New-Zealand brand Phil & Teds have put 18 years of research and development into products that help parents adapt and survive.
This is particularly evident in the company’s impressive range of inline pushchairs, which convert from singles to doubles, allowing parents the option of purchasing a single frame that can be adapted to enable it to seat two children of different ages.
The Phil&Ted’s Voyager buggy and it’s various incarnations – including the double kit, which I tested – is brand new to the market and has been eagerly awaited by Phil & Teds fans keen to see the company’s latest offering.
As a modular, convertible inline double buggy, it’s pitted against the Joolz Geo, Hauck Duett 2, iCandy Peach 3 and UPPAbaby Vista. At £758 for the Voyager double kit bundle, it is several hundred pounds cheaper than comparable buggies at the top end of the market (Joolz Geo, I’m looking at you) but substantially more than similar products at the lower end of the price range (Hauck Duett £400 for example).
The Phil & Teds Voyager is sold as a tandem buggy, how does it work?
Brilliantly. To convert the single Voyger into a double, you simply add another seat (at the bottom) for a second baby or child by clipping the ‘double kit’ into the chassis at the appropriate place. That’s it.
I actually preferred pushing it in double mode because in single mode it feels like it takes up unnecessary space but I’d say it works equally well as both single and double.
Of course, it’s undoubtedly much heavier in double mode, weight of the extra child notwithstanding. In single mode, it weighs in at 13.3kg. With my newborn baby in the bassinet, I was able to lift the buggy on and off the bus but with it in double mode, with both seats attached and my 14.5kg son inside, it was an effort to get it up a kerb.
Steering in double mode is similar to when the buggy is set up as a single. It takes two hands and some strength but the buggy is responsive and can manage corners well.
Each seat works independently and can be used in four different ways: as a lie-flat bassinet on and off the buggy, as a forward-facing seat and as a parent-facing seat.
As a single, it can be used for children up to the age of five as the whopping 61cm-height main seat can accommodate a child of up to 20kg.
In double mode, a smaller (but still generous 42cm-tall) seat clips lower down the chassis, instantly and seamlessly turning the single stroller into a double.
Once the second seat is in place, you can have both seats as lie-flat bassinets, one as a bassinet and the other as a seat or both as seats facing inwards or outwards.
It’s a good idea to configure the seat, particularly changing it from bassinet to seat or vice-versa, before you set out and ideally using the online video for reference as the printed instructions aren’t massively helpful. I expect it would become easier in time as you become used to the various steps involved in configuring the buggy as you need it to be set up.
Can it be pushed single-handedly in double mode?
Yes, but only along flat, straight stretches of pavement or walkways.
I was very nervous before trying out a one-handed push as I had visions of both my little ones rolling into the road as I struggled to maintain control, but pushing with just one hand was surprisingly easy, on the flat.
However, turning corners or dealing with gradients and cambers definitely requires both hands as well as strength. In fact, I felt like I’d had a work out by the time I’d pushed the two of them to the gym.
What are the brakes like?
Fierce. I’ve never used a handle brake but after a few times of pressing down and feeling the buggy continue to move, I soon remembered to use my right hand.
Once flicked into place, the brakes snap on immediately and feel very strong, which is just as well as you have to use all your strength to keep it from rolling when it’s fully occupied.
What’s the Voyager’s weight like?
Going along flat, straight stretches of road and path the buggy feels surprisingly light and nimble, even in double mode with both children and their belongings on board.
A few minutes into our long walk and I can feel the muscles of my arms and wrists working hard. Adjusting the handle, which adjusts by pressing buttons on both sides and tilting up and down rather than extending out, made a difference to my comfort.
But as soon as the buggy started veering off course (when we hit a camber in the pavement, for example), it took all my strength to bring it back on course. And mounting kerbs also involved deploying my might to tilt the buggy back sufficiently to get the two smaller front wheels onto the pavement.
During one endeavor, I accidentally locked one of the wheels and, not realizing what I’ve done, spend the rest of the journey home fighting with the steering.
On our heath walk, my husband, who is considerably taller and stronger than I am, takes over and steers the buggy one-handed over bumpy and muddy paths. He declares the buggy responsive and easy to push and finds in surprisingly light, so it’s just a matter of perspective.
There’s certainly no way that I’d even attempt to lift it by myself when it’s in double mode, although it certainly feels robust enough to be carried by two people.
How comfortable is it for both children?
Very. My five-year-old son, Tyler, really enjoyed the ride and was very excited about riding so high up and ‘driving’ his younger brother, who was safely tucked underneath him.
Amazingly Rocco, the baby, who had consistently screamed in every seat we put him in until this point, went quiet and stayed awake on our 25-minute journey. No mean feat for an eight-week-old baby.
He loved being cocooned in a bassinet and tilted at an angle, which this buggy allows you to do. The seats can be adjusted by using a switch that’s located behind the back of the seat, hidden in the material.
Although it’s not a one-handed job to tilt the seat, it’s quick and easy to do and enables the seat to recline at a variety of angles.
The sun canopy with zip-out extension helps keep little ones protected from wind, although the child at the bottom is further protected by the seat in front – and the occupant of that seat bears the brunt of the weather if the seat is in front-facing mode.
Does it have a large footprint?
No, the beauty of the Voyager is that it takes up no more floor space as a double buggy than when used as a single.
And it’s inline, so the front wheels are the same distance apart as the back wheels. Saying that, when I first saw the Voyager is did think “Yikes! It looks like a small city on wheels.” And that’s without two children and their gear stashed inside the pockets and parcel tray.
But after the initial surprise has subsided and I’ve wheeled it down our narrow hallway and into a not-so-large lift, I can appreciate that although the buggy looms large, the fact it is inline means it actually takes up no more floor space than a regular single buggy, so I wont’ feel I’m barging people off the pavement.
I managed to fit it into the buggy space on a bus on two journeys and the wheels only slightly protruded.
Is there a compromise on space when used as a double?
Yes. As a single, it’s got plenty of storage, which is easily accessed and there’s still some storage when it’s used as a double with the lower seat in carrycot mode.
But if there’s a larger baby or child sitting up in the lower seat, the storage is nil. Configured as a double, the lower seat can take a child of up to 15kg (around three years old) and when my older son sat at the bottom, his legs took up most of the available space.
With this seat in carrycot mode, there’s more space but it’s not easily accessed – I had to ensure everything was stowed away before placing my baby into the lower seat.
Also, the website suggests the parcel tray can hold 10kg but the Care and Warnings booklet that comes in the box states that 5kg is the upper limit for items stored in the parcel tray, which is confusing.
How is the fold on the Phil&Ted’s Voyager pushchair?
You most definitely need two hands to fold this down. You also have to flip-in both seats, a process that I found difficult to master.
The instruction video makes it look so easy but away from a screen and under pressure (folding it up on a rainy pavement), it begins to feel like origami and I accidentally rip the stitching of the front panel of one of the seats as I try in vain to get it to fold flat.
Is it compact when folded?
Yes, surprisingly so, given how big it is when it’s fully assembled.
With seats flattened, it folds down concertina-style to a compact stand fold that could easily fit into an under-stairs cupboard or regular-sized car boot. Folded, it measures 33 x 60 x 80cm.
Who would this buggy be most useful for?
Parents of twins, although if you’re looking for a travel system suitable from birth, there’s a version available with two cars seats, which will set you back £915.
But if you don’t need car seats, this buggy is ideal for twins from birth as both seats can be used in the bassinet mode (ie under six months). It’s also ideal for parents of two siblings since the buggy is suitable for a toddler and a newborn.
Is it value for money?
Yes, it’s excellent value when you consider that you could feasibly use this buggy for two children until they were both 15kg (around three years old) or one child up to 20kg (around five years old). And the Voyager by itself is £699, so if you’re thinking of having a second one anytime soon, it makes sense to get this bundle.
Just under £800 (£758 to be exact) will get you a double buggy that can be used in a myriad of ways (suitable for newborn twins, baby and child combos and even a single child up to the age of five). It
feels like a sturdy, quality product that would last for years, representing good value, especially when you consider that virtually everything you need is included.
The only essential item that’s missing is the Vogager double kit storm cover. The test version came with these folded up in black bags that hung off either side of the frame, freeing up space in the under-buggy parcel shelf.
Non-essential extras include sun covers (£25 for a pair), a buggy food tray (yours for only £10) and a sleeping bag and footmuff.
What’s in the box?
lightweight aluminium frame with 10kg-capacity parcel tray
2x 12″ aeromaxx puncture proof rear wheels
2x 8″ aeromaxx puncture proof front wheels
seat fabric with a safe & easy 5-point harness
stroller seat liner
luxuriously large sunhood, with secure storage pockets & headphone jack
double kit with padded, 5-point safety harness
sun canopy with zip-out extension
removable footrest reinforcement
How is it to build the pushchair?
The product arrived in two boxes, neither of which was intimidatingly large. The first contained the Voyager, which is sold as a single buggy, and the second contained the double kit, which is essentially a second seat, plus two rain shields.
A small booklet contained pictures – no words – that were irritatingly unclear. Setting it up in single-use mode was straightforward enough but because there are so many different configurations in double mode, it was tricky to work out how to set up the seats in their various positions.
After a few false starts, my husband and I managed to erect the buggy in a configuration we tested first – bassinet for Rocco underneath and a child seat on top for Tyler – in around fifteen minutes.
You can compare the Phil&Ted’s Voyager with the Phil&Ted’s Smart Lux in the video.
The Voyager is a great-looking, solid buggy that, with the addition of a double kit, makes an excellent flexible double buggy, ideal for twins or siblings from birth. Its inline configuration means it doesn’t take up any more space than a single buggy, unlike side-by-side doubles. And its solid-chassis and puncture-proof cushioned tyres mean it offers little ones a smooth ride off-road.
The only two issues I had with it were that while it’s easy to push, steering and turning requires much more effort – and tackling kerbs takes considerable strength as the smaller front wheels need to be tilted up to clear the edge of the pavement. The first is a given with any double buggy but the second is a major drawback if you constantly have to navigate routes with high kerbs.
Because the Voyager glides like a dream along the straight and narrow, the extra force needed to turn or tilt it is surprising but in my opinion worth it for the incredible versatility, durability and style the buggy offers.
On a more superficial note, the blue marl colourway (a chambray effect) is really unusual and attracted several compliments.