Mamas & Papas has spent 33 years establishing itself at the higher-end of the High Street (winning awards along the way) so it’s understandable the brand has an ever-increasing collection of pushchairs.
Probably the most popular in the M&P range are the Armadillo buggies. They are so well-liked that the parenting company has created a fleet of Armadillos, each with its own unique adaptation.
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The original Armadillo only came on the market in 2014, since then there have been multiple buggy spin-offs; the Armadillo City, Flip, XT and Flip XT, the latter of which is the focus of this review.
Each version of the buggy looks pretty similar to each other but they all have different features and most significantly – improvements.
The Armadillo Flip XT is so named (like the Flip) as the buggy can be folded with seat unit still on the chassis and in either parent or world-facing mode.
What’s the difference between the original Armadillo Flip and the Armadillo Flip XT?
The size. As you may expect from the ‘XT’ in the name, this buggy comes with extras. It’s 7cm higher, 2 cm wider and 2 cm shorter than the original Flip, as well as being a kilo heavier, weighing 10kg.
There’s also the addition of a toy loop and mesh air vent in the hood among a few other things.
The first thing I thought when I removed the Armadillo Flip XT from its box was ‘gosh, that’s small’.
The seat unit, especially before I got round to attaching the wheels and brake unit, is pretty dinky when folded, living up to it’s compact fold boast.
How is it out and about?
First off, we took baby Roo to the city farm, which meant a trip on a London tube train.
Now, I wouldn’t even attempt the journey with a heavy travel system, so this model is by no means alone in not being up to the vertical challenge of stairs and escalators. I think, however, that it’s small size and lighter-than-average weight made me believe the world was our oyster once more.
It wasn’t. With nothing solid to hold onto on the buggy front, alongside a longer-than-average seat unit (especially in lie-flat mode), I felt it had an unusual centre of gravity.
There were also a couple of balance issues with the seat as it isn’t fixed in certain positions and it felt too unstable to lift safely onto the whizzing escalator.
So Roo baby came out and came up in my arms and the ever-so-small folded buggy came up separately.
But it’s not an operation I could have carried out on my own, at least not until I was really au fait with its funny ways (or baby’s learned to hold on to mama for dear life, like a wee chimp).
Tell us more about the seat.
It’s great that it is multi-positional and unlike other buggies I’ve used, re-adjusting for naps mid journey is a one-handed doddle. So far, so good.
However, it also adjusted itself when I didn’t expect (something of a shock for both me and baby!) This happened several times while pulling the hood forward to keep out a week of biting winds and also when attaching the rain hood.
One minute he was lying flat in a doze with a breeze at his kidneys and the next he was sitting up straight, wide awake and wailing, albeit safely snuggled inside a beehived buggy hood. I really must try to perfect a more gentle technique.
A funny thing about the seat is that it has an upper age weight limit of 15kg which is usually 3 years but M&P advertised it as 4 years. In reality, it is a big seat and could probably last 4 years, it could just be a bit confusing.
How comfortable is it?
I loved the bouncy seat base and the luxurious harness padding which has by far the softest cushioning I’ve seen. Covers are sponge clean only so be careful, especially as Roo’s seat seemed to be a bit of a fluff magnet (still rather that that bolognaise sauce). I think older children will adore the front facing mode with adjustable calf rest, and it’s probably after the age of 18 months plus that this buggy really comes into its own.
The seat unit can be used sitting up straight, half reclined or fully flat while forward or backward facing so you’ve got lots of options and the latter is recommended for the youngest babies, if you don’t buy the matching carrycot.
But I’d suggest still getting a liner, cocoon or footmuff for your smallest as there is almost no lip edge around the seat base meaning little hands, toys and blankets can easily slip off to the side.
I got round it by attaching my baby’s blanket with a couple of those ubiquitous plastic linking rings – an easy fix. But it’s just much cosier to keep them snuggled up at that age and there’s not much point having the biggest hood in the world with there’s a four inch deep wind tunnel beneath. So, investing in accessories is the answer.
What about the folding action?
Well now. There was quite a lot of twisting going on while I was folding as I was determined to put the Flip XT’s assertion that it can be dismantled one handed to the test. I decided that, yes!
This is the one of the most easy-to-fold prams I’ve tried out. But note: being able to fold one handed is NOT the same as being able to fold one handed while the other arm minds shopping and keeps a baby upright and out of puddles at a bus queue. I’m not convinced that’s in its remit.
Folding the pram forward-facing is the quickest, going from zero to hero in just a few seconds. It folds seat-on and even with a cocoon or liner still attached.
The backward-facing option requires a bit more adjusting as the massive hood needs persuasion to squish past the chassis, then you’ve got to flip the seat back and seat bottom together in an extra step.
But let’s be clear, it is easy to use from the outset. Heck, with practice, folding this beauty will no doubt become a muscle-memory manoeuvre achievable with a flourish that even the Great Soprendo would want to master, I’m sure.
Anyhow, it folds and it folds up small! With a sturdy grey plastic clamp that keeps the squished-together shape secure in transit.
Once folded, it’s a similar weight and shape as hand luggage; so very manageable. The frame also features a carry handle to make moving it around even easier; in this respect it’s an excellent bit of kit.
What about the basket?
Simultaneously the best and worst thing about the whole buggy is the basket. The net is huger than huge and for that I love it. It can fit a box of 82 nappies plus a changing bag and even additional shoppers with ease – a lifesaver for busy mums everywhere.
However the fabric the net is fashioned from won’t bear weight evenly. So a certain medicinal three litre bottle of diet coke dragged on the floor and rustled as the leaves collected under it.
Don’t fear though because there is an easy Blue Peter style fix involving some cut-to-size craft paper-covered cardboard to line the basket and thus distributing the weight better. Problem solved – in a stylish fashion. Hurrah!
What’s in the box?
- Buggy chassis
- Seat unit
- Rain cover
- Product manual
- Large, full tread wheels and brake unit
Any optional extras?
- Armadillo Flip & Flip XT Carrycot £149,
- Deluxe Parasol £29.99,
- Newborn Cocoon £69.95,
- Cold Weather Footmuff £64.95,
- All Seasons Footmuff £44.95
What about assembly?
It’s very easy to assemble, all I had to do was pop the wheels on and attach the brake unit and hey presto, we were good to go.
It was a leisurely fifteen-minute job with a cup of tea to hand and a smile on my face. Reassuringly simple – the way they all should be!
Is it value for money?
At £479 it’s not the cheapest buggy on the market and with the Armadillo forward-facing XT pushchair coming in at £299 and the reversible Armadillo Flip selling for £399, you have to decide whether the extra functionality is worthwhile.
It has bigger all terrain wheels and an extra 4in in the extendable leatherette-trimmed handlebar, bigger seat unit, toy loop, mesh net and great fabrics, which are worth the extra. But what price is a smooth ride?
The Aramdillo Flip XT is a great and good-looking pram, which copes with most day-to-day situations with ease. However I’d be lying if I said it was 100% perfect (but then neither am I and I’m hoping someone still loves me!)
None of the downsides are big enough to put me off purchasing this pram because it’s a little beauty. But be aware that you’ll have to manage your expectations of what it can do from time to time.
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