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Stokke Xplory Review by Best Buggy

The Stokke Xplory is an extremely unusual looking pushchair. We love how Stokke have broken the boundaries of ‘classic’ pushchair design and produced something completely different. However the Stokke Xplory is a marmite pushchair – on looks alone, you will either love it, or hate it. I am the first to admit that I have never “got” the Stokke Xplory. The unusual design of the Xplory seems too way out to sit comfortably in our ‘normal’ life, and (contraversially) we have been very put off across time, by the pompous attitude of some Xplory owners who appear to think that the Xplory is superior to any other pushchair….when it absolutely is not! But hopefully the fact I am not a gushing fan, will maybe mean I can offer some objective perspective to this pushchair!

I will to admit that I come to appreciate the way that the Stokke Xplory has been beautifully designed and engineered, and how it performs in some circumstances. You can certainly see the quality and finish which makes the Xplory a high end product. Even small details have been designed with care and attention; like the press studs or where to fasten on a blanket. On the other hand, there are some elements which are simply hard work, and there are too many buttons and moving parts for my liking!

First Impressions:

The Stokke Xplory is a large pushchair. It is tall. It is imposing. The large shell like seat, sits on a central diagonal stem which can be lifted up from a low height, to a high level. In contrast the wheels seem rather small to stabilise the seat, when it sits so far back and so high up; however the Xplory is very stable. At the front of the pushchair is a plastic platform, onto which sits a good sized storage bag. The seat appears to be huge and tall. The handlebar is an unusual D shape, and is bare uncovered plastic – in fact there is a lot of plastic in the Xplory design, and that alone may not be to everyone’s taste. There is a lot of adjustability on the Xplory which means that it both adapts to your child well, but also to the adult pushing the stroller. There is no doubt that anyone, of any height, could make the Xplory work for them. The arched back axle means that a tall parent should not kick the Xplory as they walk.

Unfold / Fold:

Our other main first impression of the Xplory was the long folded chassis. The chassis alone only just fitted lengthways into our car, even with the chassis on the most compact settings. The large seat can be left on forward facing (and even reverse facing, but it looks daft!) for folding, but the package is then very long, and in reality its easier and neater to remove the seat. However the seat unit is rigid and bulky to store. The rear wheels can be removed, but they dont really make much difference. The Xplory is not a pushchair for a small car boot! The Xplory chassis will prop nicely against a wall at home though!

Unfolding the Stokke Xplory is fairly simple. All “action” parts on the Xplory are marked as white. In the centre of the stem are two catches which are situated close together. These both need to be pushed up to release the mechanism. The wheels then slide open and click into position. The seat unit can then simply be dropped on top of the two “prongs” if forward facing. If the seat is going rear facing, then the footrest needs removing before the seat can be fitted. The footrest then needs reattaching on the other side of the central stem. On the one hand the way the seat wraps around the stem is a very interesting design, but on the other, it becomes a pain to have to remove the footrest each time you want to fold or unfold the Xplory. Its just another step in what all round is a pretty fiddly pushchair! The footrest is removed by squeezing and pulling the large white button underneath. Be careful though, or the footrest simply drops out onto the floor!!

Folding the Xplory involves first removing the seat. Then the two catches in the centre of the stem will to release the mechanism (as above). The pushchair ‘breaks’ at the base of the stem. You need to then bend down to lift up a large rectangular white catch which then released the rest of the fold so that the wheels slide smoothly together. The pushchair chassis can simply be folded. However it is likely that you will also probably need to lower the seat height and handlebar to put the chassis into your car (I needed to), and this is when it all becomes faffy for me, especially when its cold and wet.
Once folded the Xplory chassis will prop nicely against a wall. However we struggled to find any sensible place to store the seat unit.

Once open, the seat height can then be adjusted. We tried to count the number of seat height settings but we got to 22 notches before losing count! This is a HUGE range of adjustability. To alter the seat height is a tad awkward. There is a stiff clip (brake) underneath the seat arms which needs pulling forwards to release the sliding movement. A sales assistant and I tried to do one on a shop floor this week, and we both failed to undo the clip. The seat then moves freely up and down the stem with no child in the seat. However once a child is in the seat, pulling them up the stem is nearly impossible, as you would have to hold the child up in the seat, in the air with one hand, whilst you push the clip back on.  The clip to push back in to lock the seat is very stiff to do. I would not alter the seat height with a child in the seat TBH so ideally the height needs to be set before the child is put into the seat. There are two rings below the seat which are useful to tug the seat upwards with. These rings can also be used to clip on a changing bag.

Many people buy the Xplory for the height. I know every Xplory fan will not agree with me, but sitting on the fence, I have to say, I don’t quite get why parents feel their child needs to be high up – especially a baby who will sleep through much of any outing. I have pondered whether there is any real gain for the child. I rarely come across any sniffing dogs, swinging bags or other pavement dangers – even with my children in a low level pushchair. I am not sure that a matter of a few inches makes any difference in relation to exhaust fume intake, or anything else. I have seen the Xplory advertised as being a good height to use as a highchair, but the seat needs lowering a fair way to be at the same height as most dining tables, and as I said above, this is not easy to do with a child in the seat. Therefore, ideally the child would need removing first, at which point you may as well pop your child into a highchair, and let them throw food all over that instead of over the fabric of an expensive pushchair! Having said that, at least the fabrics are washable which is a bonus! It was really easy to strip the fabric off, for example to adjust the harness straps, or put on the Winter Kit

I know Stokke talk a lot about how their pushchairs help you connect with your child. I see eye contact as more important with an older child, than a newborn baby (who has poor eye sight and is likely to sleep through any outing), and unless you are out and about all day, every day, then you are likely to interact more with your child at home all day long anyway! We measured approx 11.5cms seat height difference between the Stokke Xplory and the Uppababy Vista and 17cms seat height difference between the iCandy Peach just as examples. These measurements are very small in reality – less than my handspan. There are other pushchairs with higher (and lower) seats which are far easier to use than the Xplory. I am writing this because time and time again I have seen parents on forums who maybe can’t afford an Xplory, or do not have the car boot space or house space for one, trying really hard to find the pushchair with the next highest seat. I really, really dont think a few cms is worth tying yourself in knots for.

However, I think the very upright, unfussy, seating position of the Xplory is possibly a better selling point for us than the seat height. Our children enjoyed being sat upright on the edge of the seat, and they had a good view out. The extra few centimetres of height, was likely to have been a bonus, but equally the children enjoy outings in lower height pushchairs too. I think possibly the clear view past the seat and minimalistic chassis and handlebar (when parent facing), was a bigger bonus. I liked that the hood could be pushed well back out of the way when not required.

One of my issues was that the seat size itself and the high hood contribute to the overall height of the Xplory. I think to be honest, this is what contributes to making the Xplory tall, rather than the height of the seat base. I did feel a bit conspicious pushing the Xplory – more so than the Crusi which uses the same seat unit. The Crusi just looks more ‘normal’, but then people who buy a Stokke Xplory, probably buy one to be different, quirky and to stand out from the crowd?!  I found that I preferred the seat on a lower setting to ‘normalise’ the height in smaller spaces e.g. the doctors surgery. I did have one lady stop me in the street, and say “what an unusual pushchair”. I know many times, I have sat in my local shopping centre – which seems to be Stokke Xplory city – and watched Xplory after Xplory be pushed past me. You can not help lbeing drawn to look fascinated at the Xplory as it swans by. It is definitely a head turner.

Storage Space

This leads me nicely into an observation from my time spent Stokke Xplory user watching! One of the issues with the Xplory is the limited storage space. I have lost count of how many Stokke Xplory carrycot aprons I have seen with a handbag perched on the top!! It is something that has amused me. However, the Xplory has no shopping basket as such. It comes with one reasonably sized storage bag which sits on the platform at the front of the pushchair. This bag easily took my good sized handbag and a Pacapod pod with room to spare. However, when I stopped off to buy a drink, I realised why people perch their handbags on top of the carrycot apron! You have to bend down, undo the zip (not easy on a flexible fabric bag which can slide on a plastic platform), dig out your handbag, then your purse, and then do the zip up again – a 2 handed job because of the sliding. I did get to the point during our test period where I simply could not be bothered to pay for anything that I really did not need, because the bending down and zip was just hard work, and with all the other bending, leaning, turning movements I had to make to use the Xplory, it was hurting my back. I longed for an open basket that I could simply throw my bags, shopping bags etc into. On the other hand, it was good to have my handbag / purse hidden away inside the bag; but equally the bag is only held on by a small metal clip which anyone could bend down and release.
The bag itself has a pocket at the front which was useful for having bits and pieces to hand. Inside the bag is a small zipped pocket and a large fixed mesh interior which closes with a toggle. I assume this is to keep smaller items from falling out when the bag is opened which is a good idea (but another step to do!). There is a small carrying handle for the bag. The bag is neat looking and I think finishes off the look of the Xplory well.

There is also an optional changing bag for the Xplory. I see the bag on the platform as being more of a “basket” space for shopping or coats. The changing bag clips on underneath the seat, so to be honest, with storage space at a premium, I would take advantage of leaving the shopping bag free and buy a separate changing bag to clip on (I suspect a good number of changing bags would clip on with the addition of clips).

Child Comfort, Seat Recline and Harness:

The Xplory seat itself is very well padded. It seems very supportive. I loved the very wide crotch strap which comes high up on the tummy of the child. It seemed supportive and secure, and I had confidence in it. The shoulder straps have harness pads on them. I did find the harness a little fiddly to do. I kept missing the right slots for the pins and having to take them out and start again! However you do get good at this though. The buckle was chunky and strong. I like that you can release (or put in) one side of the buckle at once. Handy for when you need to remove a coat, or to sit a child in and do the harness up one handed. My only negative is that the seat is very upright, and because the harness wasn’t immediately logical to do up, I had to be extra cautious that my son didn’t fall forwards. Most pushchair seats have a slight recline which buys you a second or so to notice that your child is beginning to lean forwards. I tended to recline the seat one notch to strap my son in, and then sat the seat upright again. Just to make sure he was safe in case he wriggled. But once the child was sat in the seat, the upright seating position was really great. Both our children looked good in the seat unit. We also tried some younger children in the seats and all looked comfortable. Our 4 year old equally fitted very comfortably in the seat with room to grow. She said she liked sitting in the seat. I think the Xplory seat is one of our favourites for an older toddler, however not for an older baby…

My issue for an older baby or napping toddler, is that although the Xplory has a footrest, there is no calf or even good ankle support for a sleeping child. The footrest has only 3 settings, so can not be tailored specifically for any child. Thus a sleeping child, may have a good level of support, or equally their feet may slip between the footrest and dangle. This for us, would be a good enough reason not to buy the Xplory. On top of this, our 2 year old does something in the Xplory, and also the Scoot, which he does in no other pushchair – he bangs the footrest non stop with his heels!! It is really annoying as it makes a terrific noise, which is very embarrassing especially in quiet places like doctors waiting rooms!

The Xplory seat has a recline button on either side, underneath the seat unit. Only one button needs to be pressed to release the recline, so this suits both left and right handed parents, and makes no difference when the seat is facing in the opposite direction. However it does take a bit of feeling around under the seat to find the button! The seat then rotates forwards or backwards. The Xplory seat has 3 recline positions when parent facing – Sleep (lie flat), Rest (slight recline) and Active (upright). However the Xplory seat can only be placed in the Active and Rest positions when forward facing. The ‘stem’ obstructs a full recline. I do not find the recline buttons particularly obvious or accessible being tucked away under the seat but they are easy to press in. Using the bumper bar as a handle does make rotating the seat easier to do.

I have often seen the height being touted as a good reason for someone with poor back health to buy. I have to say, I have a bad back and the Xplory has been one of the worst pushchairs I have used because its involved so much bending down to press buttons, move things, access the basket, pulling etc. Plus the height means I have higher to lift my son in and out of the seat. Personally I find a lower level pushchair suits me better. However that is not to say that it will not be an advantage for someone else’s back issues – especially if an upright walking stance would be a positive for you - but just be aware and try an Xplory out for yourself if you are buying an Xplory for this reason. A pushchair like a Mima Xari or an Uppababy Vista would give you good height with less overall bending and faffing!

Hood, Bumper Bar and Accessories:

The Xplory hood is a generous size, and is tall. Our 4 year old fits easily under the hood. We were surprised to find that the Scoot seat back is actually taller than the Xplory, but our 4 year old looks better in the Xplory seat. This we believe is down to the taller hood height.  
One section of the hood unzips to reveal a mesh panel. I like that there are poppers provided to keep this panel open or neatly closed. There is a sun visor which can be zipped on as required, or it can be  hidden inside the rim of the hood. We removed our visor over winter to keep it clean.
Stokke also make “Winter kits” which include thicker fabrics for the seat unit, a sheepskin edged handmuff and a sheepskin fur trim which zips on instead of the visor. We loved having the fur on during winter. However the winter kit fabrics weren’t as thick and as quilted as the photos seem to imply. There are also “Summer kits” for the summer consisting of a summer hood with mesh panels, sunsail for shade, a parasol and an absorbant seat cover.

The Xplory does come with a bumper bar although doesnt appear in many of our photos. It plugs in simply on both sides. The bumper bar is covered with fabric which zips off for washing. The bumper bar is quite flexible plastic, however there is not enough give for there to be room for a child to get in and out i.e. like a swing away bumper bar.

There is also an additional hole in the seat fabric, above the bumper bar. This is for a parasol. It is a shame that this does not have a blanking plate for when it is not in use. However it is less noticeable on the Xplory than on the Scoot.

The Stokke Xplory comes with a mosquito net and raincover as standard which is good.

We love how a Toddler Board can be added on the latest Xplory models.

Handlebar, Handling, Brake and Wheels:

The handlebar on the Xplory is a D shape. It is plastic with no cover on it. At first this felt a bit strange in a world where pushchair handles are usually foam or rubber covered! But I liked how the plastic warms up under your hands. The only downside is that the paint does damage and even our barely used Xplory acquired a few chips during testing. The best thing about the handle is that it is super duper adjustable!!! The handle can be extended upwards, or lowered down to suit your height. The handle can also then be rotated to find a comfortable position to hold. We loved that even though the handle bar was highly adjustable, the handlebar felt solid when pushing. Fab!

The Stokke Xplory was surprisingly good to push. I say surprisingly, because there is no suspension. However there is the smallest movement in the handlebar which seems to absorb small bumps in the road. The wheels are also rubberised, and they help to give a smooth ride, although the Xplory is really an urban pushchair. However, I was encouraged to try the Xplory out in the snow after hearing about how in Norway, where Stokke is based, that they have snow for much of the year . I have to say I, and the team all thought I was a bit crazy, but we ate our words as the Xplory glided straight through snow! In fact it fared much better than some of our “off road” pushchairs!!! The wheels seemed to allow the snow to ‘fill’ them in to make them solid, and then the Xplory pushed right through. The high axle meant there was no snow plough effect! Should the going really get tough, then the Xplory can be kicked into 2 wheel mode, and can be pulled backwards through anything!! I have seen a set of amazing photos of the Stokke Xplory being pulled up some enormous sand dunes and after my experiences, I can see that being perfectly possible. I did enjoy pushing the Xplory.

The Stokke Xplory brake is coloured bright red! It is situated on the right hand side at the rear of the pushchair. It is simple to apply and to remove, and feels decisive when applied.

Newborn Options:

For a newborn baby, Stokke supply a newborn wedge which flattens out the “bucket” of the seat unit and makes the Xplory seat suitable from birth. This has both a padded flat insert with an extra foam wedge piece which is removed as your baby gets older to give an optimum depth for any sized child. The wedge can also give a slight incline from flat for a baby with reflux or a heavy cold. The inclusion of a wedge is refreshing to find on a ‘high end’ pushchair, as it means there is no need for an additional outlay for the carrycot. So although the Stokke Xplory is expensive, with the newborn wedge, the Xplory starts to seem better value for money. The wedge fits easily and seems to work well.

We have the carrycot, and it is huge! It is probably the longest carrycot we have seen. The foot area is splits to go around the chassis stem, which does feel a little odd. However we do not see this as any detriment to use – there is plenty of room for little feet. The mattress is well padded and covered, however the sheets for the strangely shaped carrycot mattress are expensive. The carrycot does not come with a hood, and you are required to use the hood from the pushchair seat. It took us ages to work out how to swap the hoods, but thanks to some very good You Tube videos we worked out that there are two push in buttons hidden under the fabric which release the hood bracket. The hood gets unzipped at the rear too, and some poppers undone. I have to say I loved the carrycot, especially the hard sides and thick mattress. However I do just think the carrycot looks odd stuck out over the diagonal Xplory chassis. I think it feels odd being so high too. But that is probably because I am used to and prefer low level carrycots. I did feel that the Xplory felt a little more precarious in carrycot mode, but we were fine using it. There is an apron for the carrycot. Ours didn’t quite sit right at the foot end, but other wise, it finished the carrycot off nicely.

Travel System:

The Stokke Xplory can be a travel system with the addition of a suitable infant car seat and the adaptors. The Stokke Xplory can take a Maxi Cosi Cabriofix, Pebble, a Mamas and Papas Primo Viaggio or a Stokke iZi Sleep by BeSafe.

Finally it is worth mentioning that Stokke give a 3 year warranty on their pushchairs which at this present point in time, is also transferable. 

In Conclusion:

The Stokke Xplory is an innovatively designed, good quality product. If you love how the Xplory looks then you will probably put up with its quirks and niggles for something head turning and unusual. The Xplory really is not the most easy pushchair to use, to handle, to lift etc. However it is beautiful to push about town, handled snow better than a lot of our off roaders, and our children were happy to be pushed around in the Xplory. I urge you, to go and see the Stokke Xplory before buying, but also look at several other pushchairs too, so that you have something to compare the Xplory to. I said at the start that the Xplory is a marmite pushchair, and I expect the responses to this review to reflect this too!


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