If you plan to run with a child in tow, you might want to buy a stroller made specifically for jogging. Traditional strollers are great for walking on pavement, but they’re not built for bumpy terrain or moving at high speeds. Jogging strollers, on the other hand, come equipped with extra suspension and controls (like a handbrake) to assist with downhills, which makes them better suited for workouts. This style of stroller is typically more expensive than a non-jogging stroller, but it can do double duty for both sidewalk strolls and all-terrain runs. Many jogging strollers also feature accessories to help keep your young companion comfortable.
Why jog with your child? It can be a nice routine, and it helps everyone get outside. Time outdoors has been shown to help reduce stress in kids and adults, too. Read on to learn more, or jump ahead to the following sections:
- Jogging Stroller Style and Capacity
- Terrain Considerations
- Jogging Stroller Safety Features
- Stroller Packability and Personalization
- Stroller Accessories
Note: Stroller manufacturers offer minimum-age guidelines for children, so you’ll want to consider these before you use a stroller for jogging or off-road adventures with a baby. Children develop at different rates, too. Check with your pediatrician about your child’s neck strength and spinal development before heading out on a run. Regardless of their age, remember to support your baby’s head and make sure they are dressed appropriately for the weather and protected from the sun.
Jogging Stroller Style and Capacity
Pay attention to two key attributes—build and capacity—when choosing the right jogging stroller for you.
- Build: Whether you plan to jog along sidewalks or navigate uneven trails, you’ll want a stroller that can handle bumps and jolts. Look for one with thick tires and a solid suspension system. Labels like “all-terrain” and/or “high suspension” help signal a solid build that can handle the ups and downs of a stroller run.
- Capacity: Also note your desired capacity: Will you run with one or more kiddos? A single stroller will allow you to run with one child. Many accommodate up to 75 pounds and are designed for children up to 45 inches (nearly 4 feet) tall, so they can be used for a few years as the child grows. Double strollers are meant for two kids. Most are designed to remain balanced even when carrying a single child or two children of different weights. Some bike trailers can convert into a jogging stroller and/or cross-country ski trailer. If you enjoy cycling or skiing with little humans in tow, you might consider convertible bike trailer options rather than investing in a stroller for each activity.
The tires on a jogging stroller reveal a lot about the terrain it can handle. Most basic jogging strollers with thin tires will coast along sidewalks just fine, but that doesn't mean they can handle the trails.
- Roads: If you plan to run on pavement but want a stroller that can handle high speeds, look for one with large-diameter tires and enough suspension to handle small bumps. A good jogging stroller will be streamlined, with a comfortable child’s seat and a quality braking system.
- Trails: If you plan to run off-road, look for a stroller with thicker, large-diameter wheels that have built-in treads. The tires should be able to stand up to asphalt, dirt, rocks and roots while maintaining a smooth ride for your running companion. Sixteen-inch back wheels and a 12-inch front wheel are ideal wheel widths for trail running.
Choose a stroller with three wheels instead of four for an ergonomic experience that’s easier on your posture, regardless of whether you plan to run mostly on roads or trails.
Jogging Stroller Safety Features
Since the stroller will likely be moving quickly, safety is of the utmost importance for your small running buddy. Here are some key safety features:
Brakes: A handbrake can help reduce the velocity of your jogging stroller on downhills, whereas a parking brake locks the stroller into place when you’re stopped and need to let go of the handlebar. A good jogging stroller will have both styles of brakes.
Front wheel: Prioritize a stroller with a locking front wheel. In town, a swiveling front wheel is nice to have. But when you start to move faster, an unlocked front wheel will start to wobble and may eventually veer the stroller out of control.
- Safety loops: Most jogging strollers come with a wrist strap on the handlebar, which you can use to help ensure the stroller doesn’t get away from you when you’re running downhill.
- Harnesses: Nearly all jogging strollers feature a 5-point harness that helps hold a kiddo securely in place. The stroller you choose should have a harness that's comfortable for your young companion while still keeping them safe.
- Comfort-focused accessories: Of course, you want the child in your care to be comfortable during stroller jogs. But a stroller with a comfy, cushioned seat can also help protect the child’s body on bouncy rides. Some strollers even offer rear shock systems that can be adjusted for heavy or light loads. Also, look for strollers with reclining seats and retractable sun canopies to help protect the kiddo from sunny or rainy weather.
Stroller Packability and Personalization
Select a model with an adjustable handlebar if more than one person will be using the jogging stroller. On the flip side, if you’re choosing a stroller just for you, seek out a handlebar that allows you to stand upright, without hunching, with your arms at a 90 degree-angle from your body.
Jogging strollers vary in their packability. Strollers with large, all-terrain tires can be incredible on the trail, but tough to pack into a vehicle. Some of the most popular options are strollers with large-diameter wheels that swivel or detach, meaning they’re durable and packable. Some strollers fold or offer other forms of quick-release collapsibility. This is a nice feature for caregivers who will be running places that aren’t close to home.
There are dozens to choose from—and likely far more than you need—but you may want to invest in a stroller that comes with extras, versus having to buy add-on accessories. Some of the handiest options include:
- Car seat adapters: Designed to fit specific car seat models, these allow you to attach your infant car seat directly to your stroller for children who cannot yet support their own heads. Car seat adapters are recommended for walking only (no jogging).
- Handlebar consoles/snack trays: These give children a place to stow snacks or water bottles, and provide caregivers with a spot for wallets, keys and/or a phone.
- Cargo storage: A zippered compartment beneath the stroller can be helpful for stowing toys, snacks and extra layers.
- Rain covers and sun shields: If you plan to run during warm or wet months, you’ll want to add a layer of protection for your younger companion. While most strollers come with built-in sun covers and canopies, most are not waterproof; you’ll need to buy a stroller rain cover aftermarket.
Once you’ve settled on a jogging stroller, learn more from How to Run With a Jogging Stroller. Then, consult with your child’s pediatrician and your own doctor before heading out. You’ll want to make sure the kiddo is ready for the turns, stops and accelerations of a stroller run. And you’ll want to make sure you’re ready, especially if you’re a caregiver who recently gave birth or are new to running.
Video: How to Choose a Jogging Stroller
Remember: Safety is your responsibility. No internet article or video can replace proper instruction and experience—this article is intended solely as supplemental information. Be sure you’re practiced in proper techniques and safety requirements before you engage in any outdoor activity.
Article by Jenni Gritters. Jenni is a nomadic freelance writer. You can find her bylines in the New York Times, the Guardian, Wirecutter, Outside magazine, 538, Elemental and more. When Jenni isn’t working with words, she’s likely hiking, camping and snowshoeing with her husband, son and puppy. She’s been an REI member since 2017.