Pushing two children around in a pushchair can prove a nightmare if you buy the wrong pushchair and choosing the right one is never easy. Inline or side-by-side will be your first question. We take a look at a solution offered by Mountain Buggy – The Duet.
One of the most important points to think about when choosing a double is how you are going to use it and putting your preferences in order of priority. You aren't likely to be able to tick all your boxes but as long as you fulfil the major criteria you won't be often frustrated with its performance. If you need a fully fledged double pushchair, one thing you cannot shy away from is size, whether inline or side-by-side, they tend to be big. So to help you through this minefield, we are taking a closer look at the Mountain Buggy Duet which could be the perfect fit for your life.
What's in the box
The RRP of the Mountain Buggy Duet is £580.00
One of the Duet's biggest selling points is the size. Being a keen convert to the Mountain Buggy Urban Jungle, I was surprised to discover that the double seated Duet is the same width as its single seated counterpart.
The plus point to this is the fact that you can manoeuvre it through doorways without the grief of catching, snagging or scratching the door frame on your way through. You would imagine that to make this reduction in width (10cms narrower than the Mountain Buggy Duo) your children would have to be waifs to fit into the narrower seats, but incredibly Mountain Buggy have managed to maintain the seat size of a single buggy in both seats. Most of the width saving has come about through minimising the partition between the seats leaving each with a space of 26cm wide, 20cm deep and 50cm back height.
From the top...
The broad, ridged foam covered handle not only affords great control over your Duet but can also be raised or lowered to suit whoever is pushing it. Spanning a range from 109cm to 75cm, it can be adjusted by pressing the large round buttons on the inside of the handle.
Separate canopies snap over the crossbar and affix on each side of the seat. It's brilliant that they are independent of each other and will be the saviour of many a disagreement between siblings, offering autonomy over their individual amount of shade.
Each has a flip-out sun mesh to add a little bit extra to the already ample hoods. Velcro closing flaps cover peephole windows on each hood allowing light in under the canopy and a decent view of your passenger.
Twist and slide
Both seats have a 5-point harness as you would expect, however they also have the easiest height adjustment system offered by any manufacturer on the market. Mountain Buggy have replaced awkward dismantling and rethreading with a simple twist and slide mechanism which will allow you to position your harness in one of three locking off points.
The double width, metal, sleeve-covered bumper bar clamps onto the frame either side. It is incredibly strong and leaves plenty of room behind it so that even the largest child won't feel too restricted.
Strap recline mechanisms are by no means my favourite way of adjusting the angle of your child but the Duet's gripping sliders cope well with their function. Pulling down on each side of the clips will allow the straps to slide through them with little effort, which in turn drops the back of the chair to any angle, fully flat being the ultimate result.
A loop in the end of each strap gives you enough room to hook your thumbs and pull outwards. The up is more difficult than the down and would be made more so with the weight of a child leaning against it, so it's by no means perfect, but it isn't critical.
Below the seat is the huge, unimpeded basket. Spanning the width (43cms) and nearly the length (45cms of the wheel base, it has a 20cm depth with plenty of clearance above it for a large changing bag or two or three bags of shopping.
All the wheels are pneumatic, rubber, 25cm shock absorbers. The fronts can be locked off to be unidirectional by a twist of the switches on the hub above them. The rear wheels come under the control of the brake which echoes the design used on other Mountain Buggy models. Bizzarely it is applied by flicking down the red capped lever on either the right or the left. The only problem is, this lever is vertically upright when it's off, meaning you have to point your toe to flick it down - tricky when you're wearing rigid outdoor shoes. Once applied you can be sure it won't be running off without you as it gives a super, firm hold in conjunction with the grip of the tyres.
Travel round to the front of the Duet and just above the foot plate are two sliding buttons each side of the frame. The right is impeded by a safety switch, move this out of the way and slide the buttons up to collapse the frame. Make sure you keep control of the fold on its way down or the footplate will attack your kneecaps as it comes forward! The fold results in the seats laying flat over the wheelbase and it's secured using the manual strap between the handle and the frame. It's not petite, but it's a double...what do you expect? You can easily get it out of your way by standing it upright in the hall or a cupboard and compact the size further by removing the wheels.
Altogether, Mountain Buggies in general are hard to beat. One of the most beautiful elements is the push; they are so well balanced, they are a dream to manoeuvre and even this double could turn on a sixpence. The Duet is particularly versatile because it is a narrow double buggy with all the assets of it's bigger sibling: the Duo.
Being quite short, this is a fabulously manageable pushchair, although I wouldn't want to be wrestling it in and out of my car boot every five minutes. It is quite large when folded and also quite heavy. It would suit a family that live in a village and don't use the car that much, or town dwellers with a weekend fetish for the countryside. Either way, it will cope will all terrains and deliver a smooth ride whether in town or wilderness. The large basket gives you ample room to cart your kitchen sink as well as the two children.
I really dislike the braking system. If, as intended, you are wearing something bulky, like walking boots, the vertical lever is difficult to get your foot around to apply the brake. Flicking it upright/off is not such a problem.
The fabrics, as on all Mountain Buggies, are exquisitely understated and great quality. The seat units can be removed to install one or two carrycots, or one or two car seats offering some great flexibility. Some parents may be deterred because you cannot rotate the seat to be parent facing but I am sure this objection would be overcome the minute you have a push - it's smooth as velvet!
We give the Mountain Buggy Duet
4 stars out of 5
Age: From birth
Open size: 63 x 130 x 75-109cms
Closed size: 63 x 99 x 36cms