Speaking of Orbit: Road Test I
For the past ten weeks, I’ve been conducting an elaborate road test of the Orbit Infant System. Or, more specifically, I’ve been using it with Zev. I’ve been a fan of the Orbit since its debut, but my enthusiasm for the product was largely theoretical. Using the product has given me a host of new insight, and I have to say I’m largely very impressed.
First, let’s talk about the car seat.
The car seat has a lot going for it. Installing the base is dead simple, and the installation is a thing of beauty – solid and strong. The ergonomics of the seat, from a parent’s perspective, are really nice. I love being able to put the car seat onto the base face-on, and then swivel it towards the back of the car. It is so much more comfortable than trying to finagle the seat into the car on the wide angle. The soft carry handle is nice too, and helps to mitigate the weight of the seat (more on that in a moment). The seat installs beautifully without the base, too, with built-in lockoffs to ensure a secure fit.
For the baby, the seat is roomy and comfortable. The natural recline position is much better than the Graco Snugride and the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio, both of which I’ve found to be too upright. The seat is very deep, so there’s plenty of protection all around.
From a durability perspective, the seat wears well. The ballistic nylon wrapping really does not show dirt. I also love the Papparazzi Shield, which is great for counteracting overstimulation.
The only significant drawback of the car seat is the weight. It is a heavy seat, and as Zev grows, it gets more burdensome to schlepp around. For some people this might be a dealbreaker, but in reality there havn’t been too many instances where I’ve needed to carry it very far.
Now let’s talk about the stroller.
The fold is amazing. Every time someone sees me fold this thing, I get oohs and aahs. It is so fast and easy, which I really appreciate when Zev is starting to fuss (he has very little patience for the car standing still). The handling is very good. The first few times I used it, I worried that the wheel base was too long and too wide. But after a little time, I’ve adjusted to the dimensions, and I’m very pleased with how it pushes. I especially appreciate the suprisingly easy one-handed push, which is very useful when you need to hold another child’s hand crossing the street. With the tires properly inflated, the stroller goes up and down stairs smoothly. The suspension is good enough to keep the passenger from feeling too many bumps in the road.
I initially was not a huge fan of the cupholders, but I discovered that the problem was with my choice of water bottle – it was too wide to fit correctly. Now that I’ve switched to another brand, I’m very pleased.
I have very few complaints with the stroller. The handlebar foam is not holding up as well as I’d like, but that’s the only durability issue I’ve noticed so far. The small front wheels sometimes have a tough time navigating curbs and larger bumps in the pavement, but I think that’s par for the course with any hybrid-style stroller.
My big debate is with the Cargo Pod. As someone who is accustomed to having an actual basket on my stroller, it’s been a tough transition. It’s roomier than I initially thought it would be, but it’s just not as flexible as a basket. But my sister, who had an Orbit before she was spoiled by any other stroller, absolutely adored her Cargo Pod. So I say it is a con, but with an asterisk.
Last, I’m going to talk about the accessories I have tried.
We took a hand-me-down on the Bassinet/Rocker from my sister, and while it was nice to have, it definitely wasn’t a necessity for us. Zev often does like to be flat on his back, kicking around in the bassinet, but when he gets tired of that, I’m out of luck. When he’s sleepy, he much prefers the contours of the car seat to the freedom of the bassinet. But that’s Zev. Another baby might feel differently.
The All-Weather pack is a must-have, I think. The rain cover fits nicely in the Cargo Pod, and there’s great peace of mind knowing it is there.
I have yet to experience the stroller seat or the toddler car seat, but I’m looking forward to extending the life of my Orbit as Zev gets older. I’ll keep you posted.