The epitome of compact convenience? We've been out and about with Bugaboo's travel stroller, the aptly named Bugaboo Ant.
If you've been searching for a travel stroller for a while or you're a fan of Bugaboo, the chances are you've already heard the buzz surrounding this small but mighty pushchair. It is designed to fold as small as possible but has been tested to carry children up to 22kg in weight, making it perfect for travelling with and for use on public transport with older toddlers as well as babies.
Suitability: Birth - 22kg
Folded size: 55 x 38 x 23cm
RRP: From £429
If space saving is the name of your game then you will love the size of this teeny tiny travel stroller. When we first lifted it out of the box we couldn't quite believe that it was going to accommodate our 2-year-old toddler but it unfolded like a Transformer and revealed a really neat stroller with a tall and spacious seat unit.
Pushing the Bugaboo Ant is easy as pie. It glides along smoother surfaces like it's floating on air (even with a 20kg child in it) and it even managed well over short grass when we took it with us to a festival. The wheels are tiny but chunky (if that's even possible!) and, as on all Bugaboo strollers, are made of the highest quality materials.
The basket space is great. It is accessible from the front of the pushchair really easily and the back of the basket houses an elasticated pouch that can hold keys, wipes and the odd bottle. We loved having this within such quick reach and what we loved even more is that we didn't need to remove our belongings when we folded the stroller and could still get into the pocket when the Ant was folded up. This meant that the pushchair doubled up as a shopping trolley on occasions when the seat wasn't in use!
The brake pedal is neat and doesn't protrude too much from the back of the pushchair. In fact, when the brake is engaged the pedal sits flush with the chassis, but is still easy to flick off with your toes when you are ready to roll again.
It's always a bonus in a travel stroller for the seat to parent and world-face. We were thrilled to know that the seat can be removed really easily and the direction changed when needed. It's great to be able to have your newborn lying flat in the parent-facing position, still knowing that your stroller can be folded and wheeled along in the blink of an eye if required.
The handlebar adjusts in height - again not to be taken for granted with a compact stroller - and even the tallest and shortest of testers found a comfortable height to push at. There is a little more play than expected, but this does not seem to detract from the push.
We love how this pushchair can easily be steered with one hand. The handlebar is slim, fitting perfectly and comfortably into your palm, and the wheelbase is narrow, allowing you to slalom your way through busy areas with ease.
The hood is impressive and available in an array of pretty shades so you can add a splash of colour if that's your thing or equally keep it classic with natural tones and weaves. The hood zips open to reveal an extra extendable panel and there is a lovely mesh viewing window that opens and tucks back neatly. However, we would like to see the hood being a little higher as it would then accommodate larger toddlers better.
The seat can cleverly be pulled up using a leather loop strap at the top. This not only alters the height of the seat but also automatically adjusts the height of the harness.
We loved the harness on the Ant. Similar to the other strollers in the Bugaboo range, it is a comfort harness that stays open so you can get baby in easily. This was great for our 2-year-old toddler who climbed in and out of the seat by herself and we simply clicked the clips into the large central buckle one at a time.
We can't write this review without telling you about the fold - though until you see it with your own eyes, you might not believe how clever it is!
There are five steps to this fold (yes, five!) but it's so clever that we really didn't mind. You fold the sides of the pushchair back in, push the seat back down to its lowest height, fold the seat unit in half using the recline lever, fold the wheelbase using the clearly visible white clips on each side of the chassis and then pop the handlebar down.
You can keep the handlebar extended and use the pushchair as a trolley behind you. We didn't think we would ever really use this feature but actually it came in very handy when our toddler decided she wanted to walk. The handlebar does have a tiny amount of play in it, similar to the Bugaboo Cameleon, but it is safe and sturdy all the same.
It folds with the seat parent or world-facing and the package is just as neat and tidy either way.
We loved the tall seat and extendable backrest but we did feel that if using the seat of the Ant from birth, you would definitely want to add the Bugaboo Bee cocoon to give baby a more sheltered space to lie in.
When the seat is parent-facing, the recline options are brilliant. There is a position for your baby from birth to childhood, but when world-facing the seat only reclines by a few degrees, which wasn't quite enough for our toddler to nap happily and comfortably. A lower recline position on the seat when world-facing would be desirable for most parents.
Another feature that would have been really handy to have on the seat is a calf rest. We found that for babies over around 9 months old, their legs were already longer than the seat base, but we still felt that when napping or even just for general comfort in the seat a calf rest would be favourable for children of all ages.
Even though we are really taken by the fold, there's no getting away from the fact that there are five stages to it! This does mean that to start with you might get a little confused. After a week or so it became second nature and the number of steps needed to achieve the fold honestly wasn't an issue.
Anyone under the illusion that this stroller is a gimmick is definitely mistaken. Much like the little children who will proudly take their throne in it, the Bugaboo Ant is tiny but strong and determined! It is a no holds barred travel stroller fitting into its travelling role seamlessly, allowing baby to travel comfortably with minimal fuss for parents.
The design might look quirky but the features are useful and exceptionally well thought out.
We were stopped on multiple occasions by dads in particular marvelling at the clever engineering of the Ant, and always met with applauding eyes when we folded this stroller to tuck it away in the corner of a cafe or into the footwell of a taxi.
If you plan on using the Ant from birth, we would highly recommend using it with the Bugaboo cocoon accessory, and it's worth remembering that the recline only goes back to a really comfortable resting position when parent-facing. The lack of calf rest means the base of the seat stops behind a toddler's knees so their little legs are dangling unsupported whilst they are strolling and sleeping. This may impact on the comfort of toddlers whilst in the pushchair. The hood height is on the low side for older toddlers.
Overall, we feel these are relatively minor snags to consider when you experience the convenience of the Ant when used in its capacity as a travel stroller.
We give the Bugaboo Ant 4.5 out of 5 stars