A travel system is your ticket to a quick and easy transition from stroller to car, and uninterrupted baby sleep when doing so (a prized outcome for new parents!).
It is also one of the most expensive purchases you will make when your newborn comes along.
There are three core components in your travel system that make or break your experience. We have spent many hours analyzing and comparing the stroller, infant car seat, and car base of all the best travel systems in the market so you don’t have to.
Read on to find what best suits your circumstances so you can get the best out of your investment.
In This Post:
Travel System Stroller Designs
Before we get to our recommendations we first wanted to define each of the styles of travel systems that you will find in this post.
Each variation will serve a slightly different set of parental circumstances, and matching up the design with your needs will help you get the best use of your travel system:
- Regular Travel System – A standard stroller with a capsule that easily switches to the car.
- Double Travel System – Your stroller frame will have space for two baby capsules, plus two car seats.
- Jogging Travel System – The stroller will usually have larger wheels, a single wheel in front, and better suspension.
- Compact Travel System – Everything is smaller and usually slightly cheaper.
The review structure will center on these three components that make up the core of your travel system’s performance:
- Car seat or baby capsule
- Car seat base
Some will have extra features and these will be listed accordingly.
Quick Summary of Recommendations
If you don’t want to read the full review then here is a high-level summary of the best car seat stroller combos.
You can also skip ahead to the section that details our assessment criteria where we also rank and detail the best performers for that criteria.
So if there is something important to you (E.g. the smallest and lightest frame when folded) then you can quickly find what is best for you there.
We have also reviewed the following travel systems that were the next best:
- Highest Weight Limit – Britax B-Clever & B-Safe Gen2
- Best Budget Travel System – Evenflo Pivot Modular
- Best Double Travel System – Evenflo Pivot Xpand Modular
Best Travel System Strollers Of 2021
The Bravo Trio has multiple tiers to choose from that offer various levels of comfort that will suit a range of budgets.
We recommend the mid-range Chicco LE travel system as this offers the best combination of value for money, functionality, and comfort for your baby. Below is a quick summary of the other packages and how they differ from the LE:
- Budget option (Bravo) – Cheaper, heavier (47lbs), less cushion, smaller canopy, minimalist parent organizer, and it comes with the KeyFit30 car seat (which doesn’t have the zip-up cover).
- Premium Option (Bravo Primo) – More expensive, extra light (27lbs), extra-long canopy, KeyFit35 Zip car seat (with adjustable headrest).
Now, back to the Bravo LE.
The stroller can handle up to a 50lb child in the regular seat which will ensure many years of use once they outgrow the baby capsule.
With the regular toddler seat installed, the frame is 26.5lbs which is a manageable weight for most moms.
You get a good recline on the stroller seat which can be important for nap time. You won’t get completely flat but can get close with an angle of around 15-25 degrees only.
The storage basket at the base is quite large and we found it to be the most accessible. You are able to access items from the front and back, plus there are a couple of pockets built-in to keep things organized and in place.
The folded size 16″ x 22″ x 28″ and won’t take up too much room in your trunk when on the road.
Infant Car Seat
Included is the KeyFit30 Zip car seat. This includes the most comfortable features in the Chicco range without going overboard and becoming unnecessarily expensive.
You get a ventilated canopy, a comfortable newborn insert, plus the zip-up cover to protect your baby which is also handy to keep them securely in place.
It also clicks in easily to your car seat base.
The Reclinesure base is included in all packages as standard. We thought that this component is what gave Chicco the edge over other options on our list due to the user-friendly features that make installation and ongoing safety easy.
The base is spring-loaded which ensures that you get the correct angle when installing the base. You then have a bubble meter on the sides that will show you if the angle is safe and correct (similar to a spirit level).
- Lightweight stroller frame
- Parent and child trays included (depending on design)
- Large storage basket with organizer pockets
- Includes infant insert
- Up to 50lb capacity
- Mesh windows on stroller and car seat
- Minimal suspension
This is more of a lightweight and compact system, that also offers a cheaper option than the Chicco.
It stands up well on most performance comparisons but just lacks some of the features that you get with our top-rated pick.
If you are on a tighter budget then the Graco will get you a comparable experience for much less money.
At just 21 lbs this is the lightest stroller on our list which is great for more petite moms that may have trouble lifting something bulkier into the trunk.
You don’t sacrifice anything on weight capacity and will also be able to handle the same 50lbs as the Chicco.
The storage basket is also big, but you don’t get the pockets included. Plus you can only access it from the rear of the stroller.
Unique three-wheeled design that is more in the style of a jogging stroller. This makes it easier to maneuver but I wouldn’t do any running with it as the wheels are smaller than a jogger stroller (see the 12 inchers on no. 3!!).
You also get a built-in parent tray with two cup holders, but not a child tray. Only a cup holder is accessible in the seat.
Infant Car Seat
You get a Snugride Suglock 30 car seat included in your travel system and can fit a baby of the same size as the Chicco (30lbs or 30″).
Where the Graco comes up short is the lack of a ventilation window in the cover, and no zip-up cover that goes over the top.
However, it is still a reliably safe and comfortable option for your baby.
The Snugride Suglock car seat base is also included in the package.
This has a four-position recline rather than a spring-loaded system. It is less precise, but still suited to most cars and is easy to install.
The level indicator is also easy to read, but not as advanced as having a bubble level.
- Super lightweight stroller
- Three-wheel design
- Cheaper alternative
- Weight capacity as good as Chicco
- Easy to install
- Less precise car seat levels
- No ventilation window in capsule
The Bob is our top pick for a jogger stroller travel system. This is a whole new category of performance (and cost) and will only appeal to the very active parent.
If you are a regular runner you will love being able to bring your newborn or toddler with you for the daily run – they will love it too! Paying a bit more for the best experience possible is worthwhile for this type of parent.
The BOB travel system is a bit unusual in that it has a car seat from a different brand. This may affect their ability to offer at a more competitive price, but it doesn’t affect the performance of the package with compatibility being a non-issue.
This stroller is designed for speed with 12″ rubber, air-filled, all-terrain bicycle tires that are far more durable than your standard stroller. The additional suspension and lockable front wheel can also ensure a smooth ride for your baby.
I use the term baby loosely as the huge 75lb weight limit means that you can continue to use this stroller until they are well past their toddler years. You may have a running partner for half a decade!!
The canopy provides great coverage and is comparable to the more expensive Chicco Primo mentioned earlier. This removes some worry given that you will be moving through varying levels of sun exposure when on a run or walk.
You get a peek-a-boo window so you don’t have to stop to be seen, or if your child prefers to just sleep through it all you can almost get a full recline in the seat.
At 25 lbs it is lighter than the Chicco, but 4lbs heavier than the Graco. For the level of performance you get, this is impressive!
Infant Car Seat
The Britax B-Safe Gen2 car seat is included in this travel system. The advantage of partnering with a secondary manufacturer means that BOB could seek out the best performing car seat possible, and this certainly looks to fit the bill.
You have a higher weight limit (35lbs) and height limit (32″) which make sit suitable for parents who have had a bigger baby and want to use a rear-facing car seat for longer.
You have a high-quality protective shell around your baby that protects its body from every angle. The base also has some additional protections that we will cover shortly.
It is a bit heavier to carry than the Chicco and Graco seats (1-2 lbs) but the transfer from car to stroller is a quick one, and for a car seat of this quality this shouldn’t be a deal breaker.
The advantage of this car base is the SafeCell Technology that provides additional protection via a crumple zone that can absorb impact.
The SafeCell latch also makes installation quick & easy and has similar level indicators to the Chicco to ensure you get that balance just right.
- High weight limit (75lbs)
- Durable 12″ tires
- Lightweight stroller frame
- Advanced suspension
- Advanced seat safety features
- More expensive
- Bulkier frame
If you want the same heavy-duty car seat that is included with the BOB travel system but don’t want a jogger stroller then Britax also has their own version of a travel system.
This is at a similar price point to the Chicco and has some advantages with the baby capsule able to accommodate a slightly larger baby. However, it is lower on our list due to a couple of small features that are not included with the stroller.
You get more growing room with the Britax B-Clever. The maximum weight in the seat is 55lbs, which is 5lbs more than every other stroller on our list.
This makes it a great stroller for big kids. However, you have to ask yourself if your child will still want to be in a stroller when they get that big.
The frame is also super lightweight at only 21lbs. This is the same as the Graco Aire3, and 5lbs lighter than the Chicco.
There is a small trapdoor-like entry point to the storage basket at the front of the stroller, just under where your baby’s legs would sit. This is a cool feature and would allow you to get those items that have shifted to the front much easier!
While it has some advantages relative to the Chicco and is a great stroller, it falls short in just a few areas.
The Britax is much bigger when folded up and will take up more room in the trunk of your car. It may also be a bit more awkward to lift:
- Britax – 22″ x 28″ x 28″
- Chicco – 22″ x 13.6″ x 37.6
You also do not have an included child tray or cup holder and will have to buy this separately. This changes the comparable price point once you factor this in.
Infant Car Seat
As mentioned, this is the same Britax B-Safe Gen2 car seat included in no. 3 on our list. So see above for the detailed summary.
And of course, this is the same car base as no. 3 with the SafeCell Technology. More details above.
- Lightweigh stroller frame
- High weight limit (55lbs)
- Includes removable cover
- Front access to storage basket
- All-wheel suspension
- Ventilated canopy
- Cup holder to be purchased separately
- No child tray included
The Evenflo is the cheapest travel system that made our list. It still performs well in a number of areas and is suitable for those on a tighter budget who don’t mind giving up some features.
A unique advantage of the Evenflo is that the stroller handle sits at 47″ above the ground. This is the highest on our list which makes it great for tall parents.
The stroller can handle a 50lb load like most others on the list and will do a reasonable job for the price.
There are shortcomings with the design compared to the other strollers on our list though.
The material is heavier than most others and is a couple of pounds heavier than the chicco.
The canopy is also shorter and provides much less coverage than the Rambler or the Chicco EL. So pack extra sunscreen!
You will also find that it is light on features like having no parent organizer. But there is a small cup holder, and also a removable child snack tray included.
Infant Car Seat
Included is the Evenflo SafeMax car seat. A unique safety feature of the seat is the anti-rebound bar that sits up against the back of the car seat behind your baby’s feet.
What this does is prevent the car seat from snapping back and lifting after the impact of a collision. For example, when there is a sudden stop to the vehicle the momentum puts all the pressure on the front of the seat, but it then bounces back and can flip the car seat upwards.
The anti-rebound bar acts as a barrier to keep the seat grounded and prevent your baby from going face-first into the backrest.
We found that this was the least user-friendly adapter and that getting your seat to click in place correctly can be challenging.
This is the main reason that the Evenflo has dropped down our list as it is an annoyance that parents want to avoid. The extra investment to buy one of the more expensive models will pay off in reduced frustration.
- Cheaper option
- Includes removable child tray
- Anti-rebound safety bar
- Shorter canopy
- Fewer stroller features
- Heavier stroller
- Seat base hard to use
6. Evenflo Pivot Xpand (Best Double Travel System)
While we were not huge fans of the single Evenflo Pivot, the double version has a smart design and is an affordable option for parents who have just had twins!
You switch from single to double stroller use easily and take advantage of up to 22 configurations so that you can adapt to whatever your day out has in store for you.
Unfortunately, all the extras you have to buy add up to a sizeable investment. You also have some of the same frustrations that you get with the Pivot Modular model discussed above.
There are premium alternatives like the UPPAbaby Vista that will do a far better job. But it will cost you an extra thousand bucks – so we have included the Pivot Xpand as a more attainable option.
The modular stroller is an extendable version of what we saw in the previous review from Evenflo.
The large storage basket underneath also extends with the frame and maxes out at 2ft! This makes it easy to carry all you need for a day out with two kids and provides ample storage space.
You also get a multi position reclining seat. There are three recline positions, and five-foot positions in the toddler seat to ensure you have comfortable babies for longer.
Infant Car Seat
You get the same Evenflo SafeMax infant car seat that is included with the Pivot Modular (no. 5).
Unfortunately, if you want to use this with two infant car seats then you are going to have to buy the second one as an extra purchase.
You also need to buy an additional car seat adapter for your second seat. That means double the annoyance of the pesky locking mechanism.
On the plus side, you will get the hang of it twice as fast!
- Expandable stroller frame
- Great for twins!
- 22 possible configurations
- You have to buy an extra car seat and base
- Seat base is also hard to use
Travel System Performance Criteria
Below we will summarise the key performance items that helped determine our rankings.
We will also comment on which travel systems stood out for each of the criteria so that if there is a feature that is at the top of your list you can find the product that best fills that need.
All but two of the strollers on our list had a 50lb limit on the stroller seat. The Britax B-Clever was the only regular toddler stroller that went slightly higher to 55lbs.
This is great if you have a bigger child and you think they will still want to ride in the stroller at 4+ years of age. My boy wouldn’t get in a stroller by this age and we have heard of many parents having a similar experience.
So this has a low weighting in our rankings.
The other was the Jogger stroller which can handle 75lbs. Moving at speed will be fun for kids until they are much older, so this was a huge plus in our opinion.
This is another that is largely inconsequential but will make a difference to some parents.
The minimum sized car seat fits babies up to 30lbs, or 30″ in length – whichever comes first.
However, there were a couple that had a higher threshold if you wanted to use the baby seat for a bit longer:
- B-Safe Gen2 – 35lbs/32″
- Evenflo Pivot Modular – 35lbs/32″
Weight of Travel System
If you are a petite mom then lifting a large stroller can be problematic. The lighter the better in most cases and there were two standouts that really kept the weight to a minimum at just 21 lbs each:
- Graco Aire3
- Britax B-Clever
While all parents want the lightest infant car seat carrier possible we found that the car seat weight range was too narrow for this to make any difference.
All baby capsules weighed between 9lbs and 10lbs. So you may be doing some car seat bicep curls through that infant stage!
Folded Stroller Size
This will not matter to all parents, but if you are driving a smaller car with limited trunk space then large wheels or a thick frame can be a real nuisance!
It is also harder to lift the larger the folded frame is. Lifting awkwardly increases the risk of injury also. So for the sake of comparison here is each stroller model’s folded dimensions (all in inches):
- Chicco Bravo LE – 22 x 13.6 x 37.6
- Graco Aire3 – 13.3 x 24.1 x 34.1
- BOB Gear Rambler – 25.3 x 13.5 x 38.5
- Britax B-Clever – 22 x 28 x 28
- Evenflo Pivot Modular – 26.5 x 18.5 x 31.5
The Graco Aire3 is the most compact of all the travel systems but is longer.
The Britax B-Clever is the shortest when folded but is thicker and more of a rectangular shape. Best for narrow cars but you may struggle to fit much else in your trunk!
Each of the rear-facing baby seats has been tested to meet strict safety standards (FMVSS 213) set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
They have all been tested for various points of impact and provide strong head and neck support when safely strapped in.
It is also worth understanding the additional features unique to each seat that go above and beyond.
The standouts for car seat safety were:
- Advanced balancing system for the Chicco EL
- Crumple and balance systems in the Britax B-Safe Gen2
- Anti-rebound feature of the Evenflo Pivot
Another variance is whether there is a three or five-point harness for a seat belt. Five is obviously better, but three still pass the minimum standards anyway.
Every stroller that made it onto our list has one hand fold as a feature.
This is a must for parents juggling a child so anything more complicated than pressing a button did not make our shortlist.
Why Choose A Travel System
The short answer is the convenience, and sanity that it brings to your life! A car seat and stroller combo can give you an easy solution to navigate that first six months of parenthood.
Being able to transfer a sleeping baby from a stroller to the car, or vice versa, will save you a world of frustration and time lost trying to re-settle a baby.
When you consider that you would have to purchase a stroller and a car seat anyway, by going for a compatible solution then you get all the upside while having the chance to save money.
The Downside of Travel Systems
The strollers on our list are generally less flexible than if you sought out the best stroller you could buy.
If you are planning to have multiple children a year or two apart you may find that a travel system cannot grow with your family.
Some high-end strollers like the Uppababy Vista can be configured as a travel system, single stroller, double stroller, and a double travel system. But this is expensive and you usually have to buy extras to be able to do so.
This is the beauty of the car seat stroller combo. It is cheaper and easier in the short term, but may lead to more purchases in the future.
After sorting through this huge amount of information our top recommendation is the Chicco Bravo LE. This stroller car seat combo had the most features and offered the most well-rounded performance.
The only exception we will make to this is if you need a lightweight car seat and stroller system. The Graco travel system was the best lightweight package and also performed very well in our analysis.
If you made it this far then you should have a thorough understanding of what these travel systems have to offer and will be ready to buy the model that best fits your family’s circumstances.