Umbrella strollers are the most basic and lightweight strollers on the market today. They typically weigh less than 15 pounds and fold up compactly. Umbrella strollers earned their name from their curved handles and their ability to fold up like an umbrella. They are inexpensive, ranging in price from $15 to over $200, and convenient to use for quick trips or when traveling, but they are not suitable to use as your primary stroller.
Umbrella strollers are commonly used as a secondary stroller, useful for errands or traveling when you need to conserve space in the car. They are not designed for long stretches outdoors or indoors. Typical umbrella strollers do not have storage space, do not have comfortable or reclining seats for sleeping babies or babies less than six months old, and are not very durable. You can find high-end umbrella strollers if you look long enough. High-end umbrella strollers are usually more durable, have storage space, and will even recline through the use of zippers, hooks, drawstrings, or snaps, but they are not as common as with the lower priced version.
Most umbrella strollers are equipped with front swivel wheels for ease of turning and a tight turning radius. The higher-end umbrella strollers feature front wheels that can be locked into a forward-facing position with foot or hand activated levers. The wheels on umbrella strollers are usually quite small and do not have a suspension system of any kind. These wheels tend to wobble and stick, forcing you to push your stroller as if it were on skis. Some high-end strollers have larger wheels with a basic suspension system, but are still not quite suitable for cobblestone streets.
You may want to invest in an umbrella stroller equipped with a retractable canopy. The canopies are usually smaller than those found on standard strollers, but they can provide enough shade to prevent your baby form over-heating on hot, sunny days. If you get caught in the rain, you may want to have an attachable rain-cover to completely cover your baby because the canopy just won't do.
The lure of umbrella strollers is their compact size when folded. Umbrella strollers barely take up any room in the trunk of a car and can fold up small enough to fit in the overhead compartment of most airplanes. Most umbrella strollers fold up easily with a simple two-step process, although the higher-end models may take a bit more effort.
Umbrella strollers are not your best choice if looking for a primary stroller, but they do have their time and place. They are convenient and easy to use, especially for toddlers who may want to walk a part of the time. Most are not suitable for small babies and are just not comfortable for long days at the amusement park. Keep your use of umbrella strollers limited to those quick trips and pack your comfy standard stroller for those days when you expect your baby to fall asleep when out playing the tourist.