Review: BOB Revolution SE

After buying our Chariot CX1 (see my review), I took one look at it’s size and realized that I would probably need something a bit smaller and easier to pack into my trunk for quick outings with a newborn.  Enter one of my good friends who was done with her BOB and offered to sell it to me at a great price (thanks L!).  I knew my friend put a lot of research into her decision to buy the BOB so I felt confident it was going to be a good stroller.

Chilling by the pool

Chilling by the pool on our trip to Las Vegas at 3 months old. Not old enough to use the seat, but it worked well as a portable outdoor bassinet. With supervision of course :)

What I used it for & at what stage:

  • 0-3 months (winter): occasional walks outside & walking indoors on cold days, travel
  • 3-6 months (spring): rarely used during this time as E was too small for the seat but didn’t like being in her carseat
  • 6-9 months (summer/fall): occasional walks outside, some small trips around town, travel
  • 9-12 months (fall/winter): occasional walks outside, some small trips around town, travel

Things that I loved:

  • The suspension makes for a very smooth ride and it turns easily with the front wheel unlocked
  • The quick release for the front wheel is easy to use (though I only found it necessary to do this when I had other things I needed to pack in my trunk as well)
  • The cupholder attachment is great! It holds two beverages and has a zippered compartment for keys/phone.
  • Travels well.  We’ve taken it on two trips and had no issues with parts breaking or being damaged.  And this is after the stroller was used by another family before us for everyday use & regular travel.
  • Opens and folds easily once you get the hang of it (it’s quite fun to pop open with one hand!)
  • Sunshade is very generous and will block most of the sun
  • There’s a weather-proof window you can open on top of the sunshade to check on baby
  • No need to switch wheels between jogging & strolling.  There’s a simple latch you flip to lock the front wheel.  This is great for vacations as you can bring one stroller for walking and running.
  • The seat reclines flat to let baby nap, though we didn’t use this often.
  • Pushes easily on well-packed snow or smaller amounts of fresh snow but … (see below)
Checking out Red Rocks with our sturdy travelling BOB!

Checking out Red Rocks with our sturdy travelling BOB!

Things that didn’t work for us:

  • The cargo bin at the bottom is a little small.  My diaper backpack was about all I could fit down there (~20 L bag) and I’d have to squeeze it in if it was stuffed full.
  • It takes up much less trunk space (folded) than the Chariot but it still felt bulky and heavy
  • I noticed that on several other brands of strollers, when you click the carseat in, the sunshade can be pulled down to meet the sunshade of the carseat to block the sun/wind/snow.  On the BOB, the sunshade will pull down, though not far enough to provide good coverage.  This may have to do with my carseat (Chicco) as well as the stroller, though.
  • You can only run with this stroller once the baby is old enough to use the seat (~6 months for us).
  • It’s not possible to have the seat as upright as that of the Chariot and the 5 point harness is harder to adjust than the Chariot
  • Though the wheels are larger and you can push the BOB through snow in the winter, there is a limit to how much it can handle while still giving a smooth ride and being easy to push (though you could get around this with these cool stroller skis -> Polar Stroller)

Accessories

(yup, they have to be bought separately)

  • Cupholder attachment
  • Bucket seat attachment (different for every brand of carseat)
  • Weather shield, bug net, UV shield – I never bought any of these as the Chariot has all of this integrated in it but I thought it was worth a mention that you can buy them.

Would I buy it again?

Yes and no.  Given that I knew I was buying a Chariot, a brand new BOB would have been very pricey second stroller especially when the features I’d be paying the money for are mostly covered by a Chariot.  That being said, a secondhand BOB was a great choice for us as it gave us a sturdy second stroller to take on trips that we could still get outdoors and exercise with.  If I could go back in time, I would absolutely buy our second hand BOB again.  Buying used is an excellent option if you’d like to have a sturdy second stroller but don’t want to pay full price.

Staying active outside: 0-3 month old winter babies

Looks like this is going to be a series! If you haven’t read the first part, you can check it out here Staying active outside: Pregnancy (Update – check out the next 2 parts of this series 3-6 month spring babies, 6-9 month olds)

Before I get into the details of this post, I wanted to write about a few things I didn’t realize when I was pregnant.  I was very fit prior to getting pregnant and stayed fairly active during pregnancy as well.  I had assumed that since my pregnancy had gone well and I was healthy, recovering from delivery wouldn’t take too long and in no time I’d be excited to get out on some walks and possibly sneak in a ski day.  Things turned out differently.  I’d heard it said ad infinitum that everyone’s body handles delivery & recovery differently, but it didn’t sink in until I was there.  Delivery was … rough.  It took almost 3 months for me to be able to walk for 45 min + without any discomfort.  Breastfeeding was also a challenge and it took until the 3 month mark as well for us to fall into a good groove.  I don’t share this to be discouraging, I just want to give an honest account of what it was like for me as I didn’t fall into the category of mamas who bounce back quickly.  On that note, I HIGHLY recommend reading this post on postpartum healing from Meghan Ward (Take it Easy, Mamas: Finding Value in Unexpected Setbacks).

Whew.  Now that that’s out of the way on to the fun parts! While getting out and being active happened a bit differently than I had pictured, I still found ways to make it work and enjoyed what I was able to do.  It was a great mood booster to leave the house and helped alleviate cabin fever.  Having a winter baby made going outside a bit trickier but it was still doable (and enjoyable!).  Your mileage will vary on what works on what doesn’t depending on the season your baby is born in as well as how your recovery goes.

Activities

Walking/Hiking

Walks around my neighborhood were a staple in the first few weeks.  When you’re not sure how long you or baby will last outside, being close to home is ideal.  I would try to go on a 15-30 min walk every day or two around the block to get some fresh air.  And yes, this happened even in the dead of winter! As I got more comfortable with baby E’s schedule I ventured further from home and met friends at different parks. Here’s how I made it work:

  • As long as temperatures were -15 C (give or take) or above I felt it was fair game.  It’s doable to go out when it’s colder but you’ll need more warm clothes that fit which was a problem for me postpartum.  It also takes a bit of the fun out of things when your nostrils stick together when you inhale :)
  • I put baby in a stretchy carrier under my jacket so I didn’t have to worry about dressing her up.  More on how to do this below.
  • Footing is a tricky one.  Carrying baby on the front means you can’t see your feet and unplowed terrain gets compacted into a lumpy mess quickly.  For the most part I stuck to walks on sidewalks that were plowed.  Some bike paths in my community were plowed which I hit up as well but many were not (bummer).
  • I always wore good winter boots with rubber soles and had no problem with traction. My favourite boots are from Hi-Tec as they’re warm, waterproof and affordable.

“Out of town” hikes didn’t really happen for us during the first three months.  The idea of driving 1-2 hrs for a 45 min walk didn’t appeal to me when there were so many great options in Calgary.  We really took advantage of this time to get to know the city’s parks and do some urban hiking.  As a result, our first “big” hike was in Red Rocks, Las Vegas.

Here are a few things to consider when hiking with young infant:

  • If you want to take a stroller, ideally the path should be paved.  Even smooth gravel paths are quite bumpy for a newborn
  • If you’re going to put your baby in a carrier, you’ll be wearing them on your front which will block your view of your feet.  Keep in mind that his will make hiking on uneven terrain or paths with large steps, rocks or roots difficult.
  • Depending on the length of your hike, you will need to pull over and feed your baby.  Think about where you’d sit (on the ground? nearby flat rocks?) and what you’d need to bring to feed them.
  • Does the path have an escape route? It can be nice take a shortcut back to the car if things go sideways :)  Not that I’m speaking from experience here …
  • How long is the drive? Will you need to stop to feed the baby en route?
Gardens at the Springs Preserve

Walking around botanical gardens in Las Vegas using a stretchy carrier. This was baby’s first international trip

Walking (Indoors)

This technically isn’t an outdoor activity, but it involved getting out of my house so I’m going to count it!  While I can’t say I would have ventured into the mall if I had  had a summer baby, there were a few pros to heading to the mall in the winter.

If you have a newborn in the dead of winter in Calgary (or similar climate), you can generally expect to have to deal with 1-2 weeks worth of <-20C days.  And cue the cabin fever after day 2.  The mall provided a great escape minus having to worry about frostbite or layering.  An added bonus was that it provided a nice way to do a “trial run” of being out for a few hours with a newborn.  Instead of having to deal with nursing, diaper changes and carrying baby/gear while on the trail, I got to sort it out in a more comfortable setting so I had my system dialled once it was warm enough to go out.

Just being outside

Some days I just did not have the energy to tackle an outing with baby.  Or the sun would pop out of the clouds and the temperatures would increase … just as the baby finally took a nap.  Times like this I’d make a cup of tea or coffee and sit outside to soak up the sun.  Never underestimate the power of a little sunshine and fresh air to improve your mood!

Gear

Carriers

To start off with, here is a crash course in baby carriers.  They come in roughly two types, structured carriers which have fixed shoulder straps and a waist belt or wrap carriers that consist of a one or more pieces of fabric that you wrap around yourself in various ways to hold the baby.

I had originally planned on only using a structured carrier (Boba) in the beginning but after borrowing a friend’s stretchy wrap (Baby Buddha), I found it was much easier to use with a newborn.  The stretchiness of the wrap allowed me to secure E in a comfortably position while with my Boba, I was fiddling with stuffing blankets inside in an attempt to keep her in position.  While I did get a fair amount of use out of my Boba in the beginning (and it did work!), I used my stretchy wrap most of the time when out walking.

Clothing for baby

My favourite way to walk outside was with E in her stretchy wrap under my jacket.  Because she was under my jacket, I didn’t need to worry about dressing her up too much.  I usually left her in a cotton or fleece sleeper and added a knitted hat depending on temperatures.  On the rare days when a chinook blew in, I’d take out the Chariot and go for a spin.  In this case I’d dress baby up in a thick fleece bunting and use a blanket.

Clothing for you

The only additional piece of gear I needed to carry baby on walks was a jacket panel extender.  When I had purchased the Make My Belly Fit during pregnancy, I had also ordered the fleece insert.  I’m glad I did as it came in handy when I used the panel to carry E.  The panel itself doesn’t have any insulation so the fleece helped to keep her warm (though stuffing a fleece blanket between the baby’s back and your jacket would have the same effect).

Taking a walk with the baby carrier under my down jacket

Taking a walk with the baby carrier under my down jacket. I can tell this was a cold day due to the numerous layers!

Stroller/Chariot

The only use my BOB stroller got in the winter was when I went to the mall.  I used my Chariot occasionally during chinooks when the snow on park pathways melted.  With both, I found that the compacted snow on streets/snow plow piles were too bumpy for baby.  Also, I felt more confident that E was warm when she was under my jacket and she seemed to prefer being carried this way too.

For Chariots, if you want to use them with babies of this age you’ll need to buy the infant sling attachment.

An (over) bundled baby on her first Chariot walk.  Mountains in the distance made for good motivation and excellent views :)

An (over) bundled baby on her first Chariot walk. Mountains in the distance made for good motivation and excellent views :)

Diaper Bag/Extras

Most of the time I didn’t take anything with me on a walk.  E usually slept in her carrier for up to an hour so that’s how long I knew I had before she woke up and needed something.  In the winter it wasn’t really practical anyways to stop and breastfeed or change diapers.

I’d usually leave my diaper bag in the car with the following: change pad, diapers, wipes, extra hat, extra sleeper, blanket (doubles as nursing cover or blanket for the ground), snacks for me and a water bottle.

Logistics

I found that the best way to avoid having an unhappy baby on a walk was to make sure she wasn’t hungry.  Here was my general procedure for happy outings:

  • While baby was napping pack up everything you need, put bags in the car and make a pile by the door of jackets.
  • Leave right after a feeding or pre-emptively feed the baby before going out.
  • While you’re at it, change the diaper before you head out too!
  • If the drive was long enough, I’d feed baby again in the car when I arrived at my destination.
  • On the actual walk I wouldn’t bring anything with me as I planned to be back at my car by the time I needed to change any diapers or feed again

 

I hope some of these tips help out other winter mama’s who are looking to get outside with their babies.  The middle of winter is not the easiest time to acclimate to a new baby *and* tackle taking them outside but it is doable and can be enjoyable!

For an extensive list of resources for everything from pregnancy to toddlers, check out Adventurous Parents.  I also recommend reading Beth Rodden’s post on her experiences with a newborn.

If anyone has any other good tips or resources please let me know!