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The Bugaboo Donkey3 is an upgraded version of the luxe Dutch brand’s innovative and legendary single-to-double buggy, the Donkey, which stormed onto the double pushchair scene almost 10 years ago
Well-loved due to its highly adaptable design that converts with just three clicks and offers multiple seating options, last year’s version, the Donkey2, picked up Silver in the double buggy category of the 2020 MFM Awards.
The Donkey3 has kept everything parents loved about the original, but boasts a few additional tricks up its sleeve, including a peek-a-boo hood, lighter wheels and an improved side luggage basket.
The buggy is a premium model in the market with a price tag to match, but its innovative design has proved to be a commercial winner – with a clever frame that expands sideways, it is easily changed from a single pushchair with a basket at the side, to a substantial side-by-side double.
There are three modes available to buy – Mono, which is a single seat and side basket, Duo, which has a seat unit and bassinet, and Twin mode, which comes with two bassinets and two seat units. The buggy allows twins or two children of different ages to ride in equal comfort, it’s easy to push and fits through most doorways. This model is 74cm wide in Duo mode and the seats are designed to hold up to 22kg each, making it suitable for children up to 5 years old.
Alex Lloyd is mum to two boys aged 8 months and 3 years 9 months. She lives in York and tested the Bugaboo Donkey3 with both children individually, on walks around the park, along bumpy, hilly ground at a local allotment and on cobbled streets.
How is the Bugaboo Donkey3 different to the Donkey2?
The Donkey3 still has the brilliant adaptability of the Donkey2 and is the same width in Mono and Duo/Twin mode. However, there are a few notable differences: it has lighter wheels that are easier to manoeuvre – a big plus for a double buggy (which are renowned for feeling like tanks!), a front pocket has been added to the side luggage basket and there’s a new zipped pouch in the basket.
In addition, there are now two peek-a-boo windows on the seat hood and the handlebar pivots 360 degrees, so you no longer have to remove it to lift your child out. Finally, the seats have an increased weight limit from 17kg each to 22kg.
What is the Bugaboo Donkey3 like compared to other side-by-side double buggies?
Priced well over £1,000, the Bugaboo Donkey3 undoubtedly sits at the peak of the double buggy market, but in comparison to other side-by-side designs, it’s one of only a handful that is travel system compatible. It’s also the only design with the ability to turn from a single buggy to a double with the expansion of the frame – this really is what sets the Donkey apart.
The Mountain Buggy Duet V3 is one of the Donkey3’s biggest rivals that’s also travel system compatible, but at £649, it’s much easier on the bank balance. While it’s a hugely flexible buggy, it doesn’t quite have the breadth of seating options the Donkey3 boasts, and it also lacks the premium finish Bugaboo are well known for. Both buggies are a similar weight (15kg for the Donkey3 and 15.5kg for the Mountain Buggy) and both offer one-handed steering, but the Mountain Buggy is slightly more compact when folded.
Other competitors include the Baby Jogger City Mini GT2 Double (£409 on Amazon), the Out and About Nipper Double (£459.99 on Amazon) and the Britax B-Agile Double (£269.99 on Amazon), all of which are much more affordable options, with an overall more basic design, and only the Baby Jogger is travel system compatible at an additional cost.
How does the Bugaboo Donkey3’s width compare to other double side-by-side buggies?
At 74cm in Duo and Twin mode, the Donkey3’s hefty width is a common bugbear of online reviews. At 63cm, the Mountain Buggy Duet V3 is a whopping 11cm slimmer than the Donkey3, which would certainly make getting around buses, shops and narrow front doors much easier. But this size is also reflected in the Mountain Buggy Duet seat units, which are narrower and have an upper weight limit of 18kg compared with the Donkey3’s 22kg.
The Baby Jogger City Mini GT2 Double is the same width as the Donkey3, the Out & About Nipper Double comes in 2cm less at 72cm and the Britax B-Agile Double is an even bigger 78cm, so on balance, in comparison to other side-by-side buggies, it doesn’t fare too badly.
What are your first impressions of the Bugaboo Donkey3?
My first thought was “Is this going to fit through my front door?!”. The chassis looked really bulky when folded and seemed very wide when I opened it up. That said, on closer inspection, it’s 60cm wide in Mono mode, which is as narrow as a standard pushchair and easily fits in the 75cm-wide front door of my Victorian terrace.
Once extended into Duo mode though, (both Duo and Twin mode are the same width) it is 74cm and with the lip of the door in the way, it simply would not fit through. I even tried taking the seats off. My only way into the house is the front, and the idea of not being able to walk the buggy through the front door if I have a sleeping baby inside, or having to set it up in the rain, is a major issue for me.
This of course won’t be a problem for everyone – I asked my mother-in-law to measure her front door and it is 88cm – plenty of room. But it’s certainly worth checking before you invest.
What is the age range of the Bugaboo Donkey3?
The carrycot can be used until your baby is sitting up and can then be converted into a seat with a fabric set, available to buy for £76.95. In Duo mode, the seat has a generous capacity of 22kg, around 5 years old, depending on the child. The parent-facing seat mode in Mono can only be used up to 15kg.
It certainly felt very robust and was capable of holding my 18kg son (who is 3 years and 9 months) with no trouble. The issue, like many buggies, is that while it takes his weight, he was slightly too long for it.
Do you like the look of it?
This is a handsome buggy, especially for a double. The fabrics are classy, the colour options are very traditional, with something to suit everyone. The black and chrome frame is extremely smart and has a premium feel – exactly what you’d expect from a luxe buggy with a higher-than-average price.
What is the carrycot like on the Donkey3?
It’s well made and has a comfortable, soft mattress, which although is not designed for overnight sleeping, is easy to remove for washing, as is the fabric of the carrycot. It clips on and off the frame really easily, and stands solidly on the ground. There’s a handy pocket at the end too and the carry handle unclips on both sides as needed and can be rotated, which makes getting your baby in and out a lot easier.
My youngest was a little too old to use the carrycot unfortunately, but I still tested it on the chassis in both modes. It did feel rather narrow to me compared to other carrycots made for single buggies that I’ve tried, including the Cosatto Giggle Quad. It measured 80cm long by 32cm wide at the head and 26cm wide at the legs, compared to Cosatto’s 75cm by 35cm. While the petite sizing makes the Donkey3’s Duo mode as streamlined as possible, I worry it would be restrictive once a baby is past three months, particularly for babies with chunky legs. Although in comparison to the Mountain Buggy Duet V3 carrycot, the Donkey3’s carrycot is actually 2cm wider and a number of online shoppers comment on how snug and cosy the carrycot looks for a small baby, and how settled they are inside.
What is the seat unit like on the Donkey3?
While on the face of it, it looks a little on the narrow side, it actually measures 27cm across, which is a decent size for a side-by-side double. My eldest son, who is on the upper centiles, fitted in fine – I could put a hand down each side of his waist. However, length-wise he was bursting out of it and his head was poking into the hood! From seat to hood, the unit measures 48cm. My 8-month baby had a lot more room in the seat; it’s comfy and nicely padded, although I’d have liked a foot rest.
The seat is easy to attach and to move between modes. It simply clicks on and off by pressing the white buttons either side simultaneously. This is another standout feature of the Bugaboo Donkey and one that shines through in the majority of its online reviews – unlike all other side-by-side double buggies, the transition between seat modes is a smooth, pain-free process.
How was the Bugaboo Donkey3 to push in the three different modes – Mono, Duo and Twin?
Overall, I found it incredibly light and easy to push. In the Mono setting, it was very simple to push one-handed, whether you’re going up a hill or on bumpy ground. Even my 3-year-old managed it!
In Duo mode, I found it a little more unwieldy due to the width.
What is the recline like?
The seat has three recline positions in parent-facing mode – upright, reclined and lie flat – which you move by lifting a white lever on the back of the seat. Be careful not to let it go too far back however as it does not stop at lie flat! The motion is pretty smooth and wouldn’t disturb a sleeping baby. I liked the upright mode, which is useful for feeding a baby at a café if there’s no highchair available. A common complaint of many less expensive side-by-side buggies is that toddlers often look too reclined and it’s difficult to get them in a comfortable, upright position, but this isn’t an issue for the Donkey3.
That said, when the seat is forward facing, it only has two positions – upright and reclined – and you cannot put the seat into a lie flat position, which is disappointing. In all other comparable buggies, a lie-flat (or almost flat) position when forward-facing is available, an essential feature for comfortable naps.
Also, the recline function is a full seat recline, so the whole seat pivots from the axle, as opposed to the back of the seat reclining and the bottom staying in place. I personally prefer buggies that do the latter, as I think it looks uncomfortable when your baby’s legs stick up in the air.
Is it easy to switch the Bugaboo Donkey3 from parent-facing to forward-facing?
Yes, very. You simply press the white buttons on either side of the seat and lift it up from the frame, then turn it around and click into place. This takes seconds and can easily be done while out (without your child strapped in). The seat is approx. 3.5kg so pretty light to lift and adjust. Be aware that the parent-facing mode has a weight limit of 15kg, while forward-facing goes up to 22kg.
The ease of switching between seat modes is a strong selling point of the Donkey3 and certainly one of the reasons that set it apart from other side-by-side double buggies, many of which do not offer a forward-facing option, and for those that do, they are much more time-consuming and difficult to change between.
In Duo/Twin mode, you can have both seats facing either way, meaning you can have one child looking at you and one ahead if you choose – and they can still see one another.
What did you think of the seat harness?
I loved it. It is arguably the easiest and most effective harness I’ve used on a buggy (and I’ve used many!). There are three key features that make it so user-friendly: the toggles to adjust the shoulder straps are not hidden, the crotch strap is adjustable, and you don’t have to move the shoulder straps up and down the back pad as your child grows. The five-point harness is excellent too – each strap locks in separately and very swiftly.
I was able to get a really cosy fit every time and I could easily switch between my sons in seconds. With other buggies I’ve tried, like the Stokke Scoot, Phil & Teds Dash and BabyZen Yoyo, changing the harness fit is a big job.
What’s it like steering the Bugaboo Donkey3 on different surfaces?
Very easy. The wheels are large and sturdy and we managed great on pavement, cobbles, riverside paths and uneven hilly round through the local allotment. Bugaboo say you can push this buggy one handed and they are spot on. The padded handlebar was comfortable to use and the buggy pops up onto kerbs with ease.
The smooth, stress-free pushing of the Donkey3 is a theme that shines through any online reviews of the buggy and is one of the standout comments from the 2020 MFM home testers of the Donkey2.
What are the wheels like?
The large, foam-filled wheels are puncture-proof and manage well on all surfaces. I’ve used a Bugaboo Bee5 previously and ended up giving it to the grandparents because I hated the wheels so much – they were forever getting stuck in potholes. But the Donkey3 is the total opposite in terms of handling!
The back wheels are very easy to take off for storage and cleaning and the front wheels have a white button on the front of the frame to fix them in place for folding.
How is the brake on the Bugaboo Donkey3?
It’s situated on the axle between the back wheels, on the left-hand side. I found the position a little unnatural at first, but I quickly got used to it. The brake was extremely effective without being too stiff and I liked the generous size of the pedal.
Are you able to interact with your child while they’re in the buggy?
Yes. My child felt close and the adjustable handle helped with that. However, I am 5ft 4ins and the seat did seem lower to the ground than what I was used to – a tall parent may feel further away than usual! Also, I couldn’t see my son once the hood was up as it was quite tunnel-like, but there is a peek-a-boo panel.
Does the Bugaboo Donkey3 feel sturdy?
The frame is robust without being too heavy and the chassis, wheels and seat feel very well-made and durable. It would definitely last you through two (or maybe more!) children from birth to being out of a buggy, especially given the adaptability of the seats.
How do you fold the Bugaboo Donkey3?
You need two hands and while it can be done with the seats attached, it’s much trickier.
- Take the carrycot and/or seat off, and the shopping bag.
- Return the buggy to Mono mode by unclipping the three catches on the frame, pushing the frame inwards and securing the clips again.
- Lock wheels at the front.
- Undo the white clips on either side of the handle, retract into frame and clip back securely.
- Place your hands on the white sliding buttons, press in the black buttons on top of them and pull towards you to retract wheels towards each other.
- Push the handle down while pulling central axle up.
- You can make the fold smaller by removing the back wheels and also the front ones if needed.
How compact is the buggy when folded?
There are two main folds available – the one-piece fold, with wheels attached, which measures 52x60x93cm. This is larger than any of the Bugaboo Donkey3’s closest competitors when folded.
The other fold, the compact, measures 91x60x24cm, and is a comparable size to other similar buggies in the market, with only the Mountain Buggy Duet V3 coming in marginally bigger. The compact fold however takes more effort to do, as it requires removing all wheels and the seat units, while the Mountain Buggy, for example, is collapsed exactly as it stands.
Does it fit in the boot of your car?
We have a Vauxhall Astra with boot dimensions of 110x80x50cm. I was able to fit in the frame with the wheels attached fairly easily, leaving room alongside for other essentials, but I would have struggled to get the carrycot in and close the door without taking off the parcel shelf. When I removed the back wheels, I could get the carrycot and side bag in without a problem. Likewise, I think I’d be able to fit two seats in with the frame, but not a seat and carrycot, or two carrycots.
How easy is it to lift into a car?
The chassis weighs 9.5kg and is fairly easy to lift when in Mono mode and folded down, with the seat taken off. It is not too bulky for the boot, especially if you take off the back wheels. The seat is light too at 3.5kg and can be lifted by the bumper bar.
The buggy can also be folded down with the seat still attached, if forward facing. However, I’d only do this if I had to as it weighs 15kg (even more if it was in Twin mode with another seat unit) and is almost impossible to lift. This is a higher-than-average weight when compared to its competitors – the Mountain Buggy Duet V3 weighs 14.7kg, the Britax B-Agile Double is 13.2kg and the Out and About Nipper Double comes in at 12.8kg. The only rival heavier is the Baby Jogger City Mini GT2 Double at 16.6kg, but it’s worth bearing in mind that all the weights listed for the above buggies are with both seat units attached, while the Donkey3’s is just with one.
What’s the Bugaboo Donkey3’s hood like?
The hood is smooth and quiet to fold and unfold. It has an extra section at the rear which can be unzipped to offer full coverage for a sleeping baby or to protect little heads from the sun. A new addition to the Donkey3 model, which has already proved a hit with early reviewers, is two mesh viewing panels on the canopy – one on top which is very easy to see through and a second more opaque one within the extra section. They are accessed by lifting panels of material rather than zips or poppers.
How useful is the basket?
The Bugaboo Donkey3’s basket has a weight capacity of 10kg and looked promising at first, because it is quite wide (and gets wider when you extend to Duo/Twin mode), but the ends are quite shallow and the central axle of the chassis sits low. It also feels very exposed.
I put my online shop inside and the bags have to sit at either side of the bar rather than under it. I struggled to slide my eldest’s folded down scooter underneath too. The other problem is that when the seats are parent facing and upright, you can only get to it from the front.
The basket design is a shame as I’d say this is a very urban buggy, aimed at busy families with a need for storage space.
Did you use the side storage bag in Mono mode?
Yes! I absolutely loved having all essential bits and pieces like my handbag and drinks within easy reach. It’s brilliant for going shopping – you can use it rather than a basket and when home, carry it into the kitchen instead of trying to juggle things. It has a generous 10kg limit and I like the way you can either tuck the top in for an open basket or pull it up and zip it. It removes easily from the base too.
My only criticisms would be that I would like slightly longer handles to put it over my shoulder comfortably and the fact it is totally useless once you adapt the buggy to Duo/Twin mode. That’s exactly the time you need a bit of extra storage for your stuff!
What do you think of the Bugaboo Donkey3’s handlebar?
It gets a big thumbs up from me. The leatherette is well padded and comfortable to hold. The height extension is generous and I like that you can push it right down when not in use, to free up space.
The handle stands at 84cm tall in the lowest setting, and goes right up to 102cm at the tallest. It has a wrist strap fixed in the middle too. One nice feature of it being so wide, even in Mono mode, was that my eldest could stand next to me and help push.
There are two downsides however; when it’s extended for Duo/Twin mode, there is a section in the middle that is not padded. Also, the clip on the handle which you undo to extend the buggy widthways was very easy for my eldest to unlatch and it did destabilise the handle a little.
How easy is it to convert the buggy from Mono to Duo/Twin modes?
Very! It is incredibly clever. First, you take the seat and bag off the frame. There are three white clips that you unhook on the handle, back axle and front axle. Then you push a white button on the central axle and pull the sides away from each other. Once extended, you close the clips again and put on your carrycots or seats.
Would the Bugaboo Donkey3 be suitable for public transport?
I think you may struggle on buses in Duo/Twin mode because of the width, unless you could access double doors at the rear and there were no other buggies on board. Mono would probably be fine as there are other single buggies a similar width. Trains would be easier, but you wouldn’t be able to get either mode down the aisle.
What do you wish you’d known about the Donkey3?
Just how wide it is and whether it would fit through my front door in Duo/Twin mode! My reservations about the width were unfortunately correct, in part. I’d also think more about where I’d store a buggy of this size – even in its most compact folding mode, the seats that come with it take up a lot of room, so it’s worth considering where you’ll put it.
Is the Bugaboo Donkey3 good value for money?
There’s no getting away from it – this is one pricey buggy, with the Mono package starting at a whopping £1,049. This includes a carrycot and the seat fabric to convert it, but not a car seat to make it a travel system or the second carrycot/seat. The Twin/Duo package is from £1,335 and fabric choices can also push the price up.
The Bugaboo Donkey3 is good value for money if you’re confident it will grow with your family over the years – first as a single and then developing into a double. The innovation of being able to extend it and the sheer versatility for seating is excellent, and if you’re planning daily use and high mileage, I have no doubts it would earn its price tag.
What additional extras can you buy?
A raincover is included as part of the package, along with the carrycot apron, but you can also buy various accessories, including a footmuff, from £65.70, cup holder, from £19.95, and seat liner, for £42.95.
Where can I buy the Bugaboo Donkey3?
It is available to buy from Bugaboo , Natural Baby Shower and Mamas & Papas
A clever, premium double buggy that grows with your family. The Bugaboo Donkey3 is best for parents of twins or children very close in age – it is extremely easy to use and steer, it has a beautiful premium finish and the level of flexibility it offers is virtually unchallenged in the market. The payoff for such adaptability is a wide frame, cumbersome fold and a justifiably hefty price tag.