Thule Chariot Chinook 1 ReviewJuly 21, 2016
- Feature rich
- Car seat compatible
- Lots of accessories available
- Bulky When Collapsed
The Thule Chariot Chinook 1 is designed to be your only stroller from day 1 with the car seat adaptor rack. It is loaded with great features that sometimes get a little complicated. It’s made of durable materials and has lots of accessories available but it is the heaviest and most expensive stroller/trailer we tested.
The Thule Chariot Chinook 1 is full of unique features. One is their “first year of life bundle set” which is included with the purchase of the Chinook 1 (and 2). This is a rack system that attaches to the top of the Chariot to accommodate a car seat for when your passenger is small and has yet to gain head control. Thule does not make these car seats themselves but the rack does fit about a dozen different car seats from different brands. This feature is only to be use in stroller mode. It’s designed to allow a family to only buy one stroller that can later be used as a bike trailer and/or a jogger once the child is big enough. Another unique feature is the cargo space for the Chariot. Instead of including space built in behind the seat, Thule has included a messenger style bag that detaches from the back of the carrier. While this decreases the ease of just throwing stuff in, it does add some versatility to the system. The cargo bag has a number of different compartments and dividers to keep the typical baby/kid gear organized and even includes a changing pad. There is also a mesh pocket attached to the back of the trailer for use with or without the messenger bag. Yet another unique feature is the recliner. A small latch at the back of the carrier allows the passenger seat to be tipped back a few degrees to accommodate nap time. This is complete with a mesh and rain guard for various weather. For smaller passengers whose feet don’t reach the floor of the carrier, there is also an integrated foot support mat. The Chariot brings a number of modifications to standard features. The front stroller/jogger wheel folds under when converting to bike trailer mode. The front wheel has a free pivot setting for the stroller mode and can be locked in place for jogger mode. There’s even a tracking adjustment for the jogger mode. The top and side panels are double layered with a mesh screen and a rainproof cover that can be opened for improved breathability and the top also has a shade system for bright sunny days. The Chariot also has adjustable suspension, the wheels remove with a simple push button, the push handle adjusts to different heights, the stroller can be collapsed with one hand and there’s a slot to stow the bike trailer arm when in stroller mode.
The basic unit only comes as the stroller and jogger. The bike conversion kit with the bike tow arm is sold separately. There’s also a hiker/ski conversion kit that includes a tow bar and waist strap for pulling and skis to replace the large main wheels for travel on snow. There are also a number of accessories available like a rain cover, storage cover, handlebar console, etc.
Ease of Use
Thule has put a lot of design and engineering work into the Chariot. And for the most part they succeeded in making it very easy to use. The simple ball-in-socket hitch system to connect the trailer to a bike is the easiest of all the trailers we tested. Also, the engineering for the front stroller/jogger wheel to fold under to remain attached is brilliant and is very easy to use and makes it very easy to convert from stroller to jogger to trailer to ski or hike mode. The latch to recline the seat is also very simple to use. The large front flap opening makes it easy to load and unload passengers but where Thule overcomplicated things was with the various configurations on the front panel. Double zippers allow the front panel to be opened from the bottom or from the top, then there’s the layer of mesh, the shade system and then the layer for the clear vinyl windshield. There are so many zippers, hooks, elastic bands and Velcro strips that it’s easy to get lost amongst the options. Collapsing the trailer for storage or transport is very easy with a simple flip of a thumb-operated safety latch and squeezing and lifting of the push handle. The Chariot also has a snap buckle to hold the collapsed structure together (which is something lacking from a number of the other brands).
The Thule Chariot Chinook 1 is built on a durable aluminium frame and is wrapped in tough nylon fabrics and uses beefy zippers to ensure long term durability. It showed no signs of wear over the course of the testing period. The only durability issue we ran into while testing was the loop that stores the bike arm attachment in place when in stroller/jogger mode. While Thule was happy to send a new part, it was not easy to get to the one screw that holds it in place to replace it. Also, with all this advanced and internal mechanics for the one handed handle adjustment and collapsing system, our test sample got jammed.
Between the plushly padded seat, adjustable hip and head bumper pads, reclining seat, tinted and zippered windows for various ventilation options and sun shade, the Thule Chariot Chinook 1 is the plushest and most comfortable trailer for the passengers we tested. It’s also comfortable for the pusher with the adjustable push handle to accommodate people of different heights. All of these features however come at the expense of cost and weight. The Chinook 1 is 60 per cent heavier than the lightest trailer in the test group, the Burley Solo. This makes the Chinook less comfortable to maneuver around and to load into vehicles.
These trailers were tested for months in various weather conditions in Boulder, Colorado and taken on short road trips and day trips to test their packability and full range of ease-of-use.