RECARO Performance Denali Luxury Stroller
- Excellent value
- High quality
- Large carry space
- Wouldn't want one larger
- 5 point harness is sometimes tricky
- Fabric not machine-washable
When The Amazing Baby Company agreed to send me a RECARO Performance Denali Luxury Stroller for review, they did so knowing that it wasn’t going to be based on a quick walk in the park. I had told them that it would be put through its paces on a gruelling overseas adventure to Japan. The stroller was to be thrashed, and the results written about. Here’s what I found…
Quality – RECARO Performance Denali Luxury Stroller
The RECARO Performance Denali Luxury Stroller oozes quality. I could see that from the moment I took it out of its box, and it has continued to impress me throughout its Japan beating. The stroller has handled absolutely everything we have thrown at it, then begged for more! Sure, it has a couple of tiny scratches here and there, but even those are superficial and barely noticeable. That’s pretty impressive for an item that has been through baggage handling in little more than a plastic bag, then mercilessly thrashed around the streets of Japan for the better part of a month.
The RECARO Performance Denali Luxury Stroller hasn’t developed any funny squeaks and everything still feels as firm and tight as the day it was delivered. That’s despite being pushed across pebbles, cobblestones and ancient footpaths. I can confidently say that the build quality is high.
We have had our fair share of rainy days in Japan. Most times, the rain has come in a steady drizzle. The RECARO Performance Denali Luxury Stroller’s oversized canopy has done a reasonable job of keeping Hannah dry on drizzly days (sometimes her legs would get a little wet).
The canopy still does a good job in hard rain (it just beads and rolls off the top), but Hannah did get a bit wet on a couple of occasions due to rain blowing in under the canopy. The RECARO is only forward-facing, so you do end up pushing your toddler face-first into the weather. The large canopy goes some way to protecting the toddler, but it can’t do it all. In heavy downpours it is worth adding a rain cover.
It’s worth noting that the water tended to run off the stroller, rather than pool and soak in. That meant that even after a thorough downpour, the stroller was usually dry and ready to go again the next day. I never felt like Hannah was sitting in an uncomfortable, wet seat for too long (other than when walking through a heavy downpour).
Good for tall parents
I’m a fairly tall guy with a long stride. As a result, I tend to kick the back of some strollers as I walk. If you too suffer from this, you know just how annoying it is (stroller rage is totally a thing). The RECARO Performance Denali Luxury Stroller caters well for tall parents. I think it comes down to the lack of a cross-bar between the rear wheels (instead, there is a support slightly higher up the frame).
Whatever they have done, RECARO have somehow managed to create enough space for me to comfortably stride out, without fear of kicking the damned thing on every second step. The adjustable handle further adds to the comfort of the tall parent (not to mention it helped me out of some tight Japanese spaces from time-to-time).
Size as a travel stroller
The RECARO Performance Denali Luxury Stroller is big. It’s not huge, but it is big.
The temptation when travelling is to go for a stroller that is as small as possible. I saw plenty of tiny umbrella strollers on the streets of Japan, and I understand why people go for them. However, the versatility offered by something like The RECARO Performance Denali Luxury Stroller is often overlooked.
I argue that the versatility is far more beneficial to the traveller than a small footprint. Even in tiny supermarket isles of space-deficient Japan, I rarely felt like our stroller was cumbersome or too big. But the versatility was invaluable.
The RECARO proved its worth on the very first day, when an exhausted Hannah slept in it for three hours straight. She was only able to do this because of the fully-reclined sleeping position. Every time I saw a poor little soul trying their hardest to comfortably nap upright while being pushed past yet another temple in an umbrella stroller, I was reminded of just how invaluable the reclined position is for the touring toddler.
As I said before, The RECARO Performance Denali Luxury Stroller is big, but it is not huge. It is still a one-piece system, which means it is easy to fold when required. I shuddered at the thought of having a cumbersome two-piece buggy with us at times – it just isn’t practical.
The RECARO stroller was easy to fold away when required (just make sure the bottom basket isn’t full) and it has a surprisingly small footprint in the folded position. It is also easy to carry when folded – a must for Japan, where sometimes one has no option but to use stairs.
If a smaller stroller is an absolute must for you, then the RECARO Easylife Ultra-Lightweight Stroller may be worth a look. I haven’t tried it myself, so I can’t vouch for it, but there were plenty of them in the hands of locals on the streets of Japan.
The other clear advantage of a large stroller is the storage it offers. On the days that we took the stroller (which was most days), we didn’t need to take a backpack. The oversized basket under the seat did all the heavy lifting for us.
The relief of not carrying a backpack should not be understated, especially on the more hot and humid days. Leave the job of packhorse to the RECARO and enjoy the breeze on your back!
5-point harness: often brilliant, sometimes annoying
This is a really tricky part to write about, because at times on the trip I thought it was the best design in the world, and at other times I found it frustrating.
Firstly to the good – the design is clever. It allows for a super-quick release from the stroller, which is great when an excited toddler realises that she’s just rolled up to a playground full of robots. This is because the shoulder strap and the waist strap combine to form the full clip. When you release them, they simply come apart, which means that you child comes out easily each time – no getting caught up in the straps!
It also makes putting a compliant toddler back into the pram a breeze.
However, when your child is reluctant to be in the stroller, the clip system can be difficult to use. That’s because you have to have both the waist strap and shoulder strap aligned, before you can insert either. When a toddler is particularly reluctant, it can leave you feeling as if you are one hand short.
I guess design always comes down to compromise. I think that overall, the clip design works well and it enhances our experience of the stroller most of the time. The trade-off is a bit of frustration, every now and then.
You’d expect something with race car (seat) pedigree to handle well, and the RECARO Performance Denali Luxury Stroller doesn’t disappoint. As a frustrated boy-racer, I see everything with wheels as an opportunity to practise for my eventual Bathurst debut.
The RECARO Performance Denali Luxury Stroller feels precise. It goes exactly where you want it to go, with minimal effort. The stroller is even easy to control one-handed – a clear advantage over some of the umbrella strollers that I’ve used in the past.
The RECARO Performance Denali Luxury Stroller turns crisply. All four wheels like to stay planted most of the time, even at speed (did I mention that I like to push the limits of these things?). That appears to be at least partly due to a subtle, yet effective all-wheel suspension setup. It also speaks positively of the weight distribution of the stroller.
I had plenty of fun throwing the RECARO stroller into some tight Japanese spaces at relative speed. It seemed to put a smile on Hannah’s face too. I wouldn’t have done so if I didn’t have complete confidence in the stroller’s ability to handle it safely.
The RECARO Performance Denali Luxury Stroller was just as happy off the beaten path as it was on it. We pushed it over pebbles, up hills, over cobblestones and down dirt paths. It handled all of them just fine. On several occasions I was really pleased that we had this stroller and its large wheels. They definitely allowed us to roll with ease to places that smaller strollers would have struggled with.
When the going got really tough (I’m talking about you, gravel at temples), I simply pulled the stroller backwards and pushed down on the handle. That lifted the front wheels off the ground and allowed me to use just the oversized rear wheels to roll on through. Using this method I never had a problem.
Curb-hopping was a breeze. The stroller is well-weighted and easy to lift either the front or rear wheels when necessary. This was particularly useful getting on and off trains. We never had a problem negotiating the inevitable gap between the carriage and the platform.
Cup holders – two of them!
Sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference. Would I buy a stroller specifically because it came equipped with two cup holders? No. No I would not.
However, did I make full use of having two cup holders, every single day of our travels? Yes, yes I did!
It’s amazing just how useful such a simple addition can be. Hannah’s water bottle was always easily within reach, and she knew where to find it when she needed a drink. The other cup holder was either used for Emma or my water bottle, or for holding my morning can of coffee (don’t knock it ’till you try it).
Cup holders are simple accessories. They are definitely not the reason one purchases a stroller, but their inclusion does indicate that the RECARO Performance Denali Luxury Stroller has been designed with practical, everyday use in mind. That desire for ease of use is most blatant in the inclusion of the two cup holders, but it is also subtly there right throughout the design of the stroller.
Scrubs up nicely – RECARO Performance Denali Luxury Stroller
There were no holds barred on this trip. If I was going to test a stroller, I was going to do it properly. The thing got dirty. Very, very dirty. We had some rainy days, Hannah likes stomping in mud…
On top of that, the stroller was at times used as an impromptu high chair. The (very handy) inbuilt tray went a long way to controlling the amount of food that ended up mashed into the seat, but it didn’t fully stop it.
The stroller copped rice, avocado, tomato, bread, tofu, noodles and plenty of other foods throughout our trip. Sometimes a couple of hours passed before we realised, and they ended up firmly squashed into the seat.
I was pleased to find that the fabric was reasonably resistant to these foods. Most of the time they were easy enough to wipe away without a trace.
Of course, there’s only so much any fabric can resist squashed avocado, so a close inspection of the RECAO’s seat right now would reveal some light stains. They are certainly not highly visible, but they are there. I will give these a red-hot go with a damp cloth when we return to Sydney (I like a clean stroller), but it does leave me wishing that the fabric was machine-washable.
Value – RECARO Performance Denali Luxury Stroller
A quick Google search tells me that I can find this pram (granite colour) for about $400 (correct at time of writing). That is exceptional value for what you get! Even at the RRP of $649.99, the RECARO Performance Denali Luxury Stroller represents value that is well worth considering.
The stroller is well made. It can handle plenty of punishment beyond the suburban footpath. It is versatile and extremely well designed for use when travelling. Smaller umbrella strollers may be cheaper, but they also don’t offer the same level of features that make the RECARO Performance Denali Luxury Stroller so great for travel.
As for larger buggies? Forget about it for travel. I shudder at the thought of lugging our old, two-piece buggy around Japan. It just wouldn’t have worked anywhere near as well as the RECARO (not to mention, they are also usually way more expensive).
The RECARO Performance Denali Luxury Stroller, to me, sits right bang in the happy place where quality meets price. That is how I define value. The value offered by this stroller is hard to beat!
Disclosure – The Amazing Baby Company provided Blog Of Dad with this stroller free of charge, for the purpose of review during our Japan adventure. The views expressed in this post are entirely my own views, based on my experiences with the RECARO Performance Denali Luxury Stroller. For further information, please visit my disclosure page.