Kolcraft is the exception to the rule that you need a successful infant car seat to succeed in the stroller market—despite the lack of any travel systems, Kolcraft has survived, thanks to an emphasis on underserved market segments (namely double strollers).
The models. Kolcraft sells strollers under two brands: Kolcraft and Contours. Kolcraft is sold as entry-level models at chains stores like Walmart; Contours is the upscale offering featuring multi-function and double strollers. (Kolcraft used to sell strollers under the Jeep brand, but that license ended in 2014. New Jeep strollers are sold under the J is for Jeep brand, which is not affiliated with Kolcraft.)
Kolcraft’s entry-level offering is the Cloud umbrella stroller sold at Walmart for $42. The Cloud is your basic umbrella stroller with cup holder, storage basket and extended canopy—not a bad deal for $20. The Cloud Plus adds a one-hand fold, multi-position seat recline and child snack tray for $61 (11.8 lbs.). There’s even a Cloud Double side-by-side stroller for $90.
FYI: Kolcraft also has some bare-bones umbrella strollers with Major League Baseball team themes; these run around $40.
The biggest sellers in the Contours line are their double strollers. The Options tandem stroller ($201, 32 lbs.) has seven different configurations with seats that can reverse or mix one (or two) infant car seats and a seat. The Options ships with a universal car seat adapter and features a standing fold, reclining seats, adjustable footrests and decent size canopies.
There is also an upgraded version of the Options called the Options Elite ($400, 37.4 lbs; pictured at top right with the blue hoods). The Elite adds rubber coated rear wheels, side storage basket access and seat back storage. The Elite also has an extra, extendable canopy with mesh air vent as well as taller seats. When we first wrote about the Elite it retailed for $300. A $100 price increase is disappointing.
Kolcraft sells a bassinet accessory for the Options and Options Elite strollers priced at $169. Other accessories include a shopping basket (attaches to one of the seating areas), weather shield, child tray and several car seat adapters.
New for 2018, Kolcraft has released its most expensive ($700) and ambitious stroller yet: the Contours Curve. This tandem double stroller offers a unique six wheel design to provide more maneuverability. We tried it out ourselves and noted the extra two wheels in back do offer better weight distribution for better turning. It’s also easier to maneuver over curbs.
Other features include leather detailing, SPF 50 canopies with mesh extensions, sonic welded fabric (limits water leakage), adjustable footrest, standing fold with auto lock and side access basket. If you’re looking for a small fold, however, the Curve doesn’t have it. Those extended wheels mean the fold is big. And it’s heavy at 40 lbs.
The stroller has only been out a short time, so we don’t have much feedback from parents yet. But at that price, the pressure is on the Curve to be truly amazing.
Also new for 2018: Kolcraft is releasing the Bitsy (May 2018) , a new ultra lightweight stroller (13.5 lbs.; pictured below). Priced at $180, it has a one-hand standing fold with auto lock and can be used with 32 different infant car seats without special adapters. It also has a peekaboo window, partial recline and adjustable footrest.
Here’s a PDF chart that gives you an overview of the differences between some of the Options strollers.
Our view. Dollar for dollar, these are the best affordable strollers on the market. Compared to other low-end brands (Graco, Cosco), Kolcraft shines.
We like the affordable Cloud strollers—parents tell us they are a good value for the dollar, praising the simple fold and extended canopy (something often missing in the under $100 stroller market).
The Contours Options tandem is an excellent double stroller. The only disadvantage: weight. At 30+ lbs, the Options is bulky when folded (it can easily eat up the entire trunk in a vehicle). While fans loved the multiple configurations and overall ease of use, the lack of a parent console (save one skimpy cup holder) is a bummer.
The new Contours Curve was too new as of press time to give a verdict. Baby Bargains Resale Rank: Fair. Rating: B+