Easywalker Duo Plus Review
Here we take a look at the new souped up Easywalker Duo Plus - with a lighter, more petite chassis and upgrades to the suspension, braking system and fabrics this new version of the popular all-terrain twin pushchair looks set to pack a punch.
The Easywalker Duo Plus is an off-road animal. Designed to allow outdoorsy parents to maintain their all terrain lifestyle it certainly packs a punch in this department. With exceptional suspension the Easywalker Duo Plus will be great when walking with two children around wherever you want to go; up hill and down dale.
- Excellent off-road capability
- Spacious seats
- Can be used for twins and siblings
- Flimsy hoods
- Poor wheel lock
- Bulky fold
Easywalker hail from that hotbed of innovative pushchair design, the Netherlands, and like many of their compatriots they have exceptional credentials in pushchair design. Since 1989 Easywalker have kept their core principles clear; to create quality, sustainable, all terrain pushchair solutions which give you value for money and a sporty design. Here we take a look at their double or twin pushchair solution in our Easywalker Duo Plus review. This most recent ‘plus' model builds on the popularity of previous Easywalker Duo models, with a few advancements thrown in for good measure.
I won't beat about the bush here; when you first lay your hands (or even just your eyes) upon the Easywalker Duo Plus, you will immediately realise you are in the presence of a serious piece of pushchair hardware. This is no pushchair pussycat, the Easywalker Duo Plus is a mean off-road machine. The chassis is made from super strong yet lightweight aluminium tubing, which has been updated in the Duo Plus to be both more aesthetically pleasing and also supposedly more lightweight. This full sized double pushchair weighs in at just 16.5kg. When you get the Easywalker Duo Plus out of the box you will find its four great big strong air tyres. At 31cm in diameter, they are some of the largest I've seen on anything other than a dedicated twin ‘jogger' pushchair. They are fat, robust and look well made, pop them on and it's ready for action.
One of the first things that jumps out at you is the suspension. No messing about here. At the rear end, you will clearly see the two large shock absorbers that no doubt help give this pushchair excellent all terrain capability. Push down on the handle bar and you'll feel the effect they have – cushioning all the lumps and bumps you would expect to find off-road or over rough uneven terrain. No bone jarring shakes here, with this suspension your occupants will glide over the ground and your arms won't be jiggled to pieces either, be it sandy beaches or cobbled courtyards. The suspension is fully adjustable to give you an easy push when you need it most and your passengers maximum comfort. Turning the collar at the base of each spring alters the play in the suspension to give a hard or soft ride. It's a bit of a shame they have not added front suspension to match.
It's not just the suspension at the back that has seen an overhaul for this updated Easywalker Duo Plus model; the braking system has had a complete re-vamp too. Aware of the abuse this pushchair might have to take, the system is simple to use and easy to keep clean – preventing any faffing about in the mud. A simple toe press on either side engaging a linked rear cog style brake. A toe lift on either side (or in fact anywhere along the bar that joins the two brakes at the rear of the back axle) releases it. No messing about, nothing fancy or earth shattering in terms of innovation, but it does the job and does it well.
The swivel lock on the front wheels of the Easywalker Duo Plus is really something where a bit more work could have gone in. Having used all terrain pushchairs exclusively now for my own children we use the swivel lock feature all the time. Several times during a day out we will alter between a fixed position to a swivel position. On the Easywalker Duo Plus this is not the easiest task. It requires you to reach awkwardly behind the big front wheels and manipulate two fiddly stiff latches, pulling and twisting them to get the wheels to lock. They are right where muck will collect from the front wheel, making the job messy as well as tricky.
The foam covered handle is fully height adjustable, un-doing three latches on the bar allows you to select from 7 different height settings. It's great for different height pushers. With a width of just 75cm the Easywalker Duo is designed to fit through standard doorways, and isn't too much wider than some single pushchairs. The shopping basket isn't huge considering the size of the pushchair, but it does feature some nifty zip openings at the back – giving you good access but a very secure area to store your goodies, so nothing will bounce out whilst you go over the bumps. Lastly the chassis design leads to excellent flexibility. You can adapt everything from two carrycots to two car seats if required.
The two forward facing seats on the Easywalker Duo Plus are spacious enough to take even large toddlers. Perfect for long countryside walks when bigger kids inevitably start to tire there should be enough room for them to hitch a ride in comfort. The seats measure 32cm wide with a seat back height of 45cm. There is also an additional 15cm of height under the hood meaning your child actually has a huge total of 60cm before their head touches the canopy. For 2013, the seats on the updated Easywalker Duo Plus have upgraded fabrics, hard wearing yet soft, and with stitched ribs to aid airflow and prevent overheating. The seats are comfortable yet supportive. Not the neatest of finishes though, the recline design means the fabric sides to the seats overlap looking untidy.
The zipped recline allows for three seat back positions to be selected, and the use of two clips on the seat back gives you a fourth, upright seat position. Each seat can be reclined individually. The method of recline is very fiddly, with what feels like zips and buckles everywhere. It is a two handed job, even to recline the seats. When reclining the seat the fabric sides are kept neatly with Velcro – great for neatness – not ideal when next to a lightly sleeping babies head as you try to lower them down without waking them. When fully reclined the seats are almost horizontal and provide a comfortable sleeping area. There is an additional cover at the rear giving protection from the elements. This really comes into play when the seat is fully reclined. Lastly, the lack of an adjustable footrest detracts from the comfort for longer legs.
In the most upright position the seats are still fairly recumbent, even with the extra seat clips engaged. Whilst you might find this position is excellent for weight distribution and child security over the rough terrain it is perhaps not to every nosey toddlers taste and you may find them straining at the harness straps to ‘sit up'. The five point harness is completely adjustable, and the shoulder straps can be routed through one of three heights. The crotch strap can be altered between two settings, as well as in length – giving you a great range of options to suit a variety of sized children. Chest pads are included.
The Easywalker Duo Plus comes with a double span bumper bar for use when you have two seats on. The bumper bar clips onto either side of the frame and is gate opening to aid you getting children in and out, although the unwieldy length of this will most likely put you off using this feature to much. The two hoods on the Easywalker Duo Plus can be operated individually, and both contain a pull out sun visor and peep hole window. A number of hood extension settings can be selected using the stiffness of the hood rods to keep it in place, although pulling the hood forwards and backwards is a clunky task. There is no ‘stay' on these hoods to keep them fully extended, and they are reluctant to maintain the final fully extended position, jumping backwards and giving them a floppy feel and a baggy appearance.
The Duo comes with a raincover that fits neatly and quickly. With the raincover in-place you have access to your child from the side via a Velcro sealed flap. If you want to get access from the front you will need to lift up the full raincover. It would be great to see some form of zip access in addition to the Velcro flaps. Lastly on the back of the seats are pockets that are rated to take up to 2kgs. They include a mesh pouch on the inside and an additional smaller zipped pocket on the outside.
The Easywalker Duo Plus 2013 can take a variety of car seats, and Easywalkers new re-shaped carrycot on either or both sides of the frame, making this pushchair suitable for twins (from birth with two carrycots or car seats) or siblings (with one seat and a carrycot or car seat). To use the pushchair with a carrycot you need to remove the seat fabrics completely (an easy job just requiring poppers to be undone) and fit two bars to the frame – into which the carrycot clips. Adapters are available to use with most brands of infant carriers, and these attach to the frame with the seat removed.
A large but slightly different shaped result than some of it's competitors once folded. The fold on the Easywalker is a book type fold in half system, perhaps giving you more potential car boots to fit it in. Removal of the wheels after folding produces the most compact fold. With hoods reclined and wheels on swivel (to achieve a full fold; with wheels fixed forward the folded pushchair is very large), put on the brake. Next, flick up the red safety latch on the side of the frame, and then with a hand on either side of the handle bar – squeeze two triggers. The chassis breaks in the middle and you can drop the handle bar down towards the floor. You will need to jiggle the front swivel wheels into an optimum angle to achieve the most compact fold. It's easy to write down, but cumbersome when you actually do it for real.
There is a manual fold lock strap that you can do up that secure the handle to the rear axle – keeping the pushchair shut for transport. You can tip the pushchair back onto its handlebar to store it upright – not something you would want to do outdoors though – the foam looks a little too soft and vulnerable for this. To open the pushchair out, just lift the handle bar upwards until the pushchair snaps into position. This should be fairly easy, but I found it was made quite difficult by the pushchairs reluctance to open, in addition, the weight means that people with lighter frames will find opening the pushchair quite a challenge.
The Easywalker Duo Plus is an off-road animal. Designed to allow outdoorsy parents to maintain their all terrain lifestyle it certainly packs a punch in this department. With exceptional suspension the Easywalker Duo Plus will be great when walking with two children around wherever you want to go; up hill and down dale. A few things leave a little to be desired though; it's heavy. The flimsy hoods really let the side down, the all important swivel locks for the front wheels are difficult to access and will be dirty when you get there, there's no adjustable footrest and the fold lacks finesse.
The debate about doubles and tandems will rage on, what suits one parent will not suit the next. If you want something easy to push, roomy for two and will fit in the back of your estate car (if you can lift it) then this could be one to look at. If you want something that does all that AND eats rough terrain for breakfast, then this might be the very pushchair for you.