The Best Stroller for Travel: Maclaren Mark II Stroller Review


My family and I travel while I run my company Purveyor of Geekery


The Maclaren Mack II Travel Stroller The Travel Stroller! Guys! Guys! It’s here! I’m so excited!!! Which I why I am posting this at 8am after my husband brought the box home this morning. Mark II baby! W00t! We are really in love with our Maclaren Volo, so when my husband started eyeing up the BMW Maclaren fate intervened…shining it’s glorious rays of pity on our wallet and we began seeing information on the Mark II. 2 pounds lighter and half the price, we looked everywhere for it before realizing it was yet to be released. So we pre-ordered that baby as soon as we could. Then a few weeks ago the site we pre-ordered from refunded our money and cancelled our pre-order!!! Sadness. A dismal melancholy that permeated the very fibers of my being and rivaled the darkest periods of both S. Plath and V. Woolf combined. After that I lost track of our “Mark II” procurement project until this morning, when I opened the door to my husband’s room and there he sat, surrounded by the most glorious stroller I have ever laid eyes on…shiny, silver and new. Box guts everywhere. It looked like Christmas. I ran and got my camera.   Maclaren Mark II Stroller We took photos like it was a brand new baby as we put all the pieces together …and by that I mean “cut the tags off, put the rain flap on.” It comes pretty well in one piece. We put it in the living room and waited for O to wake up. Maclaren Mark II Stroller Christmas II. It was a boy with a new car. He sat in it for 20 minutes, kicked the wheels and played with it for a few hours before we took it for a walk around the block. Everyone was all smiles and giggles until we had to walk past the old trust Volo in the garage. It was like an old dog meeting the new puppy. There it sat: dismal and alone in the corner. My face fell and guilt filled my heart. O ran for it and crawled into the seat, his seat…ready for his walk. He cried as we peeled him out of the well loved, faded orange push chair. He arched his back as we tried to strap him in to the new one. I resisted the urge to take the empty orange stroller with us on the walk…the old veteran shouldn’t be left alone. But eventually we made it out of the house with out her and started around the block with the new Mark II. A few differences that I noticed from the Volo:

Cons of the Maclaren Mark II Stroller

  • Less underseat storage. The storage bag under the cart is a bit smaller, but it’s shorter in the front so it might not be an issue since the storage space under O’s butt was never really utilized anyway.
  • No pouch for the rain cover. I don’t think any strollers include pouches for the rain covers, but the first thing I thought was that I need to find a stuff sack with a carabiner for it. Right now it’s folded neatly with a hair tie keeping it together.
  • Thinner carrying strap padding. *Update 5/5/14* The little plastic strip on the carrying strap padding is not as wide as the Volo’s, which means it isn’t as comfortable (as comfortable as a piece of plastic is to begin with). *Update 9/2014* One of these works brilliantly, plus it matches my husband’s carry on and edc. Problem solved.

Maclaren Mark II Stroller Cable Brakes. Yum.

Maclaren Mark II Stroller Pros

  • More rigid plastic. The handles feel like they will last longer than the foam handles of the Volo.
  • Lighter. O was able to throw it around like a frisbee when he was playing with it: a giant, stroller shaped frisbee. **Update: 5/5/14: Took her to the beach yesterday and she was sooo much lighter when toting her around on my back it was ridiculous**
  • Better Weight Distribution. Tipping the front or back of the Volo to get it over curbs was a cinch, with the Mark II it requires a bit more work. This is a good thing. Better weight distribution means I’m less likely to knock the thing over when trying to pull O in and out with a full stroller organizer hanging off the back.
  • More mesh! In Florida this is a bonus. There is a nice strip of mesh that runs completely up the center of the seat so that air can circulate behind O’s back.
  • Lightweight fabrics. The fabrics used in the Mark II are very thin and lightweight, but in a good way. “Thin” like “ultralight tech camping” not “thin” like “flimsy cheap Chinese product.” Not only does this result in less weight but I am guessing that it will dry faster as well if it gets wet.
  • Handling. No difference between the Volo and the Mark II, both have that sexy English handling that I love so dearly.
  • One handed folding! This is a change from our Volo which is and older model, the new models have one handed folding now as well but Oh. My. Gawd. Thank you!
  • Tether Strap. How nice is this? Now when O wants to walk instead of sit, he can hold on to the tether as well if he is being ornery and doesn’t want to hold hands. *Update 9/14* Now that O is old enough to want to walk more, he LOVES this thing. He’ll walk beside the chair for ages just holding on to it, and watching his little paw curled around it makes my heart swoon. So grown up.
  • Cable Brakes.
  • Folds Tiny and a Carrying Strap. My favorite feature on the Volo and the Mark II is how small it folds. His infant travel “system” never folded smaller than the trunk of a sedan, so the ability for a stroller to fold into the size of a bundle of three or four umbrellas (because…you know: “Umbrella Stroller”) and fling it on your back has me sold. It’s perfect for the navigating quickly the horrible crowds at Disney: the baby comes up in to the arms, the stroller goes down and gets carried through the lack of space. Now you can squeeze between the people instead of getting bottle necked in by the masses.
  • Height. For some reason this stroller seems taller than the Volo. My husband is on the tall side and I am on the average size, so the handles come to a much more comfortable position for both of us than the Volo.
  • Folds and unfolds easier. **Update 5/5/2014** The Volo has a two part folding catch system that always seemed to catch me up trying to fold it up or down, but the Mark II’s folding catch system is so much easier to work.

So far, I’m in love.  I’ll update as I try it out more. Maclaren Mark II Stroller We’re a huge Maclaren family, their products and Diono make our travels easy. No, they aren’t paying me to write this. We bought our Mark II with cash money and no discount so this is an unbiased review. One off purchases of a brand are one thing, but you can tell a lot about the quality when you meet someone who keeps coming back. We own the Maclaren Volo, the Maclaren Mark II, Maclaren Universal Stroller Organizer in Black and Silver, the Maclaren Reversible Stroller Blanket in London and soon the stroller bag, seat liner and the luggage tag which should arrive in the mail any day.  It’s a great brand. We had our eye on their baby bouncer when O was first born but ended up inheriting one…that he outgrew within a week anyway. And now they carry diaper bags, amazing yummy looking bags that I dare not mention exist to my husband. I do not need a new bag. I do not need a new bag. I do not need a new bag. I do not need a new bag. I do not need a new bag. I do not need a new bag. I kind of need a new bag. Maybe I need a new bag…

 

maclaren mark II survives rays farm * Update 5/14: Greetings from England! We normally don’t fly with a stroller but decided to take the Mark II with us this time. Did you know strollers are the equivelant of a golden ticket when it comes to security check points? Instead of standing in line with the baby in the harness, we were directed to the high maintenance line (I.e. strollers, wheel chairs and walkers), it was fantastic. Once I got the hang on the folding mechanism, closing it down became almost instantaneous and since it is so light, I feel like a P90X alumni with the ease I can throw it on and off of carts, cars and conveyors.

We’ve put easily 60 miles on the stroller so far this trip between airports, trains, woods and farms. Two things I have noticed since originally writing this review: the clasp on the harness is a PITA. I know that overlapping the buckles before inserting them into the clasp mechanism is becoming standard on baby products but when you have a tired, fussy, screaming baby, you just want to get the cage shut ASAP, not fiddle around with a puzzle in the process.

Second is the color, which I knew was going to be an issue when my husband said “silver.” Instantly, visions of the constant cleaning need to keep it sparkly haunted my dreams. It pretty much came to fruition, but just the sunhood. It’s our own fault. We bought a travel bag but aren’t very prudent in using it. The dirt mainly comes from loading it in and out of the trunk when it is folded. Luckily thanks to the ripstop style fabric it doesn’t take long to clean: a bit of water on a rag and you are done.

Overall, I still wouldn’t trade it for anything else and I am still desperately in love with it. It handled the thick grass at the farm with ease and was easy to pick up and carry over the mud puddles on our hike in the woods. There is loads of space to pack in our stuff and even loaded up with shopping bags was simple to handle.

How about you? Have you recently acquired the Mark II? If so, how do you like it? Are you thinking of acquiring one?

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*Update 9/14: We’ve had her for 5 months now and I wouldn’t trade the ability to fold her up and carry her or lift her places for the world. When we go out to eat she can fold up and tuck under the table in busy restaurants. My only complaints is how fast she shows wear. I can take almost everything off and wash it minus the shade…and it is DIRTY! And driving me nuts. Also the white “Maclaren” letters on the red hinges have started to chip. :/ Lesson learned: do not get the silver. I’m thinking of contacting them to see if there is anything that can be done for the chipping letters, I feel it is a quality thing.

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My family and I travel while I run my company Purveyor of Geekery


21 Responses to “The Best Stroller for Travel: Maclaren Mark II Stroller Review”
  1. Ellen

    Just bought this and wanted to know if you had any updates to this review. I’m very excited that we purchased it but a little anxious because it’s so new.

    • Shell

      Hi Ellen!

      We just got back yesterday from a trip to the Magic Kingdom where we took the old Volo. I’m waiting on a stroller lock for the Mark II, so it stayed home. Every other stroller at the park was a Maclaren, seriously, I was drooling. I saw Volos and Globetrotters in every color under the sun and even a double Maclaren, which I did not know they made. I told my friend it was like a show room for seeing them in person. No one had a Mark II yet. 🙂

      When I came home from a day of pushing the Volo around, I took the Mark II to the grocery store and instantly regretted not taking it. The hand grips are so much nicer and after 8 hours with the Volo, I could definitely notice a difference in the handling with the Mark II. They body style is different than the other strollers in that the metal criss crosses in the back which the other Maclarens don’t do, so it will be interesting seeing how that effects anything, if it does at all.

      I’m taking the Mark II to Hollywood Studios on Thursday and will let you know how it handles a day at the theme park.

      ~Shell

      • Ellen

        I certainly hope the metal bars in the back aren’t uncomfortable for our little ones! This is our first umbrella stroller and first Maclaren so I have very little to compare it to (we have the city mini GT). It will be great to get your feedback and comparison to the Volo. We were originally going to pick between the Volo or the Uppababy G-Lite until my husband brilliantly found the Mark II. I really hope it’s just as nice as (if not better than!) my previous choices!

        Have fun Thursday!

        • Shell

          Ellen, Did it come yet? Did it come? 😀 The cross bars in the back don’t seem to bother O. Even at 30 lbs (even at 120 lbs when I fit my butt into it to sit as an impromtu chair) the back doesn’t give very much. I think they are the part that makes it more stable. I’ve noticed that this one has much better weight distribution than the volo…I have yet to flip it when pulling him out of it. I’m updating the article above when I find new things to love and dislike about it.

          (We didn’t do Disney this week thanks to the flu and postponed it until this week. )

          • Ellen

            Hi! We got it last Wednesday and I test drove it on Thursday. I love it so far! I have nothing else to compare it to since this is my first umbrella stroller… But it’s so easy to open/close and so light! I’m quite impressed by it and I push it around my neighborhood with a silly smile on my face. My daughter lives riding in it too! It’s made our lives so much easier!

  2. Bobbie Jo

    What kind of stroller lock do you have for this? Are you still liking the mark II? I am debating on getting this for summer outings. I currently only have one stroller travel system (britax b-ready) which is much more bulky. I’m torn if it’s worth getting a light weight stroller as well. My son is 15 months old. Thanks

    • Shell

      We have a Kryptonite Kryptoflex R2 Retractor Pocket Combo Cable that we keep in the back organizer but we haven’t had to use it yet. We usually just fold it up and carry it with us on our back. I was debating on keeping the volo but I think we’ll be strictly a one stroller family, it works for us. Not struggling to get it in and out of the car or unfolding it (even when there is only one of us and we can’t tag team the process) is worth it. Plus just throwing it on my back so I don’t have to struggle taking it up and down lifts/elevators/escalators/stairs/obstacles in the woods or having it be an element to worry about while juggling a toddler plus diaper bag plus stroller is nice.

      That being said, many shops that sell the Maclarens offer returns. If you are unsure, find a place that offers a 30 return and give it a test run to see if it works for your family.

  3. Bob

    Hello,

    Thank you for your review! I was somewhat on the fence of this product, but I think your review has won me over 🙂

    I see you use the Mark II in Florida – Can you tell me if you also use the Mosquito Net Cover? If so, can you share your opinion about it?

    Thanks!,

    Bob

    • Shell

      We usually use Eco insect repellent if we go hiking or to the park but I just found that my husband had bought the net and chair insert the other day, so I will post about it when we have a chance to use it.

  4. Emma

    Love your review. Is the farm photo at ray’s farm? Shropshire area.

    • Shell

      Yes it is!

  5. caroline

    is there any updates you’d add to this? thinking about purchasing one for a flight coming up in july. also… are the handle bars adjustable? i read that somewhere but couldn’t find it on maclaren’s site. also… i’ve heard the sun canopy is a little small…. would you put this (http://www.amazon.com/Maclaren-ADN63022-Sun-Shade-Black/dp/B00762Y5RE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403202894&sr=8-1&keywords=maclaren+sun) with it? would it match the silver color??

    thanks!

  6. Lea

    Does the seat go fully upright?

    My toddler loves to sit up all the way and I’ve been looking for something where she won’t have to pull forward as much.

    The Mac Triumph does go fully upright but is a lot heavier.

    Thanks for the great review.

  7. Jo

    How is the silver color holding up with dirt that gets on the seat, i.e. sunscreen that rubs off from your child, misc. smears, etc? Is the seat removable and washable?

    • Jo

      Also, does the sun still shine through the visor since the color is so light, or is it opaque enough to block it completely?

  8. Raffaella

    HI! I have an old MacLaren daytripper and I desperately need to change it. My son adores this stroller, we use the semi-reclined position, he doesn’t sleep on his stroller, not anymore. He is a tall 3 years old and I use the stroller in the city and for traveling…which MacLaren new model would you advise? I am torn between the Globetrotter and Mark II … Thanks!!

  9. Hannah

    I have also purchased this stroller around 3 months ago, and we love it, too! I went from a full-sized BOB to this, and what a difference it makes! Now, I should say, we live in Europe and travel a lot. The straw that broke the camel’s back is when we took the BOB with us to Malta and were basically yelled at by a bus driver who had people standing outside and wanted us to get our stroller out of the way. How exactly were we supposed to do that with a huge, heavy BOB?

    Now that we own the Mark II, it is our go-to stroller. I use the BOB for walks around the neighborhood (where there are no stairs and no requirements to get it in and out of a trunk), but that’s about it. The Mark II fits in my little sedan just about anywhere (even on the floor in the backseat – that’s a cool feature!), and it is so easy to get in and out of the car.

    The sunshade is a little lacking, but I guess it’s not as big of a dealbreaker as I thought it would be. My kid doesn’t really seem to have issue with it. Sometimes, the sun does get in my child’s face, but it’s not that often, especially if we are just running errands.

    The rain cover seemed gimmicky to me at first, but I have used at least half a dozen times – a few times in monsoon conditions. It works fantastically well and has kept my kiddo dry on more than one occasion! Usually if it’s really raining and I’m headed to my car, I will attach the cover indoors where it’s dry after putting the kid in the stroller, and then when I reach my car, I only undo the bottom two fasteners to get my kid out and leave the cover attached when I fold it up. I can then fully detach the cover later in more dry conditions 🙂

    I bought the organizer that fits on the back, and it’s great. That’s what holds my rain cover. It also holds my keys, wallet, a diaper or two, and a sippy cup for errands and quick trips. It also doesn’t add much to the weight, which is nice.

    I haven’t found the basket to be a huge problem, particularly since (depending on how heavy your diaper bag is) you can drape the bag over a handle. After using the Mark II for several weeks and then using the BOB again with the diaper bag, I was actually slightly disappointed that I had to squeeze the diaper bag into the bottom basket instead of conveniently draping it over the handle. That was a surprise I wasn’t expecting.

    The inside of my canopy is also dirty/dusty due to how the wheels collapse into the canopy. Sounds like a big deal, but my child’s head doesn’t come anywhere near the canopy, so it’s really a non-issue for me. Plus, if you have the hood out, no one will ever see the dirt anyway. If you really can’t stand the dirt, as mentioned in the original post, it’s a super easy clean up with a damp rag. I also believe the fabric is machine-washable, though I haven’t tried it yet.

    Lastly, I must say that the handling is pretty good. It’s obviously a bit of a step down from the BOB’s handling, but not by that much. I’ve had some trouble on really loose gravel (which I found out recently can be combatted by locking the front wheels – have yet to try it), but cobblestone, grass, dirt, sidewalk, etc. have been conquerable. I think there are some shocks on the wheels that help with some of the unevenness.

    Overall, I really love this stroller and would buy it again. It works really well for our needs, and traveling is SO EASY with it compared to the BOB. We even climbed to the top of a castle turret with the thing strapped to my back (husband had the LO). Tell me how many strollers you can do that with!

  10. Alexis

    Just wanted to thank you for the great review and the update.. It’s still so hard to find information about the Mark II. We are going to MacLaren tomorrow to view it because I would like a lighter alternative to his Quest for bus travel here in NYC now that we no longer need to full recline for a newborn. Best to you.

  11. Nora

    Thank you so much for this thorough review!

    We have this stroller and looking to beef up the carry strap as you mentioned, but the link above is broken. When Timbuk2 strap did you use with your Mark II?

    Thanks!!

    • shell

      I don’t think they carry the version we have anymore (Deluxe Strap Pad), but you can find it at some independent retailers if you search for it. I’m pretty sure their new Super Strap Pad should work as well.

  12. Jessica

    Thanks so much for your honest review! Just purchased this stroller to replace our city mini gt which was too hefty to lug up and down our 3rd floor walk up. Just hope our cobblestone side walks won’t give it too much trouble (or be too uncomfortable for my little guy!)

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