By Nicky Chow
If you’re the sort of person who loves a city break, then you’ll need a pushchair to match. Thankfully our Armadillo City2’s slim frame and light design is ideal for city streets. But how did our Parent Approved Panellist Nicky, and daughter Aoibhe, get on?
Before Aoibhe arrived, we had friends telling us that they had different prams for different occasions. I couldn’t quite understand this as I wouldn’t have different cars for different occasions - don’t get me wrong, I would love to have a different car for each occasion, it would be fun but neither practical nor economical!
That said, Mamas & Papas have given us their Armadillo City2 to review so I have now joined the, probably not very exclusive, club of multi pram ownership.
Before I begin with why I needed a second pram, it’s probably best to describe our family dynamic and how we get around with Aoibhe. We live in the city centre where everything we need is within walking distance and if we need to go a bit further, we drive. We almost never have the need to use buses or trains. The shops are never overly crowded and everything is easily accessible with our pram. We have been using one pushchair until now - a travel system with pram chair and car seat, it's all that we have needed.
In September this year we had a trip to London planned with Aoibhe. It was our first trip away without the car and we were going to use public transport for the entire journey.
Facing us was the daunting prospect of navigating a baby through central London and, in particular, the Victorian tunnels of the London Underground! This clearly required a bit of planning and another type of travel system. That's where the Armadillo City2 comes in. It's designed for the city and navigating busy streets and the often tricky ups and downs of public transport.
Our first challenge was getting all our 1 week's worth of luggage, baby and pram to the train station and onto the train via a taxi ride. Given the additional items that we needed to carry at this point, primarily a 91 litre trolley case, it made sense to have Aoibhe in the carrier and the Armadillo City2 in its compact folded position. It's light enough to carry with one hand and can be called into action with a sleek one hand flip and unfold! This was really easy as was storing the Armadillo City2 on the train. It fit neatly in the luggage area between the seats. I should say, that our journey from London Euston to our friend’s flat via the London Underground was not quite as smooth, yet after much perspiration and cursing we made it. The Armadillo City2 clearly had some challenges ahead!
On day one in London we decided not to use the pram. Because clearly the best way to test a pushchair was to spend a day not using a pushchair so you know what you miss! We used the carrier all day and we are fortunate that Aoibhe loves it in her carrier and she can easily sleep in it, plus I love babywearing. The greatest benefit was that we could go anywhere, barrier free. Seriously, you will not know how liberating it is to be able to use stairs and escalators again until you’ve had to search every corner of a building for the lift only to wait behind queues of parents and prams all going to a different floor than you!
There were, however, a few downsides. I had Aoibhe in her carrier but also had to have her pram bag on my back and had to carry anything we picked up on the day. It was also a very hot day and having a mini radiator (that’s the baby!) strapped to you is not the most comfortable. Finally, Aoibhe fell asleep during dinnertime and I had to eat with her still in the carrier. Probably not a big issue with a burger and chips, but it requires a bit of skill when your choice of dining for the evening is Japanese Soup Noodle!
We spent the following day with friends in Greenwich, travelling there via the Underground and DLR. We had a few occasions where we had to take Aoibhe out of the pram and fold it, either to negotiate some steps or to be more compact in the crowd. This was one of the easier things to do given the one hand fold that the Armadillo City2 offers. One criticism I would have of the folded unit is that the handle faces downwards. If you set the pram down, the handle inevitably touches the ground which is not the most hygienic in my opinion. Another note on the handle is that I found it a little too low and it would have benefited from an extendable function, perhaps a design that would allow it to fold back on itself thus solving the hygiene issue mentioned earlier too.
I’m also not a massive fan of front facing prams as I prefer baby to face me for interaction and also so they don’t get a face full of wind on a bad day, which we have many of in Scotland. Manoeuvrability-wise, there were certainly no issues with any of the surfaces the Underground had to offer. Given it is a narrow pram, it’s not designed for fast cornering but as long as your not looking to power-slide your way to the finish line, you should be fine. I should note though that the pram is marginally too small to fit through the standard London Underground speed gate, which is a shame.
Later that day we took the pram through Greenwich Park and it was equally adept on the grass and cobbles as it was on the tarmac as we navigated towards the play park. This was the last weekend of summer and the play park was full. The swings were in high demand so we rolled up to queue to wait our turn - if it’s not lifts it’s swings! At this point it was noted by my friend that the click on the wheel lock was not quite aggressive enough to make the statement to the other parents that I had arrived in the queue. After the swings tired her out, Aoibhe managed a 2 hour sleep in the lie-flat position. This is really good to have in a pram but I would say that a little leg support to the front of the pram would have made this function better. It did afford us some time to relax the afternoon with our friends in the beer garden.
All in all, the Armadillo City2 is a very good pram. There are definite highlights in the easy one hand fold/unfold into it’s compact and light storage position and lie flat option and it definitely dealt with London infinitely better than our travel system would have ever done. However, there are a number of things I feel it can improve upon such as an adjustable handle, leg rest and minor alteration to the overall width. So, in the world of multi pram ownership, is this THE other pram that I need? I’m not sure. For that reason I give it a rating of 3 out of 5.
A great, honest review from Nicky. While there were definitely areas we can look to improve, overall it seems that the Armadillo City2 was up to tackling the busy streets and crowded tubes of London.
If you’re in the market for a light, compact pram for city adventures, then the Armadillo City2 could be the one for you. But we also understand that no two families are the same, which is why we offer a range of buggy solutions for different lifestyles.