Product Type: Graco prams, pushchairs and strollers
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Graco Mirage Travel System
Member Name: sandemp
Graco Mirage Travel System
Date: 31/05/10, updated on 31/05/10 (173 review reads)
Advantages: Easy to push on paved areas, inexpensive
Disadvantages: Difficult to fold one-handed
===Out Of The Box===
The Mirage came part-assembled in a very large, unwieldy and heavy box. This certainly isn't an impulse buy, you will need transport to get it home. It is fairly simple to put together, although you will need to have a hammer handy. The only difficulty was attaching the front wheels, these take a lot of force to click into place, get it wrong and the wheels will fall off mid-journey as we found out to our cost. Once assembled the Mirage is functional rather than stylish, with the City consisting of mainly very dark blue material with silver highlighting, it is unisex if verging a little towards baby boys.
===The Car Seat===
The first part of the system that we used was the car seat. This is a group 0+ car seat, which means it's suitable from birth to 13kg (approximately 12 months). We brought baby Freddy home in this very seat and although it is nicely padded, the straps are easily adjustable and a head hugger is included, he didn't appear to be very well supported and tended slip slightly to one side. In fact it's only now, two months later, that he's starting to look a lot more comfortable.
Getting this secured in the back of a car can be a bit of a struggle. Although there are instructions on the back of the seat, these aren't very clear. Depending on the car, the seatbelt sometimes only just fits around the car seat , but once in place it is very secure. The supplied canopy is of a fairly good size and does a reasonable job of keeping the sun out of Freddy's eyes and is easily detachable. The carry handle is also easy to click into place for carrying and move back out of the way when not needed. The seat can also be easily rocked when on the floor as it has a curved base, but I wouldn't really recommend keeping baby in here for long periods as Freddy (at least) seems pretty upright while in it and it doesn't seem brilliant for his posture. Should the car seat get particularly dirty, the covers are removable and suitable for machine washing at 30 degrees.
The pushchair can be used from birth with or without the car seat. When using the car seat, it easily clicks into the base, but can occasionally be difficult to remove. With the car seat in place, baby is rear-facing, which means you can interact with him while on the move. This is something I love, being able to chat to Freddy about everything and everything, it also means I know as soon as he's been sick. By combining the car seat canopy and pushchair canopy I can also keep the sun out of his eyes and yet still keep an eye on him through a clear plastic viewing window on the pushchair canopy.
When using the pushchair without the car seat, there are three lay-back positions including completely flat and it's easy to adjust the position using clips. So far I've only used the completely flat position, and even though the seat is nicely padded with raised sides, Freddy does always look a bit lost in the seat. The five point harness is easy to adjust and secure, but even at it's tightest is a little loose on 8 week old Freddy. For added security there are also D rings to which a separate harness can be attached. The main reason I don't very often use the pushchair on it's own (at the moment) is that baby is forward facing, meaning there's far less interaction. As with the car seat the covers are removable and machine washable, but this is considerably more difficult.
Although this is advertised as being able to be put down one-handed, it's something I've never managed myself. It always takes two hands to operate the closing mechanism and is something I can't manage while holding Freddy. Opening the pushchair up is another matter, it can be done one-handed and easily at that, but beware little fingers getting caught in the mechanism as I caught my hand and it hurt. Once closed this flat folding pushchair still takes up a lot of space, only just fitting in the boot of a small hatchback.
===Out and About===
The pushchair itself is very easy to push, the from swivel wheels make steering a breeze when out and about in town or paved areas. The handle height is non-adjustable, but at 103cm is perfect for 5'1" me if a little low for 5'8" Daddy, the handle also has a foam grip that is nice and comfy on the hands, even on long journeys. I live in a very rural area, walk a good distance every day and as long as I stick to paved areas I find the Mirage comfortable to push and easy to steer. If, however, I veer off onto grass or gravel, then things become considerably more difficult even if I change the front wheels to fixed. Being made of plastic, the wheels are not very sturdy, and I don't think this really helps when going over uneven surfaces. The brakes are easy to operate and work extremely well, even on quite steep slopes, I've never had any problems with the pushchair running away on me as long as the brakes are correctly applied. When it comes to getting this buggy up and down stairs (at train stations etc), it is very heavy with a combined weight of 11kg before baby is taken into account, and it's not sturdy enough to be bumped up and down.
The supplied play tray is a nice idea, even though in practise it can be a little impractical. I have found that it is already scratched, simply because of the way the pushchair folds and unfolds means it hits the floor. The play tray does need to be left attached if the car seat is being used as it supports the car seat. The rain cover is a good size, fairly easy to fit, even without instructions and nicely covers the whole system even when the car seat is in place. While the shopping basket is of a reasonable size, it's not overly generous, I can fit in the rain cover and a couple of bags of shopping, but no more.
This isn't a bad travel system, especially for the price. It does the job and makes getting out and about with baby a little easier. Personally, I'm a real believer in 'you get what you pay for' and this is budget system, the car seat is actually pretty good and the pushchair isn't that bad either. If you can afford it, then I would recommend going up a model or two. But if, like me, you are on a very tight budget then you could do a lot worse than the Graco Mirage travel system.
Summary: Budget travel system