It divides style opinion like no other pushchair, we road test the 2014 Stokke® Xplory®.
The design is certainly eye catching. Some love it some don't, but you cannot deny it is a one of a kind. The Stokke® Xplory® is in my eyes a beautifully engineered solution, I like the looks too, only question is how will it stack up in our Stokke® Xplory®review?
What's in the box?
• Seat Unit
• Canopy (hood)
• Rain Cover
• Newborn Insert
• Bumper Bar
• Mosquito Net
• Shopping Bag
• Suitable from Birth
• Open Height: 89cm – 123cm
• Open Width: 57cm
• Open Length: 75cm – 102cm
• Weight: 10.5kg with seat – 12.5kg with carry cot
• Carrycot – RRP £170
• Style kit – RRP £169
• Summer Kit – RRP £155
• Winter Kit – RRP £255
• Sibling Board – RRP £87
• Sleeping Bag – RRP £155
• Footmuff – RRP £99
• Sheepskin – RRP £209
• Pram Pack – RRP £135
• Changing Bag – RRP £99
• Parasol – RRP £42
• Knitted Blanket – RRP £41
• Cupholder – RRP £18
Stokke® Xplory® Review: Colours
Deep Blue, Beige Melange, Urban Blue, Black Melange, Red, Brown, Purple, Black, Beige, Black
Let me get this out there first: the Stokke® Xplory® is packaged as a luxury pushchair should be.
All too often you open a heavy box to find a thousand pieces of packing foam, plastic bags and pushchair parts, making your beautiful set of new wheels feel more like flatpack furniture than a ready-to-roll pushchair.
The plain, black printed carton opens to reveal the seat and chassis held in place by custom designed internal cardboard packing pieces. Pull out the packing, chassis and seat elements one by one and you will find there is no assembly aside from zipping on the canopy. You are up and running in seconds.
Once opened and with the seat in place, the Xplory® shows you what you've paid for. This pushchair is beautifully made. Every part is exquisitely designed and manufactured. Having a background in plastic moulding means I can be a little picky about poor plastics on a product (it's usually caused by low cost tooling). The Stokke® Xplory® is nothing short of a revelation, having perhaps the best plastics on any pushchair I have ever tested. Put simply, this is what you are paying for.
Judging the quality of a design is very subjective, and the Xplory® does divide opinion. Seeing one up close really brings its cohesiveness into perspective. The colours all match beautifully. The shapes of the seat, chassis and handle – and, of course, the overall stance - all really work. As you may be able to tell, I'm quite a fan already.
On to the more practical elements. Starting with the handle, the Xplory® is not just an exercise in stylishness – it's deeply practical too. The handle is adjustable from 84cm to 100cm. Push down a tab behind the handle bar stem (just below the new cup-holder mount) and the handle can be moved and fixed in one of three positions. The curved design lets you hold it in the middle, or closer to the outside if you wish. There's no covering on the handle, but the finish feels really comfortable in the hand.
In addition to the handle moving up and down, you can also adjust the height of the stem the handle is attached to. Lift the grey latch at the top and telescope the handle stem in and out. It has over 30cm of movement. This is part of the fold, but works very well as additional height adjustment.
Moving down the chassis, you come to one of the more unusual elements of the Xplory® design, the basket, or lack of it. Instead Stokke® have provided a bag that sits on a platform between the front wheels and is attached using two plastic clips (this attachment mechanism is new for the 2014 model Xplory®). Measuring approximately 30cm x 30cm x 26cm, it's not the biggest space for keeping your stuff, but it's a lovely design, having an internal ‘net' bag to keep things from falling out. The bag can also be removed and carried with the attached strap. A traditional basket was never an option with the Stokke® Xplory® chassis design. The Shopping ‘Bag' is a good compromise and some will love the fact it can be removed so easily.
All four wheels have black EVA tyres. The wheels are 18cm at the front (and now lockable) and 23.5cm at the rear. Surprisingly, there is no suspension. With the chassis being so rigid, bumps, ridges and cobbles send shocks and jiggles right up to the seat and handle. The seat itself is nice and padded, so it shouldn't be too much of a problem for your child, but you do feel it in the handle.
Stopping the Xplory® is simple. Press the orange pedal at the bottom to stop, and press the top to go. The brakes are effective and flip-flop friendly.
The direction of Stokke's® design has created a few tricky areas, most notably the lack of suspension. Elsewhere, Stokke® have creatively designed round the problems and found genuinely useful alternative solutions – the basket is a case in point.
Once again, Stokke® have had to re-think the traditional pushchair seat due to their unique chassis design. Simply put, they have come up trumps.
You can position the Xplory® seat forward and parent-facing and use it from birth with the addition of an infant insert (included). The seat design is unique, owing to the challenge that the single stem that the seat is fixed to presents. In parent-facing mode, older children's legs will fit comfortably round the stem. For younger children it won't even register.
Perhaps the coolest Xplory® feature is that you can raise and lower the seat! With the seat removed, lift the grey catch located at the front of the seat stay. You can now slide the seat stay up and down on the central chassis post. Seat height can be adjusted by 12cm. This may not sound like a lot, but in practice, it visibly brings the Xplory® seat much closer to the parent than you would first imagine. In fact, it places your child's bottom approximately 70cm off the floor! For many parents, this will be a huge selling point. Your child is away from exhaust fumes and, for example, is positioned at the perfect height for a table at your local lunch stop.
The Xplory® foot rest is removable. You it install it by pulling a grey catch and sliding it into the seat. It can be fixed into one of two positions – close up to the seat and further away for older children. Removal is just a matter of pulling the grey tab and sliding the footrest out. If the seat is parent-facing, you'll need to remove the footrest before removing the seat to fold the pushchair.
In parent-facing mode, the seat recline has two positions, a comfortable 45 degrees and a lie flat position. The recline mechanism is located under the seat. Push down the grey lever and move the seat into the desired position. While some might like to see more seat adjustment, this simply isn't possible because of the design. In practice, it's clear that the angles available have been carefully thought out to provide the highest level of comfort.
To remove the seat and swap facing positions, place you hands under the grey tabs at the seat sides and lift. The seat will come away quickly and easily. When the seat is world-facing, it once more has two positions: one upright and one slightly laid back. The seat can't recline when it's world-facing because of the chassis design.
The Xplory® lacks a gate opening bumper bar – however, the design is a good compromise. The gap between the bar and seat is nice and large, and the bar is really easy to remove. However we've all had that struggling toddler moment when a gate opening bumper bar makes all the difference...
The seat has a five-point harness with three positions for the padded shoulder straps. The crotch straps are also padded. Each side can be clipped home one at a time making getting your little one strapped in that bit easier.
Fabrics and general seat padding are excellent. The seat has a real cocoon look and feel about it, with a deep base and high sides that will give a real protective feel to a child. Seat back height is 52cm and the base depth is 21cm, making the Xplory® seat ideal for larger toddlers, too. The cocoon feel is further enhanced when you use the hood, especially when you pull out the sun visor. This canopy (hood) offers great coverage. You can even unzip the back and let some air in through the mesh lining.
Once more the seat shows Stokke's® attention to detail: the little poppers all bear the Stokke® branding and the fit and finish is just perfect.
A rain cover and excellent mosquito net are included at no extra charge. Both are easy to fit and remove. It's shame, though, that the raincover comes packaged so it appears like a very creased jelly fish when you unfurl it!
In addition to the Xplory®, we were sent the carrycot. Again, this has proved to be a superb product. The shell is hard plastic with venting in the base. It's suitable for overnight sleeping. You'll need to swap the hood from the seat to the carrycot, unless you purchase a second hood.
The carrycot slides and secures to the chassis without fuss. It's a two-handed lift to remove it, but with the base being a hard shell, you can then pop it on the floor before pulling out the handles from their little pockets and going about your business.
The mattress is well padded and has, like the main carrycot body, removable covers.
Folding the Stokke® Xplory® is fairly straightforward and has been made even easier on the 2014 model. You must remove the seat or carrycot first.
With the seat removed, slide the handle bar stay back down as low as possible. Next, pull the grey tab back on top of the ring located behind the central stay and pull the ring up. Now lift the chassis and press the bottom of the big grey button on the back of the wheel frame. Let the rear wheels fold towards the front and click in place. You can then fold the handle back under itself to reduce the size.
To put the chassis back up, slit the tag and lift the ring and let the wheels unfold and click into place.
The Xplory® is by no means compact when folded, and it's not
free standing - plus you need to remove the seat to fold it. There was always
going to be a compromise with this design, and this is it.
The Xplory® is no shrinking violet. Be prepared to stand out in the crowd. If you love great design and like something a bit different, the Xplory® will delight.
There are things that will frustrate. The basket/bag is a compromise. The lack of suspension could be a factor if you live in an area with rough pavements, and it limits any kind of off-the-beaten track excursions.
For some, the size of the fold will be something of a challenge they cannot overcome. Others won't bat an eyelid as they have space to accommodate it.
For me, the benefits of the single stay frame out-weight the compromise it creates. I love the fact you can adjust the seat height, and I actually think the removable bag/basket is a great idea. There is loads of handle adjustment – and, you know what? I think it looks great.
What you don't initially appreciate, but is so important and you will come to love, is the fantastic build quality. The Stokke® Xplory® is beautifully, cleverly, designed and made.
If you are in the luxury pushchair market and looking for that standout product that is different from the norm the Stokke® Xplory® delivers on so many levels, it has compromises, but it also has some very important features that offset these. Go and take a look. It's brilliant.
We give the Stokke® Xplory® 4.5 out of 5 stars