufacturer understands that sometimes you just want to put your kids into a padded room. Mine were too big to take advantage of the extra padding that would keep one or two year olds in their seats really well.
The harnesses are HUGELY adjustable, fitting both the smallest of kids right up to my nearly six year old.
There are three different handlebar heights. The lowest is low enough that Miss Q (age 3) is able to handle it pretty well on her own. The highest is high enough that 6’6″ Big B finds it comfortable. So that’s pretty amazing.
The Chinook can handle a combined weight of 100 pounds, so two 50-pounders are fine weight-wise – even if they might not fit so well height-wise.
The key for any running or biking stroller is its weight, and the Chinook does not disappoint. It’s extraordinarily light and that means towing two kids behind you is easier than it would be with a heavier trailer.
Its handling as a stroller is also crazy good. You can lock the front wheel if you’re running or trekking through snow, or release it so it swivels. And swivel it will; on a dime. One-handed strolling is rarely so easy with something designed for so much versatility.
The colour selection is nice; I’m not really a lover of orange but mixed with the cranberry colour on our Chariot Chinook, I don’t mind it at all. The blue version is really lovely, too.
Hooking up the Chinook to my bike was easy as pie. A click here, a snap there and it was ready to rock and roll. This is especially important for people who are planning to do a mix of biking and strolling in the same trip. Let’s say you’re headed to the grocery on bike but when you arrive not only do you not want to lock everything up using three different sets of locks, but you also want to contain your child so you can shop in peace. Simply detach the trailer attachment arm, unfold the wheel that’s tucked under the Chinook and lock up your bike outside. Then re-attach everything when you’re finished shopping and ready to go home. Perhaps this is part of the rationale behind calling this the “Urban Series” because it’s pretty unlikely that I’m going to bike to the nearest grocery store since we don’t even have one in my little town.
Folding the Chinook is so, so, so much easier than it was to fold our old Chariot Corsaire XL. In fact, it folds so easily that we often fold it up and hang it on the wall of our garage to get it out of the way. Well, that is when my garage is clean enough to accommodate a vehicle. Which it’s not right now. But that’s a whole other story.
The other reason for categorizing the Chinook might be it’s folded size; it’s big in the trunk of my CUV. It’s definitely not my first pick when we’re going on a day trip because it means I have to remove just about everything that’s already in my trunk to accommodate it. And take off the wheels (which is ridiculously easy to do, but it does add another step.)
My main complaint about the Chinook is that there is no middle seating option for a single child rider like the Chariot Corsaire XL. In our old Chariot, you could rearrange the harnesses to put either two children side by side or one child in the middle. No such luck with the Chinook. You’ve got a single rider? Pick one side or the other and take your corners slowly if you’re biking.
I can’t get through a standard door frame with the Chinook like I can with other double strollers, such as the Bumbleride Indie Twin or the Mountain Buggy Duet. So I tend not to take it shopping (especially if I know I’m going to be hitting Gymboree with its extra-small pathways, even for single strollers).
Storage space is pretty limited. There’s a pouch in the back that can hold a small backpack and a small, flexible cooler. But if you’re doing a day trip, expect to carry bigger backpacks or diaper bags. You can get a diaper bag that’s designed to fit the wide handlebars, but having not seen nor used it, I can’t comment on its size. You should consider diaper bag clips or a diaper bag that has clips built into it, like the one from LUG, if you think you need to bring it along.
It’s listed for $1,100 for the base Chinook 2 on Chariot’s website (though you can find it for $100 less elsewhere; see below). Make that $1,250 if you want the first-year-of-life accessories kit. Add another $85 for the bike trailer attachment. And so on… It’s not cheap. It’s the Bentley of running strollers. So be sure you’re going to get a lot of use out of it. Just do the math: Assuming you have just spent $1,1oo, if you expect to use it daily for six months out of the first year, that’s about 182 days or just slightly more than $6 per day to pay for itself in year one. Not bad if you really use it that much. By comparison, if it sits in your garage and you take it out 10 times in its debut year, it’s a hefty $110 per stroll.