The Gear Junkie: Chariot Cougar 2 Transport

The Chariot Cougar 2 is more than a stroller, offering a number of accessories for skiing, hiking and jogging.
Don't call the Chariot Cougar 2 a stroller. It has wheels and a child-holding compartment. You buckle the kid in and push along from behind. But Chariot Carriers can't quite be simplified to the appellation of stroller.

No, the Cougar 2 and its ilk are related more closely to a Transformer robot than the average wheeled fold-up. Chariot Carriers Inc. (www.chariotcarriers.com), a company based in Calgary, Alberta, calls its products Child Transport Systems, alluding to the fact that each one has the ability to move said kid around in multiple fitness-oriented manners.

With the CTS accoutrements--which range from bike attachment arms to a ski-equipped chassis that clips to the underside of the seat--you can walk, run, bike, ski and hike with kid, or kids, in tow.

The components are lightweight and easy to use. They clip on and off without the employment of a wrench or any other tool.

A neat idea, for sure. But not without cost: The Cougar 2 retails at $520. The components cost $53 to $220 apiece, and you need at least one component to make the Cougar 2 usable.

Altogether, a complete Cougar 2 kit will cost the multisport parent a cool $1,001.

I tested the Cougar 2 with my two-year-old daughter primarily for running, snapping the $70 Jogging Kit on the front via the touch of a couple spring-loaded tabs.

The stroller, er, Child Transport System is undoubtedly high quality, with stainless steel wheels and an adjustable suspension system to absorb the bumps. All parts are sturdy and made to last for years.

Designed to fit one or two children inside, the Cougar 2 measures 45 by 32 by 37 inches, which is a large package to roll down the road. Indeed, for the kids sitting inside this is a virtual rolling playroom, with pockets for snacks; padded harnesses; windows and vents; a removable, hand-washable padded seat bottom with wicking mesh fabric; and ample room for stretching out and playing with toys.

For me, the bulk was too much. Running was difficult and only somewhat enjoyable. Furthermore, I was shipped a test unit without a hand brake, making controlling the big cart on hills a bit scary. (Chariot sells an optional hand brake for $65.)

The large setup works much slicker in tow on a bike.

I have yet to try skiing or hiking with the Chariot. Friends of mine swear by this system on snow, where you clip into a waist belt and essentially drag the ski-equipped Chariot like a horse pulling a sleigh.

Hiking with the Chariot is similar, as its off-road attachment includes a chest harness mounted on short rods to pull--not push--your kid through the woods.

Honestly, I'm just not sure if I'm that ambitious.


Stephen Regenold writes The Gear Junkie column for eight U.S. newspapers; visit www.thegearjunkie.com for video gear reviews, a daily blog and an archive of Regenold's work.

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