Choosing a Bike Trailer

Choosing a Bike Trailer

Biking as a family is a great way to get out. For the past 11 years we have had kids in a bike trailer. They not only allow us to get out with little ones, but also with the tons of gear that often comes along with our adventures. That said, choosing a bike trailer for your family can be a bit overwhelming, and we want to help make it easier.

We’ve gathered up a list of our favorite bike trailers available at REI, why they may be best for YOUR family and some tips to keep your kids happy for long bike rides below.

Before we get sharing more about trailers and ways to keep kids happy in them, the number one question we get is how big can a kid be and still can fit in a bike trailer. While every kid is different, the answer is usually “pretty big”.

Just the other day I hauled my six year old and two year old in our Burley D’Lite. While both girls are on the petite size, my six year old fit just fine and we were still far under the max weight capacity of 100 pounds.

Be sure to check out all our posts on family biking including tips on happy riding and bike and accessory reviews here!

As a member of REI’s affiliate program, we earn from qualifying purchases. However, as always you can rest assured that the opinions in this post (and all our posts!) are entirely our own and exactly what we tell our friends and family.


Choosing a Bike Trailer: Multisport Trailers

Multisport trailers are what work best for our family simply because we love to jog, stroll, bike AND ski. So it makes sense to have one trailer that works well for all of them. If you, however, will just be using your trailer for biking, the more affordable options below may be a better bet!

Burley D’Lite

Use for biking, jogging, strolling and skiing (jogging and skiing attachments sold separately).

Of all the trailers on the list, this one is our favorite! We use it daily and use it hard. It is lightweight, easy transfers between attachments, folds down small and has ample room for a couple of kids to ride.

The D’Lite has some extra bonuses like suspension, reclining seats, and better visibility for little riders. While some of those may seem frivolous, if you’re riding on dirt roads at all that suspension makes a huge difference.

Check out our full review of the Burley D’Lite here.

Buy at REI for $800.

Burley Encore

Use for biking, jogging, skiing and strolling (jogging and skiing attachments sold separately).

The Encore is a great trailer for families that want to do it all (stroll, bike, ski and jog) but plan to do most of it on smooth trails and would like to save some money. Compared the the D’Lite, the Encore has smaller viewing windows, no suspension and no reclining seats.

Personally, the smaller windows of the Encore aren’t a huge deal for me, but the reclining seat and the adjustable suspension are worth every extra penny if you need them for your particular kids.

See our full review of the Encore X here (different from the Encore in just one slight way).

Buy at REI for $550.

Thule Chariot Lite

Use for biking, jogging, skiing and strolling (jogging and skiing attachments sold separately).

The Chariot Lite is another great option for families wanting to to have the ability to use their trailer for many different uses. We love that the Chariot Lite very easily switches between accessories, has huge viewing windows and allows for great ventilation.

Unlike the Burley trailers listed above, the protective weather cover and the sunshade (neither of which are shown in the photo above) of the Thule is completely removable, making it ideal for hotter conditions.

Note that the Chariot Lite is lighter than both the Encore and D’lite models from Burley but has very little storage space behind the child cockpit.

Buy at REI for $979.95.


Choosing a Bike Trailer: Bike+ Trailers

Burley Bee

Use for biking.

The Burley Bee is Burley’s budget trailer built to ONLY be used for biking. Unlike the D’Lite and the Encore, this trailer does not come with a strolling wheel.

It also doesn’t come with suspension, so is the perfect affordable trailer for bike riding on roads or bike paths.

I also happen to know it is a best-seller for Burley since it fits the bill for so many families that just want to get out biking.

Buy at REI for $300

Thule Coaster XT

Use for biking and strolling.

The Thule Coaster XT is Thule’s more budget line of trailers. While, unlike the Bee, you can stroll with it at your destination, it is otherwise very basic.

The Coaster XT is roomy, comes with an integrated weather shield and a handle that can be flipped to allow for two different heights. You can also flip the cover of the storage compartment over to use as a small sunshade.

The Thule Coaster XT’s seats are not fancy, but great for most families.

Buy at REI for $429.95


How to Keep Kids Happy in Bike Trailers

How to Keep Kids Happy in Bike Trailers

Our kids have spent some serious hours riding along in bike trailers. In fact, one of our sons literally spent 10+ hours riding as we did a family 76 mile bike ride in Milwaukee a few years ago to celebrate my father-in-law’s 76th birthday.

We have quickly learned that some rides are better than others, and there are some good ways to keep kids happy as they ride.

Make sure they’re comfortable

This maybe should go without saying, but if kids are not comfortable in a trailer, they are going to be miserable. And there is nothing that spoils a nice bike ride than a kid screaming for miles and miles (ask me how I know).

We love putting out kids in trailers with comfortable seats and then packing blankets, etc. around as necessary to keep them even more comfortable for potential napping.

Consider Temperature

For cold weather, bundle the child and bring along a lightweight blanket for extra warmth. We love this blanket because it’s easily packable if you don’t end up needing it AND keeps them very warm.

For hot weather, make sure there is good air flow (which actually can be tricky in bike trailers). On really hot days, we like to pack some soft ice packs in with our kids. They truly make a huge difference.

Bring Food

Never ever go on a bike ride without lots of kid food along. I should tattoo that on my arm because I have forgotten food an embarrassing amount of times for a mom of five. But, try to bring snacks that won’t make a huge mess in the trailer (avoid yogurt tubes!) and aren’t a choking hazard.

Bring Music

This has been the biggest saving grace for our long bike rides. We hook our phones or iPods up to a bluetooth speaker and just let them blast the tunes as they ride.

Be careful what is riding IN the trailer with them

Hint: Don’t leave sunscreen in the kid section of the bike trailer with the kids. We have looked back too late more than once to realize the bottle of sunscreen had become a good distraction. It’s NOT fun to clean sunscreen off a bike trailer and that stuff isn’t cheap.

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