Best forParents who frequently use public transit or travel a lot (especially to warm climates)
Top BenefitsVery lightweight, durable construction, rain cover, carry strap
ConsiderationsLimited recline and storage capacity, doesn't stand on its own when folded
Bottom lineThe Mark II Recline is lightweight, durable and a true umbrella stroller
Maclaren is known for its umbrella strollers—not surprising given that the company introduced the first one-handed-folding umbrella stroller in 1965. The Maclaren Mark II Recline is one of several umbrella strollers Maclaren now produces, but it's by far the lightest, at under 10 pounds. And with strong, ultralight fabrics and a hexagonally shaped aluminum tubing frame, this stroller is made to last.
This is where the Maclaren Mark II Recline shines. It folds down into the classic umbrella shape, and all of our parent testers strongly agreed that folding it was easy-peasy; most of them even managed it with one hand. All it takes is one foot to lift both folding bars on the back frame, starting with the red bar. It has a locking clip to keep the fold in place, but it doesn't stand on its own. Opening the stroller is simply the reverse action of collapsing it: undo the locking clip, then step down on the red step until everything clicks into place.
Since it's so ultralight, the Maclaren Mark II Recline is tailor-made for carrying, and it comes with a carry strap—which is great for flinging over a shoulder when your toddler makes a run for it.
In our tests, we found the Mark II Recline very easy to push with one hand or two over level surfaces like sidewalks or indoor flooring. Rougher terrain such as grass and gravel led to a bit of a bumpier ride, but the stroller's four-wheel suspension—an unusual perk in an umbrella stroller—meant it performed better than expected. The front wheels can also be locked to make navigating uneven terrain even easier. Overall, our parent testers were satisfied with the maneuverability of the Maclaren Mark II Recline. One thing to note: the handlebars are not adjustable, so the Mark II Recline may not be a great fit for very tall parents.
The Mark II Recline's wheels are small but mighty. All of our testers were happy with the quality of the air-filled, EVA tires, which have a "cell"-based structure that's designed to prevent flats.
Our editors and parent testers found the brakes are secure and easy to apply. You simply step down on a red pedal on the right tire and then lift it up again when you're ready to get moving.
The original Mark II stroller doesn't recline, but enough parents must have made it widely known that it was a must-have, so the Mark II Recline was born. The seat back reclines to two positions: upright and, well, less upright. To recline the seat, you undo two snaps and two zippers on either side of the back of the seat. Our parent testers found the recline easy to use, but they all told us their babies had not and were unlikely to nap in this stroller. So if your little one often naps on the go, this might not be the best choice for you. There's also no leg rest on this stroller.
The Mark II Recline’s canopy isn't the largest we've seen, but it incorporates an extendable sunshade with a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) of 50+, offering good protection from the sun. The sunshade can be tucked under the canopy when you don’t need it. The canopy is reasonably quiet to open and close, so you don’t have to worry about it waking a sleeping child. It has a mesh peek-a-boo window to make it easier to keep an eye on your little traveller. The canopy doesn't offer much in the way of rain protection, but the Mark II Recline comes with an easy-to-use rain cover, so you should be good to go on wet days.
If spot cleaning just isn't going to cut it, the seat on the Mark II Recline is removable and machine-washable, though it does involve pulling out all of the harness straps. Our testers who tried this told us it was reasonably easy to do, but it takes time.
The storage basket on the Maclaren Mark II Recline is reasonably sized but only sturdy enough to hold up to 4.4 pounds of stuff. Our parent testers were mostly unimpressed with the storage. However, it should be enough room for a day's outing—and the Mark II Recline's raison d'être is all about packing light, anyway.
The Maclaren Mark II Recline's five-point harness releases with the click of a button. Putting the buckle together, however, takes a second or two longer, at least until you understand how the three pieces fit together (the top two clips have to be nestled together before they'll click into the crotch buckle). Our parent testers told us the harness felt very secure, and we agree.
There are three options for the height of the shoulder straps, and rethreading the straps through the seat back is finicky but no more so than other strollers we tested. The shoulder straps are not padded, so you'll want to make sure they're sitting where they should be and not rubbing against your child's skin.
An interesting feature of this stroller is the mesh centre panel in the seat back, which provides extra airflow—great news for sweaty babies or families who like to take sunny resort holidays.
Across the board, our parent testers gave the Mark II Recline top marks in quality, ease of use and value. They all said they'd recommend it to other families and that it's worthy of the Today’s Parent Approved seal. While you can find other strollers with more features and a deeper recline for a similar price, if you're looking for a true umbrella stroller, you won't find anything sturdier. And the Mark II Recline can't be beat for weighing about the same as an average newborn. It's a great choice for parents who travel or use public transit a lot.
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