Mountain Buggy are the equivalent to Range Rover in the ‘brand to be seen with‘ stakes. In some families, neither have ever seen more than a tarmac pavement or road, but both are designed for bigger adventures. We have the Mountain Buggy Urban Jungle in for test to see if it has brains as well as brawn.
Our knowledge of Mountain Buggy has recently been expanded when myself and Jo, our Social Media Editor, attended the phil&teds/Mountain Buggy University. Mainly used to train retail demonstrators, we joined the course as interlopers to find out more about their range and functionality. The Mountain Buggy Urban Jungle was among the products we learned about, which certainly helps when you have one in the office for review!
Upon first impressions the Mountain Buggy products are basic and utilitarian looking. The robust nature of their design is evident in the aesthetics as well as the build. Like that feeling you get when you are wearing wellies, the Urban Jungle gives you the impression that Mother Nature cannot affect you no matter how much rain or rocky ground comes your way.
What's in the box
Well, being an antipodean brand, where the sun is more inclined to shine, the Mountain Buggy (and phil&teds) range comes as the basic package with all the accessories as optional extras.
The RRP of the Mountain Buggy Urban Jungle is £510
The Urban Jungle is available in black, chilli, navy, flint, moss and chocolate with the ‘Night in the Menagerie' being a special edition.
Having had some first class training on the Urban Jungle, I can now understand how this pushchair has been put together....and why. This three wheel, all-terrain is a dream to push, it's smooth, effortless and quiet!
From the ground up, the wheels are all 12 inch air tyres with good tread for a comfortable ride whatever the conditions. The back wheels are removable as is the axle pin that holds them in place, making the whole unit easy to clean. The suspension on the rear wheels is epic as you would expect on a real, go-anywhere pushchair.
The apex of the frame, above the front wheel is made of steel. The reason for this is to make it strong so that it can absorb the impact of everything from a rocky path to kerbstone without transferring the impact to your passenger. To keep it in pristine condition, this front axle is coated in five layers of powder coated paint (your car normally has two layers) which will protect it against the knocks of your everyday environment. A twist switch, on the hub, locks off your front wheel from its fluid 360 degree swivel making rough terrain easier to navigate without your front wheel having other ideas!
The brake is located on the back axle with the control pedals near the left and right back wheels. Pushing down on a vertical pedal is a bit awkward but you are left in no doubt when the brake is engaged due to the loud ‘clang' it makes as it locks. As far as doing the job it's supposed to do – your pushchair is going nowhere when the brake is applied, in conjunction with the grip of the air tyres, it's impossible to move. Releasing the brake is tricky, especially if you're wearing boots, you can't get your foot underneath the pedal. The solution is to lift the pushchair slightly to be able to kick the brake off - not ideal.
The basket is long and wide. Slung from the bottom of the chassis, it has a couple of netted pockets on the interior and one on the exterior as well as a small zip bag for small personal belongings. It's a good size, and like the seat, it can be easily unclipped from the frame to wipe down if it gets dirty.
The tubes that construct the rest of the frame are made from aircraft grade aluminium that keeps the pushchair's overall weight to a minimum at the same time as ensuring it's sturdiness. It is held together with nuts and bolts instead of rivets, (which can pop under pressure) comforting to know your pushchair isn't going to fall apart when you're stuck in the middle of nowhere.
The handle can be angled into thirteen positions, from 78 to 111cms, so regardless of your height; you are bound to find one that suits. It is covered with ridged, waterproof, rubber coated foam - not the sort that will not deteriorate over time. To make sure you don't let your pushchair wander off without you during moments of distraction, there's a safety strap on the handle that you simply slip over your wrist.
The ample hood is showerproof and like the rest of the pushchair, it feels solid. It can be angled to follow the sun and has a flick out mesh sun visor. A huge peek-a-boo flap gives you ample view of your passenger. The zip edge allows the storm or sun cover to be attached.
The seat is little more than formed fabric, poppered onto the frame. Of course, it's more technical than that, however to describe it so simplistically shows you just how easy it is to remove - undo a series of poppers and you can shake out the crumbs or give it a thorough wipe down.
The ‘Night in the Menagerie' special edition depicts birds, monkeys, bats, assorted wildlife and garden elements in various shades of blue and turquoise. This pattern lines the seat and the interior of the canopy - it's very attractive but aimed more at a little boy than a little girl. The two sides of the harness clip in individually – handy when you have reluctant cargo to restrain. The bumper bar clips to the frame and can be opened like a gate.
To recline the seat you need to release the straps at the back – my least favourite mechanism of recline! It seems a very old-fashioned method considering the price you are paying for this pushchair. However, it is surprisingly easy to perform. It reclines to fully horizontal and is completely enclosed against the elements at the back of the seat because it is all one piece of fabric. You can envisage taking your baby anywhere in this mode, wrapped up snug in it's footmuff and strapped into this cosy cubby-hole with the hood down, it is secure against wind and the worst of the elements.
The action buttons for the fold are located near the kick plate at the bottom of the seat. Undo the ‘safety' catch then slide the buttons up resulting in the front wheel swinging underneath the seat. It's simple to perform however you couldn't call it compact! You need a big car to carry this around. On the plus side, it stands vertically when folded so is convenient to store.
The Carrycot and accessories
Unlicip the seat fabric and you are left with a naked frame. The carrycot clamps onto the frame in four places, eliminating that wobble you get with inferior tethering methods - it's solid and simple. The cosy carrycot has a padded mattress and sides on the inside and a removable apron cover on the top. The best bit is the canopy that extends all the way under the body of the cot eliminating chilly drafts. The carry handles are strong nylon straps that can be velcroed together in the middle like a sports bag. The storm cover for the carrycot is extremely snug, too snug if it wasn't for the flap window at the front.
The bottle holder attaches to the frame by small Velcro straps and is large enough to take a large Evian bottle.
The footmuff is by far the nicest I've seen on any pushchair. It reminds me of a ‘North Face' jacket or Nordic sleeping bag - well insulated but super soft fleece inside. A great touch is the central zip closure, it just makes the process of getting in and out gently uncomplicated.
You should only really buy this pushchair if it fits your lifestyle. Do you go out walking in the hills? Are you an outdoorsy sort of person? No? Don't worry, as with the Range Rover, this pushchair is predominantly bought by families who never see mud, rocks or hills. However, like with gym membership or fitness videos, you buy this sort of pushchair with the best of intentions - you are going to change your life, your family will suddenly become fresh air freaks and you will become a size 10 overnight with all the walking you are going to be doing...all because of your wonderful new purchase!
In reality this suburban utility vehicle is a very practical pushchair that offers simplicity, durability and manoeuvrability. It's the equivalent of buying a washing machine; you think you need one that does everything and has 30 programmes to choose from, when in reality you end up using only three of the wash cycles on offer, so why not buy one that performs those cycles really well – keep it simple!
Where the simplicity gets a little extreme is in the recline, the strap system is a faff . I can see why Mountain Buggy haven't performed any technical miracles here as it is difficult to incorporate something like a ratcheted handle into an all fabric seat but for part of the pushchair that I am going to be using every day, it's an irritation.
Another area that could do with some sophistication is the brake. When applied, it does exactly as it's told but it's not easy to apply or release.
On the plus side this long lasting piece of kit does exactly what it says on the tin and will keep on doing it for a long time. Because of it's simplicity there is little that can go wrong and it can all be stripped down to be cleaned. I think it's one of those purchases that you would stretch yourself to make but would never regret.
We give the Mountain Buggy Urban Jungle 4.5 out of 5
As an unusual extension to our review I have a personal addition of using the Mountain Buggy 'in the line of fire'! Unlike Mr PT, who put the Urban Jungle through it's paces on the rugged extremes of the Norfolk coast, I put it to the test in the sprawling metropolis that is Basingstoke.
A three day visit to anywhere with decent shops has to include a little retail therapy, however with a three year old....therapy it aint! Having not had the need for a pushchair for quite some time I thought it might make the agony of zipping round Zara a little easier. Instead of chasing my slippy son through racks of clothing I could take some time and consider my ususally rushed purchases.
Without bias, I can honestly say, my stress levels were minimal. He didn't much like being in a buggy again but he had loads of room so didin't feel squeezed into his wheels. He was not impressed with the bumper bar and soon learned that with a little extra force it could be dislodged...this became our battle of wills!
From a pushing perspective, it was just so effortless! I wasn't constantly excusing myself for cutting up pedestrians as I could steer around them. Laden with three large bags of shopping and a three year old boy, it's handling didn't flinch. Manoeuvering into lifts, up kerbs and around Festival Place didn't result in the usual exhaustion.
Eventually, he couldn't be contained in the pushchair any longer and wanted to walk...gulp! but it was not a problem, I successfully held onto him and the pushchair and steered one handed through the very busy Mall and back to the car.
So, I have to conceed that whether your Mountain Buggy ever sees a mountain or not, the Urban Jungle as useful in a tame environment as it is in the wild.