We have finally found what seems like the family travellers dream – a stroller that you can take (almost) anywhere
So light and compact yet maintaining key features that mamas love. All summer we have been testing out the Mountain Buggy Nano – its main selling feature for globetrotters like us – it can fold small enough to fit in an overhead locker on long-haul flights. A perfect year for us to test it out as we are now past the double stroller stage and compact and light are the key criteria when we only have one toddler left to push around the world – literally; Abu Dhabi to Western Australia, back via the Middle East to the UK – in seven weeks!
Did it stand up to the robust work out with this Globetrotting family?
In this post you will find:
1. Main features of the Nano
2. Usability of the Nano
3. Nano at the airport as carry-on luggage
4. Additional considerations taking a carry-on stroller
5. Comparison of the Mountain Buggy Nano to leading travel strollers
6. Globetrotters Verdict
This post is part of our Essential Travel Gear review series – learn more about all our favourite family travel products
1. What are the main features of the Mountain Buggy Nano?
Clearly, its compact size is what makes it so popular. So small when fully folded (yet without removing its wheels) it can fit in the overhead locker of a plane. Its weight comes in at only 5.9kg making it one of the absolute lightest on the market – yet it doesn’t compromise too much on comfort or looks versus its big brothers like the Urban Jungle, the Terrain or the Swift.
The Nano comes with a choice of three different canopy colours (Black, Ruby & Nautical – shown here), and the travel satchel and car seat attachments come as standard. There’s the ability to extend the seat back fully flat and add the Mountain Buggy Cocoon for newborns making it a stroller that can see your from newborn through to 5 years (my featherweight 6-year-old still neatly fits too… recommended weight limit is 20kg). Sun and rain covers, as well as a seat liner, are available as added extras, along with the usual Mountain Buggy accessories like cup holders and buggy storage pouches.
Although it is ultra-lightweight, you get the feeling of durability, good construction and strong materials, and as strollers go it’s really not too bad looking.
2. Usability of the Nano
So how simple and easy is it to use, I mean really?
Like all new baby gear it will take a little getting used to, but once you have the knack it is quick and easy. Note folding it really is a two-hand job; you will need your occupant to be able to sit/stand independent independently or be held while you fold it. Putting on the travel cover can be a little tricky at first too but once you have it on the right way it’s a great snug fit. The wheels don’t need to be removed like over travel packs.
A couple of little tricks and tips; The back must be returned to an upright position before you fold. Furthermore, you must make sure the handlebars are pressed all the way down to the base to collapse, and make sure you press firmly to apply the catch or it will spring open again. Compared to other models I have tried over the years though it’s pretty quick and neat – you may even be able to teach your parents this one : )
Undoing the Nano back to standing is its real strength; as soon as you unclip the catch on the base it is literally a one hand flick to bring back to standing.
To manoeuvre I found it very easy on flat surfaces. After years of heavier strollers, it takes a little to get used to how light it is to push – obviously a lot harder when a heavier child sits in it but I found the suspension was relatively good. With a heavier child in it did struggle a bit on kerbs needing a lot of elbow grease.
As soon as you take it off a smooth surface though, things start to get tough. Its tiny 6″ wheels just can’t cope with much in the way of grass or gravel paths. We tend to do a fair bit of trekking with our strollers in Australia so this feature was not ideal.
I’d even give the thumbs up to the storage basket, something that is often compromised in light-weight models but I felt we could fit a reasonable amount of gear underneath, just as well as you can’t really hang much from the handlebars (I know they warn you not to, but who doesn’t??)
Now speaking of the handlebars, this is something that irked me. When the hood/canopy is up, it actually rests against the handlebars and gets in the way of your hands while pushing. Great when the hood is in use, it gives a decent amount of coverage from the sun, but when upright it annoyingly sits right where you grip the handlebar.
The luggage strap I also found a little bit of a nuisance to tuck in and I couldn’t actually carry it with this strap through the plane. I’ve never seen the point of the handlebar safety grip cord either – if my stroller starts to roll away I’m grabbing for the handle or frame, not the silly bit hanging off it? I hope these are design features they’ll fix in future models.
As well as it’s compact use on planes, it’s great for fitting into the car or luggage racks too. Here you can see it easily fitting into the back of our 8-seater with space to spare for your shopping. It even fits in the footwell of the car too.
3. How does the Nano work at the airport?
I’ll admit this caused me concern. I dreaded taking it with me then still being separated at the gate as they crushed by carry-on dreams, then needing to completely dismantle it in front of a gawping audience to be put in the hold.
No need for concern, it seems airline staff have cottoned on now that there are some far more versatile models available that can carry-on. I would recommend finding yourself a nice corner in the boarding area to complete the manoeuvre, however (as well as practising a few times at home) to save any embarrassment and holding up the queue at the plane door.
4. Additional things to consider travelling with a carry-on stroller
If your baby is still really quite small (say pre-walking), I would suggest still carrying them in a sling / baby carrier is the easiest option getting on and off the plane. If you are still taking a stroller with you to your destination, check it at the time you check your baggage to better ensure its safe delivery to the plane. We’ve had real issues over the years with being reunited with our gear when left at the gate and it can be mistreated if not fully wrapped and cared for.
Remember when taking a stroller through the airport you still need to go through screening, sometimes twice where they’ll either take the stroller for separate examination or you’ll need to fold it to fit through the x-ray machine. Some airports require this on arrival too.
NB: If you are travelling on a smaller aircraft, not a wide-bodied long-haul aircraft the overhead lockers may be smaller and the stroller unable to fit, do check this before flying; worst case you will have to put it in the hold when you board the plane and wait to be reunited.
Check out our flying with kids page and airline reviews for more information on infant luggage limits by airline
Although its light and compact it still adds a bit of weight and size to your carrying load! Add sleeping children to the mix and their bags too – it can be a lot to lug off the plane. Especially if you’re a solo travelling parent, consider how much you can actually carry in total – and that it might not be practical to fold out the stroller again as soon as you disembark (eg if you need to take a bus from plane to terminal).
I found travelling solo with 3 this was too much for me to carry the first trip back through Abu Dhabi airport. On a good day in Abu Dhabi, you can get a courtesy cart through to arrivals when travelling with children (and no other elderly or larger families are more in need), or they usually have orange airport strollers you can borrow (but not always!).
Feeling cocky I checked the Nano at the gate for our final summer flight and of course, we arrived by bus at the furthermost gate, no cart service, no free strollers and the great folk at Etihad lost the Nano in transit…. (We have since been reunited but that’s another story!!)
5. Comparison to other compact strollers
I think it’s only fair that this review looks at some of the Nano’s light-weight travel competitors. I will ignore the ultra-lightweight $20 Kmart strollers here – we’re looking at the premium brands with a solid workhorse reputation for travel versatility.
We have personally owned the Quinny Zapp (discontinued now the Quinny Zapp Xtra), the Baby Jogger City Mini (now the Baby Jogger City Mini 2), Maclaren XT and the Mountain Buggy Nano. We also borrowed a Baby Zen Yoyo+ for comparative purposes but have not personally taken this on a flight.
Of these brands, only the Nano and the Yoyo+ fit in a plane overhead locker, the others are slightly too large due to their length (like the Maclaren umbrella style) or their wheels sticking out. Here’s how they stack up on the specs.
Compact Stroller Comparisons
|Brand||Mountain Buggy||Babyzen||Quinny||Baby Jogger||Maclaren|
|Model*||Nano||Yoyo 6+||Zapp||City Mini||Techno XT|
|Max child weight||20kg||15kg||15kg||22kg||22kg|
|Folded dimensions||51cm x 56cm x 30cm||52cm x 18cm x 44cm||22cm x 65cm x 26cm base only||78cm x 61cm x 25cm||108cm x 28cm x 29cm|
|Handles (height)||Single handle bar|
|Single handle bar|
|Single handle bar|
|Travel system option||Yes - extra cocoon||change to 0+ model||Yes - extra||Yes - extra||No (but claim yes)|
|Seat & positions||Forward facing|
Reclines to flat, sliding release
|Forward & Reverse, can lie flat||Forward facing, no recline||Forward Facing, almost fully reclines sliding release||Forward facing
4 click postions to flat
|Canopy Colours||Black, Ruby, Nautical (blue!)||Black, Blue, Grey, Pink, Red||Strawberry, Breen, Iron, Raccoon, Storm, Orient||Black, Red, Screen, Purple, Grey, Blue||Black on Black, Charcoal on black|
|Canopy coverage||Average ||Good||Average||Very Good||Excellent|
|Folding||two hand, folds in to three||One hand, folds into three||remove seat then a series of levers||A genuine one hand close in half||foot lever then umbrella fold|
|Storage||Medium size basket, limited weight on handles||Latest model now has larger 5kg capacity basket. Limited handle bar weight||Too unstable to hang from handle bars. Storage underneath but due to design can't fit much||Reasonable size and easy to access. Can put reasonable weight on handles without tipping||Hard to access basket. Tips easily with bags on handle bars|
|Wheels||4 wheels - 6" hard rubber||4 wheels - 5" hard rubber||4 wheels||3 wheels (double at front) - 8" - easy clip off for travel||4 double wheels 6.5"|
|Included extras||Travel bag, car seat attachment cords||Foot cover, newborn head support, rain cover, travel cover||Raincover||A wide range of optional extras||Rain cover, newborn head support, shoulder pads|
|Current Price (US)|
*Review as at August 2016. Models and specifications may be updated by the manufacturer and can vary by country.
Baby Jogger City Tour vs Mountain Buggy Nano
**Since publishing this list Baby Jogger have released their ultra-compact competitor the City Tour. We have not been able to personally review this model yet so pop over and see our friends at Tin Box Traveller for a review of this model.**
We have also subsequently completed a detailed review of ALL ULTRA COMPACT STROLLERS THAT CAN FIT ON A PLANE.
I know this list is not a fully comprehensive list and there are constantly newer models coming to market. There are super-lite models like the (very ugly) Micralite Fastfold, The Phil & Teds Smart, iCandy Raspberry, Bugaboo Bee, the Mamas & Papas Armadillo, and of course the most compact but basically lacking in any other features XSS Pockit Stroller (also fits into the airline complaint category) to name a few. Even since our first purchase in 2010 the stroller market has revolutionised!
Day to day use though, I must admit I have a love affair with my City Mini. Both the single and double version have served as well for years and they are extremely easy to use with many excellent user features.
The travel versatility of the Nano though is hard to ignore and if I had my time again it’s probably the one I’d invest in from the start due to the amount of travelling we do verse everyday use at home (where we mostly take the car not walk).
Babyzen Yoyo vs Mountain Buggy Nano
In comparing the Nano to its closest rival the Yoyo, the slight edge I can see with the Yoyo is the reversible seat direction and neater newborn conversion kit. The Yoyo doesn’t compromise too much on the handlebar height (and doesn’t have that annoying hood problem!). For its small wheels and seat, it still seems to give a pretty smooth ride, even to my friend’s larger children despite the suggested weight limit. Just like the Nano, the Yoyo is a city stroller, not designed for any rough terrain. Given their similarities, however, the price differential just doesn’t stack up for me, cost for value the Nano wins.
Mountain Buggy Nano Duo
Since our original review, there has also been a double version of the Mountain Buggy Nano release. We review this product in a lot more detail here alongside other popular compact double stroller brands.
At only 20lbs it’s still not small enough to fit on the plane but it’s definitely one of the lightest and most compact doubles on the market. It’s also usable from newborn with the Mountain Buggy Cocoon or car seat adaptors.
6. Globetrotters Verdict on the Mountain Buggy Nano
Mountain Buggy are traditionally known for their hard-wearing all-terrain strollers. The Nano is their big step into the compact market and they have done it well. Its ultra compact folding and super lightweight frame make it a really sensible option for family travellers.
Remember when you start focusing on size, you are always going to have to start compromising on other features. It’s a question of which manufacturer has balanced the size versus feature conundrum the best – and frankly whether size is the most important feature for you – particularly versus durability and storage, two other major issues when travelling.
I think Mountain Buggy have come out tops with their Nano in this increasingly popular segment of the market.
My advice with choosing a stroller is look at what suits you MOST of the time, none will suit all your needs. Unless you have endless storage space and budget. For a regular traveller I would recommend a two-piece modular system that allows car seat attachment for the first 6 months; thereafter look for a one-piece stroller that’s light and flexible (the Nano can do both).
On the other hand, if you already have one sturdy, everyday stroller that you perhaps use for exercise, carrying the shopping etc, investing in a much lighter compact version like the Nano is a sensible addition. I’d definitely make the Nano my travelling choice these days over the much clunkier Maclaren or other umbrella stroller choices.
The Mountain Buggy Nano is available to buy in the UAE at www.babysouk.com, also in store at DbBabies outlets, Bumblee in Dubai Mall and Level Kids.
So over to you. What compact travel strollers have you tried? Do you have a favourite or still looking to invest in one? Happy to hear all your questions in the comments below – let’s find you that perfect travel stroller!
Our Nano travelling across the continents!
And just when I think maybe we are coming to the end of our stroller travelling days – once again taking the stroller paid off so many times when Master J needed a quick cat nap on the run, whatever way is comfortable I guess!
Disclosure: We were provided with a Mountain Buggy Nano as Travel Ambassador for Baby Souk UAE. As always, all views expressed are our own. This article contains affiliate links to products mentioned. Our full disclosure statement can be found here.
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