I first saw the Orbit Baby back in September 2010 during my first every Cologne baby fair. I fell in love immediately. Finally, after a long wait and much anticipation, it will be landing in the UK. Now that I have my hands on one it's time to take a closer look.
Never has a pushchair sparked quite so much interest as the reporting of the Orbit Baby's imminent arrival in the UK back in September 2010. We had daily phone calls from parents enquiring where this amazing contraption could be found, sadly we had no useful information, Orbit were still in the process of finding a distributor. Well, 2 years later, the Orbit Baby G2 is really on its way....but guess what, I have one already!!
So what's taken it so long to cross the Atlantic? The same old story I'm afraid. Our stifling fire retardant regulations in the UK dictate that pushchairs are treated in the same way as furniture, their fabrics having to be specifically developed for the UK market to comply.
Orbit Baby's environmental ethos prohibited them from releasing the G2 here because they did not want to compromise the quality of their fabrics in anyway. They have now developed an alternative that has allowed them to finally bring this beautiful product across the pond.
College buddies from California, Bryan White & Joseph Hei, founded Orbit Baby as a result of wanting to overcome the challenges posed by conventional child transportation. Both had young families and soon figured that their niggles must be shared by millions, so decided – there had to be a better way.
What's in the box?
The G2 will be sold in this country as an attractive bundle
The RRP for the G2 Bundle is £999
The stroller on its own is RRP £670
Currently the Orbit Baby G2 is only available in black; however, a colour hood is available in four different colours; Black, Pacific Blue, Ruby Red, and Slate. The chassis is currently available in grey with a black option coming soon.
The Orbit Baby G2 is second only to the Bugaboo in the USA and is set to become the next big thing in the UK. So what's all the fuss about? Well, the first and most obvious unique selling point is the fact that the seat unit/car seat/bassinet can rotate on the chassis. This is useful in so many ways; sitting your child up to a table in a restaurant, rotating them round to face you if they become unhappy facing forwards, better for your back for lifting the units from the frame etc etc, the list goes on. So let's take a look in more detail.
With or without the seat unit in place, the chassis of the Orbit Baby G2 seems long at 106cms but it needs to be substantial to be able to accommodate the large bassinet (more on this a little later) and the swivel mechanism.
The aluminium handle stems are bridged by a cup holder for Mummy or Daddy; you can tell it's American because it's Starbucks sized! The punch grip handles each have a button on the end that allows each handle to extend independently from a regular 102cms to maximum of 118cms with two alternative stops on the way.
At the base of the handles, they are bridged again by a polished chrome handle, this comes into use when folding so we'll cover that in more detail when we get to the fold. It then levels out to the 30cm round, dish socket.
The chassis continues to flow forward to the lockable front swivel wheels, however don't confuse the release mechanism for the swivel lock or you'll be stood supporting the pushchair with one wheel off your wagon. The buttons on the top of the front axle, showing the directional arrows are actually the front wheel release mechanisms with the locking switches a little further down the wheel stems.
For the pushchair loving, techno geeks among you, you might want to know a little more about the workings of the wheels. For starters, the 18cm front and 25cm rear foam wheels are made from PVA-free plastic. Each wheel hub has unimpaired rotation due to the sealed ball bearing units that prevent dirt from fouling your progress. To keep your ride as smooth as possible, the G2 is fitted with Quad shocks; four lateral springs that absorb the lumps and bumps of your journey without making it vertically bouncy.
Stopping your pushchair is an obvious necessity; this is the job of the oval, transparent pedals next to the rear wheels. Although they were linked with a wire, I found that the left locked both wheels whereas the right only locked one. I'm sure this not some clever design feature to allow you to spin doughnuts with your child on board, just a fault on my sample pushchair.
Beneath the seat socket is the cargo pod, this is the Orbit's completely unique version of a basket/changing bag. The clasp handle forms the rigid stem that slides the rugby ball shaped bag into a runner underneath the seat. Slide it out; undo the clasp and the bag springs open into a bowl shape, making all the contents visible and accessible. Two bottle nets either end and two elasticated nets either side, ensure everything can have its own place without swimming around, lose in the cavity. A carry strap converts this handy tool kit into something that almost resembles a handbag - it even has little feed to stop it getting dirty of you put it on the floor. For some the cargo pod concept will be great, others will no doubt wish they had little more space for shopping etc. I personally love the concept.
The Orbit's long chassis dictated by is clever functionality, has created some very love it or hate it looks. Not everyone we showed it to is a fan of the styling. It also produces a compromise when pushing. When you put a child in the seat, the long wheelbase, forward centre of gravity and location of the handles have quite an effect on manoeuvrability. Cornering becomes quite an effort and I am sure if you were on a pavement with a left or right hand slope, you would be required to add undue pressure to the opposing handlebar.
Twist and fold
I really love the control that you have in the fold, it's not a panic, it's not complicated and results in a neatly compacted frame.
Standing to the left side of the chassis, you must first release the transparent catch that prevents the folding mechanism from being accidentally activated. Then hold onto the front of the seat socket and the silver folding bar (recognisable not only because it's silver but also because it has double ended arrows embossed on the top). Twist the folding bar and the handles will drop towards the ground.
Using the folding bar as your main carry handle, lift the frame and tuck the handles in towards the wheels - an automatic lock will secure closure. Opening is merely a matter of releasing the frame lock and unfolding the handle upwards, until it clicks into place.
You spin me right round
Now for the piece de résistance; the seat socket. This wide circle can accommodate the seat unit, the carrycot, and in the States - the car seat, all of which just drop into place. (Don't worry; the car seat will get here in the near future). The beauty is you can do this from the front, the back or either side it doesn't matter where you're standing.
When on board, the seat can be rotated 180 degrees by squeezing the release handles on either side of the seat. Should you want to remove the seat altogether just squeeze and lift, if not, turn it to whatever angle takes your fancy. The same handles control the recline, in fact the levers can work independently to choose from one of the three recline positions, plus you can use the bumper bar to select with control.
The bumper bar has knuckle hinges that mean it can open like a gate to give your child greater access to the seat. You can remove it altogether but the knuckle means you don't have to keep hold of it when you're loading or unloading because it just swings out of the way.
The seat is one of the largest I've come across; it has a back height of 53cms, a width of 34cms and a depth of 30cms. Net pockets are built into the sides to tuck away bits and bobs that will keep your passenger content. Comfort is not in question; the seat is really well padded throughout and covered in a super-soft fabric called Ercotech, the only fabric to be environmentally certified in the UK.
The five point harness has three height options, easily adjusted by unzipping the flap at the rear of the seat and re-threading the strap into the appropriate hole. Although you don't adjust your strap heights every day, you don't need it to be an awful rigmarole when you do, and I'm pleased to report that this is a doddle.
At the foot of the seat is the adjustable footrest, unconventionally, it has a single adjustment mechanism underneath it and can be lowered in three stages or removed altogether.
At the top of the seat is the canopy which can only be described as enormous. It zips into the head of the seat and has three segments, the last of which can be tucked back on its self to minimise the overall size. It's made from a sort of thick, stretchy mircrofibre that feels fabulous and offers 100% UVA and UVB protection.
Now I know that we are not renowned for our exceptionally hot climate, but when the sun does decide to shine it can be unbearably hot. Fortunately the Orbit Baby G2 emanates from hotter climbs and comes prepared for our sporadic sunshine. The zip flap at the rear of the chair not only allows access to the harness position but also to the ventilation holes incorporated into the design of the seat core. Mirrored by another zip flap, the whole of the back of the seat can be exposed while the two flaps have subtle magnetic fastenings to keep them out of the way and allow the air to circulate.
Well, if you thought the seat was big, the bassinet is definitely the largest to pass through the Pushchair Expert offices. It's a whopping 26cms deep, 75cms long and 43cms wide!! It attaches to the chassis in the same way as the seat unit and can also be rotated through 180 degrees, although most parents would want the baby facing them. However, when it comes to placing this cumbersome, heavy shape onto the chassis, it's much easier to approach and place it from the side, then spin it around to face you.
It still has a carry handle to make transporting it from A to B less awkward plus it folds neatly out of the way behind the canopy when not in use. The canopy is average compared to that of the seat unit but it does have a really snazzy party trick that it shares with the canopy on the car seat (which we saw in Cologne). Concealed within its layers is a pull out ‘Pap' screen which not only conceals celebrity children from the prying eyes of the press but also offers 100% sun protection. The elasticated edge stretches the cream screen from the rim of the canopy to the foot of the bassinet bed, entirely concealing the baby whilst offering them a safe and spacious cocoon in which they can concentrate on developing in uninterrupted comfort.
Inside it has a deep, breathable mattress and is ventilated through the base to enable it be used for overnight sleeping.
Included in the UK bundle is the brilliant rocker/stand. For me this would eliminate the necessity of buying a crib or a Moses basket, as I would make the familiar environment of the bassinet their bed both inside and outside the home. The stand can be a rocker or a static base depending on whether your child is soothed by the sensation of movement.
The drink holder is for Mummy or Daddy but the snack tray is for the hungry monkey that replaces your child at the most inconvenient times while you are out and about. Luckily it will accommodate a drinking cup and grip it, as well as plenty of nibbles. Better still, the sticky result can be put in the dishwasher when you return to leave it clean and sterilised for your next adventure.
All this ventilation and no rain cover would be an insult to British parents whose pale complexions are more of a testament to sudden downpours than prolonged dry spells! Once again, Orbit Baby have avoided the smelly uPVC and provided a rubber rain cover. It feels weird but is just as effective and less creased in the process.
Not included in the bundle are the side kick and the side panniers. The side kick is a toddler board that conveniently clips around either of the rear wheels instead of underneath the handles which inevitably interrupts your stride. Ingeniously placing the toddler to the left or the right of the driver means everyone travels comfortably.
The side panniers are extra storage for shopping trips. Cleverly, they clip to the side of the frame and fold flat when not in use but pop out to be deceptively spacious carriers when you need them.
Although we don't have the Obit Baby car seat in the country yet, a Maxi-Cosi car seat adaptor is included in the package. Don't worry, it's not as big as it looks, the side bars fold down to make it more compact.
The Orbit Baby G2 is a top flight pushchair that makes everything effortless. Excellent engineering has allowed Orbit to develop a product that really works well. Everything behind the G2 has smooth functionality, good ethics and longevity.
What the Orbit does, reflects in the way it looks and goes. Some people will love the styling, others will not. People will find the way it pushes frustrating at times. But in most cases, this will be a sacrifice worth making to get access to the G2's 'spin me round' party trick.
The feeling of quality on the Orbit Baby is apparent from the minute you touch the fabrics or interact with the pushchair in any way. From the swivel to the fold, nothing sticks or aggravates, it has exceptional fluidity, I can honestly say it's a joy to use.
The ‘eco' ethics behind the building of the G2 are admirable and something that all manufacturers are going to have to explore more. The UKs over protective fire retardant laws oblige manufacturers to incorporate chemicals and/or alternative 'compromised fabrics' into their designs, something which definitely needs repeal or review because the redevelopment costs often preclude some pushchairs from ever reaching the UK.
Not only are the basics of this package attractive to ‘new' parents, the add-ons will give your G2 a longer life. Two toddlers on a side kick each and a baby in the bassinet gives transport to three children. If you intend to have more than that you are going to have to make alternative pushchair plans anyway!
At £999, I think the Orbit Baby G2 package is expensive, but you get a lot for your money. It doesn't include a car seat which would have to be bought separately bumping up the price to an uncomfortable level for most people. But if you are after something truly different with more add-ons still to cross the pond, the Orbit Baby G2 is a really exciting ongoing investment.
We give the Orbit Baby
4.5 out of 5 stars
Age: From birth
Folded size: 83 x 39 x 33cms (with seat on placed on top: 36cms)
Open size: 102-118 x 106 x 61cms
Seat height: 53cms
Seat width: 34cms
Seat depth: 30cms
Carrycot interior: 65 x 33 x 20cms
Carrycot collapsed height: 15cms
Rocker size: 85 x 60 x 25cms
Weight: Chassis: 7kgs, Carrycot: 4.5kgs, Seat: 4.5kgs, Rocker: 1kg