Child Trailers: Chariot vs. Burley

When baby #2 was on the way, we bit the bullet and got a double trailer for our walking, jogging, biking, and xc skiing needs.  Yes, needs.  There is no way that I am going to stay stuck inside any time of year because my gear can’t hack it and in a wintery city like Calgary, Alberta, Canada, you need a large-wheeled, beastly bubble that can push its way through snow and protect your kid from most windchills.

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Innocent beginnings

We first thought that we were going to have baby #1 in Vancouver so we found a BOB Revolution on sale and snagged it because it seemed most appropriate for walking, running, and general neighbourhood use, including fitting in smaller East Vancouver grocery stores.  We’d ruled out a Thule Chariot at the time because there was no way we were going to use it for xc skiing on Cypress Mountain’s steep trails (that’s crazy talk), but we were interested in either a Burley trailer or some sort of cargo bike, we just weren’t sure yet.  (Note: At the time, Burley did not make a ski kit for their trailers.)  But, as soon as we landed in Calgary, we set to hunting for a used single Chariot, excited about all of the free xc skiing in the surrounding areas, realizing that this kid trailer would meet all of our needs.

Dawn of a new era

Our first trailer was a 2007 Chariot Cougar 1 and it has been awesome.  I don’t know how people use any other stroller in Calgary for getting around in the snow in the winter (actually, I do know: they don’t go outside or go to a mall for “exercise”… at least, that’s my cynical take on why everyone disappears in the winter): you need big wheels to plow through the snow.

Taking charge of winter

Another key feature about the Chariot, is the way that it is designed like a pod, enveloping your kid so that you can protect them from the cold better than any other regular stroller that I can think of.  I know of people who even use yellow sleeping pad foam (like this, from MEC), cut up to cover drafty spots in the Chariot (i.e. down the back) in the most extreme of winter conditions (read: I have family that lives in the Northwest Territories).  We’ve used down jackets or sleeping bags to stuff the empty spaces, along with a warm hot water bottle and a good snowsuit, and have had many a good adventure.  Granted, our cut-off point for longer xc adventures, for example, is below-15C because it just gets really challenging to keep little bodies warm for much longer than an hour at that temp.  A few years ago, we were gifted a down MEC stroller bag and it worked out quite nicely (Note: It doesn’t attach conveniently to the Chariot – which is odd because MEC even sells Chariots…).  The other great thing about Chariots is their capacity to hold all of your crap, the valuable stuff you need to keep toddlers toddling and dogs walking, i.e. snacks, various layers of clothes, change of clothes, and more snacks – it’s pretty great.  The pocket in the back holds a significant amount of gear and the mesh pocket down the back is good for softer things.  There’s usually even enough room for you to throw in an extra layer for yourself when you are stuck pushing a toddler in the swings for longer than expected at -25C.

The world is your oyster

Of course, the beauty of the Chariot is its versatility: walking, jogging, biking, xc skiing, hiking, or whatever speed you choose, it’s pretty darn capable.  We have the jog wheel, bike, and xc ski attachments and have used it for:

  • walking (or running) the dog (and the mum);
  • biking to destinations, like the zoo, then walking (with or without the jog wheel attached);
  • biking as far as we can somewhere, then hiking, like up Redearth Creek to Shadow Lake;
  • xc skiing (we’ve only tried groomed trails); and,
  • both front- and back-country hiking (trail dependent!).

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So, you might not be inclined to shell out for one of these contraptions (although they have a great used market!) unless you are committed to getting out all winter and want SUV-type wheels and a cozy pod for your kid.  But, if you are looking for any sort of real functionality, then this type of set-up is the way to go.  Hands down.  Nothing to compare it to, in my humble opinion…

And then there were two

Except, possibly, the Burley trailers (now that they finally have a xc ski attachment, too).

We narrowed down our choices for a double carrier of a similar style to our 2007 Chariot Cougar 1 to:

  1. Chariot CX2
  2. Chariot Corsaire (no longer sold in North America from what I can tell – 2016)
  3. Burley d’Lite

We were nervous about changing brands for fear of having issues with our ski kit, for example.  And, no one really carries Burley trailers anymore because Chariot is very stiff competition for them in Canada, from what I gather, plus I think it was Norco who used to bring in the Burley stuff from the USA, but they dropped the child carrier line several years ago, now.  So, tricky to find a Burley.  But, when I was pregnant with our first, I actually wanted a Burley for a trailer because they have one model that has a plastic bottom and I thought that just made so much sense for durability and use with kids as they get older, for carting around to school, etc., as well as for longevity and repurposing as a gear trailer.  So, we revisited the Chariot vs. Burley debate and each of the above three carriers has things that we like.

Chariot CX-2

The thing that I love about the CX2 is the zip-off side windows.  Full venting!  So important for the summer months, even in cold Canada.  The multi-position handle seems like a nice idea but looks a bit hideous, in my opinion.  And, the built in brake would be nice to have, especially with the extra weight of two kids in a double and particularly since they’ve finally upgraded the design to disc brakes.  The deluxe padded interior looks comfortable, too.  And, the sunshade is much better (i.e. longer) in the CX2 compared to the others (Cougar or Cheetah).  The CX2 model is tricky to find used in Calgary, can still be quite pricey as it’s essentially an easy grand to buy new (plus the attachments…), and often sells quickly (because it’s great).  So, we liked it but kept looking.

Chariot Corsaire

The Corsaire looks more like a true bike trailer because of the design in the back for gear, etc.  It does not have canted wheels, though, so you can still use the other kits with it, of which the xc one was what we needed to be sure was compatible (and it is).  I have yet to see a Corsaire in the flesh, but it looks nice and roomy and tall – great traits for if you plan to use it with your kids until they can ride their own bikes.  Or, in our case, it looks like a great palace for a kid to have when bike touring; a space to nap, play, stay dry, and haul a bit of gear with for our upcoming pipe-dream bike tours!  But, it doesn’t have any bells and whistles, like anything beyond basic padding in the seat (not back) nor full-window venting.  Really, it was just the size and style of gear holding that we liked.  Unfortunately, Thule has cleaned up the Chariot line-up, so you can only find these used in Canada now, from what I can tell.

Burley d’Lite

And, the d’Lite.  This is where we ended up.  We got a good deal (for new) and it worked out to be cheaper than either the Corsaire or CX2 and is somewhere in between with respect to bells and whistles.  Actually, from what I can tell online, it’s much closer to the CX2 in that regard; the only thing the d’Lite is lacking compared to the CX2, from what I can tell so far, is the full-venting windows (I’m very partial to that idea/feature).

Pros

I absolutely LOVE the gear box in the back: it can hold litres and litres of stuff (or a 30 lb IMG_7219toddler) to keep us moving on our adventures!  The seats are padded, both bum and back, just not as luxuriously as the CX2.  It has a little bit more shoulder width than the CX2 and I think 1 cm less than the Corsaire; but, it is more narrow, overall, than either because of the way the wheels are situated on the Burley, which makes it easier for navigating doors, etc.  The Burley has a nice feature that extends its use and life beyond kids because you can unclip the back of the seats in order to make them lie flat, ergo you can use it as a cargo trailer!  There are great biking features in the Burley: lots of high-vis reflection, the handlebar turns into a roll-bar (genius), and the suspension seems to be as good as the Chariot’s.  The gear pockets inside: the Chariot pockets are practically inaccessible for kids when they are clipped in to the harness; the Burley ones are situated at just the right height, which makes much more sense.

Cons

We are not a fan of the way the bike attachment attaches to a bike with a pin system (it’s a PITA to get to line up) but we are trying to get used to it; and, worst case scenario, it looks very manageable to switch out the black part on the Chariot bike attachment with the black part on the Burley attachment so that we can go back to using Chariot’s awesome ball-and-socket style bike hitch (I’m sure this would void some sort of warranty!  Try it at your own risk, of course!!!).  We had to buy Burley ski kit for compatibility reasons, which turned out to be a bonus as we can each pull a kid (because who the heck wants to pull two kids by themselves and the other person pull nothing…).  The handlebar turns into a roll bar when biking, like I mentioned, and it is also variable with the flick of a lever: a feature that my husband loves as he is taller than me and because there are only two handlebar heights on the Cougar, he was usually stuck using my preferred height as I’m the primary user.  Unfortunately, because the handlebar is not fixed, it doesn’t have the strength to maneuver two kids up a curb or stair, for example – only the handlebar ends up moving with a great racket.

Coming full circle

Our Burley d’Lite was stolen out of our backyard a couple of weeks ago now (I know, eh?! Bah!) and there was a decently priced older (2007/8?) Chariot CX2 that I snagged on Kijiji as we really wanted a double for at least one more winter, for those days that we need to have both kids snug in the bubble on winter dog walks or school commutes.  The CX2 has been just great.  I really miss the carry-all huge back pocket of the Burley and I am sad that we won’t have it around as a great cargo trailer, post-kids, but the kids love the Chariot and are finding it very comfortable, and I am enjoying having a strong handlebar again, one that doesn’t buckle under the weight of two kids when navigating bumps or turning corners, etc.

Overall, there are pluses and minuses to both brands’ products.  In our experience, although Burley seems to cost less up front, parts of it don’t necessarily last as long.  For example, all of our tires were cracked after two years’ use and both zippers on the front cover had failed (but I managed to fix them by crimping down the zipper pull so that the teeth would catch again).  Admittedly, we have been very hard on our gear, using it at least once per day and often storing it outside in all conditions.  Whereas, with the Chariots we have, both of which are about a decade old now and have seen heavy use: the tires are just fine (seriously, it’s unreal) and the Velcro still works (for us, this has reportedly been a problem for others).  That being said, both companies seem to have amazing back stock of replacement parts either via them or other Google finds.

Check out this table for our opinions on certain features and any notes (but, keep in mind that these notes are anecdotal since we are n=1 for Burley and sort of n=2 for Chariot!).

Feature Burley d’Lite Chariot Cougar 1 Chariot CX2 Our Favourite
Kids 1 or 2 1 1 or 2 either, depends on your needs
Total Capacity (lbs) 100 75 100 either, depends on your needs
Total Weight (lbs) 28.4 (including tow bar, hitch, flag)     d’Lite
Sitting height (cm)   67 65 d’Lite
Shoulder width (cm) 64.8 40 59 d’Lite
Total width (cm) 79.4 61 80 d’Lite or Cougar, depends on your needs
Adjustable Shocks spring leaf Chariot, but close
Parking brake super easy tucked under storage bag, easier to access in newer models hand brake, super easy d’Lite or CX
Venting decent, in front decent, in front plus small side vents amazing, in front plus side windows fully removable CX
Comfort decent padding padded bum deluxe padding CX
Seat angle more upright; seats supposedly reclinable, but not to our finding more reclined, great for napping more reclined Chariot
Tires cracked still looking pretty good Chariot
Fabric sun fades sun fades either
Zippers broke, but fixable n/a still working Chariot
Handlebar can set to any height and use as a roll bar – both awesome features, but isn’t strong enough when you have to lift the back end of the trailer up two positions two positions, plus extra spots on bar; weird looking, but useful tough call: d’Lite for biking & skiing (you can lower it for kids to old on to!); CX for walking & jogging
Storage so easy to collapse/reassemble pretty easy d’Lite
Cargo Space (L) 47.5 (huge!)     d’Lite
XC kit skis pretty much the same; Chariot waist belt slightly nicer/more comfortable; Burley pole system slightly preferred Chariot, but close
Jog wheel good good Chariot, as the arms aren’t as long so don’t seem to get out of true as easily
Bike arm don’t like pin system, find it tricky to allign prefer this ball & joint system Chariot
Bike arm wheel awesome n/a d’Lite
Stroller wheels not needed due to bike arm wheel never tried, seem fine n/a
Front attachment system some rusting out, seems otherwise really secure Versawing usually easier to use, definitely faster (but marginal) Chariot
Sun shade looks cool, seemed better, but ultimately I found it hard to adjust and you can only use it when the mesh front is down too short great CX
Future life, beyond kids cargo trailer (seats unclip) or resale great (Canadian) resale d’Lite
Gear pockets so easy for kids to reach impossible for harnessed kid to reach d’Lite

Other resources

Here are a few other comprehensive reviews of these types of multi-use strollers that you may find useful:

  1. Two Wheeling Tots: Buyer’s Guide and Bike Trailer Finder [USA]
  2. Tales of a Mountain Mama: Stroller Reviews (scroll down for their “Multifunctional Strollers” section) [USA]
  3. Rockies Girl: Review: Chariot CX1 [Canada]
  4. The Adventures in Parenthood Project: Review: Chariot Cougar 2 [Canada]
  5. Cycling-Review.com: Burley d’Lite Bike Trailer Review [USA]

I can’t find a Canadian review of the d’Lite, likely because of how Thule/Chariot dominates the Canadian market as Chariot was originally a Calgarian company (and Burley is an American company).

use

If you don’t want the xc skiing functionality, I would also seriously consider supporting a local Canadian company, WIKE – I believe that they are even still made in Guelph, Ontario.  Their trailers are really decently priced and look extremely functional.  There’s something about them that seems really spacious and super appropriate for bike touring, too.  I would love to hear about your experience with them.

And, if you are primarily using your trailer for biking, read this for our experiences with trailers and cargo bikes.

 

I am just a mom writing a review and these are my opinions and ideas, take with a grain of salt and use any suggested modification(s) at your own risk.  I have no affiliation with Chariot, Burley, nor WIKE.  (But, I wouldn’t be opposed to having sponsors or testing out gear for you, so please contact me if you are interested!!!)

7 Replies to “Child Trailers: Chariot vs. Burley”

  1. […] skiing, and biking.  We still have and use it.  And, you can read all about our trailer use, here.  When our eldest was about 15 months old, I got a part-time job teaching on the north side of […]

  2. […] the market since we started hauling kids on bikes about 3.5 years ago.  Baby bike seats and then trailers were popular for kid hauling for a long time here, but midtails, then longtails, sometimes […]

  3. […] Child Trailers: Chariot vs. Burley – Our Hundred Acre Wood says: Reply […]

  4. […] Child Trailers: Chariot vs. Burley […]

  5. We’ve had a Nordic Cab explorer now for 8 years, which went through two kids and is now our general gear hauler when we go to the beach or farmer’s market. It has been a robust unit, and aside from a bit of an issue with the hitch attachment, has been a great unit. You can get skis for it and a jogging kit too (which we do have). http://www.nordiccab.com/blog/product/explorer-2-in-1/

    1. Wow! I love the plastic bottom that you an convert to a cargo trailer. That’s brilliant. Thanks for adding this to the list of good, versatile trailer options out there.

      1. kootenayEVfamily.ca says: Reply

        I just noticed one problem, they might not sell them in Canada anymore! http://www.nordiccab.com/dealers/

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