Nikki, husband Kris and 2-year-old Jaxon have been putting the special-edition Stomp V4 travel system from Ickle Bubba through its paces in their day-to-day family life on the edge of the New Forest...
Kris and I both work full-time, myself as a midwife and Kris as a bus driver, so our small amount of family time is precious and fun-packed! We enjoy spending our days in parks, exploring the Forest, going shopping and travelling further afield for days out.
We were excited for the Ickle Bubba Stomp V4 and it arrived quickly in two big boxes - one with the pushchair frame and seat and the other with the car seat and Isofix base. Taking it out of the boxes, the chassis just needed the wheels clicking into place and the fabric attaching to the seat frame. The instructions are very clear with pictures included, so it only took about 10 minutes with the help of a toddler! Once it was assembled, Jaxon was excited to push it round the house then promptly requested to sit in it to watch the television for half an hour - a good start as I usually have to wrestle him into a pushchair!
My first impressions were that this is a well built pushchair for the price point; there are some lovely touches where Ickle Bubba has paid attention to details such as the colour co-ordinated branding labels on the hood and seat. The fabrics also seem good quality with the seat liner for the pushchair and the car seat being padded for extra comfort. The pushchair itself seemed surprisingly light and easy to manoeuvre whilst I test-drove it round my lounge.
The package really is amazing value for money. At £599, there are lots of extras included - cosy-toes-type covers for the seat, carrycot and car seat; car seat adaptors, raincovers, changing bag, car window shades and matching seat liner. You really get a full package!
We are testing the Stomp V4 in Woodland Bronze, which has lovely dark khaki green fabrics and a stunning bronze-coloured frame, I was worried that the frame may be more of a rose gold colour but it is actually a really elegant shade that would work well whether you have a boy or a girl.
Firstly I checked out the car seat. As Jaxon is now over the weight limit for the seat, I was really comparing it to the infant carriers that we used when he was a baby. The Ickle Bubba Galaxy car seat, included in the package with an ISOFIX base, seems really sturdy and feels very safe yet light to carry. It comes with newborn inserts that are removable and help to keep tiny ones secure. Once you remove the inserts the seat has an adjustable headrest, which I think would provide extra protection compared to the car seat we used. The headrest and straps are so easy to adjust as they slide up and down with a click of a button - no re-threading straps as your baby grows! This is a brilliant function as I always find re-threading so fiddly.
The seat is nicely padded, has a colour co-ordinated sun hood and a cosy toes that attaches for cold weather. The only issue I could see with the seat is that the hood and cosy toes attach with tiny elastic loops over an even tinier plastic hook and they slip off easily so I could imagine some frustration with these coming off frequently.
The ISOFIX base is so quick to install and doesn't seem as bulky as others I have used. The seat easily clips in and out but can also be installed with a seat belt, which was also very straightforward.
The hood on the car seat looks lovely with its matching colours but it does seem to sit a bit short when the handle is raised up - to me, it feels as though the handle needs to come an inch or so further forward in order to actually provide some shade to your baby.
Jaxon's carrycot days are obviously behind him but I liked the concept behind this one. It is actually a fabric set that cleverly attaches to the same frame as the seat, so no need to store a separate bulky carrycot! It is a bit fiddly zipping and clipping it all together but you would only do this once or twice. The carrycot is a good size length and width wise, but is quite shallow so I'm not sure a bigger baby would be using it for a full six months - it feels like your growing baby wouldn't be cocooned as such.
The fabrics, again, are soft and comfortable, and the carrycot comes with a mattress and a quilted inner liner, which also has a padded base and a built-in soft harness to keep baby secure. The outer has the matching details, like a leather Ickle Bubba logo, giving it a luxury feel. The bumper bar of the seat unit attaches too, to make it easy to transport the carrycot. It has four little feet underneath to keep it off the floor if used separately from the pushchair. I was a bit confused as there is a metal bar under the carrycot, which is part of the mechanism to attach it to the pushchair, but this sits lower than the feet so I couldn't get it to standalone. I wasn't sure if this is meant to be removed somehow but I couldn't detach it and there were no instructions on how to do so.As Jaxon would be using the toddler seat I changed the fabrics over, which is a quicker process with the seat than the carrycot. Everything is well secured with poppers and elastic loops. The seat has four recline positions - Jaxon's favourite being completely upright, which is hard to find in most pushchairs - and lies completely flat for naps. The recline is a bit fiddly and stiff as two buttons need to be pressed simultaneously whilst also moving the seat position - a one-handed mechanism would have been much easier for those of us who never have enough hands anyway!
The seat itself is a great size; Jaxon is tall for his age at 92cm and he still has plenty of room by his feet and could comfortably have the hood extended with a bit of headroom left. The seat is also deep so will accommodate the chunkiest of toddlers easily. It comes with a padded seat liner, which makes it feel really comfortable, but this is just secured with the straps looped through it so I have found myself constantly pulling it up behind Jaxon or else it slips down and takes the straps with it. The bumper bar is luxuriously covered in leatherette to complement the colours of the pushchair and Jaxon likes to rest his arms on it. It is not gate-opening so needs to be removed entirely to wrestle a toddler into the seat. I still haven't worked out where to put it whilst I clip him in, so it usually ends up on the floor!
The harness is five-point and has shoulder pads; the shoulder and waist straps slide together to clip into the buckle - whilst this is handy I have found the shoulder strap comes off the clip easily mid toddler-wrestle, leaving me fiddling around putting it all back together. Otherwise the buckle is easy to use and each side can be secured one at a time. The hood for the seat is a good size and provides enough space above Jaxon's head but it would be nice to have an additional zipped extension or sun visor as it doesn't give much shade from the sun and I have found this useful on other pushchairs, especially when he is napping. The seat doesn't have an adjustable footrest but there is a lip in the fabric that allows toddlers to rest their feet. I tried the cosy-toes but it really was a snug fit and didn't leave Jaxon any room to move his legs or feet so it is probably more suited to smaller babies than toddlers.
We took the pushchair with us for coffee a few times and the seat is at the perfect height to push up to the table and use as a highchair so Jaxon could comfortably eat with us. Overall Jaxon seems so comfy in the Stomp seat - he was happy to be pushed around sitting upright and watching the world go by, and he even fell asleep for a nap whilst we shopped, which he never does!
The frame of the pushchair is very light to push, despite being quite a substantial size. It is smooth to drive with the big rear wheels, and the front wheels have good suspension. We took it off-road for walks and it coped very well with rough surfaces but was equally easy to whizz round the shops. The handlebar is covered in the same leatherette as the bumper bar and feels comfortable to hold with multiple height positions, I was more comfortable with a lower setting whereas Kris liked it raised so it would easily accommodate shorter or taller parents. Jaxon was even able to push it with the handle at its lowest setting!
The fold is really easy once you have the knack and it is light to lift into the car boot. It took up most of the space in our BMW 3 series estate car boot but if you remove the seat and rear wheels it is more compact. I loved that you can fold it with the seat attached! I did have trouble squeezing it into my dad's Honda Accord saloon car as his boot didn't have the height to accommodate the seat when attached, so that had to come off and go on the back seat.
The basket initially seemed a bit small for me as I like to throw all my shopping in there but I was surprised how much I could squeeze in if I hung the changing bag on the handle - it comfortably fits two bags of shopping and a couple of extra toys, wellies, etc.
The pushchair is easy to steer and navigate through doorways. We took it on the train and it slotted easily in a small gap - I was worried we would have to unload everything and fold it up! It pops up and down kerbs so smoothly and was fine to push one-handed whilst Jaxon walked with me. The brake system is also easy to use and flip-flop friendly, I have had trouble with stiff brakes and flimsy ones before but the Stomp brake was faultless and I felt that Jaxon was safe when it was parked up.
I have been so pleasantly surprised by the Stomp V4 in the four weeks we have been testing it. Knowing it was such a value-for-money product and comparing it to more expensive pushchairs (I have previously owned and loved an iCandy Peach and UPPAbaby Vista), I have to admit I was apprehensive about what to expect. I honestly cannot see why you would pay extra for an upmarket brand. The build quality, included extras and fabrics all exceeded my expectations and pushing the Stomp V4 around I would not have known that it was a mid-range brand. From the attention to detail on the logos to the extra padding in the carrycot and car seat, I really felt like the package is worth every penny and you would not need to buy anything else as your child grows because the pushchair adapts with you. Next week we are taking the Stomp to Centre Parcs for a family holiday and I'm so pleased we will have somewhere comfy for Jaxon to nap and be able to carry all our swimming gear, plus I know it will take all the long walks easily in its stride.