There are urban bikes and trail bikes, urban strollers and trail strollers: The Cortina Travel System from the Italian Chicco is your perfect choice if you are looking for an urban stroller to use on sidewalks or in parks and malls. As its name suggests, it is a total travel system designed for ease of transition from house to car to stroller, and it fulfills its design function perfectly at a very reasonable price of $449.00 CDN. To make it even more functional, the base for the car seat is sold separately for $99.99 CDN so grandparents and co-parents can move the car seat easily from vehicle to vehicle with no need for re-installation—just a “snap” into place.
Keyfit 30 ~ The car seat is incredibly easy to work with and designed with the car in mind. The base installs with a single-strap-pull LATCH installation, but belt installation is also possible for older car models. The underside of the base has a closed construction so it will not cut into or mar the car seats. For a car lover like this baby’s father, this matters! The angle of the base can be easily adjusted—one button—for any car seat, and there are cool green bubble-levels on each side to show you when you have the angle right. Fool-proof and fun.
The car seat itself is as baby-friendly as the base is car-friendly. It has very deep sides and extra cushioning, so the baby feels coddled and cocooned. The five-point harness is very easy to adjust, and doesn’t feel as awkward in its fit as some other harnesses do. My favourite feature here is the amply-padded head hugger; I don’t have to bolster the baby’s head with blankets while we are driving. An added bonus with this model is that the baby can use it right up to 30 lbs (13.5kg), whereas many other models are only safe up to 20-22 lbs. My baby boy is already 13 lbs at just three months, so the extra weight allowance is a benefit for us. I also find the baby carrier that snaps in and out of the base, at 9 lbs, is lighter than the last seat I used and easier to manage.
The stroller that is part of this travel system is the Chicco Cortina, and I like it as well as I like the car seat. The stroller is on an aluminum frame which keeps it quite light for its size (23 lbs), even with its well-padded liner. The whole liner is easily removable and washable, a feature I think is vital for any infant gear. The model I tested is the very funky fuego, but that is just one of twelve available colour packages.
The five-position reclining seat back includes a fully-flat recline which in a few months will allow the baby to either sit up or lie down and sleep. It also has a memory function that takes it back to its last position when you open the stroller up again, saving one more step. However, the seat back doesn’t have a fully straight back in the sitting-position; my memories of my older son make me think this could be a bit of a draw back since infants like to sit forward and look around.
For smaller babies, the Cortina can be transformed into the ‘carriage position'(similar to a bassinet) by reclining the seat fully, releasing straps from under footrest, threading them through the seat cover and fastening. This creates a cozy environment for the baby that ensures they won’t slip through the leg area when they are napping.
The stroller has a half-canopy that can swivel forward or backward to adjust to weather; when the baby carrier is inserted, with its own canopy open, the baby is fully covered, with a peek-a-boo window, so I can see his face and keep eye contact with him when he’s awake.
The wheels on this stroller are small, but very adequate for use in the urban setting. However, I think that on rougher terrain they would not fare as well. The back brakes are easily managed with a foot lever, and there are front brakes that keep the wheels from swiveling to keep navigation steady on uneven terrain or to allow for pushing back and forth to put the baby to sleep.
I’m embarrassed to admit that my favourite features are all the neat places to hold things (there is a little hidden holder in the base of the car seat as well, where they’ve tucked the manual away): there is a netted storage basket underneath that holds about 10 lbs (4.5 kg); there is a little envelope for storage in the canopy; there is a snack tray for the baby that removes easily for cleaning; and there is a little “dashboard” at the back for the navigator, with a beverage holder and a little storage box—very cute.
Think of all the clichés you know for “easy,”—like “a snap of the fingers” or “it’s a snap”—and you have the description for working with the Keyfit system. Out of the box, all of the pieces literally snap together without any need for tools. Once the stroller is assembled, it operates just as easily: snap the baby carrier in with no extra strapping or adjusting; snap the stroller into a folded position, or reopen it, with a one-handed snap of the brightly coloured handle that is seen in the picture above. There is a very clear manual, but I doubt if you will need it.
The “snap” design of this system makes it very easy to use. The car carrier snaps into the base easily and clearly. The carrier itself is a little heavy with the baby in it, especially now that he is bigger, but I had a C-section so I think carrying is just difficult for me—any carrier would be a problem.
The stroller handles beautifully. I could manage it easily with one hand, and the dog leash in the other, as I walked through the streets of the neighbourhood. It takes almost no effort to push it. People of any height would be comfortable pushing the stroller because the handle adjusts to different heights with two buttons on the side—again, easy.
The ride wasn’t perfectly smooth, but the little bumps seem to lull the baby rather than disturb him. I love the fact that the baby carrier sits quite high in the stroller, so the baby and I are in closer contact to each other. I hate seeing babies at knee-level; it must be so visually distressing for them. The stroller turns on a dime, so I could literally turn it around without taking a step.
To give the stroller a bit of a test, I took it on the Community Trail through some icy mud and snow. It didn’t do as well here, skidding on the ice and bogging down a little in the snow, but I don’t think it was designed to do this at all.
The real advantage of this system is the fact that it is designed to work so perfectly together. The carrier snaps easily into the base, and comes out just as easily to snap into the stroller. Detaching it from the stroller is a one-handed release, and lifting out with the handle. The stroller itself folds down compactly enough to fit easily into most vehicles, and when it is closed it can stand neatly upright in a corner.
I recommend this travel system to parents who are looking for a good stroller that work well at the mall, park or family outings. – Isabel Yourell
- stroller dimensions – 27.5 x 19.8 x 31 inches
- rear facing
- Carrier weight 9lbs
The Chicco Cortina & Keyfit 30 Travel System is currently offered in 14 modern fabrics.