We are in our second year as brand ambassadors for Britax. This means that we get to help spread the word about what Britax are currently working on (including the incredibly worthy Bin the Booster car safety initiative), and from time to time we also get to road test Britax products.
Our latest product review is the Britax Smile, a birth to walking travel system.
I’ll be honest, when we first put together the Britax Smile, my initial thoughts were that I wouldn’t feel confident using it in London. The wheel width is wider than a lot of pushchairs I’ve used, and I couldn’t imagine it fitting on an escalator.
So, what did we decide to do? Take it to London on public transport to put it to the test.
The escalator test – It does leave only a narrow gap for people to squeeze past, but it was fine, certainly not too big to fit.
The tube and train test – Passed with flying colours, didn’t feel any more intrusive than any other pushchair, and the green/red brake indicator was very useful to have at this point. (I’m used to the old and dodgy brakes on my ancient Maclaren – you never quite know if they are working or not. It adds a certain thrill to every train journey).
The busy London areas test – Absolutely fine. We weaved in and out of the Southbank weekend crowds without any difficulty.
The comfort test – The roomy seat and multi position footrest make for a really comfortable ride. Rory was very happy in his seat and I could tell from his relaxed posture that he was comfortable.
Rory also put the Britax Smile through a few of his own tests. Developed by toddlers, for toddlers.
The bumper bar chew test – Yep, good stuff.
The grumpy toddler restraint device test – Check.
The makeshift shoe holding area for inopportune moments when you decide shoes are not best worn on your feet but as missiles to throw repeatedly into the crowd – It does the job.
What did we get up to in London?
We were headed to Waterloo for a trip aboard a Duck Bus (more on that in another post). After our aquatic sightseeing adventure, we headed round the corner to Southbank. The bustling riverside area is great for a potter, with plenty of random sights and things going on to keep the children entertained. We stopped for lunch at the market, a street food area next to Royal Festival Hall.
We’ve eaten here several times before, always having a hard time choosing between the different vendors. This time, we went for a spicy pork and rice dish from the Korean stall which was awesome, and definitely not shy on the chilli, which we appreciate. It was a really close call between that and the duck burger in a brioche bun with a big slab of toasted goat’s cheese and chutney. We did, however, get chips for the boys from the the duck burger place, and the truffle mayonnaise was a great addition.
Anyway, back to the pushchair… All in all, I was really impressed with how the Britax Smile handled everything we threw at it. My initial worries about it being a bit on the big side for London were proved completely wrong. Although it is slightly wider, this didn’t cause any issues for us on trains, tubes, or escalators.
What we liked about the Britax Smile
The seat – It has everything you want from a pushchair seat. Parent and outward facing modes, multi recline positions, folds with the chassis, extendible hood, five point harness, easily large enough to last well into the preschooler years.
The brake indicator – It was a nice touch and gave me that gave that extra confidence that the brake was definitely on, just by glancing at the red/green indicator.
The multi position footrest – so many pushchairs seem to leave legs dangling uncomfortably, especially in the reclined position. Not the case with the Britax Smile.
Big wheels – This pushchair has been on all sorts of terrain and hasn’t struggled once. It’s very easy to push. Urban pushchair or not, I like a wheel that can handle everything.
The basket – It’s massive. My huge rucksack/changing bag fit with no problems with space left to fill in the front section. The basket is so large, that we had a hard time convincing Rory that it wasn’t his seat, as he kept climbing in. (Although, actually, it was quite handy when we briefly had Rory in the basket and Arlo in the seat – not officially recommended, of course, but it happens).
The zip pocket on the back of the seat unit – very useful for carrying loose change and my Oyster card.
What we didn’t like so much
The width of the buggy at the wheels is quite large. Whilst this makes for a very stable pushchair, it also presents more of a challenge getting through small doorways, bus aisles, etc. We were surprised at how easily it handled London terrain and transport, but I wouldn’t recommend the Britax Smile to a heavy bus user.
The handle is positioned at quite an angle, when it’s fully extended it makes for a long pushchair. However, that makes it ideal for use with a buggy board, with plenty of headroom for a child between the handle and the buggy. If you were using this pushchair with a buggy board, though, I’m pretty sure it would feel like driving the tank of buggies, but that might be a good thing (Have you tried using a buggy board with an umbrella pushchair??)
Air filled tyres – I get worried about punctures, but then you do have the option of filling it with that green slime from the bike shop.
Brake position – Having the brake on the side rather than in the middle of the bar makes it difficult to reach in certain scenarios (ie, if you’ve had to wiggle the pushchair into a corner on a tube).
As with all products, the positives and negatives come into context when you consider the price point. With an RRP of £459 including the infant carrycot, half the price of a high-end level travel system, I’d say the Britax Smile does pretty well here indeed.
I wouldn’t recommend the Britax Smile for a family that needs to travel a lot on public transport, has a small car boot, or just desires something more compact. But if brand integrity, value for money, and a pushchair that can handle any terrain are important factors, the Britax Smile is a worthy option to consider.
We are proud to be working with Britax as a brand ambassador. Our Britax Smile was sent to us for the purpose of this review.