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Mountain Buggy +One Initial Review

As a tandem pushchair lover, the Mountain Buggy +One attracted me as soon as the first photos were released. However when I first saw the Mountain Buggy +One at Harrogate at the start of the year, my initial thoughts were that the +One was huge – very tall hood and long wheelbase. I will admit I was a little put off. But, in June at the Phil&Teds / Mountain Buggy University day, I actually walked past the +One several times thinking it was an Urban Jungle, before someone asked me if I had had a good look at the +One!! The Mountain Buggy +One was parked near a Phil&Teds Verve (which we already owned) but this time the hood had been put on the lowest setting and the +One seemed no longer than the Verve. The two seemed to the eye, very comparable in size. The Mountain Buggy +One suddenly became very exciting. But I was left with one worry, on paper the +one was 3cms too long for my car boot.

This week the Mountain Buggy +One arrived in the UK. I haven’t had a good year with issues with all three pushchairs from Out ‘N’ About (two bent wheels on a Nipper, the poor quality Duet issues which are well documented on here, and finally the Verve which developed creaking and side to side movement of the chassis). Mr BB didn’t want me to get another Mountain Buggy. Even the shop owner wondered if I really wanted one!!! But I knew the Mountain Buggy +One had the ability to carry our family forwards in time whilst other pushchairs are slowly being left behind as the children grow. DD is starting to walk and scoot more. But we still do some hefty day trips out to shopping malls etc and they are too much for a 3 year old to be expected to walk all day, plus sometimes I only have limited time and need to get from A to B fast, and there are also occasions where safety is paramount when we need a double. Equally we need a pushchair that can carry a weeks worth of shopping home easily, and so the rear stowage space on the +One really fitted the bill. With the addition of a Freerider for our daughter, it means she will be able to scoot home once the shopping is done, whilst the shopping rides home in her place!

Finally we have enjoyed reading about how the Mountain Buggy +One has been converted into a pushchair for an older child with special needs. Our son has hypotonia and will be in a pushchair longer than most children. So having a pushchair with a high child weight limit was useful to us.

I will admit, I have had to fight a corner for the +One after the Duet, so it was with trepidation that I opened the tall box. But by and large my fears were unfounded. The Mountain Buggy appears to be much better finished off. It’s not perfect – there’s some pink foam poking out but thankfully it won’t be seen, and the hood has an imperfection on the mesh which hopefully will get sorted out. But the Mountain Buggy +One looks great!

I had it from the box and stood up on three wheels within minutes. It was very easy to put together. The wheels are large air tyres which took some pumping up!! I released the rear ‘recline’ and The rear seat pad dropped into place easily. I have to say, I found the Velcro tabs on the rear of the seat a little fiddly, but once they are on, they don’t need to be undone again. I unzipped the foot ‘bag’ and pulled the front seat upright. I was pleased to see that there is enough recline on the front seat for a child to nap comfortably, as this was a huge worry. There isn’t room for a huge recline because otherwise the front child ends up on the rear child’s lap. But there is enough for an older baby or toddler not to have a lolling head!

The rotating handlebar is fab. It’s much higher than the Duet one, so suits me better. The basket is a large size although I had been hoping for some pockets to put bits and pieces in. The only disadvantage to the basket is that if there are two children on board, then the foot ‘bag’ does fill the centre of the basket. But the basket is large and there is still room to pack around the sides. It was easy to pack at the start of a day trip, but during the day, as we pulled bags in and out, often in a hurry, my eldest complained several times that I was squashing her feet!

I was worried by videos of older children with ‘frogs legs’ in the front seat of the Mountain Buggy +One. Our just 3 year old daughter, is tall for her age (100cms), and I thought she looked very comfortable in the front seat. My only worry was that she likes to dangle her legs and during photographs, she did drop her feet down either side of the footplate, and stretched her feet out past the footplate and onto the front steel struts. Both meant that she could have stopped the front wheel. But her position for now is in the rear which means there is no issue, which leaves our son in the front seat.

Our son looks very comfy in the front seat. He is well supported with good leg space. My only criticism is that the front seat is exposed and exciting!!! So much so that our son refused to sleep all day (unheard of) on a recent shopping trip, and yet promptly fell asleep within 5 minutes of getting in the car. Although the hood is a ‘follow the sun’ one, and so could have been pulled right forwards to encourage sleep, in practice, it woukd have completely blocked our daughters view. She was struggling to see out over the front seat anyway in the rear. In fact the +One dwarfs her!! That’s no bad thing, because it means there is plenty of room for growth!!

We took the Mountain Buggy +One on it’s maiden voyage, on one of our all day shopping trips. But this trip, I was alone. I had read the instruction booklet (there’s not enough in it about tandem mode especially folding), and seen the instructional video a long time ago, but felt fairly confident. However, I had undone everything for photographs and so had to piece the rear seat back together. I was glad when I was all set up because it took me a good few minutes.

The big downside of the +One (but I accept this!) is that the eldest needs lifting in and out of the rear compartment. The sides are very high, and the space between the front child and hood is narrow. Yes, in theory, you can bend the front seat down and allow a child to clamber over, but with a younger sibling in front, he generally is first into the pushchair, last out, and gets left in for toilet stops, when we are eating (if he doesn’t need to be out) etc. Lifting almost 17kgs of child up to my chest height and then threading her down in between the front seat and hood isn’t the easier manoeuvre, especially with back issues. But I have called it “flying” and my daughter helps by doing a big jump. Getting out proves problematic too – mainly because my daughter struggled to pull her feet out of the foot ‘bag’. I am encouraging her to take her feet out and then stand on the seat to be lifted. Like I said, I am happy to accept lifting my daughter in and out, but if you have heavy child or one who likes to nip in and out, then it could become hard work! I also was not entirely convinced that in an emergency I could pull my daughter out quickly from the rear. Her feet were pretty stuck in the ‘foot bag’ and did require a good tug.

The most important part of the +One for me was pushability. But I have no worries there. The Mountain Buggy +One drives like a dream. It is easy to push one handed. The handlebar position is very comfortable and I dont knock the rear seat with my legs, even when the rear is fully extended ie with the cocoon in situ. The front wheel stays in contact with the ground at all times. The balance seems good. Admittedly I haven’t dropped the +One off many kerbs yet, so I don’t really know how ‘tippy’ or not the +One is. However I did get a little over enthusiastic and drove the +One straight up a good sized kerb without stopping. However in the process my daughter bumped her head somewhere on the chassis and we had huge tears :( I promised not to do it again!!!! I do wonder if this would be an issue if you tried to do sone serious off roading.

I have to say that although both children look comfortable in their seats, it was clear that after several hours (where our daughter had been in and out of her seat, having lunch, walking etc.), she did not look comfortable in the rear seat. She couldn’t seem to find somewhere to rest her head and I noticed her leaning on the side and on the back of the front seat. Our daughter rarely naps, but she wasn’t 100% on this outing, and she too was asleep within 5 minutes of getting in the car. Again she clearly could not get comfy to sleep in the +One. If I had taken the iCandy Peach Blossom both children would have slept en route. In fact by the end of the outing our son was severely grumpy with lack of sleep. I think the front seat was too exciting for him, and the rear seat was too upright for our daughter. I honestly don’t think the +One will come with us on another all day trip for a while, simply because we have more comfortable options, but the +One will get plenty of shorter runs locally to the shops and the beach.

By the end of the shopping trip, the Mountain Buggy +One was laden with bags – changing bags, my handbag, shopping bags etc and yet it didn’t flinch at all. it was fabulous from a parent perspective. I loved pushing it. The +One worked so well for me, carrying the stuff I needed for an all day outing, plus the extra shopping. It was exceedingly busy in the shopping centre. I admit to bumping a few ankles on occasions with the front of the wheel (Oops!), but the +One turned a lot of heads for the right reasons. You could see people doing a double take as they twigged there was a second child behind the first! Lifts were no issue. As with most three wheel off road type pushchairs shunting sideways a bit wasn’t that easy eg in a queue to let someone past, but I have known much worse. The front wheel never got stuck once when I stopped (the front wheels sticks all the time on other pushchairs I could name), so stopping to browse was no issue. All round the handling was superb especially considering the on board weight. The +One importantly felt neat – it was not a tank as I have to admit I thought it may be given the size.

One big annoyance for us both are the harness buckles. The buckle for the rear child is so low down inside the +One that it hurt my back to lean in to do it up. The final straw for me came in a crowded restaurant when I could only get one hand inside to try to undo the buckle because I couldn’t get round the other side of the pushchair for people. I failed miserably and with people queing behind me I remembered the easy escape route – the two shoulder clips (why make a child proof crotch lock when there’s an easy escape for young Houdinis at the top on their shoulders?). I released the shoulder straps and pulled our daughter out. Although I can be almost neurotic about doing safety harnesses up correctly, I have to say at that point I had had enough of trying to reach to low down to do up the buckle and later to release the adult proof conundrum of a safety buckle that I will never do the rear harness up again!!!! My daughter can barely get her feet out without help, let alone the rest of her. I have been practising since and I still can’t find an easy way to undo the buckles one handed, as my friend tells me she does!!

I do have some issues with the hood. I wish the hood met at the back and didn’t have a gap where the hood can’t get past the chassis even on the lowest setting. Mountain Buggy have recognised there is an issue as a small piece of mesh has been placed to try to lessen the gap, but it is not enough. I would like to see a Velcro down flap of fabric to cover the back gap. It’s great that there is the option to place the hood where you want / need it to be. right now, that is low down to keep the children snug. But as the children grow and the hood moves up the frame, then the gap becomes a gaping hole. This may be no issue in New Zealand, but in the bitter winds of the British winter, I can see my daughter complaining in future! The ‘follow the sun’ feature is useful but it does block the view of the rear child. I am not a fan of mesh in hoods, although to be fair the mesh is pretty thick unlike the Britax canopy mesh. But again it’s a climate issue. We get more cold days than hot sunny ones, so having a snug child under a large solid hood is a greater selling point for me than mesh for cooling in summer. But I was impressed at the thought which had gone into which parts should be solid to keep the sun out of a child’s eyes and which should be mesh. The hood when fully open is absolutely enormous, but whichever way you look at it, the front child is exposed. If there was a recline option for the rear seat (and believe me I am thinking about it) then I would much prefer my baby in the rear until the eldest develops severe ‘frogs legs’ in the front. I REALLY hope Mountain Buggy will look at developing some kind of head / neck bolster support for the rear child like you see on car seats, so that a rear passenger has somewhere to lean their head, or even sleep.

There are two obvious hazards to the front child. First is ‘the attack from behind’. My daughter is very good and adores her brother, but with him in such close proximity, she was able to ruffle his hair, put her arms around his to keep them inside and generally annoy him from behind. The other is ‘the attack from below’ ie kicking the front child from underneath. I couldn’t see whether this was happening, but I am sure a verbal front passenger would let you know soon enough if their sibling was taking this approach to sibling rivalry.

I have to say, I really dislike the ridged rubber of Mountain Buggy handle (it makes my palms sore) and so one of the first things I did was to cover it up. Thank goodness Mountain Buggy have a lovely straight handle and haven’t tried to ergonomically design it like the horrible Verve handle! With a cover on, the handle was great to use.

The bumper bar clipped on relatively easily but I found it was a little too close to my son for him to see his toys. But in single mode, the Mountain Buggy Plus One is fairly reclined even when at its most upright, and I can see a bumper bar being useful. However sadly, just a few days after getting the +One, somehow (we have no idea how) we have managed to bend one of the clips of the bumper bar and will have to seek out a replacement as it now will not fit! It was removed after it fell off during a photo shoot.

We do have one major grumble! One of the selling points of the Mountain Buggy +One is that it easily transforms from single to tandem mode and that it works well as a single pushchair. However to put the +One into single mode involves unclipping the front seat side support buckles, and reattaching them to D rings at the rear. However we are currently really struggling to push the buckles through the D rings. Either the buckles are too big or the D rings are too small. When we finally managed to push the buckles through the D rings, we then found it extremely hard to undo them again. At the time of writing, they are stuck in situ and we need to work out how to pull them out to put the +One back into tandem mode. This means that switching from tandem to single mode and vice versa, currently is not going to be easy – in fact its almost impossible without a lot of tugging and under breath muttering. The buckle is just 1mm too small for the inside of the D ring! These buckles DO need doing up because without them, the front seat can flop forwards and is not fully secure. So if you had planned to switch a lot between single and tandem mode then you may wish to ask more about how this issue is being addressed.

We have tried the included Mountain Buggy cocoon in the rear. To put the cocoon in really requires no child in the front seat which may not be ideal. We found that the cocoon needed buttoning down to the lower toggle setting in order to be able to see the baby ie it could not be done up on the top setting!! (See photos). It is very possible that a baby would outgrow the cocoon before six months, but having put our 16 month old in the rear, there seems plenty of space to put a baby into the rear compartment with blankets etc until they were at least 6 months old to then go in the front. The front seat has a strap recline. A slight recline does not compromise the rear child. There is a deeper recline, but this will compromise the legs of the child behind, as well as leaving the front reclined child being very exposed to being poked and prodded from behind.

In single mode the seat of the Mountain Buggy +One is huge. The recline is flat and the seat is very long. However the leg room is short in comparison to the seat height. So although in theory this pushchair could take a very heavy, tall backed child, there is not the leg room in proportion for an older child to be comfortable. When the seat is pulled up from the recline, as with the other Mountain Buggy pushchairs that we have tried, the fabric all bunches up around the child’s head. However because the seat unit is solid, ie not a hammock, and the seat is very tall (and even has an extension piece at the very top), the bunching up is not really an issue.

However I do want to stress here that I think our children at 16 months and 3 years are at the right age to use this pushchair. We personally would not advise putting a child under the age of 2, in the rear seat. Certainly there is no scope for a young child to nap comfortably in the rear seat. We have been looking for some kind of head support for the rear seat but to date have not found anything that we think could work – we really need 2 bolsters for either side of the head like car seats have which can be velcroed onto the back bar. We have tried several horseshoe shaped head huggers and they dont work. We hope this is something that Mountain Buggy could possible look into creating as an accessory.

All round we really love the Mountain Buggy +One. It is a pushchair which will take over where other pushchairs will end shortly. It will continue to carry our children on the occasions we need a double or need a single with lots of storage for many years yet. It is a pushchair with longevity and which carries heavier children with style, ease and manoeuverability.

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