About two months ago, Big Daddy and I found that we had racked up a lot of strollers. Yet, somehow we still hadn’t found the right one for us. We would up consigning several of the ones we owned, not picking up additional ones that our family members wanted us to have, and I set out to research, research, research until I found us the perfect fit. What I found is that, while there is no such thing as a perfect stroller, I think we did get the best match possible for us.
Buckle up, ’cause this is going to be a very in-depth (read: LONG) review.
Graco Ready2Grow LX Stand & Rider Stroller
Amazon product description
The Graco Ready2Grow Stand and Ride Stroller offers 12 different riding options for two children from infant to youth and accepts up to two Graco SnugRide Infant Car Seats for complete versatility. The rear seat allows you to stroll with your infant facing you, while a multi-position front seat can be fully reclined for a baby’s comfort. Older children will enjoy the options of having a front seat view, sitting on the rear toddler bench seat, or standing on the platform. The one-hand fold with an automatic lock, large storage basket, and snack trays offer convenience while the front swivel wheels allow for easy maneuverability.
We chose this stroller for ONE. SIMPLE. REASON. Of all the double strollers we’ve owned and tested in stores, there never seemed to be a way to 1) accommodate a car seat and 2) let the older child recline at the same time. We were actually in a Babies R Us, saw this stroller (and an image of the 12 configurations it offers) and were pushing it around, kind of for shits and giggles. Then I noticed a little adjuster on the back of the front seat, messed around with it a bit, and the front seat went PLOP! and laid straight back. Stew immediately turned around from what he was looking at.
“Did that front seat just recline?!”
“Umm, yes. Yes it did. Can I have it?”
“We’ll have to sell some of your other strollers.”
It took us awhile to get rid of some other baby gear and gather the money, but eventually we did buy the stroller. And a Graco car seat w/ base to use instead of our Evenflo one. (You know, for the sake of ease of switching, etc.) Babies R Us only carries the stroller in Metropolis, the green/black combination. Being that I had been using the Evenflo Embrace/Aura travel system in green and black for the past two years, I wanted a different color. The guy on the phone at Babies R Us wound up really pissing me off (no wonder that location closed shortly after, they are all assholes) so I ordered the stroller on Amazon, where I got my choice of color anyway. Woohoo for free 2-day shipping!
I put this thing together by myself, and initial assembly was easy-peasy. I’ve never assembled another one, so I couldn’t compare it, but I’d say this was about as easy an assembly as they come. There were no oops-that’s-backwards-let-me-back-up-and-try-again moments.
Big Daddy came home right after it was assembled, and the first thing I wanted to do was take our new ride out for a test spin. The way we saw it in the store was our chosen initial configuration.
I wasn’t used to the buckles (the shoulder straps are detached from the hip straps, so you have to thread one through the other every time you buckle the babies in) and the first time was a total nightmare. Jackson was screeching through the entire process of buckling him in, and it totally stressed me out, thinking he was going to hate the rear-facing (“face time”) seat. Fortunately, he just wasn’t used to the buckles, same as me, and he settled down as soon as he was in. Big Daddy was a little disappointed that the rear-facing seat doesn’t recline, but it is a simple, hanging sort of thing that his easily removable, so it’s understandable that it doesn’t recline. It’s also for smaller children (weight limit for the rear seat is up to 40 pounds, but I can’t imagine a toddler even bigger than Avery wanting to sit like that!) so it’s not really necessary that it recline. The seat itself is slightly reclined as is, so small ones who can’t sit up on their own can easily ride in it and also take a nap with their head sort of listed over to the side.
The rear-facing seat can also accommodate a Graco car seat, just like the front seat can. There is a flap right behind Jackson’s head in the photo below that flips up and over where his head would be, and that exposes the bar underneath the fabric. This is where the car seat snaps into place. The only option for a car seat in this configuration is rear-facing, which is how we like it anyway.
Avery climbed right up into the front seat, being that it was basically the same as his old Sit N Stand (the front seat of which barely reclined, and where are you supposed to put the baby if the toddler wants to sleep in the front anyway? He couldn’t very well sit on the platform, and if the baby’s in the front seat and the toddler wants to sleep, he can’t sleep on the platform! I guess the whole concept of a Sit N Stand eluded us). Even though the buckles had seemed weird when I was trying to get Jackson into his seat, they actually worked to our advantage in the front seat. Being two years old, Avery doesn’t really like shoulder straps anymore, and the (initially confusing) way that the shoulder/waist straps thread together before buckling means that you’re given the option to use the shoulder straps or not. We opted not to, and Avery was satisfied.
Avery did pitch a minor fit over the sun shade, and he continues that to this day. Thankfully, both sunshades are easily removable (just pull up and they pop out and can be left in the car). I don’t know why, but he hates having the shade over his head and I can only pull it down over him once he’s asleep – but at least he’s able to lay completely flat in this stroller so he can actually go to sleep! And when I say completely flat, I mean the front seat in this thing can literally lay at a 180° angle and the kid can even turn over on his stomach to sleep! When we’re at the ballpark, which is every weekend during ball season since Big Daddy is an umpire, Avery takes his naps in the big boy seat and I leave him unbuckled while we’re sitting still. He frequently rolls over onto his stomach in that front seat, just like it’s a little bed.
Another feature of this stroller is its brakes. Typically you’ll have a little lever that you depress on each rear wheel of the stroller, but this one is a single, large step. Underneath the removable rear-facing seat is a padded platform seat for an older child and a plastic platform for them to rest their feet on (or stand up on if they choose). Right in the middle of this platform, on the edge where the child can’t accidentally depress it, is a single step-button several inches wide. One good, solid tap on this button depresses the brakes on both wheels simultaneously. WE LOVE THIS. It is super fast and convenient, and I hardly ever forget to put the brakes on anymore. (I mean, I never forgot to put the brakes on! What are you talking about?!)
One of the most important parts of a stroller for me is the parent tray. This is the part of the stroller that I come into contact with most, so it’s important that it be convenient for me to use. On a typical parent tray, you’d have a storage compartment, either covered or uncovered, that is a couple of inches deep. Most of our strollers have one large enough to hold our keys, both cell phones, and maybe some chapstick or whatever else. They also usually have one or two cupholders (we prefer two since we both always have water bottles). In this case, the kids’ tray is designed the way a parent tray usually is! The kids’ tray has a depression maybe 1.5-2″ deep, where you could put snacks, or in Avery’s case, his Thomas the Train fits there perfectly. The kids’ tray also has two permanent cupholders.
Now, the parent tray totally confuses me. It has a very shallow depression, about the size and slightly less than the depth of my iPhone. This sounds like a convenient place to put your iPhone (or similarly-sized phone), but if you hit any bumps, the depression on the tray is not deep enough to keep it from flying off the tray. I just don’t know what this thing is for. There is also another, slightly deeper depression to the left of the first one. It is about the same size and about twice as deep. Given that the first one isn’t very deep at all, the second one being twice as deep does not mean much. We can lay both of our phones in here, and that’s it. No keys, chapstick, wipes, nothing. And it’s an uncovered storage space, so we don’t even really want to put our phones there lest they should get stolen. With the size of the storage space being almost the same as our phones, once they are in there, they are difficult to fish back out. Forget answering any calls before it stops ringing. In addition to these two oddities, there is no permanent cup holder in the tray. Instead, there is a swing-out one underneath the tray on the right side. As you can imagine, a swing-out cup holder is pretty slim plastic, and it jostles about with every tiny bump that you drive the stroller over. That means the cup holder is only good for my closed water bottle, because any coffee on a cold ballpark morning is going to slosh out. I wound up buying an attachable, insulated upholder to attach to the side of the stroller (which totally makes my stroller the Lamborghini of strollers, since it’s now nearly perfect!), but obviously I would have preferred not to have to buy add-ons in the first place.
(Note: you can see a little bit of the parent tray in the picture of Jackson above, and the swing-out cup holder in the picture of Big Daddy below.)
The basket underneath this stroller is ample, but as with all Sit N Stand-style strollers, it’s pretty inaccessible. It’s got room for tons of stuff – when we head to the ballpark for the weekend, I tend to have the following down there: my medium-ish sized purse, a gallon jug of water, mine, Big Daddy’s, and Avery’s water bottles, Avery’s Buzz Lightyear lunchbox full of snacks, a “ground blanket” for us to lay on if the park has good grass, Avery’s Leap Pad & case, and a giant bag of toys resting on top of everything else. (Sounds like a ton of stuff, but we’ll be there for up to ten hours, so he’s got to have variety to stay entertained.)
Although the basket can accommodate all of those things, it is difficult to access with the rear facing seat installed. If you’re looking at the stroller from the rear, underneath the bench seat there is an opening in the mesh of the basket, so you pull things out without having to reach between the seats. Obviously this opening isn’t the width of the entire basket or it wouldn’t be a “basket” at all, and all your things would fall out. Basically the largest item that can slide out is the gallon jug of water, and that’s an ample opening for us.
I am a Mommy Master, so I can pretty much maneuver a spaceship with my pinky (because my other limbs & digits are occupied with filling sippy cups of water, nursing an infant, and putting toys back together all at the same time). I can’t say that maneuverability has been an issue for me with any stroller (except that stupid little Cosco mini-stroller, which was just plain stupid and I couldn’t wait to sell) but for Big Daddy, it’s a major concern of his. Considering that this is a double stroller and our two-year-old is the size of a three year old, I wasn’t expecting a lot. But length-wise, the Graco double stroller is barely longer than our Evenflo single stroller. Even with a heavy two-year-old in front, it still pushes and corners pretty easily. The only problem I’ve had with maneuvering is when we are late for a ballgame and Big Daddy has to run down to the field and leave me behind. With camp chairs on my shoulders and anything that doesn’t fit in the basket in one hand, I’m pushing the stroller (both children loaded) with the other hand. Sometimes when I come to a curb that I have to go down over, the wheels turn sideways and will. not. move. In this case, I have to put down everything on my shoulders and in my hands, walk around to the front of the stroller, lift the front and set it on the lower ground, then return to the back, pick up my things, pick up the back of the stroller and set it on the lower ground, and then continue. While this isn’t a huge inconvenience, I’d definitely add it to the list of cons. I’d like to be able to just ease the front end off the curb and onto the ground, and ditto with the back end, while keeping my hands full.
Weight is such a touchy subject, in more ways than one. In the case of strollers, weight can really determine whether or not you can even use a particular stroller. This stroller has a shipping weight of 38 lbs according to Amazon’s product description. In comparison, the Evenflo Aura travel system that we used to use (including car seat) has a shipping weight of 42 lbs. A regular Sit N Stand stroller (one that doesn’t configure like this one, it just has a seat in the front and a platform in the back) has a shipping weight of 29 lbs. The Graco Spree Travel system has a shipping weight of 37.4 lbs, about the same as the double stroller. As far as other comparable (meaning, car-seat-accepting) double strollers, the Jeep tandem, Graco duoglider, Chicco Cortina, and Contours Options, have shipping weights of 42, 32, 44.7, and 52.6 pounds respectively. That puts the Ready2Grow LX at the lower end of the weight spectrum.
All of my strength is in my legs. I have very little upper-body strength. That said, I do have difficulty getting this stroller into the back of my van. I also have difficulty getting a Graco single stroller into the back of my van. Ditto with the Sit N Stand. And with the Evenflo. The only strollers that are easy for me to pick up are an umbrella stroller and that ridiculous little Cosco folding thing. (I’m gonna have to review that thing just so I can rip it a new one!)
Basically, if stroller weight is a deciding factor for you, don’t get a double stroller. Period. Not this one or any other one. Or get a double umbrella stroller if you must, and just do without carseat compatibility. Both of my kids were born by c-section, and I would not have been able to lift this stroller until at least a month or two postpartum, and I wouldn’t recommend that anyone else try to, either.
Pros & Cons
Pros: tons of riding options!, easy assembly, good maneuverability, one-step brakes, comfortable for both kids, rear seat faces the driver (perfect for little ones), five-point or three-point harness configurations, easily removable shades, easy to fold and open, reasonably priced
Cons: heavy (but comparable weight to similar models), gets stuck on lip of curbs, bulky when folded, cup holder is useless
The bottom line
We love this stroller. Period. Weird parent tray and all. This stroller meets our current needs and is configurable to meet our future needs as well. What more can you ask? It’s pretty, it’s durable, the price and weight are comparable to other similar models. Would we tweak it? A little. Would we buy it again? Abso-freakin-lutely. The fact that I essentially just wrote a 3,000 word essay on this thing should tell you how passionate I am about this stroller. We get compliments on it everywhere we go, and Jackson especially loves all the attention he gets from his lifted-up vantage point in that rear-facing seat. Two thumbs up, and highly recommended.