Strollers

3-Wheel vs 4-Wheel Strollers: Which is the Winner?

Sandra W Bullock

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3-wheel or 4-wheel stroller?

If you’re on the hunt for a stroller and stuck between a 3-wheel or 4-wheel dilemma, remember that different stroller features of both 3 and 4-wheel designs. make them more suited for different terrains and lifestyles.

When I gathered feedback on this topic from parents through a small survey in our Facebook Group, I was somewhat surprised to find that over 60% of parents expressed a preference for 3-wheel designs over 4-wheel strollers. What caught my attention even more was the lack of specific reasons provided by many parents to support their preference for these 3-wheel strollers.

They were unable to provide a satisfactory response to the final survey question, which inquired about the reasons behind their preference for a particular stroller model.

I have compiled a comprehensive guide, supported by research and insights from experienced parents, to provide clarity on the advantages of using either a 3-wheel or 4-wheel stroller. This guide aims to raise awareness and help parents make informed decisions regarding which option is best suited for their needs especially when it comes to safety – stability and prone to tipping hazards. Read stroller safety features here.

As a big fan of 3-wheel stroller systems myself, I can’t get enough of the three-wheeled Baby Jogger City GT2

3 vs 4-Wheel Strollers: 10 Factors to Use When Deciding

Below are 10 factors I came up with to distinguish when a 3 or 4-wheel stroller design is better over the other;

Stability

When it comes to stability, both 3-wheel and 4-wheel strollers have their advantages.

3-wheel strollers have a single front wheel which makes them more maneuverable and easier to turn with one hand. This is especially useful when navigating through tight corners or obstacles. However, this also means that 3-wheel strollers are more prone to tipping over if not used correctly or on uneven terrain.

Although the larger back wheels provide traction and ease of pushing, these 3-wheel models falter when it comes to maintaining proper weight distribution balance. This is worse in models with a fixed front wheel, such as jogging strollers, where the weight distribution leans towards the rear end.

On the other hand, 4-wheel strollers offer more stability due to their even weight distribution on all four wheels. This makes them less prone to tipping over and a safer option for newborns or sleeping babies who may shift their weight unexpectedly.

Smooth Rides:

You’ll find 3-wheel models to be designed with a single front wheel, allowing for better maneuverability and smoother rides. This is especially useful when navigating through tight spaces or pushing the stroller with one hand.

Compared to traditional strollers, they have bigger wheels and are often rubber-made and air-filled. Like bike tires, these models absorb impact when being pushed over rough terrains, providing your baby with a smooth and comfortable ride.

On the other hand, 4-wheel strollers have more contact with the ground due to their four-point support. This can make them slightly harder to push compared to 3-wheel strollers, but also provides better stability on flat surfaces.

3-wheel models are specifically designed for joggers and individuals with an active lifestyle. These models come equipped with suspension, a crucial feature that ensures a smooth and comfortable ride. By effectively absorbing shocks from bumps and uneven surfaces, they are perfect for those who enjoy jogging or embarking on outdoor adventures with their little ones.

In contrast, 4-wheel strollers may not have the same suspension as their 3-wheel counterparts. This means they may not be as comfortable when going over rough terrain or at higher speeds.

Maneuverability

When it comes to maneuverability, 3-wheel strollers have the upper hand. Due to their design with a single front wheel with a 360-degree swivel, they are more agile and easier to steer. This makes them perfect for parents who like to take their stroller on runs or walks in areas where they need to make sharp turns or navigate through tight spaces.

The stroller control is also easier with 3-wheel strollers, as you can easily push the stroller with one hand while holding onto your phone or a dog leash with the other. This is ideal for busy parents who need to multi-task while on the go.

However, 4-wheel strollers are not completely lacking in maneuverability. Their four-point support provides better stability and balance, making them easier to push on flat surfaces and more suitable for everyday use. So, if you plan on using your stroller mostly in urban areas or on paved sidewalks, a 4-wheel model may be the better option.

If you need a stroller that can handle rough terrains, a 3-wheel system is the way to go. On the other hand, if you prefer a stroller for flat surfaces, 4-wheeled strollers are a great choice. Several great 4-wheel brands offer easy maneuverability with a 360-degree swivel on the front two wheels. Some models even come with adjustable suspension to help navigate uneven terrain.

Stylist design:

If you want a stroller that’s not only functional but also stylish, both 3-wheel and 4-wheel strollers come in a variety of designs to fit your personal style. However, due to their sleek look and popularity for jogging, 3-wheel strollers are often seen as more fashionable.

On the other hand, 4-wheel strollers come in a wider range of styles and designs, as they are designed for different uses and lifestyles. From traditional strollers to modern luxury models, there is a 4-wheel stroller for every parent’s taste.

Weight and Foldability

When deciding between a 3-wheel and 4-wheel stroller, weight and portability are important factors to consider. While 3-wheelers are sturdy, they tend to be larger and less convenient to transport or store. Although they fold easily, their jumbo wheels and bulkiness can make loading them into a car trunk a cumbersome task.

They are also heavier and harder to lift into a car. On the other hand, four-wheel strollers tend to be lighter and more compact, making them easier to transport and store. This is especially beneficial for parents who need to frequently travel with their stroller or have limited storage space at home.

Consider the Graco FastAction stroller as an example. When fully set up, it measures 40″ in length, 24″ in width, and 42″ in height. However, when folded, its dimensions are reduced to 39″ in length, 23.6″ in width, and 15.3″ in height. There is only a 1-inch reduction in length and a 0.4″ reduction in width.

It is very important to see the set-up dimensions and folded dimensions to fully understand how much space your stroller will take up. The smaller the dimensions, the easier it will be to transport and store.

The reason why 3-wheel models do not reduce significantly when folded is because they have larger wheels and suspension systems that cannot be compressed.

General Portability

4-wheel models have an edge over 3-wheel strollers when it comes to portability. They are bulky, heavy, and can take up a lot of space in a car trunk as they don’t fold to a compact size. This can be a huge inconvenience for parents who need to travel frequently with their stroller or have small cars with limited storage space.

On the other hand, 4-wheel strollers are designed to be lightweight and compact, making them easy to transport and store. They are also easier to maneuver through narrow spaces and crowded areas, making them a popular choice for urban parents.

Versatility

The number of wheels also affects the versatility of a stroller. 3-wheel strollers are better suited for jogging and all-terrain use, as their larger wheels and suspension systems provide a smoother ride over bumps and uneven surfaces. They also have a higher weight capacity, making them suitable for carrying heavier loads.

This is especially useful for parents who need to navigate through crowded spaces or tight corners. The 3-wheel stroller’s ability to make sharp turns and its compact size make it a great choice for navigating through busy city streets and stores.

On the other hand, 4-wheel strollers offer more stability and balance. This makes them ideal for everyday use, such as running errands or going on walks around the neighborhood. They are also better suited for carrying lighter loads, making them a popular choice for parents with younger children.

4-wheel also offers several choices ranging from full-size strollers, frame strollers, to umbrella strollers while 3-wheel models only available mostly as jogging strollers

Safety

When it comes to safety, both 3-wheel and 4-wheel strollers have their pros and cons. 3-wheel strollers offer a lower center of gravity, making them less likely to tip over when turning or going over uneven terrain. However, this can also make them more prone to tipping if the weight is not distributed evenly.

On the other hand, 4-wheel strollers offer more stability and a wider base, making them less likely to tip over.

In terms of braking systems, both types of strollers offer options for foot brakes or hand brakes. However, 3-wheel strollers usually have a single rear brake while 4-wheel strollers may have dual rear brakes for added safety.

Price

3-wheel models are more expensive than 4-wheel strollers due to their specialized design and features. The added suspension, larger wheels, and higher weight capacity contribute to the higher cost. However, 4-wheel strollers are still available at a range of price points and can offer great value for everyday use.

Terrain

As mentioned before, 3-wheel strollers are more stable on rough terrain due to their weight distribution towards the back. They are also more suitable for running or jogging on uneven surfaces.

On the other hand, 4-wheel strollers offer a smoother ride on flat and even surfaces such as pavement or indoor floors. They may struggle more on rough terrain, but they still have the advantage of stability due to their wider front end.

7 Ways 3-wheel strollers are better than 4-wheel strollers:

  1. Better maneuverability in rough sharp corners or in tight spaces: Since the front wheel swivels, it is easier to turn and navigate through tight spaces.
  2. Suitable for active lifestyles: 3-wheel strollers are often designed with a fixed or swivel front wheel, making them perfect for running or jogging with your child. The single front wheel also makes it easier to steer while in motion.
  3. Stability in rough terrains: As mentioned earlier, 3-wheel strollers have their weight distribution towards the back, making them more stable on rough terrain. This can provide a smooth ride for your child and give you peace of mind during outdoor adventures.
  4. Better traction: With a single front wheel, 3-wheel strollers have better traction on rough or uneven surfaces compared to their 4-wheel counterparts. This ensures that your child remains safe and comfortable while you’re out and about.
  5. Smoother rides: Due to their design, 3-wheel strollers offer a smoother ride on different surfaces, making them more comfortable for your child. This can be especially beneficial for longer walks or outings. The swivel front wheel also helps to absorb some of the bumps, providing a more comfortable experience for your child.
  6. Narrower design: The single front wheel of 3-wheel strollers allows for a narrower design, making it easier to navigate through tight spaces and crowded areas such as shopping aisles or busy sidewalks. This can be beneficial for parents who live in urban areas or frequently visit places with narrow pathways.
  7. Sportier look: 3-wheel strollers are often associated with a more sporty and active lifestyle due to their design. They are commonly used for jogging or running, making them a popular choice for parents who enjoy outdoor activities and want to stay active with their child.

4 Ways 3-wheel Buggies are bad compared to 4-wheel peers:

  1. Stability concerns in flat surfaces: Due to the single front wheel design, 3-wheel strollers may not be as stable as 4-wheel strollers, especially when navigating flat-surface terrain or making sharp turns. This could potentially be a safety concern for parents and their child. However, some 3-wheel strollers have additional features such as adjustable suspension or a locking front wheel to improve stability.
  2. Not suitable for multiple children: Most 3-wheel strollers are designed for only one child, so they may not be the best option for parents with twins or multiple young children.
  3. Can be difficult in steep hills:  Pushing a three-wheeled stroller uphill can pose more challenges compared to four-wheeled strollers. The uneven distribution of weight among the wheels can make it difficult to maintain traction on steep inclines.
  4. More expensive: In general, 3-wheel strollers tend to be more expensive than their 4-wheel counterparts. This may not be a feasible option for parents on a tight budget.

Where 4-wheel strollers are better:

  1. Stability and maneuverability: 4-wheel strollers are generally more stable in flat-surface terrains due to their four evenly distributed wheels. They also tend to be easier to maneuver, making them a great choice for navigating crowded spaces or rough terrain.
  2. Suitable for multiple children: With the option of double or even triple seats, 4-wheel strollers are perfect for parents with twins or multiple young children.
  3. More storage space: The extra wheel and larger frame of 4-wheel strollers often means more storage space for parents to carry their essentials while using the stroller.
  4. Affordable options available: While higher-end 4-wheel strollers may still be more expensive than 3-wheel strollers, many affordable options on the market can fit any budget.
  5. Range of options/styles: 4-wheel strollers come in a variety of styles, from lightweight and compact options to jogging or all-terrain strollers. This allows parents to choose the best fit for their lifestyle and needs.

When 4-wheel strollers are worse than 3-wheel strollers:

  1. Limited legroom: The 4-wheel design can limit the legroom for parents when pushing the stroller, especially if they have a longer stride.
  2. Less agile: Compared to 3-wheel strollers, 4-wheel strollers may not be as agile and responsive, which can make navigating tight spaces or sharp turns more challenging.
  3. May not fit through narrow spaces: The wider frame of 4-wheel strollers may not fit through narrow doorways or aisles, limiting their use in certain environments.

Factors to Consider when Choosing a Stroller Wheel Design:

  1. Lifestyle and terrain: Parents should consider their daily routine and the type of terrain they will be navigating with the stroller. If they live in a crowded city or plan to use the stroller on rough terrain, a 4-wheel stroller may be a better choice.
  2. Number of children: For parents of multiple young children, or those planning to have more children in the future, a 4-wheel stroller may be a more practical option as it can accommodate multiple children or additional accessories. You can also read this guide on how many strollers to get.
  3. Budget: As mentioned earlier, there are options available for both 3-wheel and 4-wheel strollers at various price points. Generally, 3-wheel are more expensive due to their design and features, so parents should consider their budget when making a decision.
  4. Safety: Both 3-wheel and 4-wheel strollers are equipped with safety features such as harnesses and brakes, but parents should also consider the stability of the stroller and how well it can handle different terrains. Securing a five-point harness can be challenging for toddlers. Ensure the brakes provide a firm grip and carefully inspect the frame to avoid any potential hazards for little fingers. The trap recently led to safety standard improvement by CPSC. Avoid stroller brands with hinges that are known to cause injuries or cut, or even amputate fingers of little ones.
  5. Ease of folding: In a fast-paced environment, busy parents may need to quickly and easily fold their strollers while holding their child or carrying groceries. Some 4-wheel strollers can be folded with one hand, making them more convenient for parents on the go. Go for brands that use one-click mechanisms for folding, deploying and storing the stroller.
  6. Durability: Parents should consider the materials used in the construction of both 3-wheel and 4-wheel strollers. Generally, 4-wheel strollers tend to be more durable due to their design and wider base, but there are also high-quality 3-wheel strollers available on the market. Look for strollers with sturdy frames and robust materials that can withstand wear and tear over time.
  7. Maneuverability: 3-wheel strollers are known for their ease of maneuverability, making them a great choice for navigating through crowded spaces or uneven terrains. They have a smaller turning radius, allowing parents to make sharp turns without struggling. On the other hand, 4-wheel strollers have a wider turning radius, making them more difficult to maneuver in tight spaces.
  8. Versatility: Depending on your lifestyle and needs, both 3-wheel and 4-wheel strollers offer different features that can cater to various situations. 3-wheel strollers are typically designed for active parents who enjoy jogging or walking off-road, while 4-wheel strollers are better suited for everyday use and handling multiple children at once. Consider your daily activities and choose a stroller that fits your lifestyle.
  9. Brakes: Both 3-wheel and 4-wheel strollers should have reliable brakes to ensure the safety of your child. Look for strollers with easy-to-use foot or hand brakes that can be engaged quickly and easily. Make sure to test the brakes before purchasing to ensure they are responsive and can hold the stroller in place.
  10. Storage Space: Another important factor to consider is the storage space available on both types of strollers. 4-wheel strollers typically have larger storage baskets, perfect for carrying diaper bags, groceries, or other essentials while out and about with your little one. 3-wheel strollers may have smaller storage options, but they are often more lightweight and compact for easy transport.

Which one is better between 3 and 4-wheel strollers:

Based on the factors above, it is fair to say that neither 3-wheel nor 4-wheel strollers are inherently better than the other. Both types have their own unique features and advantages, making them suitable for different lifestyles and needs.

Ultimately, it ultimately comes down to personal preference and what works best for you and your child. Consider your daily activities, terrain, budget, and storage needs before making a decision on which stroller would be the best fit for you. So, whether you opt for a 3-wheel or 4-wheel stroller, make sure to do your research and choose one that suits your lifestyle and needs best. With proper care and maintenance, both types of strollers can provide a safe and comfortable ride for your child while also accommodating your daily activities as a parent.

Final word:

There is no direct right or wrong answer regarding which stroller is better between 3-wheel strollers and 4-wheel strollers. Both have their advantages and it ultimately depends on your personal preferences and needs. Consider the terrain you will be using the stroller on, how often you will be using it, your lifestyle, and what features are important to you before making a decision. With this information in mind, you can confidently choose the perfect stroller for both your and your child’s needs. We have reviewed our top 3-wheel baby stroller brands here.