DT reader Hans pointed me to the Chariot, which, he reports, is the "craze-du-jour here in lovely Vancouver. (Even on the west coast of Canada, they're required to mix French and English. Keeps everybody calm.)
Anyway, the Chariot is a paradigm shift for strollers. Its Star Trek shuttle pod-like design shows its bike trailer origins. If it were just a jogger- and stroller-enabled bike trailer, it'd be enough. Did I mention there's a sidecar model? And by using a harness/hitch system, Chariots actually convert into, well, chariots for hiking and cross-country skiing. Naturally, you will be the horse.
Except for the badass Concept Carrier, which is only available to drool over in a video, the Cougar SX is the most evolved model in the line. It features:
removable mesh side windows
two weather covers
extensively padded kiddy cockpit (my term, not theirs)
a five-way handle
and a rather cool-looking storage rack, and
fitted handlebar bag.
There's a separate sling insert for infants. And "hydration kit" is apparently Canadian for "cup holder." Chariot claim it takes only 2.5 seconds to close the Cougar SX, and have video demos to prove it. [Hans says, "It's about the easiest thing I've ever packed."]
All this Cougar new coolness comes at a price: At REI, the less sleek Cougar 1 is sold a la carte starting at $335, while the
Cougar SX is only available as a complete kit--- for $950.
Like the New Zealander strollers I posted about earlier, Chariot cites the their specific geography as a major influence on their design. These strollers all began as individual responses to local conditions, which later find a like-minded --or aspirational--community around the world. This is the exact opposite approach taken by mass-market stroller companies, who graft various bundles of features and fabric onto a standardized frame.