Joie pact lite review
In a nutshell
If you're looking for a city buggy that folds easily, is compact and a joy to carry, the Joie pact lite is great, although it may not be the ideal choice for newborns as it's not snug enough and is forward-facing only.
What we tested
5.0A star rating of 5.0 out of 5.
4.5A star rating of 4.5 out of 5.
- Comfort for child
4.0A star rating of 4.0 out of 5.
5.0A star rating of 5.0 out of 5.
4.5A star rating of 4.5 out of 5.
- Worth the money
4.5A star rating of 4.5 out of 5.
- Lightweight but well-made, easy one-hand fold, compact when folded.
- Non-adjustable handle, seat can only face forward.
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Key features of the Joie pact lite
- Age suitability: birth - 15kg
- Type of buggy:lightweight stroller
- Weight: 4.6kg
- Fold: One hand fold with automatic fold lock
- Travel system compatible: No
- Total cost: £140
Joie is a British brand that is probably best known for its range of car-seats, but its growing range of pushchairs, promising to combine 'style, functionality and durability', have won a clutch of awards for its strollers and other products, including the Red Dot Award for design. Designed to meet a variety of needs, among them are some popular lightweight offerings including the aire lite, the pact, and now the pact lite - billed as a “frequent flyer, designed to tote along and tag along”.
When I’ve needed a travel-friendly buggy for holidays and weekend breaks in the past I’ve opted for a cheap, umbrella style - and ended up cursing its flimsiness and poor design. So, I was excited to try something that promised to perform well on the road (or pavement) as well as in the hold of a plane.
Priced at around £140 the pact lite sits alongside the Ickle Bubba Aurora (£130) and the Red Kite Push Me Cube (£135) as a reasonably-priced z-fold travel stroller. It’s suitable from birth up to 15kg (so around three years), comes in a range of striking colours and features an integral shoulder strap so it can be carried like a bag when folded, as well as its own carry bag.
I’m a mum of three - ages four, two and six weeks - and we live in Truro, Cornwall. I tested the Joie pact lite with my two year-old and six week-old, taking it for trips into town, to the playground and catching the bus.
What’s in the box?
The buggy arrived in a surprisingly small box, containing the chassis and seat unit combined, wheels, bumper bar, raincover and carry bag. I had a quick look at the instructions and had assembled the buggy within minutes - it was simply a case of unfolding it and clicking the wheels and bumper bar into place.
The instructions are set out as step-by-step pictures and they’re very clear, but I didn’t really need them. Everything was easy to figure out.
The buggy is sold on being compact, but how compact is it?
Folded, the buggy measures 46.8 x 26 x 54, so it’s very compact - I was impressed. Baby equipment seems to have taken over every part of our house since we started a family, and bulky buggies are the worst offender.
We’re fortunate to have a garage where we store them now, but folded up the pact lite could tuck in nicely by our front door without tripping everyone up or getting in the way. Likewise, our car boot is very roomy (three children meant an upgrade to a people carrier) but this buggy is so compact I’m sure it would fit neatly into even the smallest boot.
Is it lightweight?
As well as being compact the pact lite is very light, weighing in at just 5.5kg. Our main buggy at the moment is a Cosatto travel system, and it’s a two-handed job for me to heave just the base into the boot of the car or up and down the stairs.
So it was was quite amazing I could carry the pact lite in one hand, or over my shoulder, even with a child in the other arm.
Does the weight hamper its durability?
Although it’s lightweight, the pact-lite appears to be built to last, with a strong, sturdy frame. Everything seemed well-made and I would be confident that it would wear well. The only thing I wasn’t sure about was the bumper bar, which is flexible rather than rigid.
Obviously this helps with the compact fold, and to keep the buggy’s weight down, but it seemed a little flimsy to me and could take a bit of a battering over time.
How does it ride in parks?
The pact lite manoeuvres really well on relatively smooth surfaces, like paths and pavements. For the most part I could control it easily with one hand - unlike my cheap, lightweight Argos stroller - which is invaluable if you have another little one in tow. It’s light to push too, and suspension on each wheel makes for a smooth ride.
But its wheels are much smaller than those on my Cosatto, so it wasn’t so great off-road and I found grass and bumpy, uneven surfaces heavier going. I definitely needed both hands to negotiate larger obstacles like tree roots, large ridges and potholes.
How does it work as a city buggy, and on transport?
This buggy really comes into its own as a city buggy, especially for people who are hopping on and off public transport or trying to navigate busy public places. Juggling children and a buggy on a train or bus can be really stressful and I avoid it as much as I can.
I never seem to have enough hands to get everyone on board safely - and trying to fold and store a buggy while impatient travellers jostle behind you is not much fun. But the pact lite really did make it all so easy.
The one-hand fold left me with another hand free to hold on firmly to my toddler, as I collapsed the stroller at the bus stop. I could then swing it on my shoulder to board the bus and tuck it away by our feet. It’s great for escalators too, which are usually practically impossible with a buggy.
And as it’s narrow, it’s great for zipping through crowded shops and nipping into cafes.
Is it affordable for what it is?
I think the Joie pact lite is well-priced for what it is. It compares favourably with its near competitors, and the quality, clever features and the fact it’s suitable from birth to toddler make it a sound investment that should last through many family trips. I can imagine using this buggy again and again.
Is it suitable from birth?
The pact lite is suitable from birth. I took my six-week old baby out in it, and for short trips into town or out and about on holiday it’s absolutely fine for a newborn, but I wouldn’t have it as my only buggy from birth. It doesn’t come with any kind of footmuff or anything to keep baby snug, so you would need to buy something extra.
I also felt my baby was quite exposed - I prefer a carrycot when they’re very small. And there’s only a forward facing option. With the hood pulled right back I could see my baby, but again, when they’re very small I prefer to have them facing me so they’re in sight at all times.
Is it travel system compatible?
What do you think of the seat size?
This is a compact buggy, so it’s only natural that the seat isn’t huge. I tested it with my two-year-old, and although the seat was fine for her I felt that she was getting to the upper limit of fitting comfortably.
What are your thoughts on the height of the buggy?
I’m an average 5ft 5" and the buggy was a good height for me to push. But the handle isn’t adjustable, which could be an issue for taller users.
Is the fold system as easy as Joie claims?
I love it! It’s incredibly simple - you just slide the button on top of the handle across while pushing the button underneath. Then fold the handle forward until the frame collapses and it folds flat. Within minutes of assembling the buggy I was folding it with one hand while jiggling a crying baby in the other arm.
How comfortable does it feel for your little one?
With a padded seat and shoulder straps, it was perfectly comfortable for my baby when doing quick trips around town, but as I mentioned I wouldn’t use it all the time for a newborn as it's lacking in cosiness.
When using it with my two-year-old I found even in its most upright position the seat was more reclined than our usual buggy. She didn’t like leaning back so she was constantly pulling herself forward to look around.
What do you think of the hood? Can it be used as sun protection?
The hood is generously-sized, with a visor, and UPF50+ so it can be used as sun protection - an important factor in a buggy that’s designed to be taken on holiday.
What’s the basket like?
The basket is billed as full-size and it’s OK for what it is, but as the pact lite is narrow its basket is too, and I also found it quite shallow. I could fit a small bag of shopping in it but not much more.
Tell us about the brakes
The brake is foot-operated, on the rear right wheel. It’s easy to flip on and off and I was confident that the buggy wasn’t going anywhere with it on. The “ShoeSaver” design promises to keep shoes scuff free - I couldn’t see much real difference from other foot brakes I’ve come across but my shoes are pretty scuffed already!
What age child is it best for?
The pact lite is probably best for a child of around 12-18 months. Although it’s fine for a newborn for occasional use, or short trips, it’s not ideal as a primary buggy from birth.
And its compact size means children at the upper end of its limit might outgrow it quickly. Like my toddler, they may also be frustrated by having to lean so far back in the seat.
Made for Mums verdict:
I really loved this buggy - I thought it was well-designed and thought-out, and perfect for its target audience of jet-setting parents. It’s definitely most useful for people who travel frequently with their child - whether that’s jumping on and off city buses or flying off somewhere more exotic.
It might not be ideal for everyone’s day-to-day requirements, but if a friend was looking for a compact, lightweight buggy to make travelling with a child easier I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Joie pact lite.
Other lightweight buggies for you to consider:
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|Child age (approx)||Birth to 3 years|
|Child weight||Up to 15kg|
|Dimensions & Weight|
|Dimensions||H:99cm W:46.8cm L:82cm|
|Dimensions (folded)||H:54cm W:26cm L:46.8cm|
|Seat facing direction||Forward facing|