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Phil & Teds Explorer Review

Review Overview

Phil & Teds Explorer Review
Expert Reviewer
14 Reviews
Reviewed On: 17 Oct 2011
William Studholme
Expert Reviewer
William's Verdict:

Stylish and practical, the phil&teds explorer is good looking and even expands to carry two children, but how does it fare under the scrutiny of the Pushchair Expert technical review.

Review Summary

Summary

The phil&teds explorer is a difficult pushchair to grade as it is such a mixed bag of pros and cons. It is extremely good looking and brilliantly manoeuvrable which are going to form your initial impressions when you first see it.

What’s good
  • Robust
  • Good looking
  • Great manoeuvrability
  • Large basket
  • Adaptable
What’s not so good
  • No depth to footrest
  • Strap recline
  • Basic bumper bar

Review Content

Phil & Teds Explorer Review

phil&teds are a popular brand in the UK that have maintained their appeal. From their Classic 3 wheeler through to the bulkier Hammerhead, their range delivers fashion, fun and practicality in spades.

Today we have the phil&teds explorer in for scrutiny and on first impressions it is striking in its signature phil&teds black and red. Apart from the very attractive angular frame, it has three white walled air tyres that give it a brilliantly ‘sporty’ look.

The phil&teds explorer comes in four colours: apple/charcoal, black/navy, black/black, black/red.

I really like the overall appearance of the phil&teds explorer, it’s very simple but very classy. So where to start?....How about from the ground up, kicking off with those super funky white walled pneumatic tyres...

Wheels

My opinions on pneumatic tyres have wavered from good to bad and back again over the last few years but generally, I now prefer air-filled tyres for the gold standard in comfort. Yes, they do make your pushchair heavier and can suffer from flats, however for manoeuvrability in town or off road, air tyres cannot be beaten. After all, your pushchair is made to be pushed and pneumatic tyres help it to do that job just that little bit better.

The three 29cm wheels on the phil&teds explorer are attractive and big enough to cope with all the adventures of a regular family. The front wheel can be locked off so that it doesn’t swivel, making it easier to push on rough terrain or to jog behind (although it is not officially classed as a jogger because it doesn’t have a hand activated braking system).

The control to lock the front wheel is slightly awkward to access, located behind the front hub, but considering that the wheel rotates a full 360 degrees it would be a necessity to constrain it if you are off-roading.

The rear wheels are easy to remove by pressing the button in the middle of the hub; perfect if you need to make the folded footprint that little bit more compact.

explorer_wheels
Basket

There’s no denying it, we love to shop! Now, if you are savvy enough, your pushchair will not only keep your child comfortable and catered for, but it will also have the capability of becoming your pack-horse at the same time. Regardless of your lifestyle, a large basket is essential, if only to off load your change bag now and again and the phil&teds explorer has ample room. At 33cms wide, 50 cms long and 20cms deep, it’s a handy dumping ground for shopping, nappies, wipes, buckets and spades etc. You have room to carry enough equipment for every eventuality.

Of course, this basket has a double function; when the second seat is attached it becomes the foot-well for the rear passenger.

explorer_basket
Brake

On the right of the back axle, unmissable in bright red is the brake. Press to apply and flick up to release, it’s a doddle, even in flip-flops!

explorer_brake
The seat

On closer inspection, the seat is a peculiar shape with a width of only 26cms, a depth of 23cms, it then has a huge back length of 56cms. The front edge of the seat is only 10cms higher than the footrest, resulting in a larger passenger having their knees crunched up to actually place their feet on the foot rest.

The bumper bar is very rudimentary; a foam covered metal tube that slides into the tubular frame. Should you wish to remove it altogether, plastic bungs are provided to seal the holes left behind.

The seat liner comes in red, navy, black and green and can be removed for washing; however you cannot use the pushchair without a liner. The rear of the chair is made up of a contoured, ventilated, plastic panel – fantastic in summer to keep your passenger cool, but a little draughty in winter.

explorer_seat_pads

I love the phil&teds harnesses, they are genius. What can be so special about a 5 point harness I hear you ask? Well it’s not the harness itself but the way that it can be adjusted in shoulder height that is poetry. Under the shoulder pads, two clips are concealed, undo the clips and unthread the seat liner. Then twist and slide the shoulder straps to their new positions, feed the slips through the corresponding hole on the liner and re-attach to the rest of the harness. Brilliant!

explorer_back
Recline

The recline of the seat is not my favourite mechanism, but actually works well, especially with the weight of the child on the back of the chair. Two straps support the chair, a clip keeps them gathered together to keep the back of the chair upright. When this clip is released, the strap is ‘let out’ to allow the back of the seat to lower to an infinite number of angles..whatever suits you and your child.

Reversing the process is a little more difficult, this time the weight of the child and gravity hinders the operation. The clip must be squeezed and run up the straps until the seat back is held at the required position. Even without a passenger on board it is tricky, so I use the technique of pushing up the back panel, balance it on my head while I hold the straps and slide the slider up to hold it in place. I am sure this is not in the training manual, but it does the job!

explorer_recline
explorer_rear

When reclined, the seat is fully flat and looks very protected and comfortable. The fact that the full fabric seat is suspended from the frame means it is enclosed on each side forming a draught free cavity, perfect for keeping your child snug and protected from the elements. The rear canopy extension is a uPVC panel that Velcros onto the rear of the canopy and buttons down the sides sealing the hole formed at the head of the bed when reclined. This panel can be removed in summer to ventilate a sleeping child. Being see-through, this panel allows you to see your sleeping child and keeps them reassured that you are there, this slightly makes up for the fact that there is no peep-hole window in the top of the canopy.

Canopy

The canopy is large and made up of two segments. Pockets either side are handy for stowing bits and bobs that you need close at hand, i.e. phone, dummy, tissues etc. The canopy can ‘follow the sun’ meaning it can be angled to shade a baby regardless of the position of the sun. This is good and bad; good because you can always protect your baby from direct sunlight, but bad because your 2/3 year old will soon cotton-on that they can pull the canopy all the way forward onto their lap because it’s not attached to the frame.

To extend the reach of the shade, a flip out sun-visor sits just inside the rim of the canopy. It’s not mammoth, but could make all the difference if your path is heading towards the sun. A smaller canopy comes with the double kit to protect the second passenger from harmful rays.

explorer_hood
Handle

A single, foam covered bar gives you firm control of the pushchair. Adjusted by the buttons on the interior, it can span a height of 112cms down to 79cms! It also includes a wrist strap so that your pushchair won’t be allowed to wander off.

Fold

The fold is simple enough in theory... Tucked away under the front of the seat is the folding mechanism. Slide the slider and squeeze the button and the top half of the frame will drop towards the back wheels. The frame can then be picked up using the bumper bar, the front wheel swings towards the back axle and folds flat against the basket. The click of the auto lock is the signal that you have successfully completed the fold. The tricky part is the squeezing of the button – it’s really stiff and you need a good grip to activate the release.

explorer_fold

It’s not a petite fold but it can stand vertically if you angle the handle all the way up before folding. It is heavy, but you don’t get this sort of longevity in flimsier pushchairs.

I haven’t managed to open the explorer with any sort of elegance as yet, but I’m still practising. The button to unlock the closed frame is on the right if you are stood at the handle. A firm press (as this is also a little stiff) will enable you to spread the wheels out, it’s then just a matter of lifting up the handle until the satisfying ‘click’ informs you that your pushchair is open and ready for business.

explorer-folding
Conclusion

The phil&teds explorer is a difficult pushchair to grade as it is such a mixed bag of pros and cons. It is extremely good looking and brilliantly manoeuvrable which are going to form your initial impressions when you first see it.

The big basket is practical and accessible and we can all imagine the benefits of having room for anything and everything you might require. I am still a little baffled by the height of the footrest, it doesn’t give your child a lot of room to balance their feet, especially as they get older. But where this element lacks insight, the manipulation of the shoulder straps is genius and the easiest mechanism on the market; it’s not something that you do every day but some pushchairs require open heart surgery to simply move the straps up a notch!

I have a love hate relationship with the raw simplicity of its design. I love the fact that it is simple mechanical engineering with very little on board that could go wrong but this does eliminate technical finesse in places, for example the bumper bar is just a piece of metal covered in foam – no hinge or easy release buttons and the recline, is just straps! You interact with its raw mechanics when you fold the seat; it is a stubborn button that takes a beefy squeeze to make it happen.

On the other hand, this is a pushchair that you will find difficult to destroy, it has durability and longevity written all over it. It can grow with your family as it evolves by adding the second seat and it can be sold or passed on when you have finished with it; a new seat liner will make it as good as new!

Explorer-modes
explorer_woman
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