Bugaboo Cameleon Review by Best Buggy
We were never meant to have a Bugaboo Cameleon! But I am so glad we did! It is one of my favourite pushchairs ever!
The Bugaboo Cameleon was our first pushchair for our eldest child. However our choice was dictated by our car. First of all only a Maxi-Cosi Cabriofix would fit in the rear of our car in a base. Secondly, we have a convertible car and so we wanted a pushchair that would fit underneath the roof when it was folded down. I didn’t realise at the time what a challenge this would be, and how it continues to be a challenge! I also wanted a pushchair that I wouldn’t want to swap for a buggy when my daughter was 6 months old! But the very flat fold of the Cameleon, plus being able to use the Cabriofix on the chassis was really what sold us our first Bugaboo. Surprisingly the Bugaboo Bee was larger folded in our car boot!
There was much to like about the Bugaboo Cameleon. I loved the small neat chassis. The Cameleon always looked tidy and small wherever we took it. I know my NCT group always looked enviously at it wherever we went because it fitted every occasion. The Cameleon also coped with any terrain – ours went across beaches, over rocks, through gravel, in snow, across fields and more! It was also highly manoeuvrable on pavements, in shops, in cafes and in small spaces. I loved being able to simply flip the handle over to change the direction of the pushchair ie we could walk to the edge of the beach with the front swivel wheels, and then would flip the handle over and turn the pushchair round to have the larger foam filled wheels ready for the soft sand. For serious off roading you can buy snow wheels which replace the small front swivel wheels, although to be fair I wouldn’t choose the Cameleon as my pushchair of choice if I went off road a lot. But living by the beach, having the off road option was great for us for a quick dig in the sand!
Everything you need to get started comes in the Bugaboo Cameleon box. There is a chassis, wheels, seat frame and fabrics for the carrycot and for the pushchair seat unit. There are many options for the colour of the base fabric eg carrycot base and pushchair, and then for the tailored fabric eg hood, apron and the pushchair seat. It is worth having a good Google image search for Cameleon’s to work out which part will be which colour!
The chassis is easy to open. Lie the chassis on the floor. Simply press the white buttons on the side of the handlebar to release and flick the chassis open. The chassis is locked when the carrycot or seat unit is added on. It is possible to have the Cameleon in 4 wheel or 2 wheel mode. The latter is useful to pull the Cameleon across a beach or through mud or snow or other difficult terrain. The only downside of this feature is that the seat needs removing to fold the chassis into 2 wheel mode, and then the seat needs fitting back on to then pull it. Unless you have a long way to walk, to be honest its easier to attempt to push with the large wheels at the front, or else simply drag!
The carrycot is made by velcroing the fabric around the frame. This isn’t hard to do. The carrycot has a hard wooden base and breathable mattress and is suitable for overnight sleeping. The carrycot squashes flat for easy transportation – we managed to fit the carrycot and chassis plus luggage easily into our car for a holiday. We found the carrycot to be a good size. Our daughter stayed in it until she was 6 months old and she was a big baby. The bumper bar acts as a carrying handle. The apron of the carrycot zips on, and can be changed for a different colour. I loved the way the front of the apron stands proudly upright. All round the carrycot is a really good one. It always looked smart and neat on the chassis and I loved using it.
The pushchair seat is much harder to fit and usually involves two hands and a knee! It is very tight to get the straps attached to the frame, but once they are on, you should not need to do it again, unless you have another child! The seat fabric is a strong canvas type fabric. The colours depend on which is your base and which is your tailored fabric. But the foot area of the seat unit is black, hard wearing and easy to clean. The seat unit is a good size for a baby and a toddler, although an older toddler will struggle to get under the hood. The hood is good. It stands firm when up. However when folded back even a baby will end up having their head laid on the hood fabric. This is something to be careful about when putting the hood up or down. This is something that has been addressed in the Bugaboo Donkey where 3 rods are used for the hood instead of the 2 in the Cameleon, which allows the hood fabric is moved away from the child’s head. I think the folded hood fabric makes the Cameleon seat unit look small to some, and it is very usual to see an older child with no hood on the Cameleon. However this is one of the few negatives that I have about the Cameleon. It is possible to get canvas hood fabrics, breezy (summer with mesh panels) canopies, older fleece fabrics as we had which I loved for winter, and also to get hoods made to order by customs specialists. The base and tailored fabrics are all machine washable. The Bugaboo harness is very good. It has lovely strap fabric and a good buckle. There was plenty of room to grow in it. It was easy to adjust too.
The seat has three recline positions including a lie flat position and a very upright position. The recline function is controlled by the two round large white buttons on the side. It is hard to recline an older child because ideally you need three hands – one for each button and one to move the seat. The seat is released using the two larger rectangular buttons underneath. Both the recline and seat removal, do require two hands which I know some people are not keen on.
The flip handle was also very useful in restaurants for getting our daughter right up to the table next to us. Bugaboo suggest lowering the handle to the floor for use in restaurants. For picnics it was easy to take the seat off the chassis and place it on the floor. Friends used to watch enviously as I could feed our daughter in her impromptu highchair whilst they did battle trying to spoon feed their crawling, wriggling babies on the grass! We loved that it was easy to remove a sleeping child still in the seat unit, carry them into the house and stand the seat up on the floor still sleeping in the seat.
The Cameleon fold has a knack – one that is aided considerably by reading the instruction manual before your first outing (and not having to then phone your husband to be rescued when you can’t fold the pushchair and have a newborn wanting a feed!!!!) The seat needs removing to fold. A button on the side of the chassis needs pressing in and then two sliders release the handlebar which gets folded to the ground and then picked up using the central bar. But once folded the chassis can fold down to a fairly slim package, and even slimmer with the wheels removed (easy to pop off).
I think my other negatives are the storage basket – it is a great size, but its a drawstring bag. It is possible to fold the sides flat, but then you lose a lot of the storage capacity. But its very hard to simply push things into eg when shopping and is very difficult to access in carrycot mode (if at all!). I did like being able to leave my changing bag, a muslin and other bits and pieces in the bag and still be able to fold the Cameleon. But having since had open baskets, I much prefer these to be able to very simply put things underneath.
The raincover is quite close fitting which makes it very fiddly to fit. Once it is on, it is a good raincover. I like the window which can be left on vented to allow air in.
The Bugaboo Cameleon has a handbrake. It is a little odd to be honest and I used to find mine was stiff, especially to press the button to take it off when it was time to go. It’s not my favourite brake ever!
I did have an issue with my handle slipping / being loose – we eventually realised a tiny screw had fallen out. This happened a few times so we ended up keeping a supply of small screws to hand!
The final negative is about the general feel of the Cameleon. The Cameleon is very light to push, and this is a strength, but if you then move to another pushchair, you realise that the Cameleon is probably a little too light and flimsy feeling. For me, it was bliss to move to a more sturdy feeling pushchair and this is something I very much appreciate now. I think this is something you need to try out for yourself to really understand.
The Bugaboo quality is fantastic and the fabrics, chassis, attention to detail all showed this. Bugaboo’s can be customised to suit you, the weather and the latest trends! Be warned, this is an expensive hobby!!! But there is a huge market in second hand Bugaboo goods whether buying or selling.
There are lots of accessories available to buy. The Bugaboo footmuffs are second to none and are worth every penny. There are sun hoods, cup holder (great!), the car seat adaptors (they clip on and off very easily), parasols, snow wheels (these need turning round to fold which is tight to do and easy to catch your finger), different coloured hoods, aprons, baskets and more!!
Amazingly after almost to years of use, we sold our Bugaboo Cameleon and all the various accessories for more than we originally paid for it new, thanks to some smart buying originally, but also two years of price increases. Value for money?? Absolutely!!
Would I buy another one…yes absolutely! Even having tried many different pushchairs since the Cameleon, there is only one other pushchair I personally prefer (that doesn’t mean there aren’t better other single pushchairs though!), and I would love to have another Cameleon fairly soon to use with my son.
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