*Gear Review* Chariot CTS

    I can honestly say that our Chariot was some of the very best money we invested in our children as far as being able to get outside and be active with them.  We recommend them to everyone with children.

    We bought our Chariot (thanks to help from some awesome baby shower money) back in 2009.  I will say right up front that they are certainly not cheap.  Currently, the Cougar 2 base chassis runs for $685 at REI.  And then you have to purchase at least one attachment to make it work.  We get the most use out of the Bike Trailer Kit ($75) , the XC Ski Kit ($275) , and the Jogging Kit ($100) , though there certainly are other attachments out there (like strolling wheels and a hiking kit)

    Before you faint from sticker shock, please note that this could easily be the only stroller you need.  It works as a jogger (BOB strollers run from $400-$600 by themselves), bike trailer AND a solution for skiing.
    Why they are worth the investment:
    – Start with a double (ex: Cougar 2) and you very well may never have to buy another stroller.  Before P was born, we easily packed groceries, gear, etc. around J.  Now we just have to be a little more creative with our space!
    – Along with ample room in the actual Chariot, there is a “trunk” in the back that also holds a good amount of gear.  (Weight limit of 75 pounds.)
    – It does fold up fairly well for travel (and you can buy a bag for them if you are traveling by plane.)
    – The weather cover is amazing (and apparently has recently gotten even better.)  On our Cougar 2, there is a screen for bugs, small rocks, etc. that is built into the carrier and is used every time we use the stroller. There is also an optional “winter shield” that we pull over when skiing or on cooler days.  I just saw a newer version that had zippers to make the “winter shield” more weather proof (ours just has velcro on the bottom and wind can definitely sneak through the sides.)

    Close up of weather cover system (with “winter shield” on)

    – An innovative harness system keeps the kids secure and protected from sliding dangerously down in the Chariot (which I have certainly seen happen in other bike trailers.)  Additionally, you can buy an Infant Sling that we use for our kids until they are about a year old.  It is basically a hammock for baby and they are comfortable and safe.
    – The customer service at Chariot is top notch.  We had an issue with our cover and they sent us a replacement, free of charge.  They stand behind their Limited Lifetime Warranty.
    – The switch between attachments is easy and quick (and you can store them on the Chariot itself.)  Sometimes I will clip on the jogging wheel to the Chassis, ride my bike to town and then switch attachments for around town or a walk before switching back to bike home.

    The Set-Backs:
    – The Ski Attachment is certainly better suited for groomed trails.  We have used it in the backcountry, but it can be a beast to pull through powder or deep snow.  I have also seen some great tutorials online for building your own ski attachment (which would be MUCH cheaper!)
    – The price tag (despite the benefits, it is absolutely expensive!)
    – It is slightly heavier than a jogging stroller if that is what you are primarily using it for (though the cover to protect kids in their own little “pod” is HUGE for us and worth that extra weight.)

    – Like anything that does a LOT of things, it may not be the absolute BEST at all of them (though we certainly think it is right up there!

    Get one!
    While we had no luck finding one used, I have heard that REI garage sales are often a great place to score one.  However, know that people just hang onto these (because they are that great!)  Also, if you are a member of REI , right now is a GREAT time to use your 20% off coupon! 🙂

    Read More About how much we love our Chariot:
    Moonlight Ski and a Challenge
    Chariot Sweetness
    A Biking Trio

    Do you have a Chariot or a different system that works well for you?  

    Disclaimer: Some of these links are affiliates.

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      1. Anonymous says:

        I wonder if you could suggest a bike helmet for babe. Her head is just tiny sitting only in the 3rd percentile… The infant helmet is too big!Thanks.LauraLauracEllingson@yahoo.com

      2. we love ours. we did have a problem with the glue coming undone and the fabric sliding off of one of the side/top bars. unfortunately it was something that they couldn’t really send a replacement for (well they did send us a replacement strip of glue, but it was impossible to pull the fabric up and tight enough to really repair it). but it doesn’t affect the function too much so we didn’t bother sending it back, which would have been super pricey. definitely worth it over all (we have the stroller and bike set up and borrow a ski set up for the winter) as it’s the only stroller/trailer/kid carrier we use. it’s like our other car!

        • Oh interesting about the glue! Glad they fixed it best they could….And yes, totally like a family car! 🙂 We’ll keep our eye out for your Chariot on the road! 🙂

      3. We LOVE our Chariot. We were lucky enough to score one used, a 2004 model, so I can attest to how they hold up over the years! We have the jogging, strolling, biking and skiing attachments. We use the jogging and ski attachments most. I love the fixed front wheel on the jogger – especially great for the rough terrain where we live – rocky beaches, rough trails and snow banks. Every time we go skiing I marvel at just how well-made the system is! I classic and skate ski, and both are equally comfortable. Certainly has to be tried to be believed. We’ve had to replace two parts, at a nominal cost of $10 each. We have the old knob-attached strolling wheels and one time I had them stored on the Chariot on a particularly bumpy trail and lost one of the knobs (not the wheel), and the quick-release mechanism on one of the back tires seized. I was surprised how affordable the replacement parts were both times).

      4. We have a Burley bike trailer with an optional stroller attachment. We’ve used it a lot as a bike trailer, stroller, and general gear hauler for park birthday parties and barbecues. It was great for concerts in the park even when our kids were way past strollers in general, because the kids could go to sleep in it and be rolled home easily.

      5. Where can i get a whole fabric body and weather gaurd top to bottom replacement on an older cougar 1 or a good price to pay to get it done?

        • Hi Jason,
          We actually had to get a new cover and Chariot replaced it for us (because it was a warranty issue.) I would definitely contact them first and they can direct you to the right people! I also know Rainy Pass Repair does some work, but not sure if they could do something like a Chariot. Good luck!
          =) Amelia

      6. Had the same issue with the glue failing as mentioned above. Anyone have a good solution? Looks like we need to glue Velcro to aluminum.

        Thanks much.

        • So weird – definitely contact Thule/Chariot about that – we haven’t had any issues with ours at all, but I think they need to know that for sure (from numerous sources!)

      7. I’ve been comparing the Bob revolution vs the Thule chariot cougar 2 on REI. I love the fact that I can do everything with the cougar! My main concern is, can the cougar handle unpaved trails and hikes? We live here in Yellowstone Park as well and we spend most of the summer on unpaved terrain! Thanks so much! 🙂

        • Hi Melia,
          The BOB has better suspension I would say, but we take our Chariot Cougar on unpaved roads all the time with no issues. Feel free to email me – maybe we can meet up and you can compare them in person!
          =) Amelia

      8. Hi Amelia and thanks for your excellent reviews!
        We live in Sweden. We are planning on buying a 2 kids chariot. We have an 8 month old girl and are hoping to get more children soon. We want to use it as a stroller in town (where we live) and will use it for biking as transportation (through town in the weekdays and for longer trips in the weekends as we have no car). We will also use it for jogging 2-3 days a week, not offroad but on dirt roads. Which one would you recommend for us? We would use it all year around -10C in winter and +25C in summer.
        Which extras would you recommend?
        Infant sling? Baby support? Rain cover? Bottle holder? Any other extras?

        Maria and Peter

        • Hi Maria and Peter,
          You’re welcome – glad they’re helpful for you! I would probably steer you towards the Chinook IF you want that front swivel wheel for ease of maneuverability around town. If you don’t really care about that, then the CX (if you can afford it). I love the CX because it’s a bit smoother for running, has that hand brake, still has side windows that can unzip AND you can use that infant sling in it. The infant sling was really key for us. By 8 months, most kids don’t need it, but our kids stayed in it until almost a year old (they tend to be on the smaller side). It’s like a hammock and really cozies them in. However, it’s not available for the Chinook.
          As far as extras – infant sling for sure. Baby support is ok, but we prefer the infant sling and you can always tuck blankets around the child to be like the baby support. Rain cover we have never needed, but don’t live in a super rainy place. The bottle holder is nice, but again, not necessary.
          Hope that helps!Feel free to ask more questions!
          🙂 Amelia

      9. Hi. I am choosing between 2 chariot ages/models of the cougar 2. I’m trying to find the most waterproof option as we love in a rainy climate and it is our second vehicle. One is exactly like yours, the other is the previous era that doesn’t have a stretch edge to the top, and the screen and plastic flap start a little lower on the cover. Thoughts? Advice? Feel free to email and I can send pics.

        • Hi Alice – the rain covers have been made better for the years AND it’s possible to buy a replacement cover. I would also recommend just buying the rain cover too…we don’t need it here, but I think it would help on those super super rainy days! Email me if you have more questions! mountainmamatales(at)gmail 🙂

      10. Hello, I find your review(s) very helpful. I am looking for your opinion on the strolling wheels on the Cougar 2. I am looking to use a trailer mostly for biking and walking around my hilly and sloped-streets neighborhood. I will occasionally use it for jogging in organized 5Ks, but not a ton of jogging. However, I am not a fan of the fixed front wheel while jogging (I can never get strollers pointed perfectly straight and feel I am always having to lift the front wheel and adjust while running). I much prefer a swiveling front wheel like the Chinook has, but am looking to spend in the range of the Cougar than Chinook. So my question is, how do you think the standard front strolling wheels that are meant for walking/strolling would handle an occasional 5K run (assume paved roads)? Hope the question makes sense and thanks in advance!

        • Hi Maria – totally understand. The fixed wheel tends to drive me nuts too sometimes. So, as long as the roads are paved and smooth, you would be fine with the stroller wheels. Ours are chip-sealed and its way too bumpy for them – the jogging wheels is much better. You may just end up running with the front wheels up. So, if you’re willing to do that, it will be fine (and MUCH easier to use in tight areas!) Does that help at all?

      11. Brad Speidel says:

        Hi there,

        Really enjoying reading through this blog. My wife’s big concern is being able to transfer the kid from the car to the chariot using the car seat. I see that you advocate the infant sling but I would imagine that is a little bit more hands on and thus you would have a higher likelihood of waking the child. Is this a realistic concern or just a nice to have?

        I have also read that there is the option to have a car seat add on to some of the chariots. This comes with the 1st year of life conversion kit from what I’ve read? Any comments on whether this is useful at all? Do you know whether this car seat add on is available with the Cougar / Chinook / CX models?

        Thanks so much!


        • HI Brad,

          That is totally true about the transfer….honestly we usually are on longer walks rides so Baby is waking by the end. And, while Thule doesn’t suggest it, I would totally bike on smooth roads with a baby in the sling, but NOT in a car seat adapter on the top. AS far as I understand, the 1st year of life only works with the Chinook….but let me look into it a little more!!!
          Tip – Thule is coming out with a new line of CTS trailers in 2017… 😉

          =) Amelia

      12. Natasha McLarty says:

        Wondering how long you used the sling for with your infant. I have a 4 month old and I don’t expect to put her in one until 6 months, do you think the infant cushions are a good investment. I don’t think the sling will be necessary for her by then.

        • We put our kids in it from about 2 weeks – 10 months. It really depends on the kiddo, but I think it’s amazing for even just a few months. Once they are sitting on their own, etc., I think you can do what you need to do with blankets and gear to prop them. In 4 kids, we have never used the cushions. Hope that helps!


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