The To & Fro pushchair is, according to Cosatto, a ’pushchair that thinks it’s a travel system’.
What this means is you have forward-facing and rear-facing modes for younger and older babies, and the option to fit a dedicated car seat to the chassis.
The appealing part is that all of this comes in a stroller-sized package.
Going up against other umbrella-fold type pushchairs like the Maclaren Techno XT (£220), UPPAbaby G-Luxe (£194), Summer Infant UME One Pushchair (£90), the To&Fro (£280) is at the pricier end of the market.
It offers features you would expect of a stroller, like a life span from birth to 15kg (around 3 years), 5-point safety harness and duo-directional UPF 50+ hood with extendable sun visor.
However, its major selling point is the fact it can be used in parent or world-facing mode (like the Babystyle Oyster Switch – £160) and it’s travel system compatible.
So the ideal scenario is that this is the best of both worlds: stability and clever stripped-down functionality without the weight and faff of a full travel system.
The worst case scenario: it doesn’t do either job particularly well, and ends up as basically a heavy stroller overcomplicated by fiddly design features that are too much of a compromise.
So which is it?
The good news is, it’s not the latter. The To & Fro is, in many respects, very decent, and is clearly the product of a lot of clever thought.
The pop-out handles give (a bit of) height adjustment when strolling and feature a nifty button-activated pop-out action. The hood is large and purposeful-looking, and is UPF 50+ rated as you’d expect.
The colour scheme is striking, for me not in a good way (Mr Tumble springs to mind) but many will no doubt like it and there is a more muted option available for those who don’t.
The To & Fro set-up was, as these things go, fairly painless – the manual is fairly straightforward, though those how-to diagrams are always bewildering – and I ended up with it set up in the forward-facing position, complete with the supplied footmuff.
How is it out and about as a stroller?
I was looking forward to using the To & Fro as my little girl – now 15 months – is more mobile and less dependent on our bulky Uppababy Vista travel system.
I was keen for something lighter, more manoeuvrable and stroller-sized. On our first trip out into town – a place full of cobbles, narrow pavements and awkward turns – I was impressed at the manoeuvrability of the To & Fro.
The front wheels can lock for rough surfaces, and I found it coped very well with a variety of terrains.
This is partly down to the stability of the frame, which – due to it being designed to accommodate the car seat – is built to be sturdy.
I liked the angled handles, though even on their lowest setting they felt quite high for my 5’ 3” frame.
And – eureka – the pram came with a clip-on cup holder for free! Nice touch.
Is it a lightweight buggy?
No, I was surprised at the weight; this isn’t a feather-light stroller. But many will like its heavier, sturdier feel, as it inspires confidence.
Just don’t expect to be throwing it around with abandon, as it’s 12.6kg.
Is the Cosatto To & Fro pushchair any good for shopping?
It’s ok. Accessing the basket at the bottom was a bit of a fiddle, but there’s little chance of things falling out, at least.
The To & Fro comes with a handy pouch in the rear too, but realistically this is only big enough for a wallet and a packet of baby wipes.
What about the basket?
I didn’t expect the To& Fro to have a massive basket of a bigger pram system down below, but this one is really small.
If you put the supplied raincover in there, you really haven’t got room for anything else. This was niggle number one.
Does the Cosatto To & Fro pushchair work better in world or parent-facing mode?
Parent-facing mode, to me, just seems better when you have a smaller baby, while older toddlers will enjoy looking out at the world.
My second niggle came when I realised I wasn’t ready for my little one to be front-facing in a stroller just yet.
The hood is big and blocks the view of your little one, and with no bar across the front and what felt like a particularly low sitting position, she just felt a little exposed.
“No matter”, I thought: “that’s why there was the option to reverse it to parent-facing.”
It’s the USP of this system.
Tell us about the convertible seat unit
The hood reverses in a nifty front-to-back reversible action that is quite impressive.
Once you remove the footmuff, the backrest – via a system of Velcro straps – pitches forward and becomes the footrest. Clever.
So far, so intuitive. There’s even a spanking new harness on the other side so there’s no wrestling with straps.
The problems come when adjusting the angle of the backrest. When used in parent-facing mode you can’t: it’s lie-flat only.
In forward-facing mode, there is plenty of adjustment, but when using it in parent-facing mode I ended up fashioning a compromise via a method too complicated to explain here (I found myself doing this a lot with this pram) which tilted the back up slightly.
This only raised my little one up enough to be ‘highly reclined’ as opposed to ‘completely flat’ so hardly fixed the issue.
I soon went back to forward-facing and learned to live with it.
So this is a clever system, but you’re only likely to want to use the parent-facing position if your little one wants to sleep, a la bassinet: as far as usability and features go, the To & Fro is primarily a forward-facing setup.
More To than Fro, if you like. But certainly in the front-facing position, comfort didn’t seem to be an issue: my daughter seemed very happy.
How does the Cosatto To & Fro pushchair work as a travel system?
Using it as a travel system is a mixed bag in terms of the their success.
The Cosatto Hold car seat base (£105) is Semi-Universal – meaning it fits in the car with seat belts (an ISOFIX option is available too at £130), and although it features a godsend carry-handle, it leaves a lot to be desired.
It’s straightforward to work out, but the finished fit has so much play in it – even with the useful stability leg extended – you’ll be left in shaky faith whether you’ve done it right.
Perhaps it’s because I’m used to an ISOFIX base that is rock-solid I was nervous about using it and stuck to short-haul hops.
The Hold car seat (£135) itself is better, with a raincover and easy-to-use handle. Both pram and car seat came with a newborn head support, and I had no concerns in terms of comfort.
It’s a little on the utilitarian side but it does the job. It secures to the pram using supplied clips.
Who is the Cosatto To & Fro pushchair best for?
As long as you’re not expecting a master-of-all-trades, this is a good product.
It’s more of a make-do in the lie-flat mode and you don’t get the stability or purpose-built features of a dedicated travel system.
But it’s vastly more compact, too, and it’s certainly cheerful – so this is a product more easy-going mums could get on board with.
It may take a bit of practice to get the hang of, though.
What do you think of the style?
You’ve got to hand it to Cosatto: their motto is: ‘Saving the world from boring baby stuff’ and resplendent in the ‘Pitter Patter’ colour scheme this particular To and Fro pushchair fulfilled this promise immediately having left the box.
Whatever room it’s in, it will grab attention. Whether it will save the world remains to be seen.
The bold colours, continental-feeling name and hip branding made me think I was handling something that had rolled out of some chic Italian design studio.
It was odd to see ‘Great British Design’ badges all over it and to learn that the company is based in Bolton, having been bought and relocated from… Basildon. Hmm.
A little digging later and it did emerge that the origins of the company are in Italy: Cosatto was a cotmaker, relocating to England in the 1970s.
The company still makes cots to this day, albeit under the hyper-bright colour schemes and a funky ethos which – while not to everyone’s particular tastes – is hard to dislike. This company clearly loves what it does.
Made for Mums verdict
A clever and vibrant hybrid that offers the main benefits of a travel system without the bulk, the To & Fro is a great idea – and almost delivers on it – almost.
It’s let down by being a bit fiddly and has a lacklustre parent-facing mode, but if you can live with this it may be the answer to your needs.
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