Downsizing from the Uppababy Vista 2015 to the Bugaboo Bee Plus
Before having Bean, I really researched prams. Actually, maybe that's not true. I really, really researched the Uppababy Vista 2015. For those of you who haven't heard of Uppababy, they're an award-winning American brand who make a line of high-end strollers and travel systems.The Vista was the first pram I saw that really sparked my interest. It had going for it the three things I was most interested in for a potential pram:
1.) A huge basket
2.) The ability to use the pram from newborn to walking age, and also to attach a car seat.
3.) A sun canopy that I felt would really shade the baby from the sun.
The Vista really does tick all of those boxes. Since I don't drive, the basket was probably the most important to me, and the basket really is absolutely huge. I never had to buy a changing bag, because it simply wasn't necessary- everything I could possibly need for a day out with the baby could go in there, plus a weekly shop, plus my coat and maybe Clementine's school bag. I'm not even kidding.
The sun canopy is also great. Both parts of the pram (bassinet and toddler seat) have a fabric canopy which can be up, down or (on the bassinet) at a medium point between- but what really sells it is the pull out SPF sun visor which completely shades the baby from harmful sun rays. You can also lift up a back panel on the bassinet to let you see the baby when in world-facing mode, and for extra ventilation; the same is true of the toddler seat which has a magnetic panel that lifts up and secures with a toggle.
The bassinet part of the pram is wonderful. It feels robust and secure and really protects your newborn from all of the elements. It's all-washable, and best of all- you can use it as a travel cot or moses basket or even their main sleeping place if you want. This meant I never had to buy a travel cot and it made packing for trips away so much easier. The down side about the pram though, was that as a long-legged baby, Bean grew out of the bassinet at 3 months old and needed to go into the toddler seat, which despite adding the 'infant snug seat' as suggested, really still left the toddler seat seeming much to big for him-the harness in particular, which I just could not seem to get to be tight enough. The harness really is extremely difficult to adjust. I don't mean it's stiff- I mean you need a degree in engineering to adjust the thing. There are several instructional videos on how to do it, which is probably all you need to know about how difficult it is. Maybe you'd cope with it with if you'd been part of the scouts and know lots of knots, but for needing to make quick adjustments (like if they're wearing a pram suit one day for warmth, or they've just grown) it's in no way ideal. A real shame, because I love how adjustable the actual seat is, with lots of different recline settings and a foot rest panel that can be set at pretty much any angle you like.
The Vista has a lot of other plus points too- it can be used in lots of different configurations as a 'doubles' pram (-another big reason we bought it). It also handles most terrains amazingly, and has a really impressive turning circle and manoeuvrability. The handle is also really adjustable which is great when there's a height different between Sam and I, and the fold down is really simple and it can free-stand which is extremely useful when you're trying to load stuff into the boot.
With all of that in mind, we decided, now that Bean is 9 months old, that the Vista is just a bit too wide for using as the day-to-day city pram. The width of the pram (mainly because of the way the back wheels stick out) is what gives the pram its sturdy feel and the ability to take multiple seats, but it also makes it really tricky getting through doorways, and weaving around smaller sized shops. Additionally, Bean's not light himself, and the Vista is one of the heaviest on the market, and whilst you really don't notice when you're merrily gliding along, getting up and down steps and curbs, and lifting it up once folded was just becoming too much hard work.
Sam suggested just getting a little Maclaren style umbrella fold pram (in fact we have a rather nice one from Mothercare which we use as our 'holiday pram'), but as I do everything on foot, I really didn't want to sacrifice having an adjustable handle bar, and enough storage space to fit in a bit of shopping. We've also just moved from Volvo Estate to a Honda Jazz, which has a massive boot vertically, but not loads of width, so we really wanted a pram that folded more like our Vista- kind of like folding a deck chair in half. So the quest begun to find a lightweight, narrow pram with a decent sized basket and that could be put vertically in our boot.
I narrowed it down to three prams:
The Graco Mini Evo
The Mamas and Papas City Armadillo
The Bugaboo Bee
I liked the look and sounds of all three of the prams, and they were much of a much in dimensions and weight. All three had a basket that was capable of fitting your necessaries and a few bits of shopping. In terms of value for money, I think the Graco probably has it, and the Armadillo City looks to potentially have the edge in basket size. However, ultimately I decided that the pram I wanted was the Bugaboo Bee, because of the option to parent and world face, and the ability to use it from birth and as a travel system if desired. It seemed like the most versatile pram of the three, and I'll confess I was slightly seduced by the look of it. The latest model of the Bugaboo Bee comes with a hefty price tag, and I knew that I wasn't going to win Sam around to the idea of keeping our £699 Vista, and buying a new pram for over £600.
Luckily, I was able to find a Bee Plus in really good condition second-hand. Only the seat covering was showing any signs of real wear. We got ours in 'Neon'- a dark blue metallic frame, with yellow wheel and harness clip detail. It comes with a navy seat cover and hood, but the seller included a Jade Hood too, which I much prefer as I love the really bright colour. We used the sheepskin liner we'd always used in our vista to make the pram seem familiar for Bean, and it also covered the slight fading to the seat cover. All in all, I don't think you'd know it wasn't new. I also tried adding shoulder pad covers to the pram, as I didn't really like the big warning signs on them. They made the straps sit funny though, so ultimately I took them off.
I'm really pleased with my Bee Plus. It is magnificently light, folds up nice and small, and fits a decent amount of stuff in the basket. I can also get it through teeny tiny spaces and into shops I'd have never even bothered to attempt with our other pram. It also handles really well one-handed, which definitely could not be said for our Vista. The handlebar is also ridiculously extendable, which was a very pleasant surprise. The downsides of a less robust pram have also been apparent though. I noticed that on a bumpy bus ride in Nottingham that the brake didn't seem to keep the pram still at all, and on an uneven camber the a wheel will often lift off the ground, making it really hard to steer. I also found it unnerving initially how low to the ground Bean seemed to be- though I think this is only because of how incredibly high up he is in the Vista. The sides are also much more exposed, and there isn'y the leg support that you get with the Vista. I think I'll probably solve both of those problems by buying a foot muff though. Since I never test-drove the Bee3 I guess I just won't know what I'm missing with the newer model, but perhaps some of these issues have been addressed in the newer model.
Overall, I love my new-old Bee plus, but I won't be getting rid of my Vista any time soon. The Bee will be my go-to for nipping around town, whilst the Vista will probably be brought back into action for country walks and big supermarket shops.