Quick Summary: All in all – if you only had a small budget to spend (we've seen the Monty as low as £125.95), can put up with the shortcomings and are happy to buy a from birth travel system that doesn't parent face the Monty could be for you.
- Competitive all inclusive price
- Large basket
Whats not so good?
- Clunky hood
- Stiff fold
- Poor access to basket when seat reclined
- No parent facing option
Obaby have been gradually releasing a series of fresh faced pushchairs with new designs and innovative features, whilst simultaneously upping their quality and usability to new levels. We take a look at one of their entry level travel systems – the Obaby Monty and see how much of a Monty we get for our money!
The first thing to know about the Obaby Monty is that it needs just a little bit of construction to get it going. The rear axle will need to be clipped into place and some washers and clips used to fit the rear wheels. This is not a job to do when little people are around or if you are in the shop you bought it from and want to ‘drive away’. Once you are set though all you need to do is unfold the pushchair and you are ready to roll.
First impressions of our test subject in the ‘Black Stripes’ colourway are good; it’s got a smooth matt black finish to the frame with sophisticated black fabrics and the fun multi-colour striped binding and hood interior is just enough to make it look interesting but not too ‘in your face’.
Working from the top, the foam covered handle is not adjustable in height but as it is quite rounded you should be able to find a position that is more or less comfortable – it is not one I would recommend for taller people though, I would expect it to be more comfortable for shorter types – especially with the basket protruding out from the rear, taller people with long legs may find their toes catch as they walk.
The basket itself is a really great size, and with the seat in the fully upright position access is great – you could easily drop a full shopping bag straight into it. With the seat fully reclined though (and as the seat is suitable from birth in this way), you will not be able to access the basket at all – not ideal if you are out for the day with a sleepy newborn.
The wheels are your standard hard plastic stroller type, a double set at the front and singles at the rear, it is possible to lock the front ones into a fixed position to help with one handed pushing or over bumpy/rough ground – although I wouldn’t suggest you stray too far from the beaten path with it, there is no suspension and the solid wheels without bearings, will give a fairly bumpy ride. Although the pushchair feels quite long (perhaps an illusion because of the protruding snack tray) it is quite compact, and is nippy enough to push about the shops easily – even with one hand.
The brake is a linked bar type at the rear axle, you need to depress the bar to engage the brake. This can be done on either side, although not the easiest to get your toe onto if you’ve got larger feet – the small pedals are tucked away between the wheel and the shopping basket. To release them you need to flip the pedal back up using the top of your foot – watching out for your manicured nails! The brake gives a reassuring clunk once it is engaged and the system is simple with not much to go wrong.
The Monty feels strangely heavier than it looks. Push it along though and it feels nice and easy – it’s a breeze to pop it up kerbs. The weight makes it feel a little more substantial than you would immediately guess from first glance, so I’m not too off put by this.
The pushchair seat is a fixed forward facing bucket style seat, with a one handed recline dropping the back rest down. The seat looks wide and deep, and although the backrest isn’t the highest by any stretch of the imagination there is a decent amount of space available under the hood. The entire seat is padded; backrest, seat base and calf rest – although the back rest is a little flat and unforgiving for a younger tot.
With the backrest fully reclined the seat is suitably flat for a newborn, and Obaby have worked in some additional fabric around the perimeter of the seat (in addition to the usual back flap of the hood) to create a soft enclosed carrycot like feel in this position. With your baby strapped in and some extra padding you should be happy that your baby is cosy and secure.
The only problem with the additional security provided by the sewn on fabric around the seat back is that when you come to move the seat back up into its upright position the fabric ruffles up and gets caught all around the sides and top of the seat – making it awkward to push all the way up, giving an untidy look and reducing the seat size for the occupant. You can, with a bit of jiggery pokery, push all the fabric back behind the seat and this gives you a much neater clean feel to the seat, although it then becomes more difficult to drop the seat back down again!
The seat recline is operated by squeezing a solid bar at the rear of the seat upwards and dropping the seat back. There are three seat positions – fully reclined, semi-reclined and upright. To lift the seat back up you do not need to squeeze the bar – it automatically locks in each position as you push it up and forwards – nice and easy to do with even one hand in both directions. The only thing to note is that the back flap of the hood obscures the bar itself – you can either try and squeeze the bar through the fabric, guessing where it is, or try and get your hand up and under the loose fabric to find the bar by touch.
The five point fully adjustable harness is the type that encompasses the child’s waist (so good for holding in tiny tots) and you can adjust the shoulder straps to one of two potential height settings. Padded chest and crotch pads are included and you will need these as Obaby have, for some reason included a sewn-in clip right at the top of the shoulder straps – which won’t be comfortable on bare shoulders in the summer. The harness buckle is your standard finger pincher type, and you can do up each side (and each shoulder strap) individually. D-Rings are sewn in for you to use your own harness if you wish. The calf rest is non-adjustable – but is nice and long and well padded, you can clearly feel the front edge of the seat reinforcement through the fabric though which might not be the comfiest for heavier weights. The pushchair has a fixed foot plate for longer legs to rest their feet – and this has a nice reflective detail on it.
An integral part of the pushchair is its snack/play tray. This works in a similar way to a swing away bumper bar – you can release it at one side to gain easier access to and from the seat. It features a cup holder and a deep rimmed tray for your little one to stash their toys or snacks.
The hood is a bit of a letdown, with the seat fully upright the hood is located behind the seat top itself – so even when you fully extend it coverage is poor. It is also stiff and noisy to alter – giving some very loud clunks as you move it into your desired position. It does have a nice peephole window though, which you are able to keep open with a toggle if you desire. With the hood fully retracted you do get a great view of your child.
Not the easiest this one, but results in quite a flat free standing pushchair. You need to do three actions before you can fold – depress a small red button underneath the handle whilst squeezing the large red trigger in the centre of the handle with one hand, then lift a sliding latch on the left side of the handlebar with the other – the pushchair frame is then released and you can begin to fold it.
Now for some reason – the actual folding of the pushchair was not as easy as it was made out to be in the instructions. At this point all that is required apparently is to “lift the handle slightly forward ...and then push the handle down towards the wheels until completely folded”. Well I obviously didn’t get the ‘knack’ because I found that either the hood got in the way and prevented it folding, or the seat became somehow fully reclined halfway through the process. I actually found that it was virtually impossible to fold unless you pulled up on the snack tray at the same time as pushing down on the handle, scissoring the pushchair closed. But, once the deed is done, it has a clasp that keeps it shut, and it will stand alone with only the wheels touching the floor which is a big plus.
Unfolding was similarly ungraceful, with a bit more brute force required (especially in controlling an unruly hood) than is normally expected. After unlatching the safety lock, lift the handle upwards (and I pushed down on the tray) until the two ‘prongs’ on either side of the pushchair lock into position. A loud ‘clunk’ can be heard when they engage.
The Obaby Monty can be purchased with a rear facing group 0+ car seat, suitable for use from birth up to 13kg. This car seat can be clipped onto the pushchair without the use of any additional parts, and makes the pushchair into a handy travel system.
The car seat that comes as standard is the Obaby Omni Safe rear facing Group 0+ car seat. The seat itself is impressive; it has lots of features giving it a higher specification than many of its big name competitors. It has a five point fully adjustable harness, a thickly padded removable newborn head hugger and insert and a secondary padded removable seat reducing insert. It has excellent padding on the chest and crotch strap, and the shoulder strap height is adjustable to one of four positions and the crotch strap between two positions. With all the inserts removed the seat is a good size – enabling you to keep your child rear facing for a bit longer.
The car seat is made to integrate fully with the pushchair without the need for any other adapters or parts. With the seat fully reclined (unfortunately once again preventing any useful access to the shopping basket) all you do is slot the car seat into the seat area, catching the clips on the rear of the car seat onto the snack tray. A loud click from either side lets you know the car seat is attached. Once on, the pushchair feels nice and stable and the car seat itself is very securely attached. You can use the pushchairs own hood to give baby a more private environment for napping or if the sun is bright. To remove the car seat from the frame all you need to do is use a one handed squeeze trigger at the rear of the seat to unlock it – and then lift the seat away – nice and easy.
The most important thing to bear in mind when looking at the Obaby Monty is the price. It is a very competitively priced pushchair.
It’s not all singing, all dancing, and it’s got a few things that I find more than a little annoying (the clunky hood, pokey brake, awkward fold/unfold and the fabric around the seat when reclining), but it does its job, it is comfortable, has lots of little extra features such as the swing away snack tray, adjustable harness and extra large shopping basket that gives it an edge. It has to be said that the build quality of the Monty is also good.
The car seat is well thought out and more practical than some of its competitors and is easy to use in conjunction with the pushchair.
However, in this day an age colourful fabrics and a removable snack tray don't totally cut the mustard. Ultimately, the Monty, comes across as a bit of an old fashioned clumsy design with some annoying niggles surrounding the things you use every day. This is the price paid for producing a product at such a competitive price.
All in all – if you only had a small budget to spend (we've seen the Monty as low as £125.95), can put up with the shortcomings and are happy to buy a from birth travel system that doesn't parent face the Monty could be for you.