Love the Car Seat. The Stroller? Not so much.
The Graco Alano FlipIt is an affordable travel system that comes with a Graco FlipIt stroller and a matching Graco Snugride infant car seat. If you are set on a matching travel system, we always recommend that you make sure you like the two pieces separately. These days babies may outgrow the infant car seat as early as 6 months, so make sure you like the stroller! You will be using that stroller much, much longer than the infant car seat.
The FlipIt Travel System is very economical retailing for $199 (and we have seen it on sale for as low as $169!). The system as a whole has some good features (we love the Snugride!) but the stroller definitely has some room for improvement.
Let’s start with the seat. The seat on the FlipIt is better for our chunkier kids than our tall kids. It is 12 1/2″ wide but the seat back is a bit short for our liking at only 17 inches. Combined with the fabric at the top of the seat (it is sewn to the seat and cannot be lifted) and the short seatback, our taller toddlers cannot fit in the seat with it fully reclined. So, no comfy naps for your older (taller) toddler! While the actual seat back is short the measurement from seat back to the canopy is tall at 26″ to accommodate your taller toddlers in an upright position. Our 4 year old tester at 39 lbs fit in the seat upright with room to spare above his head.
The seat sports a non-padded, 5-point harness. While we appreciate that the harness is adjustable to grow with your child, we are not crazy about the buckle. First, since you can use the harness as a 3-point harness, it is like putting puzzle pieces together every time you put your child in the seat. You have to slide the shoulder straps onto the leg straps before buckling. This is annoying! Second, the harness buckle is way too easy to do for our liking. One light push of the button, the buckle pops open and your naughty child is escaping the seat in less time that it takes to grab your Starbucks Frappuccino from the barista. Not that it has happened to us or anything!
The seat has a very deep recline for an impromptu nap (for your babies – not your tall toddlers!) but does not recline completely flat. The seat can be set in many recline positions with the strap system. Of course, we’d like a one handed bar recline but the strap system isn’t too bad to do. There is a foot rest on the seat though it is not adjustable.
The seat fabric is lightly padded and easy to clean, but don’t expect any luxury or extra comfort for your baby in this fabric.
The FlipIt canopy is not too bad. Not the biggest and not the smallest. It’s decent. A canopy extension might be needed for complete sun protection. The canopy sports a large peek-a-boo window that is shaded but has no cover. Taller parents will appreciate the adjustable handlebar that goes from 27″ to 41″ from ground to handlebar.
Now, the main event of the stroller and why it is called “FlipIt” is the ability of the handlebar to flip to the other side. You can flip the handlebar so that you can push the stroller with your child facing you. Being able to stroll with your babe looking at you is a feature most commonly found on luxury strollers. Graco wanted to offer this feature on a more budget-friendly stroller so that everyone has the option. While flipping the handlebar to stroll this way is a good idea, unfortunately, it was poorly executed on the FlipIt. The problem with flipping the handlebar is that the maneuverability in this position is AWFUL. What were originally the rear wheels becomes the front wheels. Doesn’t sound bad at first except that those wheels are not swivel wheels! So, now you have non-swivel wheels in front and swiveling wheels in the back. This makes maneuvering the stroller tricky and definitely something to get used to. Or not. Frankly, we didn’t like it – so we didn’t stroll with the handle flipped. Another thing to note is that when you flip the handlebar, make sure you empty the cup holder first and have a place to set your drink. You will need both hands to flip the handlebar and then you will have to swivel the cup holder to make it usable again.
There is a large basket underneath the seat that is easy to access and will hold lots of stuff. You can even lower the back of the basket to have even more access for larger things if the seat is fully reclined.
Your little rider will be happy with the large baby tray with cup holder to keep them busy with food or toys on the go. It’s important to note that the baby cup holder is a bit small and does not fit any of the medium or large sippy cups. Booo for small cup holders!! The baby tray has the swing-away feature for your child to get in and out of the seat on his own and can also be completely removed.
We are used to seeing a large parent tray on a Graco yet the FlipIt does not have one. At least they gave us a cup holder as a consolation prize. There is a large zipper pocket on the back of the canopy to store parent or baby essentials though.
The FlipIt rolls on 8″ double, front swivel wheels (that have the ability to lock straight for bumpier terrain) and rear 8″ single wheels that lock individually to keep the stroller in place. The wheels are rather cheap so don’t expect to get years of wear from them. The stroller has front wheel suspension to absorb some of the bumps, but definitely don’t expect a bump-free ride for your little one.
The maneuverability is okay with the FlipIt unless you have switched the handle in which case it’s awful. It is definitely not a one-handed push but it will get your baby from point A to B. It’s best on smooth pavement (shopping mall floors will be its friend!) but if you want to take the stroller on grass or a bit rougher terrain, we definitely recommend locking the front wheels to make it easier.
Graco claims that the FlipIt has a “one-handed fold” but unless you are a magician or have the wrist strength of a gorilla, this isn’t true. First, the piece that you have to rotate/twist on the handlebar to fold the stroller is very, very hard to do. If you have carpal tunnel you will hate this stroller! You need to pull back a white button with your thumb as you twist with that same hand. You will need gorilla strength to do it easily though. (Note: Lefties – this is not a stroller for you!) Second, after you twist on the handlebar you will need to push down as you use your other hand to pull up on the baby tray. See, two hands! Good news though – it does have a standing fold and an automatic lock!
Unfolding the stroller isn’t horrible, but you have to twist that same handlebar piece to unlock the stroller. Good news again is that since that piece is so hard to turn, you can be assured that the stroller won’t accidentally fold on you.
The FlipIt weighs in at an average 24 lbs. It’s manageable! While it isn’t super heavy, it is pretty darn bulky when folded so you will need to reserve most of your trunk space for this stroller.
If you are a matchy-matchy mom, you will appreciate the matching Snugride car seat that comes with the stroller to make it a travel system. While we aren’t crazy about the stroller, we love the Snugride Car Seat. It’s light. It’s safe. It’s easy to use. Hey, maybe you should drop the matching travel system idea and just get the Snugride car seat and a stroller with better features?
While many will like the appeal of the cheap price, you should know that the stroller has lots of plastic that gets scratched up very easily. It will look abused very quickly just with everyday use so this not a stroller that is going to last you through multiple kids.
The Graco FlipIt definitely had the best intentions with the flipable handle. It’s just too bad that it was executed poorly. We do appreciate the low price, the large basket, and adjustable handle but we just think the short seat back, cheap wheels, poor maneuverability with the handle flipped and the nearly impossible “one-handed” fold needs some work.
SHOP Graco Alano FlipIt Travel System here
To watch our full video review of the Graco Alano FlipIt, click the video below: